Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
News >  Column

Paul Turner: Hello, modern-day Spokane children. I scoff at your puny snow forts.

UPDATED: Mon., Feb. 25, 2019

Joe English, 6, looks out from his igloo at 905 Garden Ave, Coeur d'Alene, in 1987. (Linda Seeger / Spokesman-Review)
Joe English, 6, looks out from his igloo at 905 Garden Ave, Coeur d'Alene, in 1987. (Linda Seeger / Spokesman-Review)

Maybe it’s just me.

But when I see puny 2019 snow forts in front yards around Spokane, my tendency is to scoff.

Yes, scoff. You see, they don’t build ‘em like we used to. At least that’s how it seems in memory.

What’s the matter with kids today? Too much screen time?

I remember using metal garbage cans as molds and constructing multilayer snow strongholds that all but forced stout-hearted lads to use words such as impregnable and indomitable. We would spray the fort with a hose, turning it into a formidable redoubt of ice.

The idea was to erect a mighty castle of snow complete with narrow window slits and modest towers at the corners. Then, when some hapless knave with a snowball approached and demanded, “Will you yield?” we would retort with a few of the interesting new words we had recently learned from older kids. The kind of active verbs you didn’t find in Classics Illustrated comic books.

Now? I suspect kids would require parental supervision and signed liability waivers before they ever got out of their jammies.

Don’t get me wrong. Lots of things are better today. It seems like fairness and inclusion are second-nature now. That’s all good.

But the snow forts aren’t better. At least not from what I can see.

What do you remember?


Patty West saw that reader’s pet peeve Sunday about people pronouncing Washington as if it were spelled with an “r.”

“I grew up saying ‘Warshington’ until I was in about eighth grade and made fun of. Personally, I believe it was more of a regional dialect and NOT because I was poorly educated. Similar to how some people say crick instead of creek.”

Patsy Wood added this. “My sister pronounces both ‘Washington’ and ‘wash’ with an “r.” She says she can’t hear the difference.”

In the matter of confused people coming to your door by mistake because they can’t tell what street you live on, Colbert’s Ron Lugone said that’s not just an in-town problem. He described his residence as being in a sort of directional Bermuda Triangle. “New delivery drivers and service providers just guess sometimes about where to pull in. Ah, the thrill of rural living.”

And in the matter of what electronic eavesdroppers would hear if your home were bugged, Kathy Hansen shared this.

“They would hear my husband and I having conversations with our dog, Jackson, the 12-year-old Shih Tzu-Maltese who has become our son since our two daughters moved away. Not really thinking about it, we tend to include him in too much of what we say. Not just speaking to each other, but to ask his opinions on things, too. I’m sure there are plenty of other people who do this but I thought you should know. And besides, you speak to squirrels.”

Dianne Cook said the electronic eavesdroppers would hear her talking to herself.

Maybe she needs to get a dog. Or a squirrel.

End note

One persistent theme in contemplating life in the Inland Northwest is the difference between rural people and urban people.

You are no doubt familiar with the stereotypes. But for those who assume country people are somehow simple or lacking in guile, I would submit the great Beatles bubblegum card caper.

I have a good friend who now lives with her husband in Spokane, but grew up in the country.

She was a big Beatles fan back in the 1960s. Well, actually, she still is.

Anyway, like lots of other kids of that era, she collected Beatles cards. When she knew she would be going into town, she would offer to buy several packs of these cards for her friends.

Wasn’t that nice? Well, yes and no.

You see, my friend had a little secret.

With the delicate touch of a nerves-of-steel safecracker, she would peel open all the packs of cards she had purchased, including the ones bought for her classmates. She would appropriate for herself all the cards she didn’t already possess, eschewing the duplicates. Then she would refill the little packages with her discards and carefully reseal the wrappers before distributing them to her unwitting friends who had paid her to be the middle man.

I don’t know if the other kids ever wondered how come they always ended up with loads of doubles while my friend’s Beatles cards collection was in a class by itself. Ahem.

Was this wrong? I suppose it depends on your definition of “carrying charges.”

But next time you cross paths with a sweet, innocent country girl, well, let’s just say you might want to buy your own Beatles cards.

(Bob at the 4000 Holes Record Store on North Monroe still sells them.)

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached by email at