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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Tue., April 29, 2014

From our archives, 100 years ago

Halbert Dibley, 14, and Walter Dibley, 11, of Spokane, were afraid that they were going to be punished by their parents for an unspecified act of disobedience.

So they ran away – to Montana.

They sold a bicycle for $12, and took the money down to the Northern Pacific depot. They intended, they said, to go to Mexico. But they had only enough money to buy tickets to Jennings, Mont., a village outside of Libby.

When they got there, they found it deserted and they had no choice but to start walking, to stave off the cold. They walked for 27 miles, they said, stopping along the road “to take dinner with a gang of Italian railroad workmen.”

“It was pretty bum grub we had,” Walter later said.

They ended up in Eureka, Mont., unaware that their parents had launched a search. They decided “there was no place quite like home, after all” and they used what little money they had left to buy tickets to nearby Libby.

The conductor, recognizing them as the missing boys, telegraphed ahead for their parents to meet the train in Spokane. The two “dirty-faced, tired, hungry and homesick boys” stepped from the train into the outstretched arms of mom and dad.

Their mother made them a special breakfast. “They ate like a couple of hired men,” reported their mother. She also added that they “were human enough to look sheepish.”

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