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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: What if, Spokane?

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

I’m sure you noticed the entertaining series of stories The Spokesman-Review sports section presented this summer in which several “What if?” scenarios were explored.

But you know, that sort of unhinged-from-reality speculation is not restricted to the world of athletics. Two can play at that game.

So let’s consider. What if some of the classic mistaken assumptions people far from here make about Spokane actually were true?

I’m guessing we’re all familiar with these.

1) What if Spokane really was a suburb of Seattle?

Well, that would change everything. You can easily imagine the implications for traffic, housing costs, local politics and marmots. But what about some of the other deviations?

In all likelihood, we would no longer have our own fun-sized airport. We would have a new area code. We would be a long, long way from Washington State University. We would no longer have our own TV and radio stations. Chances are, people in Bellevue would look down their noses at us. And Tacoma residents would get all superior about being a real city and not just a ’burb.

Competition among wealthy donors to see who gets to rub elbows with the GU men’s basketball team would be a lot stiffer.

On the other hand, going to major league sports events would suddenly involve a reasonable drive, and the selection of A-List local concerts would be enticing.

Shopping options and cultural attractions? Yes, there would be more.

Direct flights to many other cities? You name it.

Gridlock? “I’m on the road, less than a mile away … I should be there in about 90 minutes.”

Seafood might be better, but what about picking huckleberries? Or studded tires or lines at the ski slopes?

Yes, there would be good and bad.

What about Spokane’s neighbors left behind?

Eastern Washington University, still in Cheney, would have an enrollment of 413. Fairchild Air Force Base would close and turn the runway over to tumbleweeds.

If Spokane was in King County, we might occasionally get to see an orca, but I suspect most of us would miss our dry air.

We would be near geoducks, startling as that might seem.

If Spokane was a Seattle suburb, Spokane Valley would be the biggest city in Eastern Washington. Conservative Idaho residents might have to think twice before dismissing their neighbor a few miles to the west as a bastion of godless liberals.

2) What if it rained all the time in Spokane (as some in Pennsylvania or California seem to think it does everywhere in Washington)?

Landscapes would be naturally green but we might have more mold and slugs.

On the other hand, there would almost certainly be fewer wildfires and more breathable air. Where do we sign up?

3) What if the actual pronunciation was Spo-cane?

The countless man-hours freed up by no longer having to correct outsiders might be directed into creative pursuits and be the catalyst that turns Spokane into an innovation trailblazer on par with Silicon Valley.

4) What if Expo ’74 really had taken place in Seattle?

Well, it wouldn’t have been the same. But if we’re going to play switcheroo with the fairs, the Space Needle – from the 1962 Seattle shebang – might look pretty cool parked over near Spokane’s downtown waterfalls.

On the No. 43 bus

Wednesday morning, on our way downtown, the driver eased on the brakes and brought us to a halt at a place where there is no stop. Before most passengers had a chance to wonder what was going on, one guy voiced the answer.


The birds made no attempt to board the bus. Perhaps that was because of the recent STA fare increase. Or maybe they knew Nordstrom was not open yet.

Is Idaho part of the Northwest?

No, said Nathan Huestis, who works for an engineering firm. “Neither is Spokane. We are in the Inland Northwest, which Idaho isn’t a part of either.”

Just wondering

What’s the closest to Spokane you have encountered a scorpion? Can you remember blaming the Seattle Seahawks for insanely hot weather when they held their preseason training camp in Cheney? Where were you when you heard that Elvis had died on this date in 1977?

End note

After my friend Roy Dube invited me down to his farm to take a ride in his combine I wondered if this could turn into a second career for me.

Roy’s answer: “Only if you want another career as insecure/uncertain as your current one.”

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