Saturday, March 29, 2003


More Valley memories

Editor's note: The Spokesman-Review asked young and old readers alike for anecdotes that illustrate the unique experience of growing up in the Spokane Valley. Here are their replies.

In the fifty's when I was a child growing up in the valley off Pines Rd & the freeway, it meant Pines was the farthest limits of the populated valley and the freeway was still being constructed in the city.

We met my father, who worked on the railroad, downtown under the train overpasses that are now Riverfront Park, and played along the many rail lines that ran through the valley during that time.

We visited my uncle on a mink ranch way out in the country off Barker Rd and joined friends to swim in the multiple irrigation ditches there and throughout the Valley.

I watched as the chicken farm on Pines Rd turned into a trailer court and the skating rink behind the Dishman Theatre us kids used to go to all the time, burned down a short time after opening.

I remember riding in the Valley Days parade that marched down Sprague Avenue and my riding adventures to Maribeau Park where I daydreamed by the river.

The ski lodge in the nearby hills of Liberty Lake was exciting and interesting to watch them blow snow on the slopes so people could ski. It was a nice change from it being the dump site for so many years.

We used to go to the beaches of Liberty Lake and swim and actually had a choice of which beach to swim at.

Many more memories are still packed away regarding my lazy, crazy years in the Spokane Valley and I'll forever remember the "good old days".

D. Lorraine Council, Spokane Valley

The most important thing I remember about the Valley was a sound… of the Paper Mill whistle. We lived in Orchard Avenue and my father worked at the paper mill. That whistle blew to welcome him to work, tell him when lunch was and blew finally at quitting time. The one I liked best was the "quitting time" whistle as I knew he would be home soon…as fast as his bicycle could get him there (there was a war on, you know and gas was rationed). I live at the far east side of the Valley now but still hear that wonderful whistle when the wind is right, and it brings back great memories.

Joan Stout Matlack, Liberty Lake

It is Fall 1947. Summer has passed and I, along with all my friends, look forward to starting our first year of grade school. Alas, our school is not ready. We have to be bussed to Sheridan. Wow, what a trip. And this happens every day of the week. Pick us up and bring us back. What a wonder to behold. Here we are away from home at such an early age. But then it happens and we are once again told we will have to move. It's off to Alcott we go. This is closer but the excitement still continues as we all try and get used to being in the educational system.

Finally, at long last, Orville C. Pratt is ready for its initial run of school kids. Yes, finally, we are told we can attend our own neighborhood school. This is great news except for one thing….walking to school is now required. No more bus rides. No more playing on the bus, just a nice walk, rain, shine, snow, whatever, to a beautiful school between Bradley and Coleman on 4th. No grass, no trees, nothing but a building and a rock-covered playing field. Why half, if not two-thirds, of the property is covered with rocks. What a deal!

Is this the start of something big?

Rod Christian, Spokane Valley

As I take the Liberty Lake exit off I-90 and see the grocery stores, the fast food places, and the many other businesses, I can’t help think about how Liberty Lake has changed since my family moved here in the 1960’s. At one time, this intersection only consisted of a barn and a railroad track. There were no houses or apartments that now seem to continually sprout up. The only thing that grew was the Schneidmiller grass fields.

Life at Liberty Lake was simpler then. The post office was a tiny one-room place that only was too small during Christmas. The only store was smaller than a 7-11; but it still had all the candy that a 12-year-old boy could want. This was all we needed.

I will always remember the adventures Dick LaBute and I had building forts up in the hills, or Monte Barnes and I riding our bikes around the lake and stopping at Sig’s resort to play pin ball. In the winter, the neighborhood kids would play hockey on the frozen lake. It didn’t matter if it got dark, the neighbors would always turn on the outside lights so we could see. Only when it was dinnertime did we end the game and go home.

Today there are many people here who are second, third, and fourth generations of Liberty Lakers. We all have our memories of what life was like growing at the lake. It was the perfect place to grow up, and it’s too bad we can’t be 12 again.

Dave Freeman, Liberty Lake

My name is Reese Riggin. I grew up at 2825 N. Locust, in Millwood, about 3 blocks from Millwood Park. My childhood growing up in the Valley was wonderful.

I use to love the summer days, waiting all day to put on my West Valley Kiwanis uniform, which really only consisted of an old, scratchy polyester shirt, and my blue jeans. I had to make sure my weeding was done in the garden, or else I couldn’t play. I would slide my glove down the long handle bars of my Schwinn bicycle, and hold my blue aluminum bat over my handle bars, straddle my banana seat, and ride down to my game, alone no parent escort, didn’t need one back then. After those games we would all pile into the bed of a pick up truck and head over to A&W, across from Argonne Village, and have root beer floats.

I remember as a little kid going with my parents on family night to Longhorn Barbecue drive thru, and get the biggest ice cream cones around for $.25. They don’t sell ice cream anymore and don’t have a drive thru. I remember the path I had beaten down with my bicycle through the field behind Argonne Village, and always rushing to beat the trains across the tracks on my bike. We would go to the Super Save Drug store, check out the new comics; my favorite was Richie Rich, and Archie & Jughead. We would also head over to the Coast-to-Coast hardware store and buy BB’s for my gun, or to Anthony’s clothes store, for my first pair of Britannia Jeans.

That summer time when I watched them put up that big ‘ol water tower in the corner of Millwood Park, and then throwing rocks at it to hear the cool echo it would make from the different water levels. Riding my Yamaha MX 80 around the bases at the ball field, until I nice police officer would escort me home. Hearing the noon whistle from the paper mill.

My back yard butted up against Kim Momb’s back yard. Back then I thought he was the coolest he had all these motorcycles, and would let some friends and me hang out with him. It wasn’t until I was much older that I heard about his great climbing attempt of Mt. Everest with John Roskelly, and other climbers, then as a young adult hearing of his death in British Columbia while skiing.

Running down to the 7-11 on Argonne, to get the newest slurpee cup with baseball players on the cups. Buying a pack of cards and get a piece of gum in it. My older brother took all those cards I collected 20 years later, and he still denies doing it to this day.

I remember my dad taking us every Friday night to a West Valley High football game. Those years when they went to state twice in a row and won it the second time there. Watching #26 Scott Dickenson run over everyone.

Those hot summer nights when the neighbor kids would get together and play kick ball under the streetlights until parents yelled at us to come in.

Every now and then I go back and drive through the old neighborhood. It is funny the hills that we use to sled down don’t look nearly as steep or as long. The home run fence in right field not so impossible to reach. Drive by our old house and see the same roof I use to jump off of thinking I was the bionic man. I see the tree I planted from Expo ‘74, when they had the logging exhibition, and everyone there got a little sapling. That tree is huge now, and 29 years old.

Reese R. Riggin, Spokane Valley

I lived on Greenacres Rd. before it was divided by the freeway. I attended Greenacres Grade School. Was bussed 5 miles to Central Valley Jr. Hi, now North Pines. Attended CV's last 2 years on Appleway and was the 1st graduating class of CV when it moved to Sullivan. The Tower Drive-in and the A&W drive in and Ron's were our favorite hangouts.

We studied for our exams at Sig's resort at Liberty Lake. (the best)

Swimming or wading was big deal either by the irrigation ditches or flooding our lawns from "weirs" that were turned on our lawns and flowed through 6" canvas pipes mother sewed together on her sewing machine.

Our walks home from school always included skipping back and forth on the cement irrigation ditch that was along Barker...the challenge was not to fall in the water as we skipped.

Picking berries at the Brookshire and Miller farms starting at 5:30 a.m. was our way to make school clothes etc. money and then in the fall it was apple and prune picking time...We were paid 25 cents for a flat of berries and 5cents for an apple box!

The play at school was marbles, hopscotch, jump rope, roller-skating and tag.

Another way to make money was being a "paper girl or boy" using our bikes for delivery. Trying to collect each weekend was not always profitable.

We could cash in pop bottles for 3cents each (three tax tokens =1 penny) and then off to the corner store of Greenacres IGA or Cogleys and Whitneys or Krauses across from the grade school for candy bars, gum, Life Savors or ice creams bars at 3 for 25cents.

Judy Brookshire Dropko, Spokane

Ahhh...memories of the Valley. I grew up on 4th Avenue between University and Pierce between 1952 and 1970. I attended the old original Opportunity elementary grade school on the corner of Sprague and Bowdish, then North Pines Junior High and University High School. The old pre-University City Rosauers grocery store (where the current store is located) had a domed roof that was removed during an early store remodel and put on the then new United Parcel Service building constructed up off of Mica-Dishman. There was a barbershop and creamery out on the corner of Sprague and University in front of the old Rosauers store along with a mom and pop gas station (and with real service!) "Downtown" Opportunity (on the south side of Sprague just west of Pines) had Bromling's Pharmacy, Marty's Bicycle and Toy Shop, Edmunds Dry Goods store, Rice's Meats (that came complete with glass front meat display cabinets and sawdust on the floor), a hole-in-the-wall U.S. Post Office, and Peter's Hardware store. Further out Sprague, Ron's Drive-In had the best 19¢ hamburgers and was a hangout for CV high school kids at night and on weekends. Sandy Beach Resort on Liberty Lake was the place to go in the summer to play in the water and 32nd Avenue was in the middle of wheat fields and orchards and was a popular drag strip for hot cars. My dad was a residential milkman for Early Dawn Dairy in the days of glass bottles and milk delivery trucks that were refrigerated by ice. In the summertime, we could always tell where dad had been on his route by the melted ice water trail left on the streets in the Valley. Good memories of the Valley from my childhood when life was simple in a quiet community.

Dave Chandler, Walla Walla

Growing up in the Spokane Valley, in the late 1940s to mid 1960s, was special. Times were simpler, and families were not fearful about their safety. My parents never locked their doors unless we were leaving town on vacation, and even then, they didn’t feel it was really necessary. It was a time when we knew all of the neighbors for blocks around our home.

Memorable times include:

1) hiking in the Dishman Hills and Mirabeau Park (The “cowboy rocks” were great!)

2) learning to swim at the irrigation ditch, where the Valley Doubletree Hotel now stands

3) playing “kick the can,” in our yard on warm summer evenings (Neighborhood children of all ages played it together)

4) going to the Dishman Dairy Queen and Behm’s Creamery for ice cream cones on special occasions

5) learning to drive a car on 32nd Ave., between University and Sullivan Rd. (“out in the country”)

6) riding bikes to the R & L Food Ranch at the corner of Pines and Boone to buy penny candy

7) shopping in Opportunity at Edmonson’s Dry Goods, Buelow’s 5 & 10 Cent Store, Marty’s Toyland, Korte’s, Peter’s Hardware, and Rice’s Meat Market.

The Fred Messengers, who lived across the street from us, had a truck farm and would leave produce on our porch each day throughout the growing season. There were plenty of places where one could buy fruits and vegetables, but sadly, they have almost all disappeared.

I wouldn’t trade those growing up days in the Valley for anything!

Bonny L. Nickens, Spokane Valley

I have lived in the Valley since 1958. I grew up around the Terrace View Park area. In fact, I can remember when what is today Terrace View Park was nothing but a small forest, where a friend of mine-Steve Hollinsworth and I played army as little boys. It was always a lot of fun, as there were lots of trees and mounds of dirt there. This was in the 1960's. Then, along came a replacement for the trees and forest-Terrace View Park. I can remember many days after a school day at Bowdish Junior High when myself and a few other boys would play flag football in Terrace View. We all looked forward to those games. Many times we would play until close to dark. I still live in the Valley. In fact, I still live pretty close to Terrace View Park. I cannot imagine living anywhere else as great as Spokane Valley. We really do have one of the best places on earth to live.

Dale N. Anderson, Spokane Valley

I grew up in the Central Valley area, near Terrace View Park. My parents had built their split-entry home for $25,000 in 1968! We moved in January 1969, during a particularly snowy winter. It really seemed like we had moved out into the "boonies," as there was nothing but empty lots behind us. We kids called the empty lots "the woods," building forts and playing back there for hours. The Early Dawn Dairy was located on 24th and Evergreen, where the Evergreen Point housing development is now. We took a field trip to the dairy one year during elementary school. We had a milk box on our front porch and all of our dairy products were delivered to us once a week! My sister and I both learned to swim at Terrace View Pool; we practically lived at the pool every summer as soon as we were old enough to go by ourselves. Later, we both became lifeguards and worked at Terrace View and other Spokane County pools in the late 1970's - 1980's. I am fortunate enough to still live in the Valley, a mile from my old home, in a neighborhood that was built on some former open fields in the late 1970's - 1980's. My children now play at Terrace View Park and are learning to swim at Terrace View Pool!

Christy Thomas, Spokane Valley

I’ve lived in the Valley since I was four years old. I lived on the corner of McDonald and Sprague and went to Vera Grade School, Pines Junior High and then the old Central Valley, where the Greenacres Junior High is now. We moved near Sullivan and Valleyway when I was in the fifth grade.

My fondest memories are swimming in the flume (irrigation ditch) that was near Sullivan road. We could float for at least a county block through the flume. Also roller skating at Cook’s Roller Rink and going to the Dishman Theater, that was a movie house then.

At Vera School in the winter, they would flood the playground and we would ice skate at recess. It seems like we spent most of our time outside playing, no matter what the weather was like. Summer was spent running through the sprinkler, going to Wayside Beach or Sandy Beach at Liberty Lake and going to Natatorium Park, which was really a treat.

Diane Hunter, Spokane Valley

We moved into our house in Parkwater in 1944. Many of the local people still do not know where Parkwater is so I will tell you. It is bordered by Fancher on the east and Waterworks Ave. on the west. It is and was a working man’s neighborhood with many railroad workers living there.

These were the days when ice delivery trucks still came down the alley delivering large chunks of ice to those people who still had ice boxes. If you were lucky you could beg a large chip of ice to suck on a hot summer day.

Along with my two best friends, boys who lived across the alley, I spent many days on the banks of the Spokane River. We would walk by the Parkwater Hotel and Cafe, which housed many railroad workers in its day, cross the west end of Felts Field, and make our way down to the river. Once there we could get a drink of water in the Powerhouse, or walk across the footbridge that crossed the river. We spent most of the hot summer days climbing the hill beyond, playing on Minnehaha rock (before it was a park) or fishing from the banks of the river. I remember an occasional game of “Tarzan” swinging out over the river from a rope someone had tied to a tree.

For spending money we rode our bikes up to a berry farm on Park Rd. and Broadway and picked flats of berries, being paid for each flat. Much of our money was spent at the neighborhood store owned by Joe and “Doc” Rosauer.

Carline Clark, Spokane Valley

As long as I can remember, the Spokane River held a real fascination for my sister and me. Our home was just above the river. We got into a lot of mischief by our spending time down there.

At a young age I planned to take a few of the fresh-from-the oven cookies and go to the sunny hillside in the short distance and enjoy the sun and eat cookies and ponder about life! I was brought up short, though, when the realization that the Spokane River ran between me and Riblet's Hill. In Spokane, Riblet means a mansion on a windy cliff just above the Spokane River. To engineers, Riblet means tramways including the gondola ride at Riverfront Park. To ski-run developers, Riblet means chair lifts--more than 400 in every part of the United States.

Oh, yes, we knew about the Corbin Ditch!

D . C. Corbin was a pioneer developer, who formed the Spokane Valley Land & Water Company which developed a network of irrigation canals, including the Corbin Ditch. This cement ditch, was located on the Pinecroft Hill. The current carried one along so you could think you were learning to swim. I often drifted along on an inner tube. I also samg to myself Melody From the Skies--a real oldie!

The summer before I began high school, my sister and I undertook a swim across the river. At mid-point, my sister suddenly wailed, “I can't swim any farther!” After weighing the distance back and also ahead, she managed to finish the crossing. Then, to our embarrassment, in our wet swim suits, barefooted, we walked the mile to Millwood, crossed the bridge, and walked the mile back home.

Once we found a raft that was tied on the riverbank. We just knew what we had to do! Fully clothed, we got on the raft and set it free. Do you think we had any misgivings about steering, or how we were to get off of it? We had to jump into the cold water and swim ashore--and we watched while someone's raft went on its merrily way.

Another time it was a rowboat (with oars) that we commandeered. Our older brother must have been on tails, because, all of a sudden, bullets were raining down all around us! We went to shore, tied up the boat, and went straight home. Our brother did not own up to the shooting, but we knew it couldn't have been anyone else.

We swam at a place called River Lake. A deep pool set off from the usually swift currents by huge basalt rocks--perfect for sunning oneself on and jumping from.

We used our dog's energy for a fun time down on the river where thick ice formed between a small isle of land and our riverbank. We would throw something for him to fetch, and hold onto his tail for a ride on the ice.

Throughout our childhood, we really loved a visit to the beautiful park-like place, Blakley's Gardens, made up of acres of lush grass, hedges, stone bridges, and statues wearing just fig leaves. It wasn't an open-to-the-public park, but no one ever said don't tresspass. When it was sold, we were sad to see there wasn't anything left of the stone bridge. My research told me that Blakleys were from the 1877 pioneers of John Blakely who were listed in History of Spokane County.

There was a local Wild Man who frequented the Valley. Willie Wiley. He had an unorthodox lifestyle. Clad only in khaki shorts, green sun visor, and sandals, he went from back-door-to-back-door selling a wheat wafer. Other times, he’d just talk to whoever would listen. He was an original Nature Boy; a health nut ahead of his time; a hippie with a long, flowing beard. He frequently violated an order to stay off the 40-acre farm he once owned. The farm was seized by the county for a $100 debt and sold at a sheriff's auction. He spent many short spells in jail from Boston to San Francisco. At age 71, his devotion to animals led to his leaving behind 45 guinea pigs, six dogs and a rabbit. He was known as Spokane's ambassador of good will; he had the courage to live according to his convictions--he wanted to create a Garden of Eden where people and animals could live together--he was talking brotherly love.

Leta Norcross, Spokane Valley

I was born on Dec 13, 1927. I lived with my parents and older sister at 1905 N Pines Rd.

My dad's mother had come from Iowa, bought some property that ran along Pines on the bottom of the hill, and divided it between my dad and his sisters. That was around 1904. My family came a little later.

There were not very many neighbors in the area, but enough so that we had fun! The White kids, as I called them, lived behind us. We walked over very hot asphalt in our bare feet to the ditch to swim. The ditch was on Pinecroft hill about the location of the Elk's. We had many picnics, chewed the hot bubbling tar from the road and tried to smoke milkweeds.

We, the kids in the area, attended Trent Grade School. Sometimes we skated down Pines to reach the two-story, eight-grade school. My sister had attended the same school nineteen years earlier.

The roller skates were never put away! We skated to Halpins Drug Store, then located up the concrete steps in Opportunity, to buy frozen Power House candy bars in the middle of winter with the snow drifts far higher than we were. It got pretty cold!

Things in the area didn't change much! I rode the electric train at Pinecroft on Saturday to Spokane for piano lessons which were at 9th and Lincoln. I returned at 2:00pm.

As I grew a little older, I got around on my bike more. My friend, Machine Briggs, and I rode our bikes across the Trent bridge to swim in the mud ditch in Trentwood. We were meeting some boys. We were wearing shorts. Someone who worked with my dad at the Portland Cement Plant told him that we were wearing shorts! My dad didn't like it too much! What would he think today?

Although there were not a lot of people in the area, I had a very best friend, Patricia Rooney, she was such a good person and a lot of fun. I never saw her but a few times after she moved away, but I never forgot her!

The experience of living in Spokane Valley during the earlier days was a treat! We certainly had time to soak up the daily events in our lives. Time to sell the violets around my playhouse, build with the match blocks, swing in the big old apple tree, slide down the hay stacks, and mama had to call Rover so he wouldn't follow me to school.

Joyce Fleak Budig, Ponderosa

We have been life long residents of the Spokane Valley for most of our 84 years. After graduating from C.V. we married in 1939 and lived in a two room house and during the next several years we built on as we had the money. We got to enjoy 80 acres across the street from us, nothing but huge boulders, and in the springtime the irrigation ditch where we swam in the summer. We also had lots of beautiful wild flowers to pick and see the squirrels scurrying around and lots of pheasants and some wild rabbits. At age 5 our daughter had a pony and then a horse and dog that she had until graduating from high school.

It was a wonderful quiet place to live. Most of the ground was fruit trees and vegetable gardens. The year 2002 was the first time in 62 years that we didn't have a garden on our 2 acres.

We are close to doctors’ offices, church, stores, hospital, eating places and our Big Mall.

We do have lots of traffic but we still love the good old Valley life.

We are proud of our daughter, 2 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren who all live close to us.

Ray & Elsie Kirkpatrick, Veradale

Our family moved to Pleasant Prairie when I was in the 5th grade. We attended the Pleasant Prairie School house, which was a part of the West Valley District. It was a small brick building with 2 classrooms. We had a bell to pull at the stop of the stairway to call the children to class. I spent 5-8th grades in the left room of the school.

I graduated from the 8th grade and went on the bus, to the high school, which is now the new Albertson's grocery store. I graduated in 1959 from high school, so we were in transition between the new school and the old school. I was late for geometry many times my senior year.

I remember Jude Heathcote being my algebra teacher. If he was in a good mood and had won a basketball game, we had class, otherwise, he would throw the chalk on the chalkboard and stalk out of class. He was at Michigan State after that and, I believe, doing what he really wanted to do. Coach basketball!

I remember our Sadie Hawkins dances and swimming in the Progress Irrigation ditch. One

spring it was shallower than usual and I had a very skinned nose.

I loved drama. This was something I could do with out having to ride the bus. There were no late busses then. I was Mary Anne in "Huckleberry Finn." I remember we did the productions for the children downtown. Our drama class had some extra time and we explored the Old Cathedral by the Sacred Heart Hospital, during one dress rehearsal. We climbed all the stairs of the Cathedral.

I was voted the most youthful in the class annual. Didn't like it then---Don't mind it now!

Bertha Joyce (BJ Glenn) Taylor, Northwood

My sister and I grew up in the Spokane Valley area and have lived here for over 50 years. The following are a few fond memories of that time, the great 1950's and 60's.

Swimming at the Dishman pool all summer. It is now covered with dirt.

Going to Camp Caro located in the Dishman Hills. We would have Girl Scout camp there and then of course go to the Easter Egg hunt, hoping to get the Golden Egg.

Being the first 9th grade class at the Argonne Jr. High School. It was the "old" West Valley High. Of course it was torn down and Albertson’s now sits on the property. Being a freshman in high school and finding that your Home Ec. teacher was your dad's math teacher.

Going skating at the local roller rink. It was called Clouds, located behind the Deja Vu. Watch it burn to the ground one night and knowing that all your fun just went up in smoke.

Going to the Dishman Theatre and paying 25 cents for a movie. It of course is now the Deja Vu. What a sad day when that happened.

Going shopping in Dishman. They actually had a clothing store, drug store and a variety store along with a few restaurants. They also had the first Drive In restaurant, the A & W Root beer stand. The Mustard Seed now sits there.

Watching in awe as the new U-City Mall was being built. Attending the opening ceremonies and then spending every waking hour there. It was so great to be inside shopping instead of going to Northtown and freezing in the winter.

Marilyn Rush Lueble and Linda Rush Bowman, Spokane Valley

Growing up in the Valley holds a lot of special memories. We lived in the CV District on the corner of Saltese & McDonald. We attended The Little Red Grange (I think) for kindergarten in Veradale. It was between Progress & Adams on Sprague. Went to McDonald Elementary, Bowdish Jr. High & Central Valley High School. A lot of our friends from Bowdish went to U-High so that was a big adjustment when we entered High School.

Judy moved across the street when I was 9, and we've been friends ever since. We would buy matching swimsuits and couldn't wait for our mom's to sew on our patches to “Valley Park Pool.” Many many summer days spent there! When they would close the pool down for an hour or so, we learned from the older kids how to steal apples from the VanHees Orchards that were just across the street. Of course they were green and we got sick every time! Later we would pick cherries and apples for money. The orchards were everywhere.

We would ride our bikes everywhere and one of our favorite spots was the Early Dawn Dairy. You could go and pet the cows, watch them be milked and get an ice cream! You could ride your bike down Sprague to Liberty Lake and swim at Sandy Beach, go to U-City Mall and walk for hours. The Carmel Corn was the best.

Life seemed simple. Friends with horses would ride to your house just to say “hi”; everyone was in Campfire, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts. Moms were always home. The big trip to Coeur d’Alene for camp was always a favorite. Going to the Naccarato's farm on 32nd and Pines to buy produce.

Things flood your mind when writing - hope this reminds others of the same things. I have live in the Valley since I was 2 yrs old. We have lived in Painted Hills for over 20 yrs, not very farm from where I stated!

Laurie Marshall (Forbes), Painted Hills

I have lived here since 1932. We lived at the end of Ely on South River way on the south side of the river. I remember watching for logs coming down the river. Grandpa and Grandma had a row boat and when anyone saw a log just coming under the bridge at Argonne, we would holler that there was a log. They would take the boat out, tie on the log with a grappling hook and pull it in to shore. When the logs dried out they were cut up for our winter wood. One day a slide came floating down the river. It was metal with wooden supports along the sides. It was pulled out and set up for use as a slide on the sandy shore near the river. That was before Upriver Dam was put in. After the dam was in, the sandy shore was covered with water. Later the slide was used when Daddy was butchering pits. The pig was killed and then placed onto the slide with a barrel of boiling water at the end of the slide. It made it easier to slide the pig into the boiling water and back out. Then they could scrape the hair off the pig before it was butchered. When the meat was all packaged in freezer wrap, instead of putting it in your home freezer (which no one had at that time) the meat was taken to the Shreck's lockers in Millwood. You could rent a locker to put your meat in. Each person had a combination lock on his locker. It was very cold and so hard to remember the combination and get the lock open and then find the cut of meat you wanted. It was wonderful to get back out in the sunshine and get warmed up.

We could go spend an afternoon sliding on our sleds down the hill at Bigelow Gulch and Evergreen. It was a wonderful ride down and then you had to walk back up for another ride. We would only see maybe one or two cars all afternoon.

I remember going to the fire when Dishman burned. I believe the fire started in Michelli's tire shop and took the whole block of stores. This was in 1951. It was some time before the cement base for those stores was torn down and new businesses built in their place. We spent many an afternoon roller-skating in a big roller dome behind the shops along Sprague in Dishman.

It was nice to have the theater in Dishman where we could watch the latest movies. We lived close enough that we could ride our bikes from home and go the matinee. One time when we came out of the movie, I found my bike had a flat tire. I had to walk all the way home - probably about three miles.

The whole family might go swim in the irrigation ditch on a hot evening. The water was so cold at first but felt so good when it had been really hot during the day. The water moved fast so you had to be careful you didn't get carried away.

There used to be a band pavilion on the lawn at the Inland Empire Paper Mill. Anyone in the community could join the band of a summer Sunday evening and be part of the music or just go and sit on the grass and enjoy the music of others.

We took the boat up the river the night the logs at the paper mill burned. They were stacked for some distance along the bank of the river. Once the fire got started, they just all burned. It was beautiful to watch but such a waste.

Doris Dean, Spokane Valley

Growing up west of Dishman at Main and Bessie in the depression days. Sprague Avenue was a block south of us, and the things my sister Virginia and I could do were endless. Play in the Washington Brick and Lime. We would crawl over, and around, and through the big tile pipes, play hide and seek, all this and more in several acres of fun places.

Go wading in a muddy pond formed from runoff from the Dishman gravel pit. Skate on the same pond in the winter, with clamp on skates that were known for slipping off our rubber boots, leaving us on our knees, or whatever. We graduated to hiking up a canyon south of Warsinskis fox farm, which if now where there would be in the woods at the end of Vista. We would scramble over snow and ice covered boulders to get up to Horse Soup Lake. Some years there wasn't enough moisture to form a one or two foot deep lake. When we did have ice, we would have a big bonfire to warm us, and we would have an exciting afternoon with several neighborhood friends. Crack the whip was one of our fun things to do. We could also ski down the hill in an area that had few trees. If we hit a bump the one strap that held out ski's on could very well slip off our boot. If luck was with us it might hit a tree and stop.

Mrs. Norma Koch Panther, Spokane Valley

I was born in Spokane, spent ten years growing up in Montana, before moving back to Spokane Valley in the wonderful township of Opportunity. We lived on north Pines Road, one house away from Mission. It was truly country living; horses, rabbits, chickens, large wonderful gardens, apple orchards, huge raspberry patches.

We rolled down Pines Road in barrels, swam in the irrigation ditch that furnished water four our gardens, hiked throughout the Pines Croft area. I would rise early in the morning, in the summer, to earn money by picking raspberries and peas. I spent hours in our yard throwing baseballs to my dad. I had an evening paper route and during those days it was a real adventure, sometimes riding my bike for a mile or so to deliver one paper! Those areas are now Mission Park, Valley General Hospital, many apartment and housing areas.

My most precious memories are walking over to the hill area east of Pines and north of Mission, the hills that now overlooked the freeway and are occupied by medical buildings. My best friend and I would spend hours of girlhood chatter on those hills! It was those same hills where my siblings and I would sled during the winters. Many Sunday afternoons were spent walking many miles thought the Valley, meeting friends, and just having great chats as we walked.

My Grandmother lived up in the Foothills and I have so many fond memories of taking the horse and sleigh and going out to search for the perfect Christmas tree - a real family outing.

My husband and I always believed we would return to the Spokane Valley, after spending 26 years in the military. We wanted to raise our five children in the Central Valley school district, where I have fond memories. We bought our home in 1974, in the Kokomo area, during one of my husband Jim's tours flying in Southeast Asia. We rented out our home during our four years in Great Falls, MT, coming “home” in 1979. At that time we bought my family home on Pines Rd, renovated it for our 14 years as “Joanie's Old Homestead” ceramic business. What a change Pines Rd. was from my barrel rolling days to one of the busiest arterials in the Valley!!!

I grew up on Pines and Mission (now Devine's). My parents lived there 39 years before moving to the house they owned on Mission, when we bought the Pines property for our business.

Joan (Fryhling) Gunby, Spokane Valley

When I was a boy in the 50's I lived in a brick house on the S.E. corner of Broadway and Adams. My mom used to drive us to Sullivan and Mission in the summer and drop us off to swim the irrigation ditch. Mission Ave. was a dirt road with no houses on it till almost McDonald. We'd float down the ditch to Adams where the pump house was, get out and walk south on Adams home. I remember the roads in the Valley all had little ditches on both sides that the water came down from the big ditch and people would open little wooden gates to irrigate their fields.

You can still see remnants of the old irrigation ditches if you look closely.

Tom Nowak, Liberty Lake

1952 was a great time to be twelve. We weren't original Liberty Lakers having moved from Chicago 6 years earlier, but we were settled in. Back in those days we really had winter. Not at all like the one we are experiencing. The lake froze so had that light planes landed and fathers drove their cars out to teach their daughters (and sons) to ice fish. Drinking and driving on the ice was not recommended as several cars had fallen through soft spots ignored due to the driver's "high spirits". Those drivers experienced immediate detox.

Blizzards, blowing heavy snow, regularly closed the roads at the entrance to the lake. On those days there was no school as the school board didn't want to expose their children to the elements. Snow Days! Those were the best days of all. There was something "stolen" about them, because they weren't planned.

On the occasions when the bus did get through, it was slowed due to conditions. We'd wait at the bus stop, listening through our earmuffs, staring at someone's watch. We only had to wait just so long; then we were free! Even when we could hear the bus coming, we'd run. We'd run gasping, laughing, and hiding just as the bus went by.

In the earlier years we went to the Liberty Lake school and were all gathered in one room. The first graders would go to the front to be taught, followed by the next and next. In the meantime the others had lessons to do. My specialty, however, was making paper money and using my Captain Midnight De-Coder. Somehow we learned, not always by "recommended" ways. Once the boys found a snake and we had a science class on the spot. That wonderful teacher knew the word "flexible." We had snow days at that school too. Bad roads kept the teacher from getting to US! We loved those days just as much.

Snow days gave us time to build snowmen and go sledding until our ties-on-mittens dripped and our noses were blue. No wimps in this group. Mother would whistle three sharp blasts and I'd straggle home to hot food, a hotter bath and a warm bed.

There were power outages during the storms. Mother always had extras on hand. She'd stoke the fireplace, and boil water. We'd cook the best hot dogs and hot chocolate; a real winter picnic. We played board games by candlelight and snuggled in warm blankets those nights, without doubt that we were safe and well.

I had started skating age six on double bladed skates strapped to my boots. Getting my first single blade skates was like an award. They were my treasure. When the wind blew the snow from the lake we'd spread sheets between us and fly in whatever direction it blew. We loved the exhilaration, the freedom! The going was great fun; the return was harder.

These were the shaping times of my life and still touch my daily life 50 years later. We received so many of life GIFTS on coping with the unexpected, turning adversity into a game, and the pleasure of fun with friends - friends who seem to have gotten older, but if you look closely, you will still see them flying across the lake, ready to take on anything.

Marjorie Fewkes, Otis Orchards

My name is Rick Triber and I grew up in the Valley. I went to Greenacres Elementary School (when it was on Barker Rd.,) Greenacres Jr. High (the old 3 story one on Appleway,) and Central Valley High (the old Blue one on Sullivan Rd.)

I grew up at 18002 E. Boone, which is north of I-90 between Greenacres and Long roads. Winter would find me and my friends, Gene Wiltse, Glen Randant, Marv Davis and Claude Freund either ice skating down ice covered Boone Ave., or sledding down Jared's hill (a very short hill on the corner of Mission and Flora.)

In the summer, my brother Russ and I would swim in the old irrigation ditch at Baker and Broadway where one day Russ stole my swim suit. (I splashed around a lot until he gave it back because there were a lot of girls around.)

When I was in high school, our favorite thing to do was to go to Ron's Drive In (the old one) and drive around the building over and over again (to impress the girls and to be “cool.”)

We also marked off a 1/4 mi drag strip on Sullivan Rd. (then it was only one way in each direction.) It started right in front of C.V. High and went south just past 12th. (I won a few races in my '51 Chevy 4 door deluxe.)

Life was good in the Valley in the 60's.

Rick Triber, Otis Orchards

I was born in July 1937 to Valley pioneers Paul & Agnes Niles. My dad's family homesteaded in 1901 and truck farmed on what is now Mission & Argonne to Mission & Farr. There were 2 huge willow trees near Mission and Farr which my father planted as twigs and were cut down about 10 years ago. Ella street in Millwood was named after my grandmother.

My father was a contract hauler for the Spokesman-Review and brought out all the bundles of papers for the entire Valley for both the Review and Chronicle. Part time he did commercial spraying and I often accompanied him to orchards throughout the Valley.

Summers we hiked Dishman Hills, swam in irrigation ditches and lessons at Sandy beach, picnics at Schafer Springs and picked berries for spending money. Winters were spent sledding on hills which were always blocked off between 4th and 8th Aves. There were movies at Dishman Theater, roller-skating at the Valley rink behind the theater.

We always had a Halloween party in our garage. The neighbors made cider out of all the apples we could find including the wormy ones, but we thought it was great.

I was married in 1956 and have spent my entire life in the Valley and we raised our family here. I grew up in the University district on 8th near University and my children are 4th generation Valleyites.

Mrs. Pearl Hansen, Spokane Valley

I'm 39 years old and still live in the Spokane Valley. I grew up on Maxwell road by University. We used to walk exactly one mile to go to U-C (University City shopping mall). We always brought pennies with us so we could make a wish in the fountain that was in the middle of the mall. In one of the stores, I remember a huge stuffed polar bear stood on its hind feet in the back corner of the store.

On other days, we walked to Short-Stop (now Zip Trip), a small store at Broadway and Felts, where we bought penny candy and Reeses Peanut Butter cups for a nickel. That was fun!

Mr. Rogers, who was a neighbor, and who later became a teacher at U-high, brought a petition by for mom and dad to sign to have Mission Park put in. After the park was built, we would walk down our dirt road to get there, but at the end of our road, we had to pass an old house we thought was haunted. It was owned by Mrs. Mooney. She had a huge raspberry patch behind her house. After she died, some of her property was turned into a parking lot for the park. I have many, many memories of Mission Park. I learned to swim there. It was the place to meet all the new neighborhood kids. We used to play tag and baseball. My friends and I would swim almost everyday during the summer.

MaryJo Kraut, Spokane Valley

A couple of things have come to mind regarding early days in the Valley 1945.

When we bought a house at 27th and S. University in Aug. 1945 there was a 5-member telephone line from our house south. We had to help maintain it. The group owned a set of “climbers” - cleats and harness to climb a pole.

Chester school was a 2-room school of its own school district. The lunch room was in the teacher's college basement on the property.

In about 1955, our two daughters rode their horses from home to the site of the business: Wilson & Sprow at Fancher and Broadway streets, then on to the fairgrounds at Havana, where they roomed exhibit animals, sheep & horses at the Interstate Fair.

Alice Sprow, Spokane Valley

* The train that ran past the end of Locust at Sprague

* Riverside Avenue that paralleled Sprague from Argonne to Locust (ran

behind the businesses)

* Pink Pony drive-in at Farr and Locust

* Dishman Theater (now Déjà Vu)

* Riding our bikes on a hot summer day to the Dishman pool

* The Dishman-family house that sat in the field where Mullan runs now

* Ken Fry's gas station that was at the (approximately) 9500 block of east Sprague (on the south side of the street), roughly where the KFC now stands

* 3 A&W drive-ins where we high-schoolers "hung out": the building that's now the Mustard Seed on Sprague, the building that's now Wolffy's (Argonne & Montgomery), and in the area directly east of what is now Déjà Vu (I think it's just a parking lot now)

* Behms Creamery, where you could buy Popsicles for 5 cents and Fudgsicles for 7 cents, penny candy, and licorice milkshakes (that made my sister's mouth black.) Its landmark was the big milk bottle at the end of our street (Locust.)

* All the businesses in Dishman (as kids growing up, we walked that route A LOT!)

Ginnie Todd, Spokane

The Spokane Valley has certainly changed a lot since I grew up. I remember nothing but farms and orchards and the occasional country store. Rulffes' store sat on the corner of Trent & Harvard - there is a little "strip mall" there now. Staffords' Fruitstand on the West corner. Across Trent, Pringles' Garage.

I grew up in Otis Orchards in the 1940s & 50s, in a house my Grandparents, Asa and Emma Gilkey, built in the 1800s, on Harvard Rd. Otis was acres of apple orchards then; separated with stone fences built when the land was cleared; as they did in the "old country."

I was an only child, and my summers were spent reading under the big tree in the backyard, teaching my dog, Butch, to climb a ladder so we could sit on the roof of the barn and count stars - and falling thru that roof - Grampa was not happy with that one. I remember riding my bike to Sandy Beach at Liberty Lake and getting up at 4 AM to pick berries for spending money.

My fondest memories are learning to swim in "The Ditch," at Uncle Jim's, with my cousins Jim, Penny and Meg McLachlan. I challenged myself to swim under the little wooden bridge on Kenny Road. I only had to hold my breath for 30 seconds, but I agonized over this challenge for days, and the day I did it, I felt like Esther Williams!

It was a wonderful place to grow up.

Arlene (McLachlan) Mork, Millwood

I grew up in the Opportunity Terrace area of the valley during the sixties and seventies. Finding a single anecdote to describe valley life during those days is difficult. Instead, I submit my non-ranked top ten list of “cool stuff I did in the valley”:

1. Riding noisy two stroke dirt bikes all over Bella Terra, Mica Peak, and the Painted Hills.

2. Engaging in fiercely pitched BB gun wars in and around Terrace View Park.

3. Catching frogs from Dishman Hills ponds and releasing them on busy Sprague Avenue (our pre video game version of Frogger).

4. Drinking copious amounts of stateline-purchased Coors on creepy moonless nights parked next to the Saltese Cemetery.

5. Drag racing up and down Sprague in my 64 Galaxie XL 500 with a built 427.

6. Making out in the backseat of said 64 Ford on hot summer evenings with Aerosmith “Get Your Wings” playing in the cassette deck.

7. Poking dead bloated cows with sticks on Boy Scout outings during the spring of 69 (after the BIG winter).

8. Building labyrinthine tunnels in the snow during the BIG winter of 68/69.

9. Sledding down 23rd St. on bright cold January days, grabbing the back runner of someone’s sled and spinning him or her out.

10. Swiping chunks of prime rib from the kitchen while working at the Red Lion and being chased by the angry, cleaver wielding German cook.

Bob Salsbury, Veradale

It was the summer of ‘61. A rather warm summer, as I remember, and the source of many warm memories. Between my 8th and 9th year of school, I was anticipating how different life would be as a freshman at West Valley High School. By mid-August, a pattern of behavior had started that would occupy many of my summer evenings until the start of school. A friend of mine would ride his bicycle from his home in Millwood to my place in Pasadena Park. We would spend a few minutes watching my small flock of pigeons fly circles above my pasture, then hop on our bikes and ride down a two lane

Argonne Rd. to Millwood pool, behind the old W.V.H.S. Here, we would swim and cool our heels until the pool closed at dusk. The water always seemed a bit chilly at Millwood pool, and would do a great job of cooling us down after a long, hot summer day. The evenings at the pool were far less crowded than the afternoons. I remember being the only ones swimming on several occasions. The bike ride home was far more pleasant, having been revitalized by the magic waters from the aquifer. A simple pleasure, but one we looked forward to repeating evening after evening in those waning days of summer vacation.

Tom Herrmann, Pasadena Park

We moved to the Spokane Valley in 1948. Mom and dad purchased a new home on the corner of Vista and Knox just south of Trent Avenue. The area at that time was rural, there was a big red barn behind our house that housed horses and cows. My sister and I loved to dress up like cowgirls and ride our stick horses. One day we each went back to the barn and picked up cow pies to put behind our stick horses. Dad came home and saw what we had done, and laughed and laughed.

We had an irrigation ditch down the block from our house. One day my sister and I went swimming as all the neighborhood children did. For some reason that day the water was deeper and seemed swifter than usual. Mysister got in and started swimming, lost control and was headed down into the underground pipe, but just before she did, a stron neighbor boy pulled her out. After that, we were not allowed to go swimming in the ditch. We had the pool at West Vallye High School to swim, so from then on we used it.

My dad was a big tease and loved kids, he had nicknames for all the neighborhood children. Bonnie and Bev Humrich were called Humdingers. Billy Bankcroft was called Billy Bankrupt. JoAnn Babcock was called Hole-in-the-Chin (she had a large dimple in her chin.) We always had lots of kids in our yard and dad was always there to play games with us. Those were the good old days, in the 50s. My dad’s name was Ted Jones. I’m sure a lot of people remember him.

Sharon Mardon, Spokane Valley

When my two sisters and I were growing up in the Valley, we lived next door to Floyd Coffin. In the backyard of their home sat a black Model T truck. We coveted that truck although it looked rather seedy. One spring day Mr. Coffin told us he wanted to sell the truck. The asking price was $7. We very excitedly counted our meager treasure and all-together we only had $6. By some persuasive bargaining Mr. Coffin let it go for the $6.

What fun to go riding in that old truck on a dime’s worth of gas, the summer breezes blowing in our faces.

One day my friend Virgil, who loved the truck as much as I did, and I were tooling around among the scrub pine trees in what is now Sherwood Forest. We had a flat tire and no jack in the truck. Virg suggested I take the battery out of the truck, which I did.

He then got under the rear of the truck, arched his back a sufficient amount, lifting the truck so I could slide the battery and a couple of dead tree branches under the axle. The ire was off the ground enough so we could put on the spare and continue on our merry way with the summer breezes again blowing in our faces.

Jim Bertis, Spokane Valley

Back to Top