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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago Spokane: ‘War plant’ replaces Princess Skating Rink

The old Princess Skating Rink in Spokane had found new purpose as “war plant” and an army auto mechanics school. (Spokesman-Review archive)
The old Princess Skating Rink in Spokane had found new purpose as “war plant” and an army auto mechanics school. (Spokesman-Review archive)

The old Princess Skating Rink in Spokane had been turned into a “war plant” and an army auto mechanics school.

A features reporter spent a day at the Modern Automobile School, which had been transformed into a training school for the U.S. Army.

A bugle rang out at dawn and the 110 men of the school “stir in their cots and begin the process of arising.” They were becoming expert auto mechanics so “that democracy may not perish from the earth.”

They worked in the machine shops six hours a day for eight weeks. At the end, they were qualified to be truck drivers, chauffeurs and mechanics.

It wasn’t all work. Spokane’s women provided them with musical instruments and a library, and held dances one evening a week, with “daughters of many of the best homes as partners.”

From the news beat: When editor R.C. Scott of the Pend Oreille County News-Record in Ione enlisted as a soldier, he worried about what would become of his newspaper and print shop. He still had bank notes to pay off. His wife, Carroll, 22, told him not to worry.

“Go to it, Scotty,” she said. “ … Can’t I feed the job press? Haven’t I learned to set up a handbill or letterhead? I think I’m something of a printer and I can write locals and do a scarehead article, so you say, in pretty good shape. I’ll run this print shop and when you come back you’ll have something to come to – and maybe it will be paid for.”

So now Mrs. Scott was “the only newspaper woman printer-reporter-foreman-publisher in the state.”

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