'It's still the Apple Cup': Touchmark residents, friends on opposite side of the UW/WSU rivalry celebrate game

Nov. 25—Pat Thompson and Richard Pruett drew more than a few puzzled glances at a happy hour event this week celebrating Saturday's Apple Cup game.

Why was this man, clutching a stuffed husky toy and clad head to toe in UW purple, embracing a woman sporting a Cougars sweater and sequined hat?

"I'm hoping some of these Cougars will watch it with me," said Pruett, a 1972 graduate of Washington who moved into Touchmark on the South Hill about six months ago to help treat his Parkinson's disease.

Thompson, a 1974 graduate of Washington State University who went on to become the first female prosecuting attorney in Spokane County, said it was the stakes of the Apple Cup — particularly for her team, the frequent underdog — that gave the game special significance.

"Even if we had a horrible year, it's still the Apple Cup, it's our bowl game, we can win," Thompson said.

The two live near each other at Touchmark and have built a friendship, even with their allegiances lying on different sides of Washington state.

Pruett was surrounded by a sea of crimson at the event Wednesday, but still predicted a 7-point Husky victory. He's been a fan of the team since he was a kid growing up in Seattle when his dad had season tickets. Either he or his uncle would attend games on Saturdays, depending on who could go.

Pruett said when the Cougs came to town, though, he was always the odd man out.

"It seemed like my uncle was always available for those games," he said with a chuckle.

Pruett continued his fandom through being drafted into the Air Force after "flunking out of junior college," he said. He spent three-and-a-half years in the service, leaving in 1972 as a senior airman after serving in America and overseas in Thailand.

He got his degree in mathematics from the University of Washington afterward, attending games in the student section where "a lot of shenanigans" went on, Pruett said. He later got a job laying fiber optic lines for King County.

Thompson said she attended four games during her time in Pullman.

"Dad's weekend, that's what they were," she said. "I was not a football fan when I was in college."

But after graduating with a degree in political science, she picked up season tickets in the early 1980s. Thompson kept taking her dad to games on the Palouse until she met her future husband and took him instead.

Thompson will be down in Pullman for Saturday night's matchup against the No. 12 Huskies, who oddsmakers are favoring by about two points. She didn't want to give a score prediction.

"The Cougars are going to win," she said. "All it takes is one point."

Pruett will be watching with that stuffed toy, a gift from his niece about 20 years ago, he said. When you squeeze its paw, the dog plays the University of Washington fight song.

The patch indicating where to squeeze is well-worn, no small wonder because Pruett said his family takes turns playing the song after Washington scores a touchdown. If you're keeping track, that's 55 plays of "Bow Down to Washington" this season alone.

Still, Pruett hasn't given the dog a name.

"He hasn't earned one yet," Pruett said, smiling.

Thompson knows the Cougs may be underdogs, having a record of 33-74-6 in the 113 previous installments of the rivalry that began with a muddy tussle on Nov. 30, 1900, in Seattle with 1,500 people in attendance. The game ended in a 5-5 tie. But that doesn't cloud her optimism for Saturday.

"My guess is the Huskies are probably favored, but like I said, on any given Saturday, you don't know what will happen," she said.