Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now

This column reflects the opinion of the writer. To learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column, click here.

Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: In Hayden, a glass for the departed

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

Bruce Twitchell was filling in behind the bar at the popular Mad Bomber pub in Hayden when a man in his late 20s walked in. He ordered an MK-84 Porter and drank it without saying a word. Later, Bruce asked the stranger if he wanted another beer. He did. But he asked that it be poured in a clean glass. Also, he wanted a pen and paper. Bruce thought the request was odd but complied. Later, Bruce noticed the man had left without touching the drink. Then, Bruce noticed the note beside it: “Reserved for SGT James Slape. KIA 04 October 2018. Initial success or total failure. We remember.” A check of the internet shows that National Guard Army Sgt. James Slape, 23, of North Carolina, was killed while clearing an area of roadside bombs. He was the seventh U.S. soldier to die in Afghanistan this year. In Hayden, Twitchell left the MK-84 Porter and note at the table for the rest of his shift. No one touched the beer or sat in that spot. The war may be over for most Americans. But the dying continues.

It pays to advertise

Advertising has always made the world of journalism go around. And newspapers have always been quick to point out its benefits. Way back in October 1892, the fledgling Coeur d’Alene Press wrote in a notes roundup on the front page: “Trying to do business without advertising is like winking at a pretty girl through a piece of smoked glass; you know what you’re doing but the girl don’t” … That same 1892 edition of the Coeur d’Alene weekly (available on the Coeur d’Alene Library website) had other nuggets, including this dig at the local weatherman: “The clerk of the weather made a mistake this week. He must have overslept himself and let the fire go out, in consequence the atmosphere has been quite wintery. Don’t do it again, Mr. Clerk” … Finally, the paper published news that the 1892 Coeur d’Alene City Council decided to extend sidewalks along both sides of Coeur d’Alene’s Sherman Avenue, from Fourth Street to the eastern city limits. And merchants had 20 days to get the work done. It beats raising everyone’s taxes.


Poet’s Corner: By the millions/ does God make them/ but never comes/ around to rake them – Tom Wobker, The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“Autumn Leaves”) … Huckleberries couldn’t believe dapper Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer used the 1960s slang “bitchin’ ” (marvelous, wonderful) to describe Councilman Woody McEvers’ advocacy for Coeur d’Alene’s new skate park. Sounds like the mayor’s been hangin’ with Woody, a former surfer dude who still sports the Beach Boy haircut and ’60s lingo … How many of you Huckleberries readers remembered that it was Columbus Day Monday, only after you drove to the bank to deposit money? … Also on Monday, the Avista shop on Coeur d’Alene’s 15th Street offered three kinds of cookies to walk-in traffic – chocolate chip, butterscotch chip and oatmeal raisin. This in recognition of National Customer Service Day. ’Twas a nice touch by the utility coveted for purchase by that Canadian company, eh? … Steve Sibulsky of Coeur d’Alene – and Huckleberries – wonder why anyone would waste good money on a vanity plate that reads: “LYSNPLT.” Steve spotted it on a Chevy Silverado recently … With many journalists grabbing buyouts or bailing for jobs in PR, it’s nice to hear a good one has re-upped for another stint in the Inland Northwest. Put your hands together for Adam Mayer of KHQ, who signed a new contract to keep providing us with scoops.

Parting shot

It was only later – after the Coeur d’Alene Library decided to stage a pumpkin decorating contest – that staffer David Townsend had second thoughts. Everything would be fine, he told himself, if by fine you meant giving an estimated 100 children paints to use on a carpeted floor. “I’m not sure we thought this through,” David lamented in a Facebook post. But it all worked out. Only a few of the tykes spilled paint. And the brave adults involved, after surviving 100 excited youngsters armed with paint, are ready and battle-tested for whatever ghouls who’ll ring their door bells this Halloween.

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

More from this author