By Doug Clark
May 19, 2009
We dignitaries who ascend into the stratosphere of self-importance occasionally are called upon to deliver a lofty speech at a place of higher learning.
President Barack Obama, for example, recently made an appearance at the University of Notre Dame.
Likewise, I have been invited to say a few words at this week's centennial celebration for my beloved alma mater, Spokane's Franklin Elementary School, 2627 E. 17th Ave.
I love Franklin. My older brother, Dave, went there. My own kids, Ben and Emily, went there, too.
I attended the grand old brick school from first through seventh grade. (Then it was on to Ferris High School, which was new and had an eighth grade for a couple of years.)
This was back in the 1950s and early 1960s. Rock 'n' roll was new and driving our parents crazy. You could pack a car with friends and go to a drive-in movie for a dollar on 'buck night.'
Life for a kid was idyllic, save for the threat of nuclear annihilation via the commies.
I lived close enough to Franklin that I could walk there every day. I have such fond memories.
Like the time I was sent to the cloakroom for mouthing off. Bored, I started switching items between sack lunches.
Two sandwiches for you. Three desserts for you. Only an apple for you.
Then there was the time I was busted for organizing a poker game during noon recess.
I got called to the office so often I considered having my Mad magazines delivered there.
I suppose I was one of those fidgety, rambunctious youngsters who, in a more scientific age, would have been pumped to the gills full of Ritalin.
Fortunately I grew up to have the last laugh. Newspaper columnists get paid to cause trouble.
Take that, Mrs. Harris!
But as I was saying, Franklin is 100 years old, and some big doings are planned.
Alumni and friends of Franklin are invited to attend a reception/reunion from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday in the school gymnasium.
This will be a time for sharing memories, reconnecting with old classmates and perhaps trying to locate the spot high up on one wall where I teetered atop the iron chin-up bar and scrawled my name in chalk.
The principal was so steamed she threatened to keep me from matriculating. Now that scared me. I didn't know you could keep someone from matriculating without a court order and a surgeon.
The Franklin festivity continues Friday with a 10 a.m. parade. Later there will be lunch ($3), some music (free) and, at some point, a few stirring observations from yours truly (priceless).
For research purposes, I toured the school the other day with Principal Mickey Hanson and Brian Shute, Franklin's Speech-Language Pathologist. Franklin, with its wide, worn stairways and carved wood banisters, looks pretty much the way I remember it.
Tim Potts, the head custodian, took us into the massive old "Boiler Room" and "Fan Room."
What great people.
While we were on the lower floor I had to examine the boys' latrine. I told Shute that back in the day we rascals liked to string a long line of toilet paper all over the restroom and then dip one end in a toilet.
It was like a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral.
Ten, nine, eight... FLUSH!
The paper would wind all the way back into the commode like the retractable cord on a vacuum cleaner.
So you can see why I'm so honored to be part of the Franklin 100-year birthday bash.
I'm quite sure none of my classmates or teachers would have ever voted me as the "student most likely to give a keynote address."
Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at [email protected] Read previous columns at spokesman.com/columnists.