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Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: Preteen airplane passenger didn’t get wine despite his whine

Dave Oliveria (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Dave Oliveria (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

The preteen boy in the WSU Cougar sweatshirt riding Alaska Airlines on Christmas Day didn’t ask the flight attendant for an “Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.” But he caught her off guard nonetheless. The flight attendant was tired but cheerful as she handled the refreshment detail. She was on the last of six runs on Christmas Day that had started in Walla Walla – the 2:10 flight from Spokane to Portland. Complimentary wine was one of the options for passengers on Alaska Airlines/Horizon flights that day. And that’s what the tweener wanted. The red wine offered by House Wine Winery of Walla Walla. After a brief pause, a soft chuckle, the flight attendant locked eyes with the under-aged supplicant and channeled the stern but good-hearted teacher, Miss Shields, from “A Christmas Story.” She responded: “Coke or Sprite?” Junior caved, settling for the Coke. His father rolled his eyes. And the nearby passengers enjoyed some unexpected Christmas merriment and a glass of good red wine.

North Idaho Cold

In North Idaho, there’s cold and then there’s POLAR EXPRESS COLD! And it’s not that difficult to tell the two apart. You don’t need a jacket to retrieve mail when it’s in the high teens to the balmy mid-20s. You need thermal underwear, Sorels, gloves, stocking cap and as much flesh covered as possible when its POLAR EXPRESS COLD! My Huckleberries Online gang provides a handy guide for telling the two apart. It’s North Idaho Cold when “the newly arrived Californians use their fondue pots to warm up their mittens (according to a commenter pseudonymed Wedeln)” And: “When the gal at the Paul Bunyan drive through doesn’t leave the window open and chat with you while you wait for your order (according to Pmurg).” And: “When my cuss words, while shoveling snow, won’t be heard until July when they finally thaw (gitrdun).” And, finally: “when you see lawmakers with their hands in their own pockets (JohnA).” Under those conditions, baby, you can truly say it’s now cold outside.

Steve Gibbs, RIP

Facebook Friend Cheryl Shields speaks for many when she describes the death of Art Spirit Gallery owner Steve Gibbs on New Year’s Eve: “Downtown (Coeur d’Alene) won’t be the same without him. I always enjoyed just stopping by on a weekday afternoon to see what was new or what was in the works, shooting the breeze with Steve, talking about skiing or kayaking. Really going to miss him.” One more reason why 2016 is best viewed in the rear-view mirror.


Tom Richards relaxed from owning/managing the historic Snake Pit in Enaville, Idaho, to join the shivering masses at Sanders Beach on Lake Coeur d’Alene for the annual Polar Bear Plunge. He took the plunge for the third time Sunday. Afterward, Huckleberries asked Tom to describe the experience (which was a polite way of asking: “Have. You. Lost. Your. Mind?”). Tom says he gets caught up in the “group fun atmosphere” and forgets about the cold: “The water is really cold but I always feel recharged and full of energy after I get out” … Meanwhile, on the western side of Tubbs Hill, near City Beach, CdA Councilwoman Amy Evans led a six-pack of revelers from attorney Denny Davis’ home, across West Lakeshore Drive, into frigid Lake CdA on New Year’s Day, too. Others joining Amy and Denny were Amy’s husband, Doug, LaDonna Beaumont, Marty Mueller and Joe Brown … BTW, Denny tells Huckleberries of yet another small group who made their own splash into frigid Lake Coeur d’Alene, about 12 in all, at the west end of nearby City Beach … In case you’re wondering, Huckleberries has no interest in taking one small step into Lake Coeur d’Alene on New Year’s Day – or one giant step for insanity.

Parting Shot

And so ends day one of Editor Rob Curley’s bold experiment to transform Huckleberries Online from a weekly column into one that runs five times a week. It’ll be a challenge. But this old dog has learned new tricks before. One of those new tricks happened almost 13 years ago when former Editor Steve Smith decided that Huckleberries should be a blog, too. Much of the material that you find here in print originated from the zany blog. You’re welcome to check out Huckleberries Online and become part of our online crew at You can also follow the blog and this column on Twitter (@hucksonline). Enjoy the new ride.

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