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The Austrian Settlement

Posted on by Rachel Holt / Leave a comment

For me, the word “scam” describes something that happens in far-off places, to other people. I’ve never really thought about it happening to me or someone I know, and I certainly never considered it happening to someone a century ago.

That’s why when I saw a flier for the Owyhee County Museum Sesquicentennial Celebration that promised a presentation on a hundred-year-old scam, I was intrigued. After driving through rolling hills to Murphy, I met with Joe Demshar, director of the Owyhee County Museum, who would be giving the presentation. He has a very personal connection to the story. The scam concerned members of the “Austrian Settlement” near Homedale, from which Joe descends. He’s a fifth-generation Demshar, one of eight families who settled there in 1914. The other families were the Dolences, Cegnars, Kushlans, Bahems, Jesenkos, Marcheks and the Miklovichs. They were originally from Slovenia with the exception of the Bahems, who were German.

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of founding of the Austrian Settlement. Despite many obstacles, the families who stayed in the area survived and thrived. To honor them, Homedale will erect a monument to the settlement. On February 15, more than three hundred people crowded into the Homedale Armory to hear Joe’s story. Continue reading

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No More Metes and Bounds

Posted on by Dean Worbois / Leave a comment

Whenever I drive south from Kuna on Swan Falls Road toward the Snake River, I pass a little sign indicating a turnoff to a place called Initial Point. It’s a butte just one mile to the east on a good dirt road, but for me there always seemed to be some excuse not to run over and check it out. At last, I decided to do what I had often told myself I should do, and took that turn.

A road leads up the butte, but the steep grade is studded with sharp lava rocks, and rather than chewing up my vehicle’s tires, I opted for an easy climb to the summit. I followed the road on foot about halfway across the east side of the butte, impressed with the expanse of open country between myself and the distant mountains of the Boise Front. A rugged shortcut uphill beckoned. After a brief climb, the butte rounded onto a large flat area used for parking and, I’m sure, partying. At the southwest corner of this area, a lava outcropping rose to a point topped by a concrete platform with guardrails of pipe.

This butte may be only a hundred and twenty-five feet above the desert floor, but the flatness of the surrounding countryside makes for stunning vistas. Whether the Boise Front to the north, the Owyhee Mountains to the south, Oregon’s Mahogany Mountains to the west or the endless desert to the east, the land defines the concept of big sky. My whole life, I have explored its canyons and other features, and the grandeur of its open space. Continue reading

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Those Were the Days

Posted on by Ted Trueblood / Leave a comment

Those were the days, my friend; we thought they’d never end.” I liked that song.

I‘ve been there.

In 1954 the Weiser River was running clear when the spring chinooks turned into it from the Snake, a rare thing. Much of the drainage of the Weiser had been devastated by abusive logging and grazing, and when the hard rains came or the snow melted quickly in the spring the red mud flowed into the river and I never saw the Weiser high and clear. Streams in the wilderness may be up and flowing through the willows and yet be so clear you can count the pebbles on the bottom. But they know not the cow and bulldozer.

We got the word from Fred Einsphar on May 30. He had a ranch along the river from about halfway between the town and Galloway Dam, and he was a sportsman. Herb Carlson, Clare Conley, and I were there early the next morning. There were no other anglers.

Herb and Clare had spinning tackle. I had my nine-foot, five-and-a-quarter-ounce Winston and a three-and fifth-eighths-inch Hardy Perfect reel filled with backing, monofilament, and a shooting head—my steelhead tackle. I intended to use nothing else. I believed that salmon would hit a fly as well in Idaho as in the tidewater pools of the Eel and this was the chance to test my theory. Continue reading

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Thoroughly Lost in the Moment

Posted on by Steve Carr / Leave a comment

I attended my first yoga class. I know, you’re asking what I’ve been doing with my life until now. I can’t answer that. But there I was, a first time yogi.

Apparently there are all types of yoga. There’s yoga for runners and yoga for lovers. There’s probably yoga for Idaho history lovers. I know there’s yoga to learn to meditate, to find a union with one’s inner soul and the universe.

So, I began thinking, how about yoga for those who want to be able to clip their toenails without herniating a disk? I suppose a path to higher consciousness wouldn’t hurt —if it comes with the package. Continue reading

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Mom’s Poem

Posted on by Janene Bromley Piecuch / Leave a comment

I met my mother, Wilma Pickett Bromley, when I was eight years old, and it was love at first sight for me.

She died recently in Star at age ninety-three. She was a tough, tough lady—that’s how women were in the “Greatest Generation.” I’m more of a dreamer, with a heart that’s broken easily and heals slowly.

She had just married my dad in Seattle when we met. I was from his first marriage. It may have taken a little longer for her to return my love, as I was sick with malnutrition and viral pneumonia. I was taken to a doctor, who advised that I should be put in a hospital and allowed to die there. That made my new mom mad. She picked me up and said, “If that’s how you feel, I darned well won’t leave her here.”

On the way home, she told me, “Hospital people don’t know everything. I’m a farm girl, I know how to make you well.”

I thought she was an angel. Continue reading

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Posted on by Angie Blake / Leave a comment

Every summer in my youth, our family would pack our things, get into the vehicle and take a trip from Independence, Oregon to Pingree, southwest of Blackfoot. We were headed for my grandparents’ farm, where a family reunion was always attended by lots of people, with plenty of food and beverages. In addition to visiting with relatives, we helped out on the farm gathering eggs, milking cows, baling hay, and moving irrigation pipes, and we learned about family traditions. For me, it was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of city living, peer pressure, and school. I didn’t realize at the time how much all this would mean to me when I got older. I remember looking into the faces of my Italian relatives and recognizing aunts, uncles and cousins, but for a long time I didn’t really picture them as people who had lives of their own.

My father’s parents, Tommaso and Annunziata “Annzi” Rossi, had emigrated from Italy to America in 1951. By 1955, they had moved to their new home in Pingree and bought a farm, where Grandmother has been residing ever since. More than fifty years ago, my brother Marlon, Jr. and I were born in Idaho, but within a couple of years our dad, Marion Rossi, Sr., accepted a job in education in Monmouth, Oregon, two miles from Independence, where we were raised along with two more children. After we were grown up and had children of our own, our parents decided they were needed in Pingree to help take care of my father’s parents, who were getting along in years. They built a house on my grandparents’ land and resided there from then on.

Two years ago, my mother, Sandy Rossi, died of natural causes in her Pingree house. I hadn’t been to Idaho in thirty years. It was time I went home. Continue reading

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Sorting Spawners

Posted on by Kris Millgate / Leave a comment

On weekends, I hit the hills with my family to play and at the same time I scout for places to shoot video. On weekdays, I return to those places with my camera equipment to work.

Following this routine of scout, then shoot, I’m lying on wet boulders in Swan Valley’s Palisades Creek on a sunny June day. While hiking with my kids the previous Sunday, I saw fish jumping a four-foot waterfall. Now it’s Monday afternoon and I’ve returned in waders. It’s sweaty hot on the rocks. It’s painfully hard to hold still. I’m belly-growl hungry for the granola bar in my pack on the bank. I’m questioning my strategy when the first trout finally breaks the current in front of my lens.

“It is really amazing what fish can do when they’re trying to go spawn,” says Brett High, Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional fisheries biologist, as he sits by the rushing river on an overturned bucket. “We’ve seen fish hold their positions almost vertically for several seconds.” Continue reading

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At the Museum

Posted on by Dianna Miller / Leave a comment

We arrived at The College of Idaho in Caldwell on a chilly Saturday morning. Our mission: the Natural History Museum.

Our leader Teresa Hafen and I, her assistant, ushered our group of ten year-old Cub Scouts down concrete stairs to a metal door leading into the basement. As we entered a huge warehouse of archived items, excitement rose in the voices of the boys—especially Tyler, who is always a tad more enthusiastic then the others. They all proceeded to get louder and louder until we explained the rules, which included not touching anything and being respectful, particularly to our guides, who were volunteers. We met Nathan Carpenter, who immediately engaged the boys in a display of blowfish. He invited us to look around, and we looked, but I kept one eye on Tyler. Continue reading

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Harold’s Voyage

Posted on by Faye Higbee / Leave a comment

As a member of the “Greatest Generation,” ninety-year-old Harold Kiel would be a hero in my book even without the story of his life journey, which inspires me not only for its insights into World War II, but for the kind, intelligent man behind them. Harold and his biographer/neighbor, Michael Kincaid, live not far from me in northern Idaho.

I write a column for a veterans’ organization, so when Mike, whom I had met through the Idaho Writer’s League, sent me a notice of the release of his book, Harold’s Voyage, I jumped at the chance to interview a US Navy veteran from the war. There aren’t many left.
I met with Harold, Mike, and a videographer named Kevin Hochstetler at a small coffee house in Hayden. Harold’s wisdom and sense of humor impressed me to the extent that I forgot to write things down, and what I did write later proved to be a jumble of unintelligible hen scratching. Fortunately, Mike gave me a copy of the book, or I’d have been up a creek without a paddle.

During his active duty in the war, Harold kept five journals that were his sanity and solace while on board the Patrol Craft Rescue Ship “PCR 851.” He was unaware at the time that journals were a court martial offense during the war. Those journals became the basis of Harold’s Voyage. Continue reading

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A Few Hands of Trouble

Posted on by Paige Nelson / Leave a comment

Growing up on a large cattle ranch taught me what I needed to know about horses. I have been riding since I can remember and have always loved it.

Even so, I don’t know everything, and for the most part I’ve worked with full-sized horses, so when I brought home my first miniature horse, I thought she would be similar to the quarter horses I grew up with. Guess what? I experienced a miniature paradigm shift.

I found Sage in the local classifieds. She was just what I had been searching for: a miniature with nice coloring, close to where I lived, and an asking price of $300. My husband had mixed feelings about ownership of a miniature horse. In his very logical engineering mind, it was ridiculous to purchase a miniature. Why not buy a full-sized horse I could ride?

Anyhow, I wanted one.

She lived seven miles from my house. It was a nice spring day in May when I went to see her for the first time. The seller, Nancy, and I walked to the horse pasture. Sage was engaged in a game of speeding around her corral at breakneck miniature speed. She and her playmate would give each other “the look,” take off sprinting the length of the pen, throw in a few six-inch-off-the-ground bucks, and then whirl around to do it again.

I melted. She had a gorgeous deep brown body with long, flaxen mane. She had great movement in her front legs—a little less so in her hind end, but it didn’t seem to affect her as she ran, jumped, and bucked her way around the pen. Her thirty-eight-inch height was taller than I had been hoping for, but her perfectly shaped head and round muscled rump was enough for me. Continue reading

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