What, an antique shop in Spirit Lake that sells Lionel model trains? Learning this, I soon covered the forty miles north of Coeur d’Alene to Spirit Lake’s Main Street.
Turning left from Idaho Highway 41, I was immediately taken by two blocks of early Idaho stone-and-wood commercial architecture. The buildings, up to three stories tall, were well-maintained and mostly open for business, but they were not gussied up. The kid in me couldn’t wait to get out of the car but had to wait for a parking space in the second block, across the street from the antique shop.
While it was the kid in me who jumped out of the car into this Idaho townscape, it was all of me who had to stop in the middle of Main Street, say out loud, “I love it,” and reach for my camera. “It” was the coolest water tower I’d ever seen—a huge and handsome blue coffee pot.
In the train and antiques shop, owner Helen Campilli told me she bought her husband a toy train set many years ago, “Something we didn’t even know existed. He was raised too poor and I was raised on a farm away from everything.” After that gift of love, they collected Lionel trains for years and finally decided to open a shop to get rid of some of them. That led to buying more, applying to be a franchise, and going at it ever since. These days, Helen admits the shop is a way to keep her out of the rocking chair.
We enjoyed a pleasant chat and as I made a small purchase, I mentioned how much I liked the amazing coffee pot water tower. I was immediately corrected. “That is not a coffee pot, it is a teapot. A lady who lived here loved teapots and when she died, her daughter fixed up the water tower to be a teapot in her memory.”
Wow. Continue reading →