Annie Wright, to be truthful, was not an “exclusive” school. That may have been why so many girls left, disappointed, after a year or so. In our class of 1929, for instance, what happened to tall Pauline Paulsen, from Spokane, destined by her height, her bearing, her calm gray eyes and soft rounded cheeks, her prowess with the javelin, her basketball, to be a school leader, almost like the one-and-only Retha Hicks, Class of ’25, whom Miss Preston still brought up to us in study hall, wiping her eyes? With Pauline’s poise and good looks, she was even able to carry off a Scandinavian surname — otherwise a thing to be lived down at the Seminary, witness poor, pale-eyed Gudrun Larsen. whose father owned the Blue Mouse movie theatre in Seattle.
All honors would have been Pauline’s had she stayed with us: May Queen, Field Day champion, salutatorian, choir soloist, president of the senior sorority. She was one of three tall beauties from Spokane: herself, Hattie Connor (black hair, high color, blue eyes “put in with a sooty finger,” odd, top-drawer accent that I now place as Canadian), and greenish-eyed Betty Reinhardt (only five eight, and not exactly a beauty — skin — but counting as one of them because Nature loves a triad and the three were friends). Attached to them, like a burr, was long-nosed, nosy, dark-eyed Josephine Matthews, who had been in school with them across the mountains in Spokane. When Pauline did not come back for junior year. I felt the deprivation almost like the loss of my parents, although I had never been close to her. None of us had. She was a pillar of the school structure and impersonal, as pillars are meant to be.
The Spokane three kept to themselves; they might have been day pupils, so little did they mingle after school hours with the rest of us boarders. I cannot even remember where their rooms were. Nor did they have anything to do with two other girls from Spokane (besides Dodie Matthews) we had with us: nieces of the poet Vachel Lindsay, one very white and fat, one small and spindly, whose parents were missionaries in China.
I have never been to Spokane, though I used to wake up and peek out at the brilliantly lit station, raising a corner of my lower-berth window shade in the train going east. But I have a magical picture of it, thanks to those three tall Graces: a river running through the center of town and creating two great foaming waterfalls, harnessed to make electricity that glittered all night long; on its bank or nearby, the Davenport Hotel, with a dark paneled lounge, a roaring fire, and leather “davenports” on which tycoons sat with their handsome, well-dressed wives. In addition, the 1911 Britannica supplies a Federal building, the Paulsen building (yes!), the Spokesman Review building, a Northern Pacific Railway depot, a Great Northern depot, Gonzaga College (R.C.) for boys. Spokane College (Lutheran), surely for boys, too, and Brunot Hall (P.E.) for girls, obviously Annie Wright’s east-of-the-mountains shadow in which our tall three would have been star day pupils.