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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Wonder where I got this grade-school mindset?

We dignitaries who ascend into the stratosphere of self-importance occasionally are called upon to deliver a lofty speech at a place of higher learning.

President Barack Obama, for example, recently made an appearance at the University of Notre Dame.

Likewise, I have been invited to say a few words at this week’s centennial celebration for my beloved alma mater, Spokane’s Franklin Elementary School, 2627 E. 17th Ave.

I love Franklin. My older brother, Dave, went there. My own kids, Ben and Emily, went there, too.

I attended the grand old brick school from first through seventh grade. (Then it was on to Ferris High School, which was new and had an eighth grade for a couple of years.)

This was back in the 1950s and early 1960s. Rock ’n’ roll was new and driving our parents crazy. You could pack a car with friends and go to a drive-in movie for a dollar on “buck night.”

Life for a kid was idyllic, save for the threat of nuclear annihilation via the commies.

I lived close enough to Franklin that I could walk there every day. I have such fond memories.

Like the time I was sent to the cloakroom for mouthing off. Bored, I started switching items between sack lunches.

Two sandwiches for you. Three desserts for you. Only an apple for you …

Then there was the time I was busted for organizing a poker game during noon recess.

I got called to the office so often I considered having my Mad magazines delivered there.

I suppose I was one of those fidgety, rambunctious youngsters who, in a more scientific age, would have been pumped to the gills full of Ritalin.

Fortunately I grew up to have the last laugh. Newspaper columnists get paid to cause trouble.

Take that, Mrs. Harris!

But as I was saying, Franklin is 100 years old, and some big doings are planned.

Alumni and friends of Franklin are invited to attend a reception/reunion from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday in the school gymnasium.

This will be a time for sharing memories, reconnecting with old classmates and perhaps trying to locate the spot high up on one wall where I teetered atop the iron chin-up bar and scrawled my name in chalk.

The principal was so steamed she threatened to keep me from matriculating. Now that scared me. I didn’t know you could keep someone from matriculating without a court order and a surgeon.

The Franklin festivity continues Friday with a 10 a.m. parade. Later there will be lunch ($3), some music (free) and, at some point, a few stirring observations from yours truly (priceless).

For research purposes, I toured the school the other day with Principal Mickey Hanson and Brian Shute, Franklin’s speech/language pathologist. Franklin, with its wide, worn stairways and carved wood banisters, looks pretty much the way I remember it.

Tim Potts, the head custodian, took us into the massive old “Boiler Room” and “Fan Room.”

What great people.

While we were on the lower floor I had to examine the boys’ latrine. I told Shute that back in the day we rascals liked to string a long line of toilet paper all over the restroom and then dip one end in a toilet.

It was like a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral.

Ten, nine, eight … FLUSH!

“Zeeeee …”

The paper would wind all the way back into the commode like the retractable cord on a vacuum cleaner.

So you can see why I’m so honored to be part of the Franklin 100-year birthday bash.

I’m quite sure none of my classmates or teachers would have ever voted me as the “student most likely to give a keynote address.”

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at Read previous columns at
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