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On the way home Wednesday, I listened to the discussion about summer and our national pastime on the ESPN700 radio show, featuring Dennis Patchin, Rick Lukens, Keith Osso and Vince Grippi. One host insisted that baseball remains the national pastime, although football is America’s sport. Baseball, he said, is associated with those carefree days of summers gone by when we were free from school for three months. At one point, one of the ESPN700 team raised the question: Do you know the best place in the world for a young man to be on the Fourth of July? I almost raised my hand in my rig because I knew the answer.
Stickman was aboard that vintage World War II B-17 that flew over Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday afternoon, thanks to a generous fan. A Vietnam War vet, Stickman (aka Norm Oss) has delighted thousands by freely distributing his hand-carved walking sticks from a breezeway near Coeur d’Alene’s East Tubbs Hill Park. He was sitting in that breezeway minus his sticks when I handed him an envelope filled with $450 in cash Monday afternoon.
Ask anyone walking down the street in Coeur d’Alene where to find Stickman, and odds are they’ll know who you’re talking about. Stickman’s name is Norman Oss, and he’s been producing hand-carved walking sticks under the carport next to his home near East Tubbs Hill Park for the last 15 years. He estimates that he’s made about 11,000 individual sticks – an average of two or three per day – and he’s given them all away. He’s never accepted money, trades or tips: His motto is “Not everything in life is for sale.”
Larry Justus, who operates the Lakeland RV Park on Bayview Creek with wife, Liz, has a lung disease with a name that friend Herb Huseland of Bayview can’t pronounce. The disease is killing him. Larry, who is in hospice care, informed Herb as cheerfully as possible that there’s nothing anyone can do for him health-wise. It’s the end of the line. But he asks one thing of his many friends in and beyond picturesque Bayview, on Lake Pend Oreille.