February 28, 2012 in City

Your gift to Second Harvest earns you a view of history

By The Spokesman-Review
Colin Mulvany photoBuy this photo

Spokesman-Review columnist Doug Clark’s desk is filled with Spokane memorabilia like an Expo ’74 coffee percolator and a paper cup from the old Spokane Coliseum.
(Full-size photo)

The hard work of consolidating the ol’ newsroom here at The Spokesman-Review is just about finished.

And please, no worn-out jokes about rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

We’re more like a luxurious Italian cruise ship.

Anyway, I recently moved into the new Clark Cubicle and, boy, am I excited!

This is fourth desk I’ve occupied since I began columnizing just after the Spokane Fire.

(Yeah, I blamed the mayor for that one, too.)

Given my S-R senility status, however, I’ve decided to turn my new digs into an educational Spokane minimuseum.

The intent is to enlighten my younger co-workers with some of the Lilac City’s long-forgotten icons.

I’ll get to the exhibit items in a second.

If anyone would like to actually visit my Spo-Time Capsule, I’m offering a limited number of personally conducted tours.

There’s a catch, naturally.

Visitors must first donate $100 or more to the Second Harvest food bank in care of my upcoming 10th annual Spokane Street Music Week. (This year’s event will be held on downtown city sidewalks during the noon hours June 11-15.)

Once the donating is done, you can contact me via the information below to set up a time.

Here are some of the wonders that await you.

• An Expo ’74 West Bend 40-cup coffeemaker.

I paid a Hillyard antique dealer 75 bucks for this mint-condition beauty, which should give you a glimpse as to why I don’t have much of a retirement plan.

But come on. The White Elephant is said to have cornered the market on Expo souvenirs.

Maybe so. But never have I seen another coffeemaker bearing our official World’s Fair logo and color scheme.

Questions abound.

Were these things for sale to the general public? Or were these found only in the Expo corporate headquarters?

If anybody knows I’m all ears.

• Two antique newspaper sales signs: one for The Spokesman-Review, the other for the late great Spokane Daily Chronicle.

Historic footnote No. 1: As a Chronicle carrier in my youth, I learned to love newspapers by reading the stories while delivering the afternoon paper along my South Hill route.

Historic footnote No. 2: On days I was sick, lazy or preoccupied, my beloved mom, Carol, would deliver my route for me.

• A near-perfect Spokane Coliseum waxy beverage cup.

Before the Arena came along, the old Coliseum (demolished in 1995) was the place to catch live sporting events and star-studded entertainment like Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys and the annual Ice Capades.

The old barn was a giant echo chamber. It was cold. It was ugly.

Ah, but my heart longs for it still.

Not many of these red-and-white cups survived. Too many consumers followed the instructions printed on each and every one: “Please Crush When Used”

• Two hard-to-find civic coffee mugs.

One mug features The Spokesman-Review’s old “Peoplepowerpapers” slogan.

Is that the wackiest newspaper catchphrase ever?

Survey says yes.

The other mug advertises one of the weirdest events ever attempted on our city streets – the Budweiser Grand Prix of Spokane.

For two summers (1987 and 1988) we actually had stock cars and Indy lightweights burning rubber on a 1.6-mile racecourse around Riverfront Park.

It was insane. It was exciting.

It was the road to financial ruin.

• An Expo ’74 Jim Beam whiskey decanter. Not as exciting as the coffeemaker, but still a treasure to behold.

Alas, the contents disappeared down somebody’s hatch long, long ago.

• A beautifully framed poster of “Billy,” the brilliant 1994 opera that was performed only three times in Olympia and based on Spokane’s own gender-bending jazz musician, Billy Tipton.

Billy, whose real name was Dorothy, masqueraded 54 years as dude.

No one knew. Not his wives. (Or so they claimed.) Not his friends.

Not even Tipton’s three adopted kids had a clue.

The secret only came out when I broke the story in 1989, shortly after Tipton’s death.

As one of his musician pals commented prior to the unveiling: “Billy Tipton was a man among men.”

• A soon-to-be-framed vintage letter (dated May, 10, 1982) to “Mr. Doug Clark” from The Spokesman-Review’s then-managing editor, “Mr. Chris Peck.”

“To bring you up to date on our columnist search, I am going to Bill Cowles this week to make the case that we should hire a columnist,” he writes.

“To heck with the recession. We need somebody now.”

And the rest, as they say, is hysteria.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at dougc@ spokesman.com.

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