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Guest opinion: Bonnie Rae: Hurley’s fight still remembered, appreciated

I wanted to thank you for your nice article this morning on Margaret Hurley (“Standing against urban freeways,” Dec. 19). You wrote that she’s sort of fallen out of the collective memory of Spokane. That isn’t true for all of us. Many of us here in the Logan Neighborhood have good reason to be grateful for Margaret Hurley’s tenacity every day. The memories of our fight to keep our homes are vivid.

Here’s my memory. It was sometime in October 1973. I had Halloween decorations up. I have no idea why I was home from work that morning, but I was. There was a knock on the door and I opened it to see a smiling young man in a suit, carrying a briefcase. This was back in my hippie days and suits and briefcases were a bit off-putting, but I invited him in and we sat down on the couch. He said he had the most “wonderful” news for me. He kept emphasizing what a marvelous, fantastic thing was going to happen. He was from the Department of Transportation or some such.

He told me about the north-south freeway which was absolutely, positively going to be built. The way he gushed about it you’d think the bulldozers were right around the corner. And lucky me – he did use the word lucky – I was getting this wonderful deal that the folks displaced by the east-west freeway didn’t get. Not only would I get “fair market” value for my house, plus moving expenses, I’d also get some sort of magical mystery amount above and beyond that would cover “replacement” to ensure that I would be able to get a new house with the same features as the one they were bulldozing. He was practically glowing with enthusiasm.

I did something then that I’ve never done before or since. I kicked him out of my house. I told him if he didn’t leave, I’d call the cops. I’d just signed the papers to buy the house the previous June. Up until that moment, I’d never heard of a north-south freeway.

So we mobilized. And lucky for us we had Margaret Hurley on our side. When I see the devastation happening now with this “corridor” business, it saddens me that the people there didn’t have a champion like we did.

Margaret Hurley believed in the simple concept that people are more important than cars. And collective memory notwithstanding, I remember that concept every day I wake up in this house. It’s been a port in the storm of life.

Thanks for letting me tell my story.

Bonnie Rae

Spokane

Bonnie Rae is a lifelong resident of the Inland Empire and has lived in the Logan Neighborhood since 1973. She played a key role in organizing neighbors to protest and work alongside Margaret Hurley’s efforts during negotiations for the placement of the north-south freeway.


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