I talked yesterday about some of the crazy stories in local history, and how telling them is always a highlight of the job. With such material to work with, why would I ever feel I need to make something up?
Well, other than the occasional April Fool’s Day post in our On This Day stories on Facebook and Instagram, I’ve only done it once – during a Garden Festival bus tour nearly twenty years ago.
The bus tour was a group up from Spokane who had asked if someone local could hop on the bus, help them navigate to the various gardens, and tell them about the community and its history along the way. I paid for university by working as a step-on tour guide, so this was a natural for me.
Except that particular Garden Festival weekend was one of the rainiest, miserable-est July weekends in the history of July weekends.
I met the group in the middle of the afternoon on Friday. We spent three or four hours together that day, ten or so on Saturday, and seven on Sunday…and it rained nearly the whole time.
We’d wait on the bus for the rain to let up, then scurry out to see the garden, rush back on the bus when the deluge started back up, drive to the next garden, and repeat.
Needless to say, we spent a LOT of time on that bus.
To keep everyone entertained, I was pulling out every crazy story I could think of. And at the conclusion of each one, someone on that bus would say, ”That didn’t happen! You’re making this up!”
Every. Single. Time.
After a weekend of criss-crossing the Valley, we were heading back into town on Sunday evening and I was about to say goodbye to the group. We’d passed the Bunker, across from the grain elevators, probably a dozen times by then, but for some reason nobody had asked about it until that last possible moment. When they did, I decided to have some fun with it.
“It’s a leftover from the Cold War,” I said. ”You know – Russia sending missiles over to the US? Some of them would fall a little short, so they built a bunker for protection.”
I was fully expecting what had, by then, become the utterly predictable response: ”That didn’t happen! You’re making this up!”
What I got, after a moment of silence, is a voice from the back of the bus saying, ”You know, I think I remember hearing about that!”
Still makes me laugh to this day.