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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Local man fighting in Canadian Army describes World War I trenches

Frank Passmore, a “well-known Spokane boy” who had joined the Canadian army, wrote home about life in the trenches in France, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on March 11, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Frank Passmore, a “well-known Spokane boy” who had joined the Canadian army, wrote home about life in the trenches in France, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on March 11, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Frank Passmore, a “well-known Spokane boy” who had joined the Canadian army, wrote home about life in the trenches in France.

“I am writing this to the tune of ‘whistling Willies’ flying over my head,” he said. “I don’t know how it happens that I am alive, because I’ve been in some mighty tight places since I’ve been in the trenches the last two years.”

“… It sure is a pleasure to be able to lay over the parapet and ‘pot’ at any moving object you see,” he wrote. “Do you remember how I used be always playing with a gun when I was a kid? Well, believe me, it sure comes in handy now to be able to pick up a rifle and know that every time you pull the trigger, the guy you shot at will have something to talk about.”

However, he also said it was “a shame the way this country is devastated and ruined .. there is not a house within 20 miles of this firing line that is not blown to bits and whole towns are one mass of ruins.”

From the pioneer beat: James N. Glover, “father of Spokane,” in a series of memoirs, described how he came to purchase the land that would become downtown Spokane.

He said the falls and the “whole situation aroused my desire of possession,” so he asked his host, J.J. Downing, if he could purchase his squatter’s rights. At first, Downing demurred, but that night at dinner, Downing changed his mind.

“I was really overjoyed, but I tried to conceal it as much as I could, for I didn’t want Downing to know how anxious I was to get the property,” wrote Glover.

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