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Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: John Austin was careful how he spent his hard-earned $10

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 26, 2018

Huckleberry, a Beagle, checks out a fake coyote on the Coeur d'Alene Resort lawn. (D.F. Oliveria / D.F. Oliveria)
Huckleberry, a Beagle, checks out a fake coyote on the Coeur d'Alene Resort lawn. (D.F. Oliveria / D.F. Oliveria)

With a sly grin, John Austin admits he liked to window shop but not buy as a young man growing up in the shadow of the now-defunct Wallace bordellos.

But it was something else for his classmates at the University of Idaho.

As soon as his friends learned that he was from the Silver Valley, they’d ask for a ride home. John recalls that he would drop them off in front of the bordellos Friday night and pick them up on Sunday.

Meanwhile, John would work two shifts underground in the mines. Says John: “They’d be spending their dad’s money while I earned mine.”

Although his great uncle George Austin once owned the building that housed the Oasis bordello, John told Huckleberries he didn’t indulge the lust of the flesh: “I told the ladies I worked way too hard to spend my precious wages there, even if it was only 10 bucks.”

That good sense – and appreciation for a hard-earned buck – served John well later in life during a long public career that included a stint as finance director for the city of Coeur d’Alene.

The Bard II?

This Bard of Sherman Avenue fan is hopin’/wishin’/prayin’ that Gonzaga prof Tod Marshall will produce a second book of The Bard’s short rhymes. “Now that I have a little time,” Tod tells Huckleberries, “I might cull back through the hundreds and hundreds of poems. Who knows. Maybe there will be a Bard of Sherman Avenue … Part TWO!”

Tod returns to private life Wednesday when he relinquishes his mantle as Washington poet laureate.

During his two years as Pied Piper of Poetry, Tod read rhymes by the late Tom Wobker (aka The Bard) in almost every Washington county.

“The Bard was a great companion, made me feel like Tom was along for the ride,” Tod said.

At times, after a reading that included The Bard’s poems, Tod watched in amazement, with a touch of envy, when Tom’s books would outsell his, 8 to 1. As he mulls a second edition, he plans to run another batch of The Bard’s books to The Well Read Moose in Coeur d’Alene this week. They’re also available at Auntie’s in Spokane.


Poet’s Corner: I’ve heard it said by those who know/ to watch the market winds that blow,/ for when velocity gets high/ even turkeys start to fly – Tom Wobker, The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“Stock Market Rally”) … Cash is still king at the Hayden Discount Cinema. Owner Mike Lehosit asked customers on Facebook: “Should we raise prices 50 cents per ticket and 25-50 cents per concession item and then start accepting credit cards?” Hundreds responded. Ninety-eight percent preferred cash and the $3 ticket prices. Mike tells Huckleberries he’ll stay the course … Nic Casey, of Coeur d’Alene, was amused and puzzled by his son’s answer to a question on a health class worksheet: “McDonalds.” The question? “What are some dating places you should avoid?” Explained Sonny, “I couldn’t think of anything else.” Hey, if you want a second date, it’s probably a good idea to avoid McDonald’s or other fast-food joints … Bumpersnicker on an older Chrysler Town & Country at Appleway & U.S. Highway 95 in Coeur d’Alene: “Don’t laugh, it’s paid for” … Irene “Teenie” Fisher-Howell’s sense of humor was on display one last time as her Coeur d’Alene Press obit read: “She worked for File-EZ Printing for almost 25 years, with one accident, when she cut her forefinger off at the knuckle, so we only had nine fingers to polish.”

Parting Shot

Laugh if you must at those two coyote decoys (including the one with the tail chewed off by a passing dog) deployed on the front lawn of the Coeur d’Alene Resort. Two maintenance workers told Huckleberries this week that the faux wily coyotes have succeeded in keeping ducks and geese – and their poop – away. Now, Daffy, Donald and the rest of the North Shore waterfowl community are hanging out in the southeast corner of the resort, where there are no coyotes. Yet.

D.F. “Dave” Oliveria can be contacted at Or (208) 889-0261.

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