Huckleberries is interviewing Steve Shepperd (above showing off his new book) re: his new book on the history of Coeur d'Alene hydroplane racing: “Hydromania: A History of the Diamond Cup”:
- Huckleberries: What gave you the idea re: writing this book?
- Steve Shepperd: The initial reason was that there was a lot of negative press centering around (the 1960s) riots. Having lived through the actual races (I was a volunteer with the races as a kid), I knew there was more to the story. When I retired, one of my bucket list items was to write the history of the races, either to prove the claims that riots were true or to refute it with historical fact. I was encouraged to (write the book) because — if someone didn't write the story — it would be lost. Just a handful of people were left who were part of the 1958 board that made the decision to race, including Mr. Hagadone.
- Huckleberries: How long did it take you to write the book?
- Shepperd: The first research I did occurred after I retired as principal of the Kellogg Elementary in 2008. It took me until two months ago to completely finish it. I did intense writing for the last three years. More below.
- Huckleberries: What will surprise people most about your book?
- Shepperd: That there is such a rich history in this community with boat racing. The book starts in 1913 with the first organized boat racing on the lake and finishes just before the 2013 Diamond Cup. From 1913 to 1941, with the exception of 1916-17 (during war), they had organized boat racing on this lake. There are photos, for example, in there of Howard Hudson (of Hudson's Hamburgers) and Harry Wilson (of Wilson's Drug), who owned a boat together.
- Huckleberries: What conclusion did you draw about the so-called riots?
- Shepperd: There was a period where civil disturbances did take place, from 1961-64. From 1965 through 1968, there were no more arrests than there generally was during a regular Fourth of July weekend. If you look at the chapter in 1969 when they made decision to pull the plug, it was for two reasons: Lack of volunteers and lack of financial resources. The 1968 cost for prize money and appearance money was around $30,000. It would have cost them close to $61,000 if they had had a race in 1969.
- Huckleberries: I imagine you attended the 2013 Diamond Cup. Were you happy to see them return?
- Shepperd: I was exceedingly so. I'm a friend of Doug Miller's. To able to be there and to watch that very first race was a very emotional moment because so many people had worked so hard to bring it to that point. I felt blessed to be a part of the effort to put the race on and to be there to watch it actually happen.
(Stephen Shepperd will be signing books at Hastings Books, 101 Best Ave, Coeur d'Alene, Sunday Dec. 1 from 1-4, at the Angel Gallery, 423 Sherman, Coeur d'Alene, Dec. 13 from 5-8 and at Aunties Books, 402 W. Main, Spokane, Dec. 15 Sunday at 1. Books are available at bookstores, Angel Gallery, Kootenai Lawn and Garden, 1401 E. Best, Coeur d'Alene or www.museumni.org. Hardcover $39.95.)