The second time I spotted him lolling about on the top of the feeder, I grabbed a broom and rushed out the door, waving my threatening wand and yelling like a mad dog. The squirrel rather curiously observed all this until I actually started to swing, at which point he quickly and rather casually jumped down to run off. Sure, I pulled my swing, because I didn’t want to bash apart the feeder or actually hurt this talented squirrel, but I figured the near-miss and my angry scolding would teach him a lesson.
Silly me. Teach a squirrel a lesson where food is involved? Instead it only seemed to make an alarm of the back door latch. Now the squirrel had time to saunter off. Continue reading →
I blame the name.
Had I not been born with the name of Driggs, a town hugging the Tetons in far eastern Idaho, my interest in history likely would not have been so strong.
But early on, as soon as someone found out my name, he or she asked the same question: “Was the town named after you?”
The short answer: “Yes, kind of.”
The more complicated explanation: “It was more or less governmental convenience.” Many people with the surname Driggs had signed a petition to secure a post office in their Teton Valley village—so many that the post office bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., named the post office “Driggs.”
Without the same name as the town, I likely wouldn’t be versed in that history. And maybe I wouldn’t have paid much attention to the story of my mother’s side of the family, which also figured early in the valley history. Nor would I be as vested in the area’s history.
Given my family heritage and a professional background in journalism and photography, it seemed natural to me after retirement to volunteer at the Teton Valley Museum. I had no knowledge of the workings of the place, having made only a couple of visits over a few years. But when I walked in the front door, the museum’s head volunteer, Kay Fullmer, didn’t take long to accept me into her team.
More than a year later, I now understand why it was unusual for Kay to welcome me into the fold on the spot. The close-knit group of museum board members is quite selective about who works there.
“They have to fit in,” is how Kay puts it.
But they liked my skill set, and it didn’t hurt to have the same name as the town. Continue reading →
Forty-two art benches grace downtown Idaho Falls and the Snake River greenbelt. Each one has a story. But how they got there is the story I want to tell.
Downtown Idaho Falls has been called a lot of things. The old timers once referred to it as “Alcohol Falls.” My husband Jerry, a retired sheep and cattle rancher, fondly remembers driving sheepherders and camp-tenders into downtown from his family ranch right after they collected their six months’ of winter and trail wages. It was the early 1950s. The first stops were always the Bon Villa and Jack’s Club, two notorious bars sometimes called “blind pigs” by the locals. Recognizing the windfall delivered to their establishments, the bartenders would allow Jerry, the underaged teen chauffer, to belly up to the bar for free while the hired hands bought rounds for the house.
During the ‘60s, the downtown’s hurly burly persona began to fade. The department stores and movie theaters fled to suburban shopping centers and malls, which offered bigger buildings, bigger parking lots, and bigger crowds. The exodus continued when more downtown professional firms and restaurants moved to the east side of town, where the new shopping centers, malls and hospital were now located. In the early ‘90s, downtown Idaho Falls had about hit bottom—too many vacant storefronts and too few shoppers. As local developer Larry Reinhart told me back then, “I am tired of Idaho Falls being called Jackson Hole’s ugly stepsister.” Continue reading →