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Wednesday, April 8, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Region’s spruce eyed for aircraft manufacture

 (Spokesman-Review archives)
(Spokesman-Review archives)

A Spokane man was convinced that Spokane was perfectly positioned for a new wartime industry: airplane manufacturing.

J.C. Ralston had just returned from an inspection trip to the East, where he visited big airplane plants in New Jersey and New York.

He said the trip had “deeply impressed” him with the “favorable possibilities of aircraft production in Spokane, which is close to the center of the spruce industry.”

He said, “This (a lack of quality spruce) is the great bugbear of Eastern manufacture.”

As it turned out, Spokane never became a large center for airplane manufacture. Yet even as Ralston was uttering the above words, a Seattle timber man named William E. Boeing – who owned forests of spruce – was acquiring military contracts and building planes in his big Red Barn on the Duwamish River in south Seattle.

From the food beat: Spokane continued to embrace the wartime food cutback recommendations. Local restaurants had just held their first meatless Tuesday event, and the Davenport Hotel’s chef said it had saved at least 3 tons of meat throughout the city.

Fresh fish and oysters were the most popular substitutes. Oysters were especially abundant in the Spokane market because “Spokane holds the distinction of being the biggest express receiving point for oysters in the country.”

Meanwhile, Spokane was also getting by on about half of its usual candy consumption because of a wartime shortage of sugar.

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