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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  The Slice

The Slice: It’s just a stroke of luck that we’re still here

Maybe I’m tripping.

But at this time of year, I like to think Spokane children are awed by the mere sight of those of us who are retirement age.

No, not because we survived the Cold War and heard authority figures tell us with straight faces that getting under our classroom desks would be a reasonable course of action in response to Russian missiles.

I like to think today’s kids would be impressed by the fact we lived with the near-constant threat of death due to going in swimming too soon after we had eaten.

“What was that like, great-grandfather? Were you scared?”

“Sure, honey. But we already figured we were living on borrowed time.”

Memorial Day weekend multiple-choice: The sight of you eating a hot dog probably suggests which of these images?

The delicate docking maneuvers of two orbiting space vehicles.

Certain of the T-rex chomping scenes in the original “Jurassic Park.”

Homer Simpson eating chocolate.

“The Night of the Grizzly.”

Covers of 1960s issues of the magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Maybe this has happened to you: You’re in a Spokane medical waiting room and you overhear another patient checking in at the front desk. The receptionist asks that person for his date of birth. And the patient gives a date that is just a few weeks off your birthday – same year. You start to smile a tiny bit but then you get a better look at him.

“Omigod, do I look that old?”

Let me help you with the answer.

Yes. Yes, you do.

Reader challenge: Before this year, the last time the St. Louis Blues met the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final was in 1970. The S-R’s features editor, Carolyn Lamberson, can be said to have a distant, roundabout connection to one of the players who competed in that series. No, it’s not Bobby Orr. (But you have the right team.)

So can you identify this gossamer thin connection? I’m willing to bet a barrel of marmots that you can’t.

(Feel free to email me if you are dying to know. Or call Carolyn. I’m sure she would be pleased to hear from you.)

You know you’re at a lemonade stand in Spokane when …: The 11-year-old proprietor takes one look at you and says “No credit.”

When you know you aren’t cut out for submarine duty: Marilyn White of Wallace once forgot to roll up her window when she took her van through an automatic car wash.

The torrent of high-pressure water was her first clue that something was wrong.

Two things that come to mind when you are reading Robert Caro’s LBJ books: Are there two prominent people in the Inland Northwest who hate each other’s guts the way Lyndon Johnson and Bobby Kennedy loathed one another? Does everyone know Spokane gets mentioned in “The Passage of Power”?

Your summer camp stories from long ago sound like outtakes from which movie: “Cool Hand Luke,” “Stripes,” “Night of the Living Dead,” “Lord of the Flies,” “The Revenant,” “Apocalypto,” “The Shawshank Redemption.”

Slice answers: What was the best age to be in that momentous year, 1969?

Fritz Stout was 17. He had graduated from high school that spring and was enrolled at Iowa State University in the fall.

When his birthday came up in the draft lottery, the number was safely in the 200s. “I was never called up.”

So he adhered to a rigorous schedule of doing what kids that age do. “It was a great, but scary, time.”

Lonnie Scott turned 13 in January of that year.

He was growing up in Southern California, the son of an aerospace engineer. Lonnie’s dad was sort of freaked out about the Charles Manson murders. Enough to buy a gun.

Woodstock was irrelevant. But theirs was a family ravenously interested in the space program.

“On Sunday, July 20, we rushed back from a Boy Scouts camping trip to be front and center for the moonwalk.”

Almost hard to believe that was 50 years ago.

“Yes, 13 was a great age to be in 1969, except for the Manson thing.”

Warm-up question: How often does some noise in your neighborhood prompt you to ask, “What the hell is that?”

Warm-up question 2: Speaking of neighborhood noises, Joni Mitchell had a 1975 album called “The Hissing of Summer Lawns.” The title referred to the sound of sprinklers. At least that’s what I have read.

But here’s my question. If a singer-songwriter in the Spokane area named a batch of tunes after the ubiquitous sound of lawn mowers in action, what would that title be?

This month’s Slice question: What went through your mind as you fell from a treehouse?

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at Always praise your mother-in-law’s potato salad. Lie if you have to.

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