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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Where Better Than Plummer?

Decades before the Benewah Market or the Gateway restaurant, U.S. Highway 95 or Mahoney Mall, Plummer had Fern Agte.

She was the little girl who ruptured something inside when she fell off her family’s buggy in 1911. Fern was sent to Walla Walla for medical care after the accident. But she came back to Plummer and stayed for 84 more years.

“That’s why they want me to be one of the grand marshals in the (Plummer Days) parade. I’ve been here forever,” Fern says, stroking her purring cat, Hawkeye. In her timeworn rocking chair on an old braided rug, Fern is an oil painting come to life.

She is one of few homesteaders left in the area. Fern’s father left Walla Walla in 1910 for a piece of Idaho he could call his own. By the time 3-year-old Fern followed in the spring with her mother and two sisters, the log cabin was waiting.

Their 160 acres sat on the Coeur d’Alene Indian trail to the huckleberry patches. At first, the Indians scared Fern.

“I thought they were going to scalp me,” she says, smiling at her young foolishness.

She learned quickly that the Coeur d’Alenes were friendly and began to wish she was one.

“I was so envious of a little Indian girl who had her own horse,” she says.

Marriage in 1927 took Fern as far as a neighboring homestead. She raised chickens and boys while her husband raised wheat, alfalfa, oats and barley. The years ticked by.

Her children grew and left, then, in 1969, her husband died. Fern thought about leaving her old Monarch kitchen stove that’s half electric and half wood, her gardens of snapdragons and primroses, her checkered vista of wheatfields and pine stands. She couldn’t.

“Where would I go where it could be any better?” she says.


The benefit carnival for little McKinsey Kelly of Bonners Ferry is 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Boundary County Fairgrounds. In Wednesday’s column, I begged you to go and help her family with medical bills, then sent you to the wrong fairgrounds. Sorry. …

Techno Kids

Sure, it’s summer and math and science aren’t high on kids’ to-do lists.

But the University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene Center is offering kids a chance to explore laser discs, chemistry labs, even ride the back of a Galapagos turtle through computer-aided simulation.

Classes are open to students in grades 1-7, and start July 17. Call 667-2588 for details.

Author, author

North Idaho must inspire writers because new books constantly cross my desk. Here are two worth reading:

Coeur d’Alene’s Charlotte Rogers Brown and Karolyne Smith Rogers collaborated on “A Weaving of Wonder.” It’s a twist on the how-to book, using fables and advice to help adults shed the mental and emotional baggage that holds them back.

Kim Jacklin’s “Cinderella Cracked” is a story of an incest victim based on accounts incest survivors shared with Kim.

Read your local authors. It makes for good conversation at parties.

Vacation blues

My family wasted hundreds of dollars and valuable vacation time from work traveling to Utah last month for a concert that was rained out, rescheduled, then canceled altogether.

Ever have the type of vacation that’s made Chevy Chase millions of dollars? Write about it and if it’s published, I’ll send you a “Close to Home” T-shirt to wear on your next vacation.

Pack up your worst vacation memories and send them to Cynthia Taggart, “Close to Home,” 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814; fax them to 765-7149; or call 765-7128 and make me feel better about my fiasco.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo