September 16, 2016
It was maybe 30 years ago when I got up and drove to Salt Lake in the middle of the night so I could be there to watch the Hotel Newhouse implode. The Newhouse was a beautiful old hotel on the corner of Fourth South and Main in Salt Lake. It was a tall building for Salt Lake at the time, and I always thought it quite attractive. But it had a brick façade that was not going to survive an earthquake of any significance. Rather than reinforce it, which seemed entirely possible, though economically difficult, the owners decided the solution was to blow it up.
So they brought in an expert crew, set the charges, and at about 6 o'clock on a summer morning, blew the place to smithereens. It attracted a big crowd. We all waited with great anticipation. Boom. It was suddenly a cloud of dust, choking whole blocks, and we all made a run for our cars. I remember a guy in the crowd moving the same direction I was, looking at me and saying, "Well, there it is. Not quite 7 a.m. and the most exciting thing that's going to happen all week is already over and done." It was the most exciting thing all week and it was in fact over in a matter of seconds.
I had another one of those experiences this week. In the back of my cousin's yard there was an old log cabin. As best we can tell, it is the oldest building on the ranch. I think it was built by a homesteader from Sweden named Zachrison, in about 1875. It got sold a few times early on as the homesteaders realized farming here wasn't really feasible and bailed out for someplace warmer. It was originally a couple of miles north of my cousin's yard. It got dragged down the canyon in about 1941, on log skids, by a team of draft horses, where it spent 80 years as a granary and storage shed. It's not very big, maybe 600 square feet, but is solid log construction and has to weigh a lot. I've always thought it was interesting that they decided it was less cost or effort to drag it down to the ranch headquarters area rather than build something new.
This week, it got moved again. A neighbor, who has had his eye on it for a decade at least, finally talked my cousin into selling it. The plan is to move it back to the north, though not to the original location, and do some level of restoration on it. It hasn't been used as a house in probably 100 years, but is still solid. It was full of spoiled grain, rat poop, and a lot of useless and unidentifiable junk. But on Wednesday, all mucked out and reinforced with cables and bracing, it got loaded on a truck for the two-mile trip to its new home.
It drew a little bit of an audience. I'm surprised more of the neighbors didn't show up to watch, though I guess there will be more on the receiving end once it gets up the valley. My cousin is excited because it opens up space in his yard for a new workshop. The new owner is excited because he has a piece of history, loosely tied to his family, and a restoration project to keep him out of trouble for several years. It was pretty cool to watch the house driving down the pasture. The most interesting thing that's going to happen all week was over before lunch.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is hovering at death's door. The right wing press has been full of rumors that she has all manner of terrible afflictions, and can't possibly live another year in her frail condition. Her bout of pneumonia just fueled that fire. For the better part of a week now, the news has been policy- and substance-free while we fret over whether Hillary had a duty to disclose her pneumonia the instant it was diagnosed. It just points to her overall shiftiness, the theory goes. Proof positive that she is not long for this world.
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I have to admit that the possibility of Hillary expiring makes her a more appealing candidate. I really don't like her, and Trump is unacceptable. So I'm looking at the election with revulsion. But if Hillary really is terminally ill, and serves only a short time before expiring, things are looking up. I could vote for that. Given the choices, President Tim Kaine is OK. William Henry Harrison served for all of 32 days before dying of pneumonia. His successor, John Tyler, was an adequate, though largely forgettable, president. He is responsible for bringing Texas into the Union. But we all make mistakes.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.