Sunday, October 28, 2007

How Do You Spell Hartal?

If you saw Monday's Spokesman-Review (story at the top link here), you may have seen the humorous front page photo of Chief of Police Anne Kirkpatrick and her team, "Crime and Punishment," as Whitworth University professor Dr. Victor Bobb announced that they were the first to be eliminated from the Spokane is Spelling adult spelling bee. This fund raising event was held at The Big Easy Concert House last Sunday, October 21st, at 4:00 PM.

Three members of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society formed "The Genealogists" team in order to support the Spokane Public Library Foundation and get our society's image out to the public. The team consisted of President Bill Hire, Distinguished Service Member and EWGS Bulletin editor Doris Woodward, and myself. We were very excited and a little nervous about participating. There were some well-known Spokane names and faces among both the participants and the audience, including Washington State Senator Chris Marr, Spokane Public Schools Board of Education President Christie Querna (participating), and Mayor Dennis Hession (audience). Directly behind us in line were Spokane Symphony Orchestra members Brenda Neinhouse and Don Nelson, with Maestra Eckart Preu...and were they ever a riot! When the word "requiem" came up for another team, the SSO team groaned. Of course, their team was not going to be lucky enough to get any of the music vocabulary as spelling words!

The first two rounds consisted of fifth- and sixth- grade words, to shake out our nerves and--as emcee Mike Gonzalez retorted--to see if we were "smarter than a fifth-grader"! Our first word was "party." Easy enough. Rounds Three and Four brought harder words: "centaur" and "deterrent". Then Round Five brought the challenge: "hartal". Bill and Doris had conflicting spellings. They're both sharp spellers, but on the pad we were supplied, Bill wrote h-a-r-t-o-l, while Doris had h-a-r-t-a-l. I was the team's announcer, and we had 15 seconds from the time the word was announced and the definition given before we had to give the correct spelling. Together, we made a snap judgment, and chose Bill's spelling. All we could say was that at least we were eliminated on a toughie!

We didn't do too badly, getting knocked about about halfway through; there were 26 teams total. "The Pacific Northwest Inlander" team won, then had to compete among themselves for the final grand prize, a $1000 shopping spree at River Park Square, dinner for two at Fugazzi and an overnight stay in the penthouse suite at Hotel Lusso. Michael Bowen won with the word "urceolate". Whew!
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