Boise—Spotlight City

The Big and Small of It

By Dean Worbois

Was it a big town or a small city? I was raised in both, choosing my environment by what I was looking for at the time. It was the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. The name of the place was Boise.

The streets were dirt. A cow pasture, chicken coop, and garden filled the half-block behind our house. A dozen neighborhood kids hid in tall weeds in empty lots while “it” counted to “ready-or-not-here-I-come.” We caught pollywogs amid cattails, which we called the tules swamp, by the gravel pits along the river. We pedaled our bikes pell-mell down into the “Big Hole,” an abandoned excavation for the basement of a house. On the way out, we rode pell-mell past big rocks that threatened to force us off-course into other rocks, which would mean we’d have to push our bikes up the other side. A failure to navigate the Big Hole remained a stain until someone else had to push their bike out.

There were lemonade stands.

Later we played work-up baseball in our backyard—so long as you count spending half the time arguing about the rules as playing ball.

Yep, it was about as much a small-town childhood as any kid has ever enjoyed. I even learned to drive a tractor long before the law would let me on the streets. I got real good at running a gang reel mower around the trees of the ball field that replaced the cow pasture.

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Dean Worbois

About Dean Worbois

Dean Worbois spent ten years pursuing an acting career and hitchhiking around the country during the 1960s before earning a degree from Boise State University. He taught stained glass at Boise State, wrote several books and pamphlets on historical subjects, and has contributed to IDAHO magazine over the years. He produced a weekly half-hour television show on Boise’s public access channel, TVCTV, and has a blog of stories from his life at deansgreatwahoo.com.