Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mr. Coeur d'Alene

This is a photo of my dad, Kyle M. Walker, from summer 1953. I don't know who the photographer was but written on the back is the date, his name and "the busiest man in CdA". The photo was taken in front of what was at the time the Chamber of Commerce building. It was just a little log cabin located roughly where big granite Centennial Trail monument is between the Sherman/NW Blvd bend and the Independence Point parking lot. I remember little of it, only that it was small.

Near the end of the 1950's the Chamber office was moved to an annex on the east end of The Desert Hotel, now the site of Bonsai at 1st & Sherman. Not long after Dad retired from his 23 years as Manager of the Chamber in 1971, the Desert Burnt down, taking with it the Chamber, the Athletic Round Table and the Diamond Cup Trophy. A total and sad loss.

Dad moved to the Inland Empire in 1947 from Kingsport, TN. where he was the outdoor editor for the Kingsport Times and a reporter for the American Field, the semi-weekly publication and bible for field dogs and field dog trials. Dad traveled across the US and into the plains of Canada with this job, and discovering Coeur d'Alene, he fell in love with it.

After working as a writer/photographer for a magazine called Scenic Idaho he was hired as the Chamber Manager in 1948. Most industry in the CdA area was still lumber mills and various associated businesses. But tourism, which was a huge part of what put CdA on the map even around the turn of the century, was a major player.

Dad worked the promotion of local tourism with a passion. When he wasn't promoting CdA as his job, he, as a freelance writer/photographer, had CdA and surrounding areas featured in countless magazines and trade publications across North America. He was an original member of the State of Idaho Board of Commerce and Tourism and scrounged for funding to promote the area almost every year at the Calgary Stampede as well as travel expos in places like Los Angeles (yeah, I took a bad rap for him bringing the Californians) and Chicago.

Ever the promoter, we even had 2 cars that had "follow the photographer to scenic Coeur d'Alene" painted (by Ted Anderson) down the sides and trunk. Damn I hated to ride in those.

He got the movie bug, bought a 16mm Bolex and made The Coeur d'Alene Country which was released in 1962. He got his friend, country music star and Disney narrator, Rex Allen to narrate the movie and it was distributed widely, including a German translation as it grew popular in Europe. He also, as a one man movie production company, made North Idaho Scenic Land which featured the 11 northern counties and at his retirement banquet premiered Four Seasons in the Coeur d'Alene Country.

During his years with the Chamber he helped get the Public Golf Course off the ground, was instrumental in bringing the Boy and Girl Scout World Jamborees to Farragut State Park and was involved with everything from parades and the Diamond Cup to the Scottish Tattoo and Forest Festival Days.

He was known as Mr. Coeur d'Alene and considering the times and what media was available in the 50's & 60's, probably did more to promote Coeur d'Alene than any other single person before or since.

Dad passed in 1989 and I miss him and his never ending stories, songs, poems and sayings for almost every occasion. He's mostly forgotten now, as are so many of the wonderful people of that era. I was lucky enough to meet and know an amazing number of special individuals through Dad. He is my Hero; for moving here, for marrying my Mother and for raising me in the most wonderful little city on Earth.

2 comments:

  1. I won't forget him either, Dave. And how I envy you...getting to grow up in Coeur d'Alene. G2

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  2. OMG this is a wonderful piece and I loved your dad's saying and stories. He always said he wanted some sugar??? I quickly learned that was a kiss. Thank you for the memories.

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