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Saturday, February 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Paul Turner: Summer camp survivors

The last full day of spring might be the right time to consider this.

How can you tell if someone went to summer camp as a kid?

Besides asking, I mean.

Here are my guesses. You might have your own.

Went to summer camp: When the subject of nuisance insect infestations comes up, he or she quietly says, “I’ve lived through worse.”

Did not go to summer camp: Keeps quiet when, after a few beers, co-workers sing songs learned at camp when they were 11.

Went to summer camp: Has entertaining stories about the “Shoot me now” letters written home with the intention of making parents feel guilty about shipping him or her off to Camp Granada.

Did not go to summer camp: Says things like, “The Northwest is a summer camp.”

Went to summer camp: Tends to compare surviving Camp Donner with having spent a year in Vietnam.

Did not go to summer camp: Seems happy, well adjusted.

Went to summer camp: When conversation turns to the sweat-box scenes in “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” he or she gets a far-away look and nods knowingly.

Did not go to summer camp: Thinks “Lord of the Flies” is far-fetched.

Went to summer camp: When people talk about modern era “Theater camp” or “Lacrosse camp,” he snorts and starts mumbling about a 1960s counselor known as Vlad the Impaler who addressed all the first-year campers as “Boot.”

Sign here

I usually try to dodge those gathering signatures in front of stores for this or that petition.

Years ago, The S-R enacted a policy prohibiting newsroom staffers from signing. And for a time I tried explaining this ban to the individuals wielding clipboards. Almost invariably, this proved to be a mistake. Seems simple enough, but it was like they didn’t believe me. Let’s just say I was chopping but no chips were flying.

I actually witnessed someone declaring that he was a felon get a much warmer reception than my explanation of the inexplicably incomprehensible S-R ethics policy.

So when I approached a grocery store Monday afternoon and heard someone loudly asking shoppers if they were registered Washington voters – his sign said something about gun control – I had my usual “Here we go again” reaction. But by the time I got close to the signature gatherer he was being robustly lectured by a freelance Second Amendment scholar.

Whatever Clipboard Guy was getting paid to gather signatures, it wasn’t enough.

First albums

For John McNamara, it was “Deja Vu,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. “Not sure what it says about me.”

I had that one, too, John. If you figure it out, let me know.

For Barry Bauchwitz, it was either a Johnny Mathis album or “Belafonte at Carnegie Hall.”

“I was fascinated with calypso music.”

Rick Straub’s first LP was “Meet the Beatles!”

“Must have been 11 or 12. Rode my bike out to Speedy’s Record Rack in Opportunity with a buck and a half in my pocket.”

It wasn’t quite enough money. “I spent the rest of the day cruising up and down Sprague and vicinity collecting pop and beer bottles. Several hours later l had enough. That effort made the album that much more special.”

Bob Witte shared this memory. “The first album I ever bought was ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ in 1963 when I was 7 years old. No, I was not an exceptionally hip second-grader. But I had several older brothers that were very influential and seeing how I had managed to save my allowance and they had apparently spent all of theirs, I became the proud owner of a classic LP that I still have today.”

Steve Sauser’s first album was a record by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. “The song ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ set the tone for my behavior around girls and women.”

Sheri Axel’s first album was a Lovin’ Spoonful LP. “Summer In the City” was the song that made her buy it.

“I still have all all my records, CDs, cassettes and 8-tracks.”

Then there was this, from Lawrence Killingsworth.

“In 1963, I bought my first record album. It was by The Chad Mitchell Trio.”

(Readers will recall The Chad Mitchell Trio was a folk group formed at Gonzaga University.)

“Fourteen years later, I moved to Spokane. Forty-one years after that, I am still here. Plus, I am even a fan of Gonzaga basketball.

“Coincidence? I don’t think so.”

Wordcount: 742

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