Art & Appetite

By James Spangler

Will Rogers said he figured the U.S. was slightly tilted and that’s why everything that was loose just rolled to the West Coast.

I rolled into Puget Sound about 27 years ago and have been trying to settle in ever since. I’m the son of a bookseller and a librarian and the father of two amazing teenage children that have this annoying habit of changing and growing all the time.

I own a little used bookshop in downtown Edmonds – the one with the mural of books just off Main on Fourth.

When I first visited here as a kid, I actually got down on my hands and knees and stroked the moss growing on my sister’s steps. It was so beautiful! The part of Idaho where I came from was lucky to get 10 inches of rain a year.

Little did I know that moss was considered a noxious weed, and 20 years later, I’d be queuing up at the home and garden store in a futile attempt to eradicate the stuff from my lawn and roof.

I started working in my dad’s bookstore when I was a little kid. I put the Harlequin Romance books away, because they had numbers on the spine, and even at 7 years old, I couldn’t really screw that up. I mowed lawns in the neighborhood when gas was 24 cents a gallon.

At 12, I got my first big break – the Hayes Street paper route for the Idaho Statesmen. Every day at 5 a.m., I delivered 87 papers and made about $80 a month, assuming I could collect the money from my subscribers.

After that, I washed dishes at the Spaghetti Warehouse for $1.85 an hour, then rose to the exalted position of busboy where the waitresses shared some of their tips with me. I was deeply in love with Rita who managed the place and a couple of the waitresses, too. But just as I was learning how to be prep cook, some legal issue with the Spaghetti Factory shut the whole operation down.

Indomitable of spirit, I acquired employment at Burger King and was covered in grease for about a year until a position opened at the Sears, Roebuck & Company catalog department. A team player, I donned the requisite polyester and worked hard.

Next, I became business manager of the University News and the Student Programs board at Boise State University –– that was fun. We even managed to persuade a little known band called REM to play at one of our fundraisers.

I spent a summer running the slime line at a salmon plant in Alaska – 20 guys with bad attitudes, 15-hour shifts and razor sharp knives. Somehow, I managed to graduate and go on to law school.

Law school must be something like childbirth – the memory of the pain subsides over time. Some of my fellow alums even look back at their law studies fondly.

I fled here, started a bookstore and never looked back.




Additional Column Posts (1 - 20 of 67) Next Page