Skid Row Stroll

by kfrego

We lived about four miles from the downtown business district of Spokane. All of the big stores and movie theaters were located downtown. Myself and one of my best friends were allowed to go downtown to see movies when we were twelve years old. We would do odd jobs or get enough money from our parents to pay for the trip. A city bus line passed about a half mile from home and routed through the downtown area. We normally had just enough money to pay for the bus fare and admission to the afternoon matinee. It was quite a privilege to make this trip by ourselves. Most of our friends were never allowed to go downtown. However, we never took the bus to get downtown. The bus fare was used to buy drinks and snacks at the movie. Our parents assumed we were taking the bus, but the conversation never came up. We walked the four miles to get to the movie and it was a great adventure.

Spokane had an area along Sprague St. which was called skid row. We had to walk through skid row to get downtown. Skid row was an area of rundown buildings which got left behind as the city grew and modernized after world war two. There were all kinds of sleazy bars and the area was frequented by drunks, addicts, and drop outs of society. The people of skid row had nothing in common with the hobos who frequented the jungles along the railroad tracks and near the stockyards. The hobos were friendly and helped each other. Most of the people on skid row were dirty, ragged, and unfriendly. Wine bottles and garbage was everywhere. The people on skid row slept in doorways, on the sidewalks, or wherever they fell. We would weave around them as we walked. Some would ask for money or stare at us, but they never bothered us. They gave us no reason to fear them. Walking through skid row was just part of getting to the movie.

We often took different streets and routes as we walked to and from the movies. The downtown area was an exciting place for a couple young boys who seldom saw it. The high rise buildings, ornate architecture, and huge display windows in the stores were fascinating to us. Every trip we made downtown was a true adventure along with going to the movie unattended.

Our parents didn’t know we walked through skid row instead of taking the bus…………but they never told us we couldn’t walk.