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Paul Turner: One last dance with Spokane Man

October 3, 2018

My access to the S-R’s digital archives is about to get complicated.

I suspect I will meet that challenge in much the same way I face other technological hurdles: Grumbling “Oh, to hell with it” and ranting about how great typewriters were.

More on all that in Sunday’s column. But while I still have free and unfettered access to this newspaper’s memory banks, it occurred to me I ought to check in with an old friend.

Call this a last dance with Spokane Man.

I most recently wrote about the lovable scamp exactly four months ago. But surely that has been enough time for our hero to have found his way once again into the pages of this newspaper. Right?

Right.

But You Know Who did not get off to an auspicious start.

On June 27, a headline reported “Spokane Man Convicted of Attempted Murder.”

Sometimes you just want to throw your hands up and shake your head. We all know good and well that he knew that was wrong. And yet, oh well, let’s move on.

On June 30, another S-R headline reported “Spokane man was fired from job at Lakeland Village after arrest.”

Trust me. You don’t want to know.

A different kind of bad news cropped up on July 10.

“Spokane man drowns in Lake Coeur d’Alene.”

Kind of hard to come back from that. But S-Man is nothing if not irrepressible.

Did you know Spokane Man reportedly “invented the electric ice cream scoop in 1955”?

You might if you read the paper.

That was the year I was born. He must have known I was coming.

“That kid’s gonna pound down a lot of ice cream.”

On Aug. 16, we presented a headline proclaiming “Spokane man skis 12 straight months within three hours of home.”

Who says we never print good news?

The next day, the first sentence of a story took an altogether different tone.

“Police arrested a Spokane man suspected of abusing and killing …”

On second thought, let’s skip that. It’s not the sort of thing we share with those traffic-weary swells in Seattle we’re trying to lure to the Lilac City.

Sometimes though, the news of SM’s irascible antics just makes you smile. Even when the news involves a crime.

“A Spokane man who was arrested for hitting a police officer with a Bible last year was convicted of assault and resisting arrest Tuesday.”

Can I get an “Amen”?

But don’t give up on our boy. If there’s one thing we ought to know about Spokane Man by now it’s that you can’t keep him down.

Consider this refer line (pronounced “reefer”) that appeared on the front page of Sunday’s paper.

“Spokane man’s Middle-earth habitat was inspired by a recent visit to New Zealand.”

Well done, sir.

Of course, the Swell Paper doesn’t cover just men. Oh, no. On Aug. 9, the newspaper wrote about a new monument honoring none other than “Spokane Woman.”

Seems she was the city’s first woman lawyer and first woman state senator.

Which is perfect, when you think about it. Maybe she knew Spokane Man. Let’s face it, he really could have used some legal advice and political connections.

This all raises a question, though.

Is the S-dude described in newspaper coverage the Spokane Man you know and love? Is he one and the same?

Sometimes, I would guess. As my reports over the years on Spokane Man’s activities have suggested, the S-R covers a pretty broad spectrum of the Inland Northwest experience.

Some news stories are so sad, so tragic, they give you pause and make you wonder how people could be so broken, so willing to hurt others.

But other times, the Spokane Man we meet in the pages of The Spokesman-Review (and elsewhere) makes you want to get up out of your chair and shake his hand.

Sure we have our share of crooks and reprobates in our midst. It makes no sense to pretend otherwise. But the Spokane Man I know is a guy who would pull over to the side of the road, walk up to your white-haired mother and ask if she needs help changing that flat tire.

The Spokane Man I know would slow his walking pace to a virtual crawl because his elderly dog can’t move very well anymore.

The Spokane Man I know puts up with and helps his crazy uncle because his dad is no longer here to do it.

The Spokane Man I know plots with his granddaughter to entice her family to move back to the Inland Northwest.

And he can look like a grouch but knows how to laugh.

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