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Paul Turner: Spokane, for some, is near perfect

We all know people who like to grouse about Spokane.

In certain circles, it’s practically a civic pastime – as it is, I imagine, in countless other cities.

But let me ask you this. Don’t you have a few friends or acquaintances who regard the Lilac City as practically perfect? Perhaps you know a lot of people in that category.

OK, nobody is suggesting there isn’t too much crime, poverty, racism and myriad other social ills here. We have plenty.

Nor is anyone suggesting everyone who lives here is patient or kind 100% of the time.

But some Spokane residents so love their lives here that there’s really not much they would change about their day-to-day routines or weekend jollity.

I’m not talking about those prone to boosterish gushing. The people I’m thinking of simply couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. They are quite happy here and think Spokane is just the right size.

Maybe it’s just a matter of having contented family lives, decent jobs or possessing an indefatigably positive outlook.

I don’t intend for this to sound like some sort of revelation. None of this is new. But sometimes it seems like all we hear is complaining.

If you have lived in Spokane a while, you know. That’s not the whole story.

Back to school

Kids aren’t dumb.

Oh sure, some of them might be in denial. But others are quite well aware of the August calendar and its implications for their carefree young lives and candy-colored dreams of an endless summer vacation.

Even though they are growing up with digital time displays, they can hear the metaphorical clock inexorably tick-tick-ticking toward the end of the season. And so a few of them feel it coming on: The back-to-school stomach ache.

Yes, it’s a classic. And for good reason. Though somewhat suspicious on the morning of the first day of class, a child’s stomach ache can’t be just dismissed out of hand.

A considerable variety of conditions can cause abdominal distress. Here are just a few.

Indigestion after eating, gallstones and gallbladder inflammation, gas, pregnancy, inflammatory bowel disease, appendicitis, ulcers, gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, pancreatitis, gastroenteritis, endometriosis, kidney stones, food poisoning, lactose intolerance and any number of other causes, including an acute desire to stay home from school.

Loving parents usually know how to diagnose the problem. Many a stomach ache has eased after soothing assurances/reminders that school is not really so onerous.

But I’ve long suspected that kids would do a better job of selling their performance stomach aches if they used better supporting material when explaining why they cannot attend classes that day.

Instead of saying “I should be feeling better about 2 o’clock this afternoon,” a child might insist he or she was experiencing cramps brought on by the thought of potentially being exposed to unvaccinated schoolmates.

Or instead of claiming to be in the throes of a particularly aggressive stomach ache or feigning demonic possession – the kind that makes one spew – a kid could calmly say, “I don’t want to experience a volcanic digestive upset at school and have the teacher and principal question your parental judgment.”

Or instead of shouting “I’m gonna fount,” a third-grader skeptical about the benefits of a formal education could just say he or she is feeling a stress overload.

Of course, the start of school is still beyond the horizon. It won’t be here for another five minutes or so.

A downtown fixture from long ago

Johnny Achziger shared a memory.

“Once upon a time, way back when I was a kid in the ’50s and ’60s, there was a small newsstand/snack bar just inside the side entrance of the post office on Lincoln, right at Riverside.”

It was run by a guy who was blind.

“He was there for years and years and I bought many a 5-cent candy bar from him.”

Johnny wondered how many others remember that man and his newsstand.

End note

You may or may not know that today is the birthday of famed explorer Meriwether Lewis.

But perhaps you can address this question: Why aren’t more babies born in the Pacific Northwest named after him? We’re always hearing that modern parents want distinctive monikers for their children. Well, what could be more special than Meriwether? And what, with the possible exception of native names, could be more regionally appropriate?

You couldn’t really call a kid Columbia River Jones.

Yes, I realize the Lewis and Clark Expedition was a long time ago. And I know not all the circumstances of that explorer’s life were happy. But isn’t Meriwether a grand name?

If parents don’t choose it because of concerns that the shortened version sounds feminine, they could just go ahead and treat it as a girl’s name. You could always name a boy after Clark and call him William. Or better yet, try for twins.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at