Friday, October 30, 2009

The Old Neighborhood

When I was born my parents lived in a little house at 1220 N. 5th St in Coeur d'Alene. I have no recollection of that house at all. The house is still there, and is currently for sale, right behind the Goodwill store.

After that we moved to 1310 Ash, just a block from Sanders Beach. This house was where my first memories are from. I remember playing in the sand and all the chunks of bark from the sawmill that washed onto the beach. I also remember my babysitter who would lay in the summer sun, a perfect job if it wasn't for the tyke.

Then my parents bought the above house in 1959. It was (is) at 11th & Homestead in what was then the new (first) Monte Vista addition. The house is about 200 yards north of I-90 which was just being finished at the time. I remember laying in bed and hearing the noise from the heavy equipment that would officially bring an end to Hwy10.

The house faced west and the backside living room window looked towards Best Mountain. The trees weren't that tall and you could not only see the big clearing where CHS students would put a big 'C' for all the town to see, but the red light blinking atop the KVNI (1240 on your dial) radio transmitter tower that sat in the low flat just north of the foot of Best on the east side of 15th Street.

The neighborhood was roughly defined in the triangle of 11th, Homestead and Syringa. It may have been the greatest place in the world to grow up. There were over 60 kids of all ages; from college age to tykes. There were families with one kid (like mine) and some with up to a half dozen.

We went to Borah School, just 3 blocks away. I remember days when I actually came home for lunch. I have a hundred stories about the friends I grew up with and the crazy things we did to entertain ourselves in the 60's and 70's. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cowboy Duds

If you wanted to look cowboy, the best place in North Idaho to go shopping was the Bar-B-Q- Ranch. Jack and Hilde Kellogg ran the Bar-B-Q and it was here that my folks bought most of my blue jeans, at least a couple sets of boots, a hat and the obligatory western cut shirts.
The Bar-B-Q sat where USBank is in Post Falls now, northwest corner of Idaho and Seltice. It was, as you can see, a great place to pull in tourists with the original giant cowboy. an assortment of wooden Indians out front and animals ranging from dinosaur to chicken on the roof.
Jack never failed to hand me some Bazooka bubble gum every time we went. I was always amazed with the wide selection of colors of boots and shirts, the hats, Stetson and others, and a gift shop full of all sorts of western/wooden novelties.
Jack passed long ago but Hilde went on to elected office, her claim to fame being helping get the greyhound track approved and having the mechanical rabbit named for her. Is it really 25 years ago when each race started with the announcer's call of "Here comes Hilde!"?
Time goes on but so do the memories and the photos to go with them.

Monday, October 19, 2009

1909 Land Rush

This is the last of a 32 page pamphlet put out by the Coeur d'Alene Commercial Club titled The Panhandle of Idaho. There is no date but this advertises the great land lotto of 1909 so I'd guess late 1908 or early 1909. I'll scan and post more of my tattered copy of this 100 year old publication later, but this one page always fascinated me most. I learned more about this amazing era in the book Steamboats in the Timber by Ruby El Hult, published 1952.

The U.S. Government decided they had given the Tribes too good of a deal and wanting to expand development in this part of America rich in natural resources, opened 700,000 acres of Flathead, Spokane and Coeur d'Alene Reservation lands. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over America spent 3 million dollars on railroad tickets to travel here and take a chance in this great land lottery. The odds were as high as 500 to 1 in Spokane and 100 to 1 in Coeur d'Alene.

At midnight on July 14th, sixteen Notaries opened the doors in Coeur d'Alene to register people, 500 names were taken in the first hour. In four days that jumped to 34,730 and by the time of the drawing, 264,883 names had been registered for the three blocks of reservation lands.

Every inbound train was full and the lake steamers were filled to capacity and then some. Coeur d'Alene was packed with people and not all were land speculators, bunco artists, thieves and pickpockets were also on hand to profit where they could. In two weeks the post office sold over $4,000 worth of stamps to send cards home from the land seekers. Notaries had over two tons of completed registrations.

While people had to register in Spokane for the Spokane land, Kalispell for Flathead and Coeur d'Alene for Coeur d'Alene, it was Coeur d'Alene where James W. Whitten conducted the drawings for all. At noon on August 9th, Miss Helen Hamilton stood on a platform in front of the Hotel Idaho (Desert Hotel) and drew the first envelope from the 105,000 Coeur d'Alene entries strewn over the stage.

Isador Selig was number one and had the first pick of land in the Coeur d'Alenes, choosing a spot along the St. Joe River. A power company claimed to have a prior rights to the land and by the time Mr. Selig got to pick a 2nd choice there was little good land left.

In the end, most of the land was too dense with timber to farm and too hard to clear. Settlers found the deer ate most of their gardens and most weren't farmers anyway. Some of the winners sold out to timber companies. Few of the thousands who came west with the dream of carving out a happy life found anything but sorrows.

Pick up Steamboats in the Timber to read more about the wild times of early Coeur d'Alene country.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Road Construction Season

Now that 4th Street through Midtown is almost finished, I suppose we're near the end of the 2009 road construction season. To celebrate, here are a couple photos from the building of the first version of I-90 along the lake. This was early to mid 1950's.
The upper photo is the construction of the Blue Creek Bay bridge. It was built with help from the Army Corps of Engineers. The problem was the bottom of the lake was deep muck and they had a hard time setting footings. Using new technology, they pumped concrete down to the bedrock.
The lower photo shows some of the earth moving efforts to provide a roadbed along the lakeshore.
Just a short one today. Hope it'll be a short winter as well.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hunting Season is Open

This photo holds a few memories. Yup, that's me with my brother Ron, 1968. I was an 8th grader at CdA Jr. High. It was Ron's near annual visit to go hunting and he talked me into skipping school to go with him one day.

We drove up the St. Joe headed for Slate Creek. We parked and right off Ron has me walk through knee deep water. I'm wearing crappy cowboy boots that filled with water, thanks for not suggesting I bring a dry pair of socks. Then he tells me we're going straight up a steep mountain, in those oh so comfy wet boots. Halfway up, I'm dragging ass. We take a break and he gives me a couple cookies and a cup of black coffee, my first taste of that bitter brew. I mash my cookies into the coffee, trying to make it palletable. The caffine didn't get me up that mountain any faster and I remember being blamed for the lack of coffee at lunch later in the day.

Up high on the ridge we're hiking along when we see a huge bull elk. Ron drops him with one shot. We approach the beast with head bobbing in his dying throes. Ron pumps 3-4 more shots into his head to finally put him down and we started to field dress the carcass. Up to my elbows in elk intestines made me realize that I was not cut from the same outdoor hunting cloth as my father.

Dad was an outdoorsman's outdoorsman. He had countless hunting and fishing tales and artifacts to back up even the most incredible. He, as a freelance writer and photographer, submitted numerous stories to sporting magazines and for some years was the Idaho State Editor for the now long gone Western Outdoors publication. I enjoyed going fishing and pheasant hunting with him and his oldtimer pals.

But as a clumsy gomer I never liked humping the how brush (how the hell do you get through it?) when out for deer and elk. One year I kept skirting the thickets which would have led me back to the ranch, I ended up way off track. I had an idea of where I was but no clue exactly where to go (and still avoid the brush). I found a road, walked to a 4-finger saddle and sat down against a tree. It eventually got dark and I dozed off. Then I heard a shot and knew it was for me. I shot my old 30.06 and waited. Lloyd Jones, who's ranch we hunted from, knew exactly where I was and they pulled the truck right up where I was. I believe that was also my first taste of Elderberry wine that night.

Back at Slate Creek we finally got the elk dressed out and started the walk back. No way could we carry the elk and that night Dad called Lloyd who they met with his horses and packed out the elk and the amazing rack you see above. I was back at school and was shocked to discover that even in North Idaho, skipping school to go hunting was considered an unexcused absense. "But we got a big elk!" didn't sway the Principal.

Even though I didn't pull the trigger, I was proud to have my photo taken with that big rack. The picture even made the CdA Press.

One last note about the Willy's Jeep we're sitting on. Dad bought that from my Uncle Ray. It was the first car I ever drove, somewhere on the backroads coming home from a fly fishing trip. Dad told me I better know how to drive in case something ever happened to him in the back country. He told me I was a hell of a good driver for my first time, I hit every pothole in the road.