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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: April showers soak Spokane’s claim of being on the dry side of the state

FILE - Nearly steady rain left standing water on Spokane streets Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE - Nearly steady rain left standing water on Spokane streets Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo

It depends on where you moved here from, of course.

Arkansas isn’t Arizona.

But many of those who relocated to Spokane from far away share a memory.

It’s this. Upon announcing an intention to move to the state of Washington, a high percentage of Spokane transplants heard the same thing.

“Rains a lot out there.”

I heard this in the 1980s before I moved here from a place that has an average annual rainfall of about 15 inches more than Seattle’s.

Doesn’t matter. Washington’s reputation as one big rain forest endures. Trying to explain Eastern Washington’s climatological reality often produces nothing but blank looks and evidence of additional misunderstandings.

“So, Spocain’s a suburb of Seattle, right?”

The concept of a dry side of Washington doesn’t really register with the unwashed millions who persist in saying “Gon-zah-ga.”

(Thought we were done with that? My Michigan sister-in-law’s first husband, a longtime basketball fan, just said that to me on the phone last week.)

But anyway, here’s what I’m wondering.

Suppose you have spent years telling a friend in another part of the country that Spokane doesn’t get much rain, about half the national average, in fact.

Then, let’s further suppose that this long-distance friend finally came to visit you this spring. And got rained on repeatedly.

How did you explain our weather?

Here are a few choices.

A) “Well, spring is when we get much of our rain.” B) “Come back in the summer, if you don’t believe me about our dry weather.” C) “If it rained like this all the time we wouldn’t have devastating forest fires.” D) “These raindrops are actually the tears of Sasquatch’s grandparents, who are despondent about what has happened to the EPA.” E) “You know when I told you this side of Washington doesn’t get much rain? Fake news.” G) “Apparently someone in charge of the April showers is trying to melt a few of Eastern Washington’s many wicked witches.”


Monday’s musings about old-time paperboys prompted a note from Jeri Hershberger.

She went to see a podiatrist and before he proceeded he informed Jeri that he was all too familiar with her family.

“Your dad had me fired from my paper route,” he informed her.

It seems the future foot doctor had made a habit of jumping over (or through) a property-line hedge. That was something Jeri’s dad could not abide.

Hank Greer recalled his crossing guard/newspaper-carrier/Scouts trifecta.

“You brought back memories. I was a crossing guard in sixth grade at Bryant Elementary in 1967-68. We had a captain, two sergeants, and several patrolmen. I was a sergeant because my buddy was the captain. Helen Eggleston, who had seniority, was very unhappy with my selection to the crew and immediate promotion to sergeant.

“I don’t remember there being much, if any, adult supervision. We went to our assigned intersection on Ash or on Broadway wearing a sash and a badge. Armed with a ‘STOP’ flag attached to a metal pole we would bring cars to a halt. I felt like I wielded a lot of power as a 10-year-old.

“I had a paper route just north of A. M. Cannon Park during high school. Many houses on my route sat high above the road. Rather than walk up and down a ton of steps I became adept at tossing the folded paper and plopping it dead on the porch. I hit a few screen doors before I perfected the technique.

“I spent a few years in Boy Scouts, mostly in Texas. One of my more notorious accomplishments was blowing up the latrine at summer camp, which may not have contributed much to making me a valuable, contributing member of society. But everything else I did surely helped make up for it.”

Randy Peterschick was another triple-threat youth. When he was a crossing guard, he rose to the rank of captain. “The few of us higher ranking guards were to be feared and respected. We sometimes got drunk with power.”

Back in the 1950s, Jim Corcoran delivered the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Scranton Tribune in the morning and the Wilkes Barre Times Leader in the afternoon.

He grew up in a northeast Pennsylvania town called Tunkhannock. Love that name.

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