Not Forgotten: A Pacific Northwest Family Brings Their Soldier Home

When I was a kid in the mid-1960s, we traveled to the West Central neighborhood of Spokane every couple of months to spend the afternoon at Grandma’s turn-of-the-century home on West Boone Avenue. And a couple times a year we’d have get-togethers with dishes of hot and cold comfort food placed end to end on her kitchen counter and in the center of her big round dining table. And all the while, a soft image in an 8 X 10 frame smiled down over every Easter ham, every burning birthday candle, every card and board game. Nobody told me he was important. Nobody had to. I just knew. It was a photo of my Uncle Verne, who gave his life during World War II. Continue Reading

Bob Grandinetti and the Santa Safety Program

Bob Grandinetti worked the Safety Santa Program for over 25 years. Before this program was formalized in the early 1900s, officers would take unclaimed items, such as bicycles in the property room, and distribute them, in secret, to needy children on Christmas Eve after the children had gone to bed. Continue Reading

Josephine Baker’s Secret Life as a World War II Spy

The 20th-century icon Josephine Baker was so much more than a sex symbol who danced in a skirt made of bananas. Yes, she took Paris by storm in 1925 with her “Savage Dance” – performed in little more than a strategically-placed feather – and went on to increase her fame with the infamous banana skirt which, legend has it, she designed as a joke for her first revue at the Folies-Bergère. Spokane author Sherry Jones’s novel Josephine Baker’s Last Dance goes on sale December 4, 2018 at Auntie’s Books and everywhere. Continue Reading

“The Life and Times of Patsy Clark: Mining Pioneer”

The name of Patsy Clark may conjure up an image of a beautiful, old mansion across from the Coeur d’Alene Park in Browne’s Addition or a delightful meal for a special occasion such as an anniversary or birthday when that same mansion was Patsy Clark’s Restaurant for twenty years. But, there is much more to Patsy’s story than a mansion that became a restaurant. Patsy Clark was my great-grandfather and for the past four years, I have been researching his life. In 1851, Patsy Clark’s life odyssey started in Ireland, approximately the same time most history books cite the end of the horrendous potato famine. Striking out from the Emerald Isle to Liverpool, England in 1872 with his eldest brother, James, the two young men caught a “coffin ship” to the New World where they sought their fortunes in the raw, untamed wilderness of the American West. It’s safe to say they had better luck than the average prospector of the late 1800s. While many people remember the mansion, even more it seems know next to nothing about the man, Patsy Clark. I set out to learn his story, and now, to share it. Continue Reading

“The Lion in the Shadows: E.J. Brickell of Illinoistown, Truckee, and Spokane Falls”

Although it was strongly proposed at the time of his death, his name today is not attached to any street, park, building or other public feature of the city to which he contributed so much. It is found only in the crevices of history by scholars who look hard enough, and on a cemetery monument sufficiently imposing that the few passersby will wonder who the fellow could have been to have put up such a chunk of stone. The Masonic Grand Lodge of Washington wrote: “…the history of this city can never be written without his name, for he was one of the cornerstones of its prosperity, and was concerned in a number of the most important business enterprises in Spokane and Spokane County.” And yet, no one is a better exemplar of the Latin phrase Sic transit gloria mundi – “Thus passes the glory of the world.” Truly this was a man his city forgot. This man was my great-great-grandfather, Edward James Brickell. With the help of Chuck King, and many others, his story is now no longer buried in archives and newspapers. His story is ready to emerge from the shadows. Continue Reading

So Many Currents in Such a Little Puddle

Second-hand stores can often be treasure troves for discerning browsers. Nearly twenty years ago, a “Montana peak” caught the eye of one such buyer. The campaign hat bore the logo of the “The Cadet Store, West Point, N.Y.” Without provenance, it was just a curiosity, at least until recently, when serendipity stepped in. The faint handwritten letters on the sweatband — “Ward, C. S.” — turned out to be Charles Stuart Ward, Class of 1918. That discovery led to a tale of two young Lewiston people who married in haste and regretted at leisure. Taking a twisted path of nearly sixty years, their story began with a murder, required a Presidential pardon, and ended up in the Idaho Supreme Court. Continue Reading

The Natatorium Park Rollercoaster, The Jack Rabbit

The Jack Rabbit rollercoaster track was more than 2,000 feet in length, laid out in a kind of double figure eight pattern. The first hill was the “Big Drop,” touted to hurtle mortified riders at a rate of 70 miles per hour down to the bottom before the next succession of smaller dips and climbs. A warning sign in front of the ride read, “Hold your hats and don’t stand up!” The Jack Rabbit was a Spokane entertainment icon for over 40 years. Continue Reading

Love Stories From the Greatest Generation: Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You

Cindy Hval is a free-lance writer for the Spokesman-Review and her book, “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation,” tells the stories of dozens of couples who met, fell in love, and married during the tumultuous years of World War II. Read Cindy’s chapter about Jack and Fran Rogers, offered here as a Valentine’s Day treat to the readers of Nostalgia. Continue Reading

Nostalgia Presents: “Chuck King’s Guide to Spokane History” Episode 4: “Selling Sex in the Silver Valley”

On Episode 4 of the King’s Guide, Chuck King introduces you to Dr. Heather Branstetter, author of the fascinating book, “Selling Sex in the Silver Valley: A Business Doing Pleasure.” What does it mean when a community agrees that “you don’t have to obey the laws, but you Continue Reading

Selling Sex in the Silver Valley: A Business Doing Pleasure

By Heather Branstetter, PhD Above, the Oasis Rooms are on the second floor of the 2-story building on Cedar in Wallace, Idaho. Today, the building is the Oasis Bordello Museum, the second floor is “frozen in time” and available for visitors to tour. Learn more Continue Reading