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Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: Curling is a gas in North Idaho

The United States’ John Shuster, center, watches teammates John Landsteiner, left, and Matt Hamilton sweep the ice during the Olympic curling competition last month. (Natacha Pisarenko / AP)
The United States’ John Shuster, center, watches teammates John Landsteiner, left, and Matt Hamilton sweep the ice during the Olympic curling competition last month. (Natacha Pisarenko / AP)

Long before John Shuster led the U.S. men’s curling team to Olympic gold, the Utility Now Known As Avista was touting the merits of the sport.

A long-forgotten marketing agent for the old Washington Water Power Co. figured it would be a swell idea to link curling with the growth in natural gas usage. In a display ad published in the Coeur d’Alene Press in March 1968, the ad announced, “People on the Go … Go for Natural Gas Heat.”

The pencil drawing below featured a husband and wife with household brooms guiding a curling rock toward a bull’s-eye (or button), with their son and daughter in the background cheering. (Think: Ozzie and Harriett go curling with Little Rickie and his girlfriend.)

The WWP ad continues: “When the home is heated by automatic, dependable natural gas, there is more time for your favorite winter sport.”

Favorite winter sport? In the Inland Northwest? Not 50 years ago. Not today. But curling does beat cabin fever as a winter activity.

Winter antidote

Speaking of cabin fever, Darrell Kirby, former mayor of Bonners Ferry, voices what all Gonzaga Bulldogs fans know: Zag basketball chases away the winter blues, especially in March. Facebooks Darrell: “As the madness takes over your mind this time of the year, the Gonzaga coaches and team members transform into your personal friends and, in some cases, into extended family.” (OK, OK, Darrell admits that most Zag fans have never talked to an actual Bulldog player. But who’s keeping score? Onward.)

The combination of March and NCAA Tournament wins, continues Darrell, is a swell antidote for gloomy, waiting-for-spring days: “Who needs anti-depressants when you have the Zags?”

Pity the poor, shivering souls who haven’t climbed aboard the Zags bandwagon yet.

A friend in deed

As he struggled to make sense of the untimely death of well-known Keller-Williams broker/Realtor Marie Pickford, Ben Fairfield of Coeur d’Alene offered fellow mourners “20 Things I Learned from Marie Pickford.” Among them: “Stop lights, traffic lights, and speed limits are optional and annoying inconveniences” … And: “Hugs are best when they squeeze you so hard that you stop breathing for a moment.” And: “Losing your keys, phone, purse, and paperwork daily produces a great team-building exercise” … And: “Be the kind of friend that leaves an imprint on people when you’re gone.” Marie left an imprint.


Poet’s Corner: First clouds, then sun, then rain and snow /in quick succession come and go/ and thus we have the springtime’s way –/ three months of weather in one day – Tom Wobker, The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“Spring Day”) … Will Meyer, an ex-Californian who has spent two winters in Coeur d’Alene, was disappointed to see snow in early March. As Will began plowing his sidewalk, a neighbor stopped his car and lowered the window: “Hey, California,” the neighbor yelled ere he drove out of sight. “Sucker!” … Dave Chamberlain, of Coeur d’Alene, is trying to decipher an Idaho Wildlife vanity plate he photographed on a gray sedan recently: “B4VD.” Before VD? Does that make sense to anyone? … Betsy Chilton Anderson, of Coeur d’Alene, made it to Monday (March 12) before the outdoor Christmas lights came down. P’haps she was trying to outwait the snow. Of note? No one fell off a ladder during the long overdue exercise … Spokane attorney Gary Penar appears to be a good man selling a solid product on TV: Social Security disability counsel. But he would appeal to us North Idahoans more if he didn’t refer to our region as “northern Idaho” … Kellogg PD’s finest responded to a recent call of a man exposing himself along a westbound freeway on-ramp. Motorists complained that he was urinating. But the local gendarmes found “no indication of said acts,” reports Sgt. Paul Twidt of the department’s Roll Call report. Read: No yellow snow.

Parting shot

As he was reclining in his dentist chair for his semiannual “water-boarding,” Brent Lyles of Coeur d’Alene listened to the music and words of Loggins & Messina: “And even though we ain’t got money I’m still in love with you honey …” Etc. Brent Facebooks that he then realized that his dentist was playing “the same lame soft rock that dentists have been playing for the last 40 years.” Well, Loggins & Messina produced their song in 1993. But Brent has a solid point otherwise.

D.F. Oliveria can be reached at

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