There are many things to see in Spokane: Riverfront Park, the Rose Garden in Manito Park or the house where Louden Swain fell in love with an older woman. One man is traveling from Michigan to visit a rock.
In August of 1951, temperatures in Spokane were very much normal, soaring into the high '90s and often settling into the high '80's. As it does today, the Spokane River offered a little scenic relief from the heat, the city and for one young family, the business of military life at Fairchild Air Force Base.
Michael Pivarnik took his wife Claire and his five-year old daughter Denise on an outing to Riverside State Park. Just downstream from the famed Bowl and Pitcher, they found a large rock with three points and a boulder sitting in front of it. With the river gurgling by, little Denise and her mom snuggled up on the boulder, leaning against the big rock and Michael snapped the picture. But there was someone else in that photograph: Jim, who would be born nine months later.
The black and white photo went into a photo album. Jim was born in May 1952. The family moved away the next year; Jim has never returned to his home town.
"When my father died in 2014, and I looked at the old photos, I thought of this pic, and what they were thinking," said Jim Pivarnik. "And if they were excited to be having another baby/brother."
The rock by the river grabbed Jim's imagination. It was there at the beginning of his life. It was there when his mother, father and sister laughed and spent the day at the river. It remains there today, unmoved, unchanged.
Jim is a professor in Michigan and shortly after he began to ponder the photograph, an opportunity presented itself.
"When one of my students took the job at WSU in August of 2014, I started thinking that wouldn't it be neat to visit Spokane, my birthplace, and even better, maybe someone might know this rock."
Megan Duvall at the Spokane Preservation Office and the Spokane History Buffs helped Jim track down the rock, using only the picture from 1951.
On September 7th, Jim and his wife will land in Spokane and he will go and sit on the rock by the river and remember his mother, father and sister. And just maybe, he'll hear their laughter in the babbling water.