What made this part of Black Canyon unique was the canyon bottom. Standing at the rim of the canyon wall a hundred feet above the river, one could view a piece of God’s artwork at its best. The canyon bottom was formed by molten lava that had flowed, and later hardened, to form a flat surface similar to that of a giant patio. This patio-like canyon floor was approximately a mile and half long and five to six hundred feet wide. Scattered along this giant patio were several large holes that made up the various pools of water where Buddy and his friends enjoyed swimming. They varied in size from twenty-five to forty feet across.
There was a larger pool just down river from the 23 called the “60,” and though the boys swam there also, the 23 was still favored because it was somewhat smaller, which enabled the sun to heat the water to a warmer temperature. Because the water flowed so slowly through this section of Black Canyon, it was nearly stagnant. Not so stagnant that it became foul, but stagnant enough that the sun was able to heat some of the pools to a near tepid state.
Buddy was standing waist deep in the pool on a rock ledge about three feet below the surface of the water. It was about thirty feet across the pool and Buddy wondered if he could make it to the other side. He had mastered the dog paddle pretty well, but he had only dared venture a few feet from the safe haven of the edge of the pool. Although he felt he was ready, he had never mustered the courage to attempt a crossing. Today, he thought, is the day I should try it. Continue reading →
Homer supposedly once said, “Art obtains the prize.” This doctrine has endured in boxing with some noteworthy exceptions, as in 1952, when Rocky Marciano slugged his way through the crafty Jersey Joe Walcott. Smart fighters typically find a way to win.
Yet a successful fighter sometimes emerges who doesn’t think the least bit in the ring. Such a fighter swears off the scientific approach, and simply hammers his opponent. He doesn’t consider himself a student of boxing, and makes no claims to boxing as an art form. For sixteen years, Emmett’s Kenny Keene was that type of fighter.
“I was no boxer,” Kenny told me during our lengthy phone conversations, which began when I was conducting research for a book about another boxing champion, Marvin Camel. “I was not skilled. I plowed ahead. I may not have been a great boxer or puncher, but I was a good, small-town guy who always plowed ahead.”
Plowing ahead is a bit of a euphemism. Kenny Keene fought with unprotected abandon. Inside the ropes, he was a workmanlike brawler, a straightforward machine who was often impervious to pain and virtually impossible to knock out. His bravery took the form of being able to resist blows that other men could not stand. Those traits contributed to his appeal among Idahoans and fans beyond the state. My grandfather and I were always ecstatic to see Kenny Keene and his crowd-pleasing punching on television’s now-defunct Tuesday Night Fights.
Boxing is a brutal, unforgiving sport. People “play” baseball and basketball, football, tennis, and golf. No one “plays” boxing. Fighting is not a pastime. It takes a certain aptitude, both physical and mental, to endure. Kenny had the fighter’s sense of endurance. Continue reading →
I married into a five-generation logging family. I’ve always thought this to be impressive, and it makes me proud, even though I’m sometimes bewildered at how the family has stayed so close-knit throughout the generations.
Jake and I married in 2007, after dating for nearly two years. During that time, I learned only a fraction of what it takes to keep a logging business going steady, even while trying to balance the constantly shifting demands of family time and work. I’m still learning, although at a much more relaxed pace than in the early days. I have come to appreciate what has been passed down in the family business: hard work, long hours in the woods, a few more hours at the shop on Saturdays, and the razzing from a brother-in-law who has, well, no filter.
As we head into February, I become anxious about the layoff season for the guys, who include my father-in-law, Tim, his brother John, and Tim’s sons, Matt, Luke, and Jake. I’m getting extremely anxious to spend more time with my husband, Jake, and I know our two boys, Wyatt, three, and Blake, two, feel the same way. The busyness of those little boys is one of the reasons I look forward to Jake being closer to home during winter and spring. They are busy like their father, their uncles, their great-uncle, and grandfather. This busy life of the men, away from home nine months of the year, stretches back decades, to a time when logging was quite a bit different than it is today.
In 1901, Peter and Mary Brown settled in Prairie for roughly eleven years. They had fourteen children, an amazing challenge to take on while trying to make a living in those days. For Peter, making a living consisted of waking early to go with his horses to the timber, where he felled with crosscut saws. He then pulled logs down the mountain and hauled them to the mill, with only his team of horses to help. Continue reading →