By Denny Jones
Above, George and Sally Hertel, circa 1960. Photo courtesy of the Hertel Family Archives.
George and Sally Hertel met my wife, Sharon and I in 1966. George and I were both new sixth grade teachers in Spokane. We shared materials and ideas to help both of us survive our first year of teaching. George and Sally invited the two of us to their home for dinner. Eventually, we lived just a block away from each other in the Indian Trail neighborhood in north Spokane. We were two of the first families to move into that neighborhood when it was a brand new development. As we found out later, Sally had a special gift for hospitality. She loved to meet and become friends with people by welcoming them to her home for visiting and dinner.
George and Sally were both a few years older than us. They were generous and kind people. Sharon and I came to know and love them as our older brother and sister, and we became lifelong friends. We raised our families together and shared many wonderful experiences and memories, including dozens of camping trips around the region. We also sometimes celebrated holidays together, and enjoyed countless summer lunches, poolside in our backyard.
Soon after we became friends, Sally introduced us to her mother, Lucille Kine. She was a tall, elegant looking lady. She kept her hair dark and nicely styled. Both Sharon and I liked her and enjoyed our visit. As time went on, we shared many dinners at each other’s homes, and often Lucille was part of these great times. Lucille had lived alone for years. She worked for the City of Spokane as a telephone switchboard operator. She was an efficient and independent person.
Years earlier, Lucille had purchased property on Newman Lake for her and Sally to enjoy. She owned a fifty-foot frontage lot with a cabin. It is hard to understand this now, but she told us she bought this for less than three thousand dollars. (Oh the good old days.) George and Sally used the cabin often, with George doing all the maintenance. He was very handy, and later taught shop classes at middle schools in Spokane (Sacajawea and Garry).
When Sharon and I met George and Sally, not only did we all become dear friends, but also Sharon and I became part of the fun at the lake. Nothing was fancy at the Newman Lake cabin. The cabin sat up on a hill back from the lake, and you had to walk down quite a steep path to the beach. It was an old wood cabin that had been given a fresh coat of white paint probably twenty years earlier. There was a dock that was partially submerged and an old wooden boat that had a thirty-five-horse power Evinrude outboard motor. George and I both learned how to water-ski behind this boat. The skis were an old wooden pair, which perfectly fit the rest of the ambiance of the lake place. Lucille was usually there sitting in the shade enjoying herself while watching all of us have a great time at the lake. She said she was having more fun than we were. She was a wonderful and sharing lady.
Time certainly does pass, as Nostalgia Magazine shows in each wonderful issue. Not only is Lucille gone, but also both of the best friends Sharon and I ever had are also gone. Sally died May 15, 2005, one week after Mother’s Day. George followed in 2011, both after very long, brave struggles against cancer. George and Sally Hertel are always in our hearts and memories. What special times and friendship the four of us, and later our families, had together.