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Wednesday, August 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Paul Turner: The keys to calling Spokane your hometown

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

A columnist in Illinois wrote about how hard it is for a transplant to Chicago to gain acceptance as someone with Windy City bona fides.

That reminded me of a story, possibly apocryphal, about the headline on a Vermont newspaper’s obituary focused on a senior citizen who had moved there as an infant from a neighboring state.

“New Hampshire woman dies at 94.”

Naturally, this all made me wonder. How long do you have to live in or near Spokane to establish your claim to this being your hometown?

Or perhaps it’s not simply a matter of time. Maybe your local cred is a result of your efforts to put down roots here.

So here’s a question for Spokane transplants. When can you legitimately claim the Inland Northwest as your true home?

I have a few theories. Maybe you have a couple of your own.

You can claim Spokane as your home when:

You start referring to virtually anything that’s not free as being a bit “spendy.”

Those in your household no longer even discuss signing up for Bloomsday – you just do it as a matter of course.

You are an officer in an organization that once had as a member one of the civic pioneers whose busts are on display on the east side of the S-R production facility on Monroe.

You acquire the nickname “O.W.” – for outstanding warrants.

The only others who know about your favorite huckleberry patch are bears.

You had relatives living here long before any white people came to this area.

You have considered leaving someone out of your will because of his stand on studded tires.

You are willing to spend a geologic amount of time cruising for a perfect street-parking “miracle spot” rather than pay to park in a garage or fee lot.

You can claim Spokane if you originally arrived here on a passenger train that stopped downtown in the middle of the day.

You love someone whose weather preferences strike you as, well, Californian.

You know the difference between wheat and barley.

You have said something amusing enough to make a Spokane native spit out his or her coffee.

You have offered to help a stranger who seemed scared, lost or confused.

Taking the good with the bad

I’ve mentioned before that I am a distant relative of Edwin Drake, who drilled the first oil well in 1859.

Apparently Drake was a decent engineer but did not know much about patents. As a result, no one in my extended family grew up burdened by initiative-crushing trust funds.

He came to mind over the weekend when my wife and I sent some Drake memorabilia to her cousin, who is some sort of oil poohbah living outside Houston. It wasn’t much. Just some salute-to-petroleum four-cent postage stamps from 1959 and a special “Oil Century” newspaper section featuring Drake published in that same year by the New York Herald Tribune.

The classic question came up. If I am going to take pride in my relative sticking a dagger in the heart of the New England whaling industry must I also accept the blame for global warming?

Do any of your ancestors pose a similar dilemma?

End note

This is the time of year when a lot of people enjoy competing to see who has the most impressive knowledge of basketball.

But I wonder if there is any sports fan around here who can touch me when it comes to one particular category of hoops acumen (or lack of same).

Here is my category: Who has the absolute worst ability to spot basketball talent and project a player’s future prospects?

Hold my beer, as they say. I’ll cite two personal examples.

A number of years ago, I attended an EWU game out in Cheney. The Eagles had a player named Rodney Stuckey. Though I suspect he torched my alma mater – Northern Arizona – that night, I didn’t really think he was anything special. At least not that I noticed.

Stuckey went on to have something like a 10-year NBA career.

Then a few years ago, while I was visiting relatives in suburban Detroit, my sister-in-law’s husband took me to a high school basketball game. The matchup featured his old school playing against a team from a nearby suburb. He told me a player to watch was a guard for his alma mater named Cassius Winston.

So I watched him. And he seemed fine and all. But, I thought, nothing all that special.

Winston is now a key player for Michigan State.

I rest my case.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached by email at

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