I really don’t remember when I caught the reading bug. I just remember that sometime during my first-grade year in Mrs. Snow’s class in Thirkill Elementary School in Soda Springs, I was bitten.
It wasn’t a painful bite, and it has been quite rewarding over the years. At that time in the mid-Sixties, the classrooms of our school were separated by giant accordion doors. The three first-grade teachers would open them up several times during the day or week so they could take advantage of team teaching, or if one of the other teachers had to leave her class for a time, the other teachers could keep an eye on the others’ classes. During that first school year, I tore through all the books that all three teachers had in their classrooms.
Many of them were basic reading primers, but there was also an abundance of beginning reader books by Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, and Stan and Jan Berenstain, among others. Through these books I began to see entirely different lands, cultures, and peoples, and realized that these worlds were limited only by my imagination. Given that the school year extends primarily through the winter, and winters in southeast Idaho are pretty brutal, there was plenty of time to spend in these worlds.
At about the same time that I finished all of the books in the classrooms, Mrs. Snow took us to the school library for the first time. What a treasure! Books upon books upon books were neatly shelved in long rows of color. To me, they looked like the military medals and ribbons I had seen on the chests of the veterans in their uniforms marching in the Fourth of July parade. They were beautiful beyond measure. Continue reading →
The author has researched and compiled more than 1,650 written accounts of early travelers along Idaho’s emigrant trails. As president of the Idaho chapter of the Oregon-California Trails Association, he has published excerpts in recent years from some of these diaries on the chapter’s website newsletter. Below is a sampling of what he has uncovered.
A few days after entering what would later become Idaho, the emigrants came upon an unusual site of several natural hot springs and geysers. Known as Soda Springs because of the carbonated water, most diarists commented on the area. Many used the term “curiosity,” so I suspect that is how a guidebook must have described the springs. A small trading post was built in the area in later years. Today a timer-controlled geyser is the area’s curiosity. Lorenzo Sawyer writes the most detailed description of Soda Springs I have seen. The portion of his day reaching Soda Springs is related here.
June 17, 1850 — Last night was the most disagreeable one we have experienced on our journey. The weather was cold. About 7 o’clock p. m., it commenced raining. During the first watch, the rain continued to fall; about the second watch it changed to snow and sleet, and towards morning it snowed quite hard. The watch found it exceedingly disagreeable traveling about among the thick bushes loaded with water and sleet. The sun shone clear in the morning, however, and soon dispelled the snow in the valleys. We were on our march at six o’clock. Mr. Lake being still sick, we took him in our wagon again. Continue reading →