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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: Home is where the river rolls on

Before we move on to further explorations of the human condition, there’s some old business to address.

Last week, I asked a question about things kids learned in school while growing up in other states. After a first batch of answers had been received and was already in the Slice column pipeline, I heard from several more readers on this topic.

I told a few of them that I would include their recollections in a follow-up round of answers.

Then the column production landscape changed and I moved from the Today section to the Northwest page.

But a promise is a promise.

Patty Conway shared this. “One thing I had to know as a resident of southern Nevada was we didn’t get October 31 off because it was Halloween, we got it off because it was Statehood Day.”

That’s not all.

“We also had to sing ‘Home Means Nevada.’”

Home means Nevada, home means the hills.

“OK so far.”

Home means the sage and the pines.

“What? We were surrounded by creosote bushes, not so much sagebrush and pines.”

Out by the Truckee’s silvery rills.

“Umm, the muddy Colorado was the closest river. Anyway, you get the idea. I really doubt that any kids in Washington had to know any of this stuff.”

Mike Farrell also had an answer.

“I had to memorize the kings and queens of the only state that had a monarchy: Hawaii.”

Liz Ulmen can still belt out the lyrics to a song she learned about her home state when she was a kid.

Montana, Montana,

Glory of the West

Of all the states from coast to coast,

You’re easily the best.

Montana, Montana,

Where skies are always blue


Montana, I love you.

“Best sung shouting,” said Liz.

She sang that song every year from first grade to eighth grade in Big Timber, Mont.

She then went to high school at Sweet Grass County High, where the mascot was the Sheepherders.

“Baaa,” said Liz.

Closer to home, several readers recalled singing “Roll On, Columbia, Roll On” as kids growing up in Washington.

“I was in grade school here in Spokane in the 1960s, and we sang it in class,” wrote Shelley Davis. “But then again, we also sang ‘Home on the Range’ and ‘Git Along, Little Dogies.’ We were multicultural, for sure.”

I also heard from my friend Tiffiny Santos, a Spokane grade school teacher.

“ ‘Roll On Columbia’ is alive and well in Room 208 at Westview Elementary. When I sing it the first time all of my students look baffled. It is a song that just seems to need to be sung with a lot of gusto. It’s our state folk song. They usually have no idea that there are state songs, dances, et cetera.”

I think I had asked about required childhood learning in other states because I get a kick out of hearing about where others grew up. I like stories about American life. Don’t we all?

I’m convinced that if you live in Spokane long enough, sooner or later you will come across people from just about everywhere.

Sooner or later you encounter someone who sang “Git Along, Little Dogies” in grade school.

In other news, after writing Sunday about grit and tiny stones clogging the shower heads in my house (I believe I actually used the word “rocks”), I heard Monday morning from a nice guy named Bill Rickard, water quality coordinator for the city. He picked me up at the newspaper and we went up to my house for a little look-see. Stay tuned.

At the end of Monday’s column, I asked how I could thank readers for sticking with me all these years. The replies were kind and generous.

But this note from Bob Wilson of Athol, Idaho, cracked me up.

“Here is one suggestion. Publish a book with all of the reader submissions that were too raunchy to publish in the S-R. That will be thanks enough.”

Hadn’t ever considered that. But I have long wished that I had saved my angriest recorded phone messages. You know, the ones where readers were so livid I could almost feel the flecks of hot saliva as they sputtered into the phone. Trust me, playing those at a party would have been a crowd pleaser.

I guess there’s still time to start that collection. My column has moved to a new location, but I’m not going anywhere.

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