Time flies when you’re getting old
November 18, 2016
I've been struggling with my post-election funk. Huddling in the fetal position with the covers over my head wasn't solving anything. It would help if we were skiing, but, well, it's hard to pull that off when it's 60 degrees. I considered mowing the lawn.
Somewhere along the way, I realized a couple of notable anniversaries were coming up. If she were still alive, my mother would be 100 years old next week. She died a long time ago, but it deserved some observance, and I needed to get out of the house.
So I made a quick trip to Idaho to look at her childhood homes. They lived on a small farm outside of Preston, where my grandparents raised chickens and sold the eggs to a packaging plant in the Logan area. My grandparents lived on the farm until old age forced them to move, and I spent a lot of time there growing up. Candling eggs is probably the most boring job there is. Their old house has been substantially remodeled, and the chicken coops are gone. So there really wasn't a lot to see there.
The mystery was the "dry farm house." When my grandparents married, their first home was a one-room log cabin on a dry farm owned by his father. They lived there until my mother was about 6 and ready to start school.
In other milestones, this week marks 30 years for me filling this corner of your newspaper. Time flies when you’re having fun.
My grandfather and his brother ran that farm until the 1970s (a cousin still owns it), and I remember driving out there with him through the years. But I had no idea where it was. Childhood memories placed it miles away from the home farm. It was actually just a couple of miles away.
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A dry farm isn't irrigated, and depends on natural rain and snow. It's a risky proposition in this climate. The wheat was planted in the fall and harvested early in the summer, which all seemed entirely backwards.
Western history is so compressed. Eastern farm country was well-settled, depleted and abandoned a century before this corner of Idaho was first homesteaded. My grandparents didn't steal it from the Indians or build the log cabin, but they knew the people who did. In town, there was electricity, water, telephones and other services we would all expect. Move a couple of miles out of town, and you were stepping back in time.
The dry farm house is still there, though about caved in. It's a one-room log cabin with a lean-to kitchen tacked on the side, and an attic bedroom accessed by a ladder. They relied on kerosene lamps, a wood stove for heat, pumped water by hand from the well outside. Water for the Saturday bath was heated on the stove.
Domestic life looked like Daniel Boone, except they eventually had a Model T Ford and could drive into town, or take the train to Salt Lake, and a crew would come in with a steam-powered threshing machine to finish the wheat.
They moved from the dry farm to the egg farm to be a little closer to town. There was a two-room school available. It was a bigger house, but it didn't have electricity until my mother was a teenager, and there wasn't an indoor bathroom until after she had finished high school and left home.
My parents became friends with James Fletcher, who was the head of NASA. He invited them to watch one of the Apollo moon landings from NASA headquarters. The technological changes over that lifetime, especially beginning in such a primitive setting, always amazed my mother. She eventually got used to the microwave oven, but truth be told, I think she was more comfortable with a wood stove.
In other milestones, this week marks 30 years for me filling this corner of your newspaper. Time flies when you're having fun. The arc of change around here isn't quite as dramatic as my mother going from pioneering to NASA, but it's significant.
Thirty years ago, Kimball Junction was mostly farmland. The suburban explosion was just beginning. About half the businesses on Main Street closed for the summer, and almost everybody shut down for the mud seasons. Art Festival wasn't just the biggest event of the summer, it was pretty much the only event of the summer.
Park City's phone system had expanded to add the 645 prefix, forcing you to dial all seven, which was a great inconvenience. People who had a 645 phone number were looked down upon. There was only the 84060 ZIP code, and you knew everybody at the post office and the only grocery store.
Thirty years ago, my shoulder didn't hurt and my knees didn't squeak. Other things have been constant. Everybody complained about parking 30 years ago.
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.