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The Slice: Never doubt an aviator who knows his way around

Because the Spokane area has long been a landing spot for Air Force retirees, we have a special population subset here.

And so you never know when that old guy you pass by in a parking lot or grocery aisle might be a former navigator who still knows the night sky well enough to name the stars.

Learning to drive: Gordon Skillingstad taught about 7,000 people to operate a motor vehicle during his career as a driving instructor in Spokane. But his wife, Diane, probably was the first.

“It was right after we were married,” she said. “I was 18.”

Gordon was not a drivers’ ed teacher at the time. But his wife recalls that he was patient and encouraging. “My dad had tried to teach me but that didn’t go well.”

If you had been Lewis and Clark: “My wife and I would have been known as Curtiss and Jantz, which I realize does not sound glamorous or clever,” wrote James Curtiss.

But he knows the Jantz journal entries would have included, “Curtiss has us lost again!”

Warm-up question: When did you realize the interior of your car had gone from messy to out of control?

Today’s Slice question: At small social gatherings where wine is served, how quickly do most people drink their first glass? A) The speed of light. B) Warp 9. C) If they think the wine in question tastes like a solvent, they can sip it once or twice and then leave it there for the rest of the party. D) So fast that it creates a pressure-change vortex, sort of like someone had opened an airliner’s cabin door while the plane was at high altitude. E) Fast enough that by the time the person in question gets to glass No. 6, he or she is seriously contemplating speaking out about a few lingering resentments involving certain others at the gathering. F) Fast enough that he or she is ready for a refill before the person with the bottle has had a chance to sit down. G) So fast that it appears the drinker is trying to induce self-whiplash or douse a raging fire in the back of the throat. H) Fast enough to create a sonic boom. I) Faster than can be detected by the naked eye. J) Other.

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Please name the men you know who carry a cloth handkerchief every day.

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