The Pleasures of Being Bypassed
Story and Photos by Diana Hooley
When I first drove through the village of Hammett in 1974, I didn’t know it was a commercial mecca for an empire larger than the state of Rhode Island. Of course, I’d not read that description in the 1912 promotional flyers printed by investors intent on luring settlers to the area. What I saw was a few buildings on the main road surrounded by lots of farm fields. A green sign said Hammett was unincorporated. Those early investors may have had big ideas for Hammett, but the “town” looked more like a rest stop to me. Hammett is midway between Boise and Twin Falls, and lies in a small valley bordered by the Snake River to the south and Bennett Mountain farther north.
Back in 1974, my boyfriend (soon to be husband) Dale wanted to give me a tour of his hometown, and I was curious about the Hammett he’d grown up in. I remember Dale pointed out the old, abandoned Hammett School. It was a two-story brick building, the largest building in the settlement. He’d attended school there from first through fourth grade. He said his teacher, Mrs. McKee, read wonderful stories to him and his classmates every day after lunch: Call of the Wild and Black Beauty. School lunches were cooked back then by long-time Hammett resident Carol Reeves, and featured such offerings as homemade beef-and-noodle soup, and chocolate cake made from scratch.
Another resident, Ann Wilson, recently echoed my husband’s sentiments about the Hammett School experience. “It was a joy to go to school in Hammett. My family lived close enough that my mama would come and pick up me and my sister (Mary Alyce) and take us home for lunch. After school we’d walk over to the Harmons, who owned a store, and buy an orange lollipop.”