Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More Coeur d'Alene From the Air

Here's another arial photo from around 1960. Looking from bottom to top note the Government Way, 4th Street, 7th Street and 9th Street bridges.

Pretty sparce neighborhoods, you can tell which homes have been around that long. At 4th Street, about the only building that remains is Lake City Lanes (Auto Body).

On 7th Street is Borah School, which just had its first expansion on the west (near) end, and the 2 churches that are still there.

Above 9th Street is the brand new Monte Vista neighborhood. You can see a row of homes on 11th Street just this side of the tree line. From left to right, these were occupied by the Fossum, Robideaux, Walker (me!), Ashleby, Hubbard, ?, Scott and Cook families. You can't tell from this pic, but decades earlier a railroad line ran behind where these houses are. Behind Mike Scott's house there were still a couple old RR ties in the ground.

This was a great place to grow up. North of the bridge is Homestead and the angled street is Syringa. This little triangle neighborhood at one time had over 70 kids of all ages. There was plenty of room to explore, build forts, ride bikes and generally do all the simple things that kids of the 60's did. All my buds had HO slot cars and we'd combine our track to build huge layouts and race, when we weren't building model cars.

As Monte Vista was built out (the big field to the left) we had dirt streets to play "prisoner escape", which was just an excuse to ride our bikes like hell all over the place chasing each other. When houses were being built we crawled through them at night, when utility lines were being installed we climbed in and out of the trenches "saving" each other like we saw on the TV show Rescue 8. We'd pack lunches and climb "Big Best" and eat looking over the City.

And, being kids in those carefree times, our only rule was to be home in time for dinner. We'd ride our bikes all over town and at least once a month and would go to every store in town that sold comic books and stock up for summer reading, always making sure everyone bought different ones so we could trade them around.

Then there was the Diamond Cup hysdroplane races, which to us was better than Christmas. We'd spend all day, every day down at the pits where the big boats were in town, collecting booster buttons and every other thing we could get out hands on. You have no idea how big the spark plugs were for those giant V-12 engines. The mechanic's junk was our treasure. (More on the Diamond Cup in a future edition.)

Life was simple then. Kids grow up so dang fast now. Grade school kids think they are too mature to do some of the stuff we enjoyed into our early high school years. I don't want to go back but I do have some awesome memories of growing up with a bunch of great friends.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Looking Down on the Past

Here's another one of Dad's photos of I-90 taken around 1960. Looking from bottom to top (west to east) are the bridges of Lincoln Way (now Hwy 95), Government Way, 4th Street, 7th Street and 9th Street. Yes, things have certainly changed.

Lincoln Way was destined to become Highway 95 but when the overpass was built it just came to a T at Appleway. Government Way was still the main north - south route. But Sherman was still part of Hwy-10 as well. I-90 changed everything.

You don't see the hospital, Shopko, the CdA Inn, Wild Waters or any of the many buildings and businesses that have showed up in the last near 50 years. Looking at Government Way you can see which houses are now that old. Continuing to look east you can pick out a few places that still exist like Borah School and Lake City Lanes (now Lake City Auto Body). Also of note are the dirt streets in the Borah neighborhoods. And there's the house I grew up in.

I'll post more detailed photos in this series soon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Best Beer Ever

OK, this blog doesn't have to all be about history. As you may know, I'm a fan of quality beer. And I thought it worthy to write about the best beer I ever had. It was just a couple weeks ago. It was at Xmas in July at Capone's on the 2nd and it was incredible.

It's always fun to have a Snowcap or a Jubleale in July but on this night I was smitten with a very special beer. I will be so bold as to say it was the best beer I've ever drank in my life.

Full Sail Ales has a wonderfully hoppy winter warmer called "Wreck The Halls." A Full Sail sales guy (dude! bring your biz cards) came and brought what looked like a blender about 30 inches tall. On the floor were a keg of Wreck the Halls and a big CO2 tank. Hoses ran from the tank to the keg to the "blender" which wasn't a blender at all but more like a beer compressor named Randle. Filled with fresh hops the beer pressure pushed through the wonderfully fragrent buds before being tapped out through an ice filled cooler. Full Sail called it Wrecking Randle.

This was without a doubt the tastiest beer I have ever enjoyed. I even had my wonderful wife go home and grab a couple of growlers which I got filled before she took me home. I then shared the goodness with friends on the 4th of July. The growlers hadn't been filled properly and the brew lost a lot in about 40 hours. BUT, everyone who tasted it even then was wowed by the flavor.

Thank you Full Sail for what has to be the best bar/beer promo in the world. A close runner-up was Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale that had aged in a burboun barrel. Only a couple kegs of it were ever filled and it was the hit of the 2007 12 Ales of Xmas at Capone's. That was damn fine beer as well.

Hooray Beer!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rutledge Unit

This is the first of a number of photos I'll be posting that Dad took from Bill Brook's seaplane when I-90 was first completed. This would be about 1959. You can see the wings in a couple photos (which he would crop out where needed).

Dad sold a group of these arial photos, showing the new freeway end to end, to the Spokane Chronicle. The Chronicle was an evening paper, the Spokesman a morning issue. If you're old enough to remember, or have noticed on the newspaper the Old Man reads in A Christmas Story, many newspapers would fill the last page with "photos of the day". Dad's photos took the whole page a few days before the grand opening.

When I got older I got to go along and hold the plane's window open, out and up, for Dad to shoot. That was fun but it about tore my arm off. This is scanned from an 8x10" contact sheet, prints right from the negitives from Dad's 4x5" Press style cameras. I kept the prints, the negatives went to the Museum of North Idaho. Dad had maybe 1,000 - 1,500 of them.

The photos here show not only the new I-90 sweeper into the east end of town, but Potlatch Mill, Rutledge Unit.

The top left one shows the then brand new bridge that everyone now takes to go up to all the houses. Known now as Rutledge, we called it Armstrong Hill in the 70's. Great place to make out up on top. You could drive to the end of the road, turn around and park where you overlooked CdA and had clear vision of anyone coming your way long before they got there. I watched the 4th of July fireworks from there a time of two.

This shot could be held up to an arial promo shot of the CdA Resort Golf Course and new condo for comparison. It's all there. The sawmill has the tall stacks in the upper right. Check out the booms of logs ready to be fed into the mill.

The top right photo looks back at Sanders Beach and Tubbs Hill. Look how small a piece of land the new condos were built on is. In the background you can see the smoke from the sawmills out on Northwest Blvd.

The bottom left photo shows how west bound traffic exited over a bridge and down what is now East Lakeshore Drive and to the Serman intersection. In the background is Big Best, as we kids called it, the Cherry Hill area and the cross-town route of I-90.

The bottom right is all the same from the southwest. It clearly shows how big a mill Potlatch was and how much land it takes for a golf course.

For what must have been decades, a big chunk of boys growing up around here worked at least once in a sawmill, a mine or for a logger, rancher or farmer. I put in a short stint at Rutledge when I was going to NIC. Got a "join the union or else" letter in my paycheck once and figured if I was only going to work until I went to U of I, why should I pay them any of my money. End of job, start of summer.

I did have a couple of the most memorable work days of my life there, though. There were actually 2 of the best days of work ever, and then there were the days I had to work between the head rigs turning slabs. That sucked, hurt my back and bothered me until I finally had surgery 25 years later. But those are stories for another time.

More pics will follow. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summertime, And the Living is Easy

Here's another one of Dad's photos, City Beach in the crush of another beautiful Lake City day. You can see Playland pier in the back; dang, what a great place when you were a kid. Forget Coney Island, we had a reasonable facsimile right here that was good enough.

A kid could have a hell of a great day at City beach with a dollar bill. There was the Merry-go-round, Rock-o-plane, tiny tot roller coaster, Bumper Cars and the ever popular Swings which literally put you over Lake CdA. [We always imagined one breaking and sending a rider way out into the lake.] I rode everything at least a couple times but usually spent my money in the arcade. There were a few very special machines there.

You couldn't afford to do everything on a dollar but at least a couple times each summer I'd shoot the growling bear with the light beam (pre-laser days by a damn sight) rifle. It was great hitting that glass eye in his side, causing him to raise up on his rear legs, growl and turn. Great shooting! And there was skee-ball and pinball and ancient hand crank flip picture movie machines. One was a snake eating a rat and the other (if they didn't catch you looking) was a fan dancer.

Then there was the good stuff. There were two post card machines. For .02 you got a photo of a movie star (starlets on one side, hunks on the other) or, even better yet, hot rods and custom cars. Why or why didn't I keep all that crap? Yeah, famous words we all can claim.

But then there was the greatest arcade game of all time. There was an (of course, ancient) early try at a soccer game. It was basically a large aquarium size glass case that stood on metal legs (hell, it was all metal). On the front were a slot for a penny a hand lever on each side. In the case was a playing field covered with little players and a goal with goalie at each end. The field was lumpy and low spots were in front of each player so the ball wouldn't go dead. When you flipped your lever, all the men on your team would kick one leg, plus your goalie would cross the goal. So you'd flip that lever in an early version of foosball. The balls were steelies (yes, steel balls) and you got one for every penny.

Hell yes it was fun, and it got even funner as the game became more about trying to break the glass with a kicked steelie than it was pushing an abacus like bead for scoring a goal. And at a penny a ball, I tossed a good share of dollar bills, a penny at a time into that machine playing and trying to break that glass. Amazingly, and with what had to be like 1930's glass, it never broke. No matter how many solid shots on glass we slammed, it never even cracked.

A penny a ball. Try and have that much fun nowadays.

Friday, July 10, 2009

My father was the manager of the CdA Chamber of Commerce from 1948 to 1971. Summer of 1952 my mother was on vacation from Edmonton, Alberta. As Dad walked through City Park along the seawall he saw two women who were obviously on vacation (heck, there was only like 2,000 people in CdA, tourists were easy to spot). Dad, as I saw him do with thousands of people all his life, welcomed them to the Lake City.

The rest, as they say, is history. I am a direct product of the Chamber of Commerce, born in the Iron Horse parking lot (Lake City General, more on that some other time).

Dad had traveled all over North America reporting for a semi-weekly publication, The American Field, which is THE journal for anyone involved with bird dogs. But when he came through the Pacific Northwest, he knew this was the place for him. And he fell in love with Coeur d'Alene.

Involved deeply in tourism and the promotion of CdA, North Idaho and Idaho in general (he sat on the first State Tourism committee with Louise Shadduck), Dad came into possession of all sorts of things. The above poem is one of those items. My guess is this was printed somewhere around 1930. I believe it stands the test of time.

My dad, Kyle Walker, has been gone 20 years and I cherish so much of what he left me. Not the least of are his sense of humor, value of family and friends and love of CdA. This blog, and this entire blog site, is dedicated to him, Mr. Coeur d'Alene.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lakeside Days 1957 Program

Let's see how many pages I can post.
Check out the ads!

MOhawk 4

60,000 visitors!

The waterfront looks pretty industrial at the time.

Ben's Spudnut, now Capone's.
RexRexall, in the Desert, see the previous blog for the pic.
Everson's address became 107, home of Ace Travel for 34 years, now an art gallery.
A tug-o-war between lumber mills, this was serious!

Miss Lakeside Days, insert wolf whistle.
Yes, many businesses are this old.

Broderick Motors, now Architects West.

The New Studebaker!
Club Cigar & Sport Shop, fishing licenses up front, booze in the back.
IXL Toggery, when your parents really wanted you dressed up.
Gridley's, now the Painter's Chair.
Louie's is of course the Paul Bunyan.

Hart Drug, great magazine rack, now Java.
YJ Packing, fresh meat & sawdust floors. Hwy 10 is now Seltice.
Yes, there was a time when sailboats weren't outnumbered by jetskis.
The parade featured Miss Lakeside Days & her court, that's over.

Pines & Powell's, now the Iron Horse.
The baseball games were at Person because there was no McEuen at the time.

Central Motors, now Tito Macaroni's.
The boat races were not the hydroplane races, that was a different date,
Cruise Lake CdA on the Dance-a-wanna and the Sea-wee-wanna.

The Showboat was roughly where the rental storage units west of the I-90/NW Blvd/Ramsey interchange are.
Inland Marine was where the CdA Resort Convention Center and cruise boats are now.
The Lighthouse was the biggest hunting & fishing store. They had cases on the sidewalk where local fishermen displayed their big catches on ice. The loan offices for Wells Fargo are there now.

Sunset Raceway was roughly where the Shilo Inn is on West Appleway.
Knudtsen Chevrolet is now Headmasters.

Can't remember if it was Holsum or Bogge Brothers who tossed mini loaves of bread at the parade. Much better than candy.
Must have got darker earlier then, fireworks at 9:30pm.

Ray Jones Marina is now 11th Street Marina.
Remember S&H Green Stamps?
The Shady Rest was a great place. When Hwy 10 became I-90, it was cut off from the road. It's the somewhat abaondoned place you see behind the fence east of town. Bummer.

Kennedy Buick is now Takara & the Olympia.
First Federal S&L is now Canton Chinese.
The Boots & Saddle is now the parking lot for O'Shea's Irish Pub. Their Thursday smorgasbord was awesome, said the growing boy (me).
Stay tuned for what I throw at you next.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Coeur d'Alene
Black & White

Part 1

My father, Kyle M. Walker, moved here from Kingsport, Tennessee in 1947. His first job was for a magazine called North Idaho Scenic Land. His writing, photography and public relations skills then led him to the position of Manager of the Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce, a job he'd have until retiring in 1971.

In those years, Dad showcased Coeur d'Alene and North Idaho around the world. He ran a booth at the Calgary Stampede almost ever year until the late 1960's, wrote, filmed and produced three 16mm movies (two narrated by Rex Allen) promoting the area and wrote countless stories in all sorts of outdoor, travel, recreation and institutional publications.

Dad passed away in 1989, but he left me with a great sense of humor, an openness to make friends and help people, a good photographer's eye and a huge sense of pride in my home town, county and state. He also left behind a lot of pictures.

My Mother, Edith B. Walker, donated well over a thousand 4x5" black and white negatives to the Museum of North Idaho after his death. I did keep stacks of magazines with his articles and a good number of 8x10 prints. Since I'm going to try my own blog, what better subject matter could I have but his photos along with my memories of living in Coeur d'Alene since I was born? So this one will kick it off, appropriate since we just had the annual 4th of July Parade.

This photo obviously shows the CHS Marching Band headed west on Sherman from 2nd to 1st Streets. I'm guessing the year was around 1950. The big building on the left was the Desert Hotel, Coeur d'Alene's own Pink Palace. Besides Templin's Motor Inn, the Desert was the biggest and nicest accommodations in town and even had a swimming pool. I took swimming lessons from Lorraine Ursaki in that pool (I was the best floater in the group, thank you).

The Desert also had two of the coolest things in town; a large meeting room with a huge mural painted by Ted Anderson depicting the Diamond Cup Hydroplane Races in front of downtown CdA, and in the basement, the Athletic Round Table with it's dim lights, colorful bar and big aquarium. Members of the ART got monthly calendars and I always remember reading the one hung by our fridge, wondering what it would be like to attend things like live music and the Friday Night Seafood extravaganzas.

My parents (mom) opened Ace Travel Agency in 1957 (more on that later) and by 1960, Ace was in the main lobby, on the left side of the main staircase, Registration being on the right. Colorful characters flowed through the Desert Hotel including an Indian man who lived there for a time. He looked like an Arabian Knight and always wore his turban and a big smile. Yup, CdA was integrated as early as that.

Under the awnings (upper center) were two offices. At the time of this photo all I can say is one was a pharmacy. In later years and among other things, on the left was the office for AM 1240 KVNI, back when it really was a local radio station. In the late 50's, the Chamber of Commerce moved from a small log cabin (located within 100 feet of the Centennial Trail Monument at Independence Point) to under the right awning. With both parents working in the same building, I literally grew up in downtown Coeur d'Alene.

Moving east is the Telephone building, now known as the Johnston Building. Yes, there really is a classic building under that black facade. Around the corner at 107 N. 2nd was where Ace Travel began. The office sat, as it does today, just a few steps below sidewalk level. One of the airline sales reps who called on Mom jokingly referred to it as the old Ace in the Hole, and still did when I saw him last some 10 years ago.

Crossing 2nd we find The Wilma Theater, home of the Saturday Matinee where us kids sat through double features of cartoons, news and B-thrillers. Creature From the Black Lagoon? Saw it. Just one of the countless reels I remember sitting through. I was the tallest kid in my gang and even though I was 11, the woman selling tickets always tried to charge me the 12 year old price, my older friends laughed as they paid less.

We'd always try to sneak up into the balcony, success being about half the time. The front row of the balcony tailed off to about 4 seats on each side that were walled behind, necker's nooks. As we got older we figured out why couples liked to sit there.

Damn shame the Wilma was left to rot, unkempt, forgotten, boarded up. We always hoped it could come back to life, like the Panida in Sandpoint has done. How wonderful to have a theater downtown. But, the owners saw it as only a piece of land and a liability at that. When the heavy snow collapsed the roof some 15 years ago, we knew it was never to be. Now it's a fenced lawn, woopie.

From there was, and is, the Eagles Lodge, bars and shops. At the time this was taken, Hudson's, aka The Missouri Lunch, was across the street with the Hudson automobile dealer and the Dream Theater, now all part of the CdA Resort Shopping Plaza.

Coeur d'Alene has grown and changed. It's not what it used to be, but I've never been anywhere I liked any better nor would I have ever wanted to grow up anywhere else on earth.

Stick around, I've got lots more photos and lots more memories.