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Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: Idaho goodwill on the shoulder of a rural road

Dave Oliveria (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Dave Oliveria (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
By D. F. Oliveria The Spokesman-Review

Jake Smulkowski of Rathdrum is an unabashed fan of all things North Idaho. And a recent encounter with the generous spirit of the place that Huckleberries calls home has added to that appreciation. Jake and his 3-year-old son were traveling on rural Clagstone Road en route to the Farmers Market at Athol when he “had a tire delaminate in spectacular fashion.” As he was changing the tire, four drivers stopped. All wanted to help. Two offered beer. Jake Facebooked his experience under “Reason No. 4,155 (why) I love North Idaho.” That prompted a warning from a friend: “Stop posting PSA’s for how great it is to live in Idaho. We are being overrun up north, and it’s only going to get worse!” The friend, with a smiley-face, urged Jake to tell others that he had a tire problem – and everyone with Idaho license plates who drove past “peeled out and left you in the dust.” Alas, the word is out. And not even our tough winters can stop the huddled masses from coming now.


Fifty years ago today, Billy Schumacher, the Miss Bardahl hydroplane driver, was preparing for what would be the final races of the original Diamond Cup on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Miss Bardahl, from Seattle, the national points leader at the time, was engaged in a season-long “thunderboat civil war battle” with Miss Eagle Electric, of Spokane, according to the CdA Press. Miss Bardahl won the 1968 race and $3,500. The Press estimated the crowds at 20,000 to 30,000. Sixty-nine rowdy race goers were arrested. The community still debates why the races were suspended afterward. Some claim unruly crowds caused the demise. Others say loss of enthusiasm. And/or financial losses. The argument is likely to continue as long as there’s water in Lake Coeur d’Alene.

One size fits all

On the way out of McIntire Park during Hayden Days, two Seasoned Citizens who’d danced the evening away to music by the country Kelly Hughes Band talked. The woman asked her husband why he hadn’t gotten a Kelly Hughes T-shirt. He: “They told me that they’d made 1,000 in extra-large but they had run out.” Without skipping a beat, his wife responded: “Don’t they know old people only come in extra-large?” Onward … And the answer is: Family. Bitcoin. Water on Mars. Love. Jesus. Kids and grandkids. Etc. The question on a sheet of paper at the Coeur d’Alene Library: “(Blank) is worth more than gold.”


Poet’s Corner: Décor designed to be relaxing/but nevertheless the place is taxing – The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“Dentist Office”) … While campaigning door to door for a House District 4 seat, Democrat Rebecca Schroeder skipped a Coeur d’Alene residence – the one with the warning: “No Trespassing. Violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot again” … TeeHee Shirt message on a Little Old Lady at Art on the Green: “If it’s physical, it’s therapy” … And a patriotic T-shirt message at The Vault coffee shop at 4th & Sherman: “I stand for the flag, I kneel for the fallen” … Bumpersnicker (on a Subaru at a Highway 95 stop that surprised a visitor from “librul” Portland): “Gun control is using both hands” … Overheard at Taste of Coeur d’Alene in City Park: “I think we lost grandma” … A customer at the Cenex quick stop at 15th & Best was amazed to see the following message scroll across his gas pump screen: “Any size fountain drink up to 52 ounces, .99 (cents).” And you wonder why this country has a diabetes problem?

Parting shot

A Huckleberry Friend was extolling the wonders of McEuen Park on the Coeur d’Alene waterfront to a friend when an old coot on a bike interrupted. He then complained about city leaders who paid, ahem, “$55 million” to transform a “park into a park.” Actually, the price tag was about $20 million and half that was spent to upgrade Front Avenue and construct the parking garage. Our Huckleberry Friend saw the irony in the crank’s whine, as he enjoyed a ride through the reconfigured park. Some people always see the glass as 90-plus percent empty.

D.F. “Dave” Oliveria can be contacted at

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