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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Wintertime Back in the Old Days in Sandpoint.

I grew up in north Idaho,in Sandpoint,  and we always had a lot of snow; but when you are a kid and enjoy making snow forts and snow men, it is not a bad thing.
  It snowed so deep that it covered any cars that weren't being driven every day, and we kids took the sleds up on top of the snowpile that used to be a car, and slid down and then on down the road. 

I would help my dad when we had a couple feet of snow on the ground (usually in November sometime), and we would take the snowshovels and shovel snow up all around the base of the house to help insulate the underneath of the house from the cold. 
Later, when the snow was deeper, and piling up on the roof, my mom and dad would take a long rope and throw it over the roof of the house, and then "saw" from front to back to loosen the snow from the roof. 
Then, my dad had a long piece of 2x4 with a board nailed crossways on the end, and he would put that up to the roof as far as he could reach, and then pull the snow off of the roof with the board. 
He had to do that whenever we had a lot of snowfall.  
This created deep piles of snow alongside of the house which almost covered our windows; so we could barely see out. 
However, we could not really see out anyway, because my mom and dad always tacked up that clear plastic sheeting over all of the windows in late fall. 

Even so, I always had frost all over the inside of my bedroom windows every morning, and I could see my breath, even in the house. 
Our heat was an old oil stove, and we had to keep it on low, or it would rumble and shake the stove, and sometimes blow the top off.
 I was terrified when it did that. 
Mom was also terrified when it did that, and she would grab me and run outside into the snow, and warn me that the house might blow up at any second; so we had to get away. 
Poor Daddy ! 
He was left inside to deal with the raging and rumbling oil stove. He had to turn off the little lever that let the oil come in, and then we all waited outside until the stove burned all of the oil out  and the fire went out.  Then we opened all of the doors and let the smoke and soot out as best as we could; so we could breathe inside the housse again. 

By then, of course, the house was freezing, and then my dad had to try and get the stove re-lit again, and running properly. 
Since none of us enjoyed having the stove threatening to explode; we kept the stove on low, and the only warm place in the whole house was right in front of that oil stove. 
This is actually where we all spent most of the winter, and often even ate our dinner huddled in front of the stove. 

The roads were all covered with snow, and sometimes there was barely enough room in the center to drive a car, and even worse when we had to drive past another car. 
The hiway had huge rock cliffs in places, and the snow made huge ice-cliffs in the winter. It was a beautiful sight; but not any fun for my parents to have to drive anywhere on those icy roads. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

My mother always listened to the Voice of God in her life.

My mom (a very religious person) always listened to what she called the Voice of God. She said that he would warn her about dangers, and also give her suggestions about things that would benefit her in life. 

One of the most dramatic times that this happened was when I was a very young girl. It was Memorial Day weekend, and we had the trunk of the car packed with fresh bouquets from Mom's garden to take up to the nearby town of Bonners Ferry (where we had family buried) and put on the graves. 
Besides my mom and dad, we had our neighbors, the Bailey family; so the whole car was also packed with people. 

This was in the early Fifties, and the highways (at least in northern Idaho) were always narrow and wind-y, and partway there, you had to go through a Z-shaped underpass beneath the railroad tracks.   
You could not see anything that was coming from the other direction because of the sharp corners on both sides of the underpass. 

Just as we got to the underpass, my mom suddenly pulled clear off of the road and stopped. Before anyone could even ask her why she did that, a huge car-transport semi came through the underpass. 
He was going too fast to safely make the sharp turns through the underpass, and very nearly crashed into the concrete walls along OUR side of the road. 
If my mom had not stopped right when she did, we would literally have been crushed between the semi-truck and the concrete wall of the underpass, and probably have all died right then and there. 

When we asked her how she knew to stop when she did, she just said that God had told her to stop immediately. Thankfully, my mother was listening to Him.  

This is just one example of the times that my mother was listening when God was telling her things, but it is a time that will always stand out in my memory. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Worst Ever Camping Trip in My Life !

The worst-ever camping trip that I remember was done in a tiny 1963 Rambler American. If you do not remember these, they were maybe the first economy car, and back in the day when gas was only 17 cents a gallon to begin with. 
This was not actually meant to be  a camping trip.
My  husband and I had only been married a year or two, so we were both in our early twenties (probably a good thing). It was fall, and we were going hunting. 
He had the deer rifle and I had my little .22 single shot rifle for hunting grouse. 

We were on a scraggly forest service trail way back (hours) into the woods up Grouse Creek (near Sandpoint), when we came to a good-sized creek across the road.

Naturally, he was sure that we could get that little car to drive through the creek, and somehow, after several tries, we actually made it across, and on up the hill on the other side. 

Not so easy that evening when we came back down again, and were tired and heading home. 
Of course, the poor little Rambler  got stuck, totally bogged down, in the middle of Grouse Creek.  We tried to jack it up and push it off of the jack to get it far enough out to drive. 
That didn't work
Next, we tried using a large dead branch that was laying on the ground and using that as a fulcrum to push the car ahead. 
That didn't work either. 
After a couple hours of this, we were soaked to the skin, cold, and tired.  And a long, long ways from civilization of any kind. 
We made a small campfire, ate whatever food we had left, dried the clothes as best as we could, and slept in the car over night.  The back seat would lay down flat, so it actually made a fairly good bed to sleep on, at least for short people like me. Not so good for him. 

The next morning, we were seriously starving; but had renewed our energy, and somehow (with much desperate praying on my part), we got that little car pushed far enough out of the creek that he could drive it out of the other side. 

Getting back home and taking a hot shower was such a wonderful thing ! However, I am not sure if we did that before or after we had something to eat. 

And neither one of us brought up the idea of camping for a long time after that...

Our little Rambler looked similar to this, but it was white. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Old Dress...

My mother and father went through the Great Depression at the old ranch house in Paradise Valley, near Bonners Ferry.  They still lived there until after I was born, and they then moved to Sandpoint because my dad had the lineman's job with Northern Lights. 
One of my happiest times as a little girl was when we made the trip up to Bonners together, and went to the old abandoned ranch house.  There was a beautiful old-fashioned pump organ in the living room, and I loved to sit there an play it. 
I know that this is what started my love of organ music. 

My folks would search through the house for things they wanted to bring to Sandpoint, but over the years; things disappeared.  Vandalizing teenagers dumped over my pump organ, and we found it,   smashed to smithereens on the floor. 
Mom cried. 
She must have loved it as much as I did. She said she would much rather that someone had stolen the organ than just smashed it up like that. 

Eventually, the house got too dangerous for someone to go inside. It was built in the 1800's, and said to have originally been a stagecoach stopover for travelers going to Canada. 
Years passed, my parents both passed away, and the old farmhousse had to be demolished for safety's sake. 

When I was in my mid-fifties, I moved back to Bonners Ferry, lived in a little trailer on the back of the same property, and got a job working for, an online newspaper that also had a printed free version that was handed out once or twice a month. 
My job was to deliver the bulletin and to set up advertising, and I also went along with "Uncle Bud" Larsen, our  local feature writer, when he was on writing assignments. 

One such assignment took us to the studio/home of a local artist, Jean Mace. 
While visiting together, I explained to her that my parents had lived in the old farmhouse at the top of Paradise Valley hill, and she said that she well-remembered the place, and had actually been inside it several times, exploring. 

She said they had needed a costume for a party and she rummaged through the old clothes left in the upstairs bedroom at the ranch,  and found a beautiful old dress that was perfect for her to wear to the costume party. 
Then, she went to her closet, brought out my mother's old dress, beautifully preserved, drycleaned and on a hanger.  
We both shed tears as she gave me that dress, and a tangible piece of my family history. 
The story was featured, along with pictures, in the local newspaper, and the dress is safely being kept for my daughter at the home of my son and his wife. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Kind-heartedness of Northern Lights

There are a lot of things that good people have done that I could tell you; but this one is not about a kind-hearted person, it was a wonderful gesture of help from a company.
 My power company, to be exact.  The year was 2001, if memory serves me right. 

I had been living in the little trailer on the property in Idaho with no heat or lights because I just didn't have the money necessary to hook up electricity out there. Summer was not too bad. I could go down to the river and bathe, but usually, I just stopped at the laundromat on the way home from work, washed/dried my laundry, and went into the bathroom and cleaned myself up. 

Winter was harder.   I tried to heat the trailer with a kerosene heater, and it barely touched the intense cold of those Idaho winters. I shivered under my blankets every night. 
One night, the heater sooted over, and smoked up the house while I was sleeping. I remember waking up to a faint peeping sound that I thought was my alarm, and I felt way too groggy to be getting up and going to work, but I was trying. 
As I came awake, the noise got louder, became a screeching wail, and I realized (horrified) that it was the smoke alarm and the house was black with smoke. I dragged the smouldering heater outside into the snow, and opened both doors to the trailer. 
I had been freezing before, now I was even colder; but I  realized how close I had come to being dead, and I was grateful to still be alive. 
I was 55, and didn't want to be a pioneer, and now, I was on the verge of giving up. 

 Northern Lights, our power company, called me and said they would run the power in for me, only charge me a fraction of the price it should have been, and let me make payments on that part. 
My dad had been one of the very first linemen for Northern Lights, and had worked there until he retired. They wanted to help me in honor and rememberance of my dad. 
You never saw anyone as grateful as I  was when they ran the line up to the old trailer, and put that power box in. 

This Picture is of my dad and I with the first Northern Lights linetruck. It was taken in Paradise Valley in about  1946. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The trip to Solomon Mtn. Lookout (or, "We Miss the Lake Turnoff")

Solomon lake is hidden away in between the mountains north of Bonners Ferry Idaho.   Now, it has a nice campground area, which you will see in the accompanying  video.
However, back in the early 1950's; it had none of that.
The road leading to Solomon Lake back then was little more than a trail, and parts of it could be so muddy, we had to drive the old Buick clear off of the road and through the brush to get to the lake, especially early in the summer before things had dried out.
Not only that, but there were all sorts of interconnecting Forest Service roads on the way to Solomon Lake, and there were absolutely NO markers to tell you which was the right road to take at an intersection.

One fine Saturday morning,  we were headed up to Solomon Lake for a weekend of camping and fishing. Our Buick was loaded down with camping equipment, food, picnic plates, and the cast iron skillet that mom always used to cook over the campfire.
Behind us, was Grandpa Bailey in his 1950 Ford wiith the old wooden boat on top, and behind him was his daughter and son-in-law, Adeline and Jim King,  and their family, driving their snazzy little Nash.
Somehow, we missed a turn, and since it was impossible to stop or turn around, we just kept driving and finally ended up on top of one of the mountains surrounding Solomon Lake.
At the top, we were able to turn around and head back down again, although it was fast getting towards dark.

In the dark; it was even harder to find the right turns, and we missed the turnoff for the lake yet again.
A couple of hours later (traveling at about 5 mph the whole time) we reached the top again, this time at Solomon Lookout, on the top of Solomon Mountain.
Since it was so late, and no one wanted to chance missing the turn-off for the third time; we made a hasty camp that night at the lookout-----with no water source, naturally.
The next morning, we woke early to discover a big black bear investigating our camp; so we quickly decided to forgo any kind of breakfast and headed back down the mountain.
I guess the third time was the charm because this time, we happily ended up at the lake, and enjoyed the rest of the weekend camping there.

The lake is actually longer than it looks in this video because it is kind of like an hourglass shape; so it seems to end, goes through the narrow part, and then widens out into the second part of the lake .
(the video is one I found on Youtube)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Shopping in Spokane With my Mother.

  My  mother loved Christmas shopping ! !
 I think that she would buy things during the year when she found something on sale, but when the Christmas season came, then we spent days in the stores, finding just the perfect presents for everyone. 
We lived in Sandpoint, a small town of about 5.000 people, so there was not a lot to be found there; but a 2 hour drive away was Spokane, WA, a much larger city. 

I don't know if they still do it; but back in the Fifties, every window in every store had some sort of a Christmas scene, or at least whatever was in the store windows was "Christmas-ified". Many of the Christmas scenes were animated, and had some sort of sound or music as well. 
We spent many hours just wandering around the blocks and looking at the wonderful Christmas displays. 
My mother went to stores like "The Crescent" and "Bon Marche", and they also had Christmas decorations and scenes all through the stores, plus a whole "Santa's Workshop" with elves and toys and all sort of wonderous things for a child to look at and thrill over. 
Lunch was the Newberry's special: turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce; which we ate sitting at their lunch counter.
 I think it cost about $2 for the special. 

The stores had giftwrappers, so sometimes my mom had the presents wrapped at the store; others we took home and she wrapped hersilf. 
She had one of those little fancy bowmakers, so we had lots of colored ribbon and made pretty bows for all of the presents. 
Before we came back home, we usually drove through some of the streets that had special Christmas decorations on their houses. 
It was (of course) always very dark before we even came close to heading back home, and probably midnight when we actually got back home again. 

Such wonderful times we had at Christmas, and I am so thankful to have those wonderful memories of my Mother and going Christmas shopping together.