I had stayed away for 20 years, but it was Ozzie and Harriet’s son Ricky Nelson who got me to visit the Garland Arts and Music Festival Saturday. The lyrics of Rick’s song, “I Went To A Garland Party” had played over and over in my head for years until finally I decided that maybe I was missing something.
And I wasn’t disappointed. Garland was celebrating. There was a variety of live music going on at three different corners playing simultaneously. If the jazzy blues of Lindell Reason didn’t grab you, Here and Now played Gershwin at the other end of the block.
While most of the 15 live bands were quality groups this is surely only the beginning.
When every last Californian has migrated to the Inland Empire, Spokane’s population will swell to the size of New York City, and areas like Garland and South Perry Street will become full-fledged boroughs on the order of Brooklyn or Queens. By 2100, the Garland Festival will command world class musicians. The Rolling Stones and other, less decrepit, groups popular in next century will play at Garland and Monroe.
There was more than music.
Garland was closed off to automobiles from Monroe to Howard for a street fair. Several booths featured artists working right in front of those of us who don’t know art when we see it. Some of the crowd were invited to participate in activities, such as making pots.
The local businesses propped their doors open, and even the Garland saloons allowed the smell of cigarette smoke and beer to waft into the street, inviting weary attendees (I was soooo tired) to sample their sudsy treasure and get a little high on second-hand smoke.
While the Milk Bottle and Ferguson’s diners are Spokane landmarks, the Garland Theater is the dominating structure in the area. The old theater doesn’t match the grandeur of the Fox Theater, but it does have plenty of art deco outside and inside. It needs an “angel” to fund restoration.
The theater’s opening night in 1945 was a double feature: “It’s a Pleasure” (starring Sonia Henning) and “Double Exposure.”
But those weren’t playing on the night of my trouble, about 20 years ago.
I was returning home from work at about midnight when I saw the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” on that majestic sky-reaching marquee at Monroe and Garland.
I knew nothing of that bent little piece of cinema, however I was always a sucker for horror on the silver screen, even at a midnight showing.
After purchasing my ticket, I entered the theater and bee-lined across the lobby straight for the lavatory, a habit learned at my mother’s knee or sometimes her foot. She required me to go to the bathroom before any event, like going to church, eating dinner, opening Christmas presents and, of course, watching a movie.
I entered the men’s room.
At one of the urinals was the backside of an apparently slender dark-haired woman wearing a black cape and elbow length black leather gloves, fish net hosiery and very high heels. This person was facing the urinal, apparently doing the business intended at that position.
I spun around on my heel and sprinted out the door.
Back in the lobby, I collected myself and spoke out loud, reading the word “men” above the door I had just exited.
She was wrong; I was right! Relief came slowly. Now I really had to go to the bathroom but not in that bathroom.
I did not stay for the main attraction and marched out to the door, unnerved, but with righteous indignation.
That is when I vowed never to travel the Garland area again. It was some years later that I learned of the audience participation (with a transvestite touch) in the “Rocky Horror” experience.
I am glad to be over another resolution and will be back next year for the Garland party.
Ricky Nelson was right, these Garlanders know how to party.
Note: The Fun and Fancy Store was a novelty shop that operated in the Garland district during the 1960s and ‘70s. The store owner’s unceasing sales of magic tricks, scary masks, whoopee cushions, hand buzzers and other silly items to Darin Z. Krogh was the moral equivalent of a bartender overserving a drunk.
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