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Huckleberries: Reader remembers a kindness from long, long ago

A long time ago in a Big Sky State not far away, Jim Newcomb was a troubleshooter for Northwest Telephone Systems. In 1977. In Kalispell, to be exact.

Jim was minding his own business, when the flack for his company went bonkers as a result of a photo in the town newspaper, the Daily Inter Lake. Seems the paper’s photographer was upset the phone company had taken too long to provide a private line to his home. So, he snapped a photo of three children pretending to send up smoke signals and provided this caption: “With a long, long delay in new telephone installation, these Evergreen area youngsters may have come up with a way to communicate out there.”

The photo was published. The flack shouted. The publisher buckled. And the news editor was assigned to follow Newcomb around for a day to verify how hard the company worked for its cuss-tomers. Jim, indeed, worked hard.

Why is Huckleberries telling you this? Jim is now living in Spokane on his phone company pension and enjoying 23 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren, with two more greats on the way. Recently, he found the Sept. 15, 1977, clipping of the story filed by the paper’s news editor after their day together. And he sent this email to Huckleberries: “Thanks for being so kind to me almost 40 years ago. I will turn 78 in July and life is still great.”

Yeah, a five-year stop in Kalispell is on my resume. And, as Paul Harvey used to say, now you know the rest of the story.

Bard’s book

Reader Beverly Mulkey Rickel of Elk, Washington, wants to know where she can pick up a $10 copy of “The Bard of Sherman Avenue: Poems by Tom Wobker.” Emails Beverly: “I always loved reading his poems, and I REALLY want a couple of his books.” If you can’t make it to Huckleberries Blogfest 2017 for the poetry book reveal (1-4 p.m. Feb. 11 at Fort Ground Grill/Coeur d’Alene), Washington Poet Laureate Tod Marshall has the answer. Sorta. Tod tells Huckleberries: “Haven’t thought that far ahead on sales and such. Plan on giving 20 or so to Auntie’s on consignment. She could order through them. But I won’t be able to set that up until next week.” Stay tuned.


In Tuesday’s column, Huckleberries relayed a sound-off question from the Lewiston Tribune: “In states where marijuana is legal, is it now socially acceptable to light up a joint?” Emails John P. Simanton of Spokane: “I realize that I am dating myself, but doesn’t this question sound like the 21st Century equivalent of ‘Should a gentleman offer a lady a Tiparillo?’ ” (If you remember that ad, and Huckleberries does, you’re as old as dirt.) … In the Tuesday, Jan. 24, column, Huckleberries suggested that attorney Jeremy Morris of Hayden should consider “WWJD” after suing his homeowners association over its opposition to his ha-huge Christmas light show. Asks reader Peggy Speelmon: “What does that (WWJD) mean?” And the answer is – What Would Jesus Do? … Clarification: In the Friday column, Huckleberries said AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi viewed the $100 she spends on haircuts every 10 weeks to be a good investment in her media career. That should have been a fine investment in “strong, healthy hair” – not a media career. Mea culpa.

Parting shot

Rep. Heather Scott, the Redoubt drama queen from Blanchard, has gotten her committee assignments back after weeks of cooling her heels for misbehavior. As you know, she angered Idaho House Republican leaders by claiming female legislators swap sex for political power. Unrepentant, Scott lashed out at House Speaker Scott Bedke after regaining her committees Wednesday, saying he has “over-reaching authority” and handled her situation unprofessionally. Opinion editor Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune says of Scott: “She’s like the burglar who gets probation and then starts cursing the judge.” Bingo!

You can contact D.F. Oliveria at and can follow him on Huckleberries Online ( or Twitter (@HucksOnline).