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Column: Far-flung readers continue to keep in touch

When Ryan Crocker, then ambassador to Iraq, visited the newspaper in February 2008, we learned that he read The Spokesman-Review almost every day online. He knew all of us in the editorial board meeting by name because he saw our bylines all the time.

It was humbling and heartening to know our words, generated in little old Spokane, were read across the world.

Now, five years later, far-flung readers email us all the time. It’s cool.

After our story on Affinity Living Communities in the May 6 Boomer U, I heard from Dawn Viebrock who wondered if an unidentified woman in the photo was a friend. Viebrock then told me how she found the story online from Texas.

“I read the Spokesman online every day. I was born and raised in Waterville (Wash.), got married and then lived around the state for the next 35 years.

“We lived in Spokane for a brief time before moving to Moses Lake in 1981, where we spent the next 29 years. We moved to Texas in 2010.  Reading the Spokesman keeps me informed on what is happening in my home state and also in tune with the Zags. One of my co-workers here in Deep South Texas has two children who attend Gonzaga, and we trade stories from time to time.”

A few days later, I received an email from Layne Hansen, a faithful Boomer U reader, who wrote: “We actually don’t live in Spokane – yet. We live in a small town called Naches – west of Yakima.

“As the typical empty nester we are planning on moving to Spokane – as some of my old college roomies live there – and it is closer to the University of Idaho which we are attached to, plus I grew up in Montana, and we are planning on purchasing a summer cabin in Western Montana.

“So until we get moved we will continue to read from afar.”

It shouldn’t surprise me that people keep in touch with Spokane via the newspaper. Anytime I pick up a USA Today, I always read what’s happening in states where I once lived, on the paper’s 50-state summary page.

Out-of-network readers, thanks for tracking us down. We appreciate every one of you, wherever you live.

ENCORE CAREERS: Writer Betsy Towner, in the May AARP Bulletin, imagined post-retirement careers for superheroes. Superman should use his powers “to save newspapers everywhere.” Batman could opt for a low-key life “designing man caves.”

MORE COOL HOCKEY MEN: I wrote about three Spokane Oldtimers Hockey Association members in the May 13 Boomer U. The men gave credit for the organization’s success to many other Oldtimers.

As I prepared to report the story, I explained that I could only interview three of the guys, because readers won’t stay with a story in which dozens of people are quoted or named.

Also en masse interviews make me perspire, as I told one woman long ago, who later presented me with a roomful of people to interview – and a can of deodorant.

Last week, I got the politest of emails from Oldtimers hockey player Ray Moss, who has contributed a lot to the organization. He wasn’t concerned about his omission but was writing on behalf of another Oldtimer, Don McGowan.

“He has been the driving force for many years in keeping the organization moving, and without him, we may have fallen by the wayside years ago,” Moss wrote.

So Ray, Don and the many other Oldtimers I left out of the story, my apologies. It was my fault. You guys all rock – and skate.

WELCOME SUMMER: The U.S. Census Bureau sends out cool data well ahead of holidays. As summer unofficially begins Memorial Day, here are some of the bureau’s Fourth of July facts.

• $3.8 million – the dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags.

• $3.6 million – the dollar value of U.S. flags made in China.

• $218 million – the value of fireworks imported from China in 2012.

• $11.7 million – the value of U.S. exports of fireworks; Israel purchased the most.


• Spokane Wood Carvers 12th Annual Rendezvous – open to all carvers from beginners to experts and to those interested in becoming carvers, Friday and Saturday, KOA Campground, 3025 N. Barker Road, Otis Orchards, (509) 467-3342.

• Spokane Concentration Meditation Group – talk and practice sessions to cultivate and maintain a meditation practice aimed at promoting tranquility in people’s daily lives, Sunday, 10 a.m. to noon, 25 W. Main St., (509) 263-7213.

• Beginning Pickleball Clinic, Sunday, 3-6 p.m., HUB Sports Center, 19619 E. Cataldo Ave., Liberty Lake, (509) 590-5424.

For more activities, go to

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