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Rob Curley: Let’s have a birthday party that lasts the entire year

Watching how people handle birthdays is fascinating, partly because it often changes at different points in our lives.

We’ve all seen toddlers say that they’re 2. Then hold up three fingers. And do that for at least a couple of years in a row. At that age, accuracy isn’t as important as getting to the presents.

Teenagers say they’re 16 in hopes of getting to drive the car. They’re really 15. Or 14. Or in the case of my youngest son, 11.

There are still fake IDs all over college towns to help with getting into the bars. We know that you and I never did anything like that … but we all saw our friends’ “superbad” efforts.

At some point, it goes from rounding up to rounding down. Which is why we all have many friends who celebrate their 49th birthday for so many years in a row.

But there’s a point when age becomes a badge of honor.

I swear I meet more people willing to tell me they’re 88 years old than I do those willing to tell me they’re 38.

This is all a fancy way of saying we’re about to have a birthday here at The Spokesman-Review.

We’re 135 years young.

Kinda.

Technically, The Spokesman-Review won’t be 135 until May 19, but once you hit about 107, you’ve earned the right to celebrate for an entire year.

Which is exactly what we’re going to do in 2018.

That’s the reason behind this crazy-size page that’s wrapping today’s cover. When you open this up, you’re going to find a reprint of a historic Spokesman-Review front page from this week in 1965.

Back in the old days, this is exactly how big every page was … which makes you wonder just how big breakfast tables had to be to properly enjoy the newspaper with your coffee.

And we’re going to do this every Sunday for the rest of the year.

Each week, we’ll pick a different historic front page from that exact same week from one of our first 134 years. We’ll typically focus on front pages from big moments in Spokane, national or world history.

It’s going to be a ton of fun to look at how not only the Pacific Northwest has changed, but how newspapers have changed since we first rolled off the presses back when Chester Arthur was the president of the United States.

But we’re going to do way more than just that for our birthday.

Starting in May, our popular “100 Years Ago Today” column will expand to a full page for five months as we revisit stories from an entire edition of our newspaper from that day. How did The Spokesman-Review cover the Great Spokane Fire of 1889, the eruption of Mount St. Helens or even the sinking of the Titanic?

Throughout the next year, we’re going to host public forums inside our newspaper’s iconic building to talk about famous photos from our past with the photographers who took them, visit with reporters and editors who covered some of the biggest moments in our region’s history, and bring back lots of old friends.

We’ll even host a session solely focused on the history of our newspaper and explain what was behind President Harry Truman saying in 1952 that this was “the second-worst paper in the United States,” behind only the Chicago Tribune.

He was wrong. But that’s a story for another day.

I often tell people that this isn’t our newspaper; The Spokesman-Review is our community’s newspaper. It’s your newspaper. Not ours.

That’s why over the next several months, you might receive an invite to sit in on one of our news meetings to see how we pick our front-page stories. Or maybe you’ll be asked to hang out with us over lunch as we talk about the things that matter to all of us. Or maybe you’ll be asked if you’d like to sneak to the top of our clock tower and take the coolest “selfie” in all of Spokane.

Of course, we’ll invite you over to have some birthday cake with us sometime in May. I didn’t really tell my boss we planned on doing that – and that I might invite 100,000 or so people to have some cake at our place – but I really love to surprise that guy with something on our front page every couple of months.

It’s good for him. And for a great cause.

So, let’s please celebrate our 135th birthday together. And just wait until you see what we have planned for the next 135 years.


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