Friday, September 8, 2017

History is -well, it is History

I was born on October 16th. That is a fact. That is my history, and it cannot be changed. Someone may erroneously record the wrong date of my birth, but that does not change the fact that I was born on October 16th. Oh, and, by the way, I was born a male, and that cannot be he changed, either.I was born in Wallace, raised in Wallace, and attended school K-12 in Wallace, These are all facts, and they are my history, and they cannot be changed.

Why are so many trying to change what was? You cannot change it or erase it. You can bleach it, whitewash it, color it, and just pretend like it didn't happen, but it is a lie. It did happen, it is history, and it cannot be changed.

Symbols of history may delight some, and others are offended by the same symbols.You can tear the symbol down, stomp on it, spit on it, defecate on it, and smash it into tiny pieces, but guess what? Yep, it was still history, and it still happened and you cannot change it.

Just accept, study it, absorb it, learn from it, and move on to today.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

History Lesson-No Double Negatives Allowed.

History is so very important because by forgetting who we were in the past makes it impossible to know who we are now. Let us not tear down the past, but rather let us use it to improve our future.
By knowing the history of an area, a country, an era, or even a small town like Wallace, we form our collective identity.

History is neither good nor is it bad, it just is.We cannot change it, whitewash it, paint over it, or ignore it. It just is. I am of the school of embracing the past. I am totally against the tearing down that is going on in our country. Yes, Nancy, there were brave men that fought for the South, and there were brave men who fought for the Union.Don't tear the past down, study it, learn from it. and improve the future by knowing the past

Let us not have another Civil War because of the Civil War. That is a double negative, and that is simply against the rules.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Saving Captain Bill

As you know by now, I was going to save the world. We all were those students at this expensive, private school of theology. We guys were going to go forth and pastor mega churches and do great things in the name of God. The girls who attended here were going to go forth and marry the guys who were going to save the world. We all came from religious backgrounds, we were all well indoctrinated in our faith, and we all thought that we, and we alone had the answer for all of the ills and sins of the world. The bad part of that is that we were also all hopelessly naive! Heck, we even all looked somewhat alike.

By the time that I started work at the Carlton, Chuck, the owner, had evidently told all of his guests and employees that I was a student of the such and such university. They all made mention of it on my first shift. Actually, it was kind of funny because since I was a theology student they were all very careful to not use profanity around me. When one of them would slip, they would immediately turn and say they were sorry, like I was some kind of divine being.

Enter Bill, the man who would change my life's path. Captain Bill was our maintenance man at the Carlton and had just recently returned from several tours of duty in Vietnam. Bill had been an army captain and had quite a few years in the service. He seemed like one of the sanest guys at the Carlton, and I had enjoyed talking to him on a casual basis for several weeks after I started working at the hotel.

One January evening Bill came into the lobby, and I noticed right away that there was something different about him. His demeanor was dark, and his words were slurred. Bill wanted me to take him up in the elevator to the floor of his room. It started routinely enough. I got in the elevator, closed the iron gate, and pushed the up button that would take us to his floor.
About half way up, everything changed. It was one of those moments that was life defining.

Bill reached over and hit the stop button that brought the elevator to a halt between floors. Now, the alarm bells were starting to go off in my head. He had a crazed look in his eyes, and the usual friendly smile had been replaced with a sneer. Was I going to get murdered? What on earth was going on?

Bill set down on the floor of the cage, pulled a whiskey bottle out of his coat, and gave me the once over. He then began to speak."So, you are a ministerial student, huh?" Yes, I answered, trying to edge away from him a little. He continued" You must really think that you are hot shit, don't you?" " You think that you know everything and that you have the answers to all of life's problems" Where was this going, I wondered.

"Well, said Bill, let me ask you some questions". "Have you ever seen a leper colony where hands and feet and faces are rotting away?" "Have you ever been in a combat zone, and had the person standing next to you have their head blown off by a land mine"?" He then went on to question me about just where had I been in my life, and just what had I ever seen that was tragic. He then started demanding answers from me about the meaning of life, and why would a merciful God allow any of this to happen. He then turned to me, and with utter contempt uttered the words that would change my direction." You don't know jack shit. How are you ever going to lead people and help them?"

I was silent before these words of truth. I did not know anything. How could I help anyone when I had no answers. My personal faith did not change, but my direction of seeking did. The beautiful part of knowledge comes when you realize that you know nothing. And now, the older that I get, I realize more and more that I know nothing, Guess what, I am happy with the knowledge that I know nothing, for by knowing nothing, I gain everything.

So, right then, I decided that I needed a lot more life experience to ever think about being a spiritual leader of any sort. I am still learning, and I am still seeking., and through this, I am learning to find my own answers, and somehow in my blunderings, maybe I will help someone see the light in their path. Thank you, Captain Bill, wherever you are, for you taught me more in those few moments than I ever learned in college.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Leaving The Cocoon-Options

Ah yes, I had big plans, plans that would fast track my career. I applied and had been accepted at a private college in Springfield, Missouri, and by working and using student loans, I could graduate in three years.The school had the programs that I wanted, and I had lots of relatives in Missouri, There was, however, one big obstacle in the person of my father.

My dad was above all else a  devoted father. He loved his children until the day he died, and I never had to doubt that love. However, he was also very pragmatic and very frugal, and he found the idea of going off to a distant place for college ludicrous when "you have a fine college in Coeur d ' Alene that will save you lots of money and you can stay here and commute over there for two years.

As much as I found the idea to be repugnant, I realized that it did have some merit.So, while many of my classmates journeyed off to exotic places like Moscow, Boise, Pocatello, Missoula, Spokane, and all points west-all aboard, I became part of a share the ride commute to the Lake City for my first year of post high school scholastic endeavor. OK, the year at NIJC was not too bad. I commuted until about Thanksgiving time and then decided that I had enough of the slip sliding away thrills, and my older brother and I decided to split a tiny apartment at the Blackstone Motel on Sherman Ave. Ah, my first real time away from home.

I had officially left the cocoon.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Leaving the Cocoon

It is warm, familiar, nourishing, friendly, and safe, and leaving it is no small decision. Growing up Wallace, I always knew, we all always knew, that there was so much more than our tiny corner of the planet. We were safe, secure, and even a little defiant, and we would quickly take issue with anyone who dared to insinuate that our little cocoon was anything but the best, but in our hearts, we knew there was more, much more. 

The day had come to make the move for some of us. Yes, some would stay and perhaps follow the tradition of working in the great mines of the Coeur d' AleneMining District, just like their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and cousins had done.My dad, despite having worked for years underground, made it clear early on that he hoped that neither one of his two boys would have to hoist the pick and shovel and descend into the world quite like no other. That day did come for me, though it was a full decade after graduation and college.I will tell you a little secret. My dad beamed wth pride when I went to work at the Star mine, the same mine where he had worked, and his brothers had worked.The only reason that my dad left the mines for the business world was that my mother was so afraid that he would get killed working in them.

Anyway, I digress, and I am starting to ramble.I had big plans for my life and they did not include staying in my hometown for ever. I wanted to go to college, earn my degree and then teach. I often wonder how many from my graduating class ended up doing what they said what they were going to become and make their life's work.Some did but many of us did not.

Growing up Wallace was great, but the day had come-it was time to go.
To be continued.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Upstairs Heat and True Genius.

Bounding up the old staircase with the reckless abandonment reserved for those not yet afflicted with arthritic knees, backs, necks, and hips, my brother and I would race to the top where our private sanctuary awaited our never-ending imaginations. It was there in the hot summer nights that we rolled out our most creative endeavors.

The house on Cedar was old, old for even those days, and like most old homes in Wallace, we did not have air conditioning, As a matter of fact, we didn't even have a car that had an air conditioner until I was a sophomore in high school. Air was a luxury reserved for the wealthy, and even though Dad made ok money, he would always tell us that we were poor.

The heat in the upstairs rooms on those muggy late July and August nights was never a deterrent to the unbridled fertile imaginations of two growing boys.We would simply plug in an old decrepit fan and proceed with whatever activity we had in mind. One time when she was a bit younger, my brother's step daughter asked him with all sincerity about how we survived those days with no computer, cell phones, smartphones, and on and on. His answer blew her young mind away." We used our imaginations.

And that is how we grew up Wallace,

 The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
Albert Einstein.

Wow, we must have been geniuses.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Roots-And So It Began

Yes, Wallace was tough in those days and was probably exceeded in toughness only by fellow Coeur D' Alene Mining District town, Burke, Idaho, and Butte, Montana. It was the aforementioned once great mining mecca of Burke, Idaho that my roots began.

1929-ah yes, a dark, notorious year in the history of our great nation.Let's face it, with the great stock market crash of 1928 just two months removed, the entire country had been plunged into what historians call the "Great Depression" and the mood of the nation was mired in deep twin holes of doom and gloom.

Perhaps in the mind of the youth, though, there beat the drum of a glorious future. Yes, they saw the tears of hurt, confusion, and even anger on the faces of their parents and while they may have understood on the surface the dark mood of a country formerly bathed in the light of sunshine and hope, they also refused to light the flickering light of their dreams of a better tomorrow die out.

Against this backdrop of a collapsed economy and a nation reeling like a drunken bar patron, one family from Missouri found their way on the move in the hope of landing jobs in the mineral-rich mountains of Idaho. A fourteen-year-old kid from Joplin, Missouri arrived with his six brothers, father, and mother in the rough and tumble world of the notorious mining town of Burke, Idaho. The fourteen years old boy would may years later become the man I call "Dad".

Their route would carry them many miles from their home in Missouri to LosAngeles, Portland, Seattle, and finally the fabulously wealthy mining district called Burke.They came for the same reason many families were making cross-country treks.survival! My grandfather, although a very young man by today's standards, was disabled from years of working in the mines of Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas. His lungs were shot, and money was non-existent.

It was up to the boys in the family to carry the load and provide food for everyone.My Dad was a big, very strong country boy who had no problem looking older than his actual age, So, he lied about his age and was hired at the Austin Leasing Company, a large mine in those early years located about a mile this side of Burke, high up in the hills.The camp had its own boarding house, and the young miners made the trek up the mountain every week, and then went home on the weekends.

The barbers, dentists, pharmacies, grocery stores, hotels, boarding houses, churches, and schools, and of course a host of bars are now just faded memories of a once booming mining mecca, but for those of us who sprang from those roots, the toughness is in our genes.our minds, and in our hearts. We are fighters, and we don't run from adversity.

Yes, my Idaho roots came via Missouri to Burke, and on to Wallace, where from the age of four, I grew up.And so it began.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Growing up Wallace-Part 2

If "sameness' was the bond that held Wallace together, then" toughness" was the attribute that made the whole thing work. Yes, Wallace was one tough town, one proud town, and one very hard working town.

Wallace was not just a place, it was a state of minds. The mindset included two main themes, pride, and toughness. The Wallace that I grew up in is nothing like the "Historic Wallace" of today. Antique stores? Please, give me a break. We didn't have antique stores, we had a "junk store" or two scattered throughout the Valley. Oh, and speaking of "Valleys", we did not have a "Silver Valley", we had the Coeur D' Alene Mining District. When I was in school, they tried the title " Fabulous Valley", and even had a beauty pageant for several years titled " Miss Fabulous Valley". The pageant even had a "celebrity judge the first year. Yes, it was none other than the "Dialing for Dollars" television host from one of the Spokane network affiliates. How big is that, huh?

Pride? We were very proud. We were proud of our heritage, those dark, narrow, underground tunnels burrowed thousands of feet below the surface of the earth. We were proud of our small city, that was laid out more like a bigger city. We were immensely proud of our school and our teams. And, were very proud of our 'Cat Houses", those mysterious colored doors that lead upstairs to ??????????

Tough? Nobody, with the maybe the exception of Burke, had tougher kids than Wallace did. The amazing part was that these same tough kids, unlike kids in cities today, were not only tough, they were polite, too, They could knock you to the ground, but they would extend a hand to help you back up. But, I am not just talking about being physically tough. Wallace kids were mentally tough as well. We had to be. We were surrounded by mountains that, although beautiful, could turn on you in a heartbeat. Most of our fathers worked in the mines, at at least at one time or another, and the possibility always existed that they might not come home that day.
Yes, it was a place of hard work, hard play, and great living. Wallace, proud and tough.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Growing Up Wallace-The Basics

It was the stability, silly. Oh yes, the stability of sameness. Sameness, the same thing that drives folks bonkers in this day and age. Sameness, the thing that made social cliques pretty much impossible. Of course there were the different groups that would hang together. There was little room for too much smugness, though, because basically, all of our fathers worked pretty much one way or another for the mines. Of course there were merchants, teachers, plumbers, medical people, loggers, and so on, but most of life, one way or another centered around those rich veins of ore buried deep within the mountains of jewels of the canyon. ( While we are at it, let's be real. We were really more of a "canyon" than a "valley".)

So, the sameness formed a strong bond between the young and the restless , the old and the weary, and the middle aged and the up and coming.

My mother saved everything about my life ,and I mean everything. I was looking at the program for my kindergarten graduation ceremony, and the names on that program were pretty much the same names that were listed on my high school graduation program 12 years later. There was a sameness, a bonding, a stability. We were all citizens of Wallace. We were Wallacites.