Growing up in the Silver Valley, I remember taking a trip with my father one day to visit clients in Kellogg, where he did most of his business as a public accountant. Along the way, I saw a sign saying, “Don’t Laugh at the Natives” – or words to that effect.
I’ve kept thinking about that sign during the ongoing political debates over guns and management of federal lands. The words from my father more than 50 years ago hold true today.
My dad said that the sign was a display of civic pride – to show that people in the Silver Valley were proud of who they were, what they were and their heritage. He said the sign served as fair warning to outsiders who might have had any thoughts about looking down upon the good people in the Silver Valley.
At the time, I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to laugh at the people for I was sheltered from the seedy side. I didn’t fully appreciate that working all day in those dirty and smelly mines was a helluva way to make a living. One of my dad’s clients was a bar owner and it didn’t occur to me that the bar, along with others that lined one of the main streets of Kellogg, were sanctuaries for many of the hard-working miners. Some of the more frisky ones would go from the bars to the whorehouses in Wallace, and people often joked about that. Mining was the leading industry in the Silver Valley, but prostitution might have been a close second.
When I want to be reminded about how things were, I go back to my old neighborhood on Division Street in Kellogg, where we lived from 1956-58. It’s like a time warp. One of my childhood memories was seeing an old washing machine on the front porch of one of the houses. I’m not certain, but when I visited the neighborhood a few years ago, I think I saw that same washing machine on the porch of that same house.
Now, that’s laughable. (more…)