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Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: Pacific Northwest is swell now, but it was even better 55 years ago

Field of vision: A bald eagle sits perched on farming equipment on Tuesday near the North Spokane Farm Museum off Ridgeway Road near Deer Park, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Field of vision: A bald eagle sits perched on farming equipment on Tuesday near the North Spokane Farm Museum off Ridgeway Road near Deer Park, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Fifty-five years ago, senior editor Leonard Gross of Look magazine launched a 50-page spread with this sentence: “The one great mystery of the Pacific Northwest is why all of us aren’t living there.”

The March 27, 1962, issue of Look, which cost 25 cents, has been hiding in a desk drawer at Huckleberries Central for years.

At the time, the four-state Pacific Northwest (Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana) had 5.5 million inhabitants spread out over 300,000 square miles. Life in the Northwest, Gross tells his readers of long ago, is “exuberant, carefree, bountiful, accomplished with style amidst the indisputably richest endowment of natural beauty in the United States.”

Senior editor Gross considered the Pacific Northwest to be “a realized ideal of the American dream.” Many of us living here today would still agree with him. Another thing that hasn’t changed is the region’s attitude toward growth. Again, Gross: “A majority of the residents of the Pacific Northwest welcome growth about as eagerly as radiation.”

And: “The true Pacific Northwesterner considers himself a resident of paradise. He wishes only that the door had been slammed shut behind him.”


Way we were

And here’s a quick look at the ads from that 1962 Look magazine: Radio/TV host Arthur Godfrey was peddling Listerine … A beginning readers program offered three Dr. Seuss books for $1.49, including the No. 1 children’s best-seller of the past year, “Green Eggs and Ham” … An ad for VW bugs showed a man pushing the car. If you ever run out of gas, the ad reasoned, the VW bug was light enough to push … Bell Telephone claimed “Long Distance is the next best thing to being there” … Maidenform offered its new Variette bra “for rounder, naturally curved curves” beginning at $2.50 … And a blond woman with a coy, red-lipsticked smile glanced at a man with a guitar smoking a cigarette above the old familiar R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. claim: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.”


Poet’s Corner: St. Paddy’s is upon us,/ So, give green beer a try./ Order some Irish whiskey,/ And a slice of shepard’s pie./ Gather friends together,/ And the town we’ll paint./ To celebrate Patrick,/ Ireland’s patron saint – Remember The Bard ( “St. Paddy’s Day 2017”) … Bumpersnicker (on a mud-stained pickup with Washington plates spotted in Spokane by KXLY’s Melissa Luck): “Liberals Progressives & Democrats are todays (sic) Nazi’s (sic).” Responds Melissa: “Always a good idea to have a friend check your grammar” … Poll: 59.6 percent of Hucks Nation says it matters whether or not elected officials hold town hall meetings … Cis Gors of Kootenai/Bonner County, Idaho, understands why Idaho wants to know the number of her boat’s hull, although she has registered it for 11 years in a row. Same boat. Same hull. But Cis can’t understand what the (H-E-double hockey sticks) is the reason the state wants to know how old she is.

Parting shot

If you’re prone to pity parties, attorney Chuck Lempesis of Coeur d’Alene offers this thought: “If you find yourself having a difficult day, do what I do – spend 20 minutes at St. Vincent de Paul and look around at those less fortunate. We are so blessed we should be ashamed to complain about anything!” Huckleberries approves of this message.

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