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Huckleberries: Wallace poetry book harks back to times past

Sun., Nov. 18, 2012

A book of poetry about “Wallace, Idaho,” that recalls the bygone houses of prostitution begs reading: “Every 12-year-old charged/with selling something to benefit anything/knew like the Lord’s Prayer/the first steps you climbed led to brothel doors.”

Whidbey Island, Wash., poet Linda (Hall) Beeman wrote those lines in “Hook Houses.” In a telephone interview, she told Huckleberries that she didn’t visit the Oasis, Lux and Sahara to sell school candy while growing up in Wallace, 1952-’65. But a classmate named Bruce did.

Beeman was inspired to celebrate Wallace in rhyme after returning to her hometown for the centennial of the August 1910 fire. “That set off a series of memories and flashbacks. It flowed pretty naturally,” she said.

Late mining magnate Harry Magnuson earned an entry: “His accounting and penny stock savvy/build inroads and a fortune.” And “Miners,” she wrote, “unhinge me/their raw edginess a glimpse into hot dark underground.” Linda penned poems about the 1972 mining disaster, the 1910 fire, I-90 and the Cataldo Mission, too.

By midweek, “Wallace, Idaho” will be available at Auntie’s in downtown Spokane, Coeur d’Alene’s Hastings and Indelible Tidbits in Wallace. Or you can buy it from for $10 plus shipping.

Embattled widow

North Idaho was busting buttons in 1997 when President Bill Clinton awarded the Medal of Honor to African-American Vernon Baker of the St. Maries area for his courageous World War II service.

Now fast forward 15 years. The war hero has been dead for two years. His widow, Heidy, has gotten by, no thanks to federal immigration officials who are pestering her daughter and a grandchild to return to Germany. Publisher Dan Hammes tells the story in the St. Maries Gazette Record.

Heidy’s kin moved to St. Maries seven years ago to help care for ailing Vernon. Now that Heidy’s alone, she needs them more than ever. But immigration officials are unbending. Calls to Idaho’s congressional offices haven’t helped either.

Publisher Hammes summarizes: “The widow of a Medal of Honor recipient is on her own when it comes to battling the federal government over whether her family has done enough for this country to earn the right to stay together here in the United States.” Mebbe immigration reform should start here.


Poet’s Corner: “My troopers get greased/and they get exploded,/but I’m safe on base/with my email loaded” – The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“The General”) … Idaho’s “We The People” cyberpetition to secede from the union now has 5,663 signatures. Which is 19,337 signatures short of the 25,000 necessary to receive a “get lost” response from the White House … Huckleberries Online poll: If eggnog is your guilty pleasure, you’re not alone. Seventy percent of my blog readers like it, too … Colleague Paul Turner/The Slice wonders why North Idaho College selected Cardinals as its mascot since the birds don’t reside in Coeur d’Alene. Short answer: A St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan from bygone days persuaded the school to embrace his beloved mascot. Good thing he wasn’t a St. Louis Browns (now Baltimore Orioles) fan.

Parting shot

Erik Michels of Coeur d’Alene did a double take while shopping at the Real Life Ministries thrift store in Post Falls last week. Take it away, Erik: “They had a collection of crutches – (drum roll, please) next to the collection of ski equipment!” Erik forgot to ask whether the juxtaposition was by accident. Or by intelligent design.

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