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An Ode to Pullman Summers

Spring semester is over, but the lucky ones in Pullman will be staying behind a little longer.

View of red barns with Kamiak Butte in background, Whitman...
Kamiak Butte is a Pullman summer staple.
Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

There’s something special about spending a summer in Pullman. I spent two during my time on the Palouse, and those were some of my favorite times while in school. For many, Pullman summers involve taking summer classes at WSU. That wasn’t the case for me. I just stuck around because I had a job, and my lease ran through the summer anyway.

I have heard from friends that summer classes were ideal for those who like things to be faster-paced. Some also found the summers free of distractions, with fewer friends around and no organized school-related events to attend. That all sounds good, but don’t let the latter make you believe that summers in Pullman are dull.

When I stayed behind, I found a different experience than what I was used to during the school year. I typically worked around 25-30 hours a week at the SESRC call center—often logging that across three to four days. With the smaller population in Pullman during the summer, my SESRC coworkers became my close friends, especially once the summer session ended and those students went home.

We made Wednesdays at The ZZU (now The Land) a staple because, for some reason, none of us worked on Thursday mornings. On other nights, I’d hit up The Coug, often pleading with the bartenders to stay open later and also to start a Boone’s Pass. We’d play the quarters-style game “beertender.” One night I randomly hung out with some people from Farmhouse and partook in a little too much spote (the fruit thing, which I’ve never tried to spell before) and played the worst pool of my life. It was a lot of fun.

Those summer coworkers were some of my closest friends right out of WSU. Some I still keep in touch with. One is even coming to my wedding in Mexico.

The summer is also a great time to explore Pullman's outdoor activities. The Snake River and Kamiak Butte were great places to head for days off. I live in Tacoma now, and people like to brag about the summers in Western Washington, but I still think the summer weather on the Palouse is tough to top.

Of all the Pullman summer memories, I cherish specifically getting the chance to better know my now-fiancé’s best friend the summer after my senior year and before student teaching. It’s kinda silly that it took that long—we went to school together since kindergarten. But she had come to Pullman to work on her master’s, and I had just started dating Amanda. So we used our mutual interest in Amanda as a reason to share a pitcher or two at The Coug (and The ZZU). I wonder how Amanda felt knowing we were talking about her (I pretty much only talked about her that summer—sorry to my SESRC coworkers).

Pullman summers may not be for everyone, but they were great for me. My only regret was not staying for all four possible summers, but I’m happy to have had the two that I did. My recommendation for those still in school at Wazzu is to try one out.

What were your highlights if you ever stayed for a summer in Pullman?


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