I first saw the light of day at Caledonia, North Dakota, a little town located on the banks of the Red River of the North. The Red River Valley, with its black fertile soil, became famous as the bread basket of the world. My father settled there in 1877 and filed on a homestead. Later he acquired additional holdings.
My first visit to the Northwest was in 1907. I was a private in Company L of the North Dakota National Guard and our regiment held its summer encampment at American Lake, now Camp (Fort) Lewis. Our train stopped in Spokane for a couple hours and I was greatly impressed with the city and decided that that was where I would like to live. I graduated from the University of North Dakota Law School in 1910, where I met my future wife, Kittie Sturtevant. We were married in Grand Forks in 1911 and took up our residence in Spokane.
My parents had spent a winter in Spokane and were impressed with the mild climate in contrast to the severe winters in North Dakota, so when they retired in 1909 they returned to Spokane and on a sight seeing trip out to Coeur d’Alene decided that they would rather live in a smaller town. They located here and built the home at 801 Foster Avenue where they lived the remaining years of their lives.
My sister was employed in the office of the Coeur d’Alene Abstract and Title Company and she advised me that the business was for sale. The spring meet of the horse races at the Allan Race Track near Post Falls was on and her employer, Fred Tiffany, must have felt that the races were more lucrative than the title business. So during the sixty days of racing he very seldom showed up at the office. As a result he became financially embarrassed and I found myself in the abstract business which I followed until my retirement (in 1965).
Kittie and I, with our month-old daughter, Beverly, arrived here on May 20, 1912. The town was crowded with visitors and race track followers so there were no houses or apartments for rent. It was much like Coeur d’Alene during Farragut days, only on a much smaller scale. Fortunately, my parents had room for us until we were able to get located.
One of the first vivid experiences after my arrival was an invitation to go on a cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene by the old Commercial Club. We boarded the steamer, Georgie Oakes, at the Red Collar dock and proceeded up the lake. The boat was stocked with liquid refreshments and all kinds of appetizing food. We arrived at Harrison in the early afternoon and were met at the dock by a large gathering led by Addison Crane. He later moved to Coeur d’Alene and became president of the Exchange National Bank. We later purchased his home where we lived until ten years ago. We spent many happy days there. We hated to see the old home torn down to make room for the present professional building at 816 Sherman Avenue.
After an exchange of greetings we left Harrison and proceeded down the lake. In passing, I might mention that much of the timber surrounding the lake had been burned by the tragic 1910 fire. Millions of feet of valuable timber were destroyed. It is hard to visualize the difference between the barren hillsides at that time and the beautiful landscaping with second growth timber that we now enjoy. When we reached a point opposite the three-mile point the boat stopped and we were invited down to the salon on the lower deck. I soon found why we had been so royally entertained. J. C. White, the principal owner of the Red Collar Line presided and gave us a history of the Commercial Club. He told us that it was heavily in debt and that it was necessary to raise enough money to pay off the debt so that they could reorganize on a sound basis. He started the ball rolling with what seemed to me to be a large contribution. That was matched by quite a number of the larger business firms. Then the subscriptions started coming in smaller amounts. Being just a youngster starting in business, I held out until it got down to my ability to pay. This was the end of the old Commercial Club and the beginning of the present Chamber of Commerce.
I served three terms as City Clerk and Police Judge, beginning in 1913. My entry into city politics was quite accidental. In those days the city elections were dominated principally by two factions. The Dollar Crowd were the patrons and associates of the Exchange National Bank. The Chamberlin Crowd represented the American Trust Company. For some reason – probably since my office was on that side of the street and perhaps because my small account had been solicited – I did my banking with the Exchange National Bank.
When the slate for the city ticket the following spring was being filled I was asked to become a candidate for City Clerk. It was a part-time job and could be handled in my office since we did not have the use of the City Hall at that time. It paid $1,000 a year – or $83.33 a month – which was real money in those days. Ralph S. Nelson was the candidate for mayor. After a heated campaign we were elected by a substantial majority.
I might add here that Kootenai County originally comprised all of the panhandle of Idaho lying north of Latah County, except Shoshone County, with Rathdrum as the County Seat. As the population increased the great distances – with transportation only by horse and buggy and stage coaches or railroad to the northern territory – county divisions became a necessity. Bonner County was formed with Sandpoint as the County Seat. Coeur d’Alene had become the metropolis and the removal of the County Seat from Rathdrum was inevitable. Coeur d’Alene, as an inducement to the taxpaying voters, agreed to supply a building suitable to accommodate the county offices. The City Hall was built in 1908 and was turned over to the county, rent-free.
The county eventually outgrew this facility and the present courthouse was constructed. Kootenai County was again divided in 1914 and Benewah County, with St. Maries as the County Seat, was formed.
The principal reason for the banks entering city politics was the depository of city funds. Competition was great and the city account was quite a valuable asset. When the Exchange National won they got the city deposits and when the American Trust Company won, the money went across the street. In later years we called for bids on city deposits and interest was paid on daily balances. Through the years the American Trust Company and I became more friendly and I became a director.
One of the planks in our platform in 1913 was that the Little Brick would be put out of business. This was our red light district, located in the former building on Third Street, now the parking lot of the Idaho First National Bank. That was the first act of Mayor Nelson and it became my sad duty as Police Judge to pass sentence on about a dozen nice looking girls. I consulted with Chief Evans and Judge McNaughton, our city attorney, as to procedure since I had never even appeared in a police court. They briefed me on procedure. After a lecture of sorts I imposed a fine of $50 each with the condition that it be suspended if they left town within 24 hours. The Chief advised me that they all had left town within the prescribed limit.
A forerunner of the present Hydroplane races was the Coeur d’Alene Regatta. Frank Colquhoun, who had done considerable rowing in Canada before coming to Coeur d’Alene, was instrumental in forming the Coeur d’Alene Rowing Club. Sufficient money was raised to purchase six shells from Pocock Brothers in Seattle. They still make shells for the University of Washington and many other rowing clubs across the country. We had four oar shells, two doubles, and two singles.
Our races, features of the Regatta celebration, with Nelson, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland, took place during the Regatta. Land was purchased on the south side of Tubbs’ Hill and a large grandstand was constructed. The downtown businessmen objected to holding it at that location since it took the crowds away from the business area. Then, too, the water was frequently too rough for good racing. Thereafter, swimming and rowing events were held in front of the City Park. Rowing was almost too strenuous and required too much time for training and practice. The younger men who came on later did not appear to be interested. The Club was eventually disbanded. Our shells were sold to the Portland Rowing Club. From that sale we realized just enough to clear our obligations for rent and storage expenses. Jim Evenden and I are the only survivors of the rowing crews. While it lasted the Regatta became quite famous and was one of the more successful promotions of the Chamber of Commerce during that era.
The Milwaukee Railroad built its branch line into Coeur d’Alene in 1911 and the future looked brighter. Since my parents were living in Coeur d’Alene during that time, Kittie and I spent many week ends here and I had occasion to observe the construction. The shore line of the lake originally ran along what is now Sherman Avenue and Front Street. The depot grounds, upon which the North Shore (hotel) is now located are entirely on filled ground with earth removed from the cut extending north along First Avenue to Garden Avenue, thence westerly along the north side of the present Courthouse site. The original plans called for an attractive brick depot beautified by landscaping. The Milwaukee encountered financial difficulties and those plans never materialized.
The Rutledge Mill was constructed in 1915 and my first encounter with Hunt Taylor was at his appearance before the City Council with a request for a franchise for the extension of the Spur Track on Mullan Avenue east to the Rutledge Mill. Needless to say, he had no difficulty in securing this concession.
Things began to look up decidedly when the Winton Lumber Company extended its operations from Rose Lake and purchased the Stack Gibbs Lumber Company from the Receiver in 1919 (now Northwest Timber Company).
The Coeur d’Alene Lumber Company, located on what is now the city parking lot and McEuen Field, had been closed for some time. Fred Herrick was negotiating for its purchase but the Mill grounds were inside the city limits and as an inducement the City Council was prevailed upon to pass an ordinance excluding this land from the city limits. This reduced the assessed valuation but it was felt that the additional payroll would more than compensate for the loss of taxes. This mill finally closed through lack of timber. Its obligations to the Exchange National Bank of Spokane forced it into a receivership and was partly responsible for the failure of the bank. The city voted a bond issue and purchased the land for $19,000 in 1939.
The Coeur d’Alene Rotary Club became quite famous as a singing club. Leck Barclay and Hunt Taylor loved to sing and for years our meetings began with 20 minutes of singing. We learned all of the Rotary songs. This custom prevailed until about 1946 when L.R. Wood became president. L. R. didn’t particularly enjoy singing and felt that the time could better be devoted to visiting and conversation, so from then on our singing has been confined to one verse of “America.”
About that time we formed an octet under the supervision of Ray Fahringer. After many rehearsals we felt that we were well able to open the meetings with a few songs. However, we didn’t receive any standing ovations. In fact, there were a few Bronx cheers. This didn’t set well with Ray who was not accustomed to that sort of treatment. Since we were all temperamental musicians that was our one and only appearance. We did sing Christmas carols one year but that ended our public appearances.
The Rotary Club was very active in attending intercity meetings. For a number of years we held alternative meetings with the Nelson club. Our wives were enthusiastic over these meetings and our attendance was always very good.
We put on a skit at a district conference held at Spokane which was quite a hit. The skit was taken from Gasoline Alley strip and all of the characters were depicted. Of the many characters involved, I’ll take the time to mention Heinie Glindeman who took the part of Walt and his young daughter, Helen, who played the part of Skesixs. My wife, Kittie, who did quite a little singing in those days, played the part of Madam Octave.
At one time in the late twenties, when the Columbia Basin project was a dream of the Spokane Chamber of Commerce, we visited the Spokane Rotary Club en masse. At that time this project appeared to be so tremendous that it might well have been compared to our present dream of landing on the moon. Hedley Dingle had furnished us with shovels and when we marched in with our shovels we announced that we were offering our services in assisting with the Columbia Basin Project. Our services were accepted with mixed emotions.
One of the first community projects undertaken by our Club was the Memorial Athletic Field under the leadership of J. H. Morow, one of our charter members. This tract was in its original state. The money was raised for clearing the timber and grading for use as a baseball and football field. It was enclosed with the present steel fence for which it was necessary to borrow $2,750 on a note executed by the club and endorsed individually by a group of Rotarians. Coeur d’Alene had a semi-professional baseball team and it was agreed that 15% of the gate receipts would be applied on the note, which eventually retired the obligation.
Through the years Rotarians were outstanding in contributions to the community welfare. One of which was the donation of the present N.I.J.C. campus by the Winton Lumber Company, of which Walter Rosenberry was General Manager and one of the owners. The gift was subject to reservation of booming rights on the lakeshore and river frontage and restrictions of its use for a worthwhile community project.
The dike road was constructed just prior to and during the 1933 flood. Sandbags were laid along the lakefront facing the park to about the height of the present seawall and if it had not been for the fact that we had no wind and rough water for over a week until after the crest had been reached, we could not have been able to avert a serious property loss in the Fort Grounds area. J. Ward Arney, who lived on Military Drive, was subject to one of the jokes of our Rotarian, Dr. R. C. D. (Alphabet) Higgins. Ward noticed Doc tying a rope to a pillow on his front porch, attached to a tree in his front yard, which Hig told him was to anchor his house so it wouldn’t float down the river.
I sometimes wonder if the world is not getting too small and if we are not living too fast. For me, for instance, if I take a trip to New York, I prefer to take the train where I can sit back and view the county side and the peaceful scenery instead of rushing across the country above the clouds to just another big city. We have seen many changes since our arrival in Coeur d’Alene and also in the country where I spent the first 20 years of my life and where I still own my Grandfather’s original homestead.
Fort Sherman was located on what is commonly known as the Fort Grounds. A number of the officers’ buildings are still standing on what is known as Officers’ Row, as well as the Little Red Church which was the fort chapel. The troops were mustered out during the Spanish American War and gave a good account of themselves in the Philippines. After the war Fort Sherman was decommissioned and when the troops returned they were stationed at Fort Wright. This was quite a blow to the economy and according to Margaret (Mrs. John T.) Wood, whose folks were in business at that time, the future did not look very bright.
However, in 1905 F. A. Blackwell, President of the Blackwell Lumber Company, promoted the Electric Railroad Line which was built from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene and on Hayden Lake, where the resort called Bozanta Tavern and the adjoining golf course were built and other things began to pick up. The Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation was opened to settlement in 1909 and registration and lottery drawing was held at Coeur d’Alene. Thousands of people came for registration and the electric trains ran on hourly schedules.
I was not here at the time, but the greatest tragedy suffered by this community was fresh in the minds of everyone. Two electric trains met with a head on collision at Gibbs. According to Heinie Glindeman, twenty people were killed and forty or fifty people were severely injured. The company was faced with many damage suits resulting in a financial loss from which the company never recovered. Improved roads, the automobile, and buses reduced the volume of business. The company went into a receivership about the year 1927 and was purchased by the Great Northern Railroad.
About this time, Hunt Taylor of the Rutledge Timber Company, and Walter Rosenberry of the Winton Lumber Company, while returning from Minneapolis on the train, met with Ralph Budd, President of the Great Northern Railroad in his private car. During their conversation they asked him what the plans were regarding Bozanta Tavern and Golf Course which our Coeur d’Alene Golf Club had been leasing from the former company. He stated that it was not the policy of the Great Northern to operate resorts and that the property would be placed on the market. They suggested that with the volume of income from freight on lumber, that from a public relations standpoint it would be good business to donate it to the community for a country club. He stated that the bondholders probably would not agree to a donation of such a valuable property but that he would be glad to entertain an offer and that he and his board of directors would approve such an offer if it would be acceptable to the bond holders and the Interstate Commerce Commission. A meeting of the golf club was called. Fred Fitze and I were appointed as a committee to negotiate for the purchase. A few days later we met with Great Northern officials in Spokane. We had decided to make an offer of $30,000 with the idea that we could always go higher but we wanted to be sure that our first offer would be a good place to start dickering. They said that they would submit our offer but that the water system on the golf course alone, according to their appraisal and records, had cost over $50,000 but they gave us no encouragement. However, in about ten days we were really surprised when we received word that they had accepted our offer. Our club members got out on the streets here and at Spokane and within a few days had sold 150 units for $250 each, which brought in $37,500 leaving $7,500 for working capital.
I served two terms as Mayor, beginning in 1923 and again during the war when Farragut was built. Many of you remember the problems of that time with 60,000 boot trainees in camp and the families of the permanent personnel living in attics, basements, and garages here and at Sandpoint or wherever quarters could be found. Coeur d’Alene suffered another great catastrophe when our beautiful auditorium in the park was completely destroyed by fire. It had been turned over to the U.S.O. for the duration and filled a great need for the entertainment of the sailors. Later one of the boots in training confessed to setting the fire.
There were no highways leading to St. Maries and the upper country on either side of the lake. All travel and freight were delivered by steam boats as far as St. Maries and from there on by pack train. There were many boats on the lake and great activity. Pictures of many of these boats are on display on the walls at Templin’s. Wallace and the mining country were supplied by rail. The Union Pacific ran a branch line to Amwaco in Windy Bay from where passengers and freight were ferried across the lake to Harrison and then by rail up along the Coeur d’Alene River where the tracks are still located, to Cataldo and on to Wallace.
The road between here and Wallace was really something and a trip to the summit up and down steep hills would take two or three hours of hard and hazardous driving. The lakeshore road from Silver Beach to Bennett’s Bay was constructed by W.P.A. during the depression. The idea was to furnish employment and road machinery was not used. All dirt was handled with shovels and wheelbarrows. I have forgotten how long this took but they finally completed quite a passable road.
We had many exciting events in those days and many runaways with horses frightened by automobiles, including a circus runaway in the parade of the Sells Floto Circus. Eight horses dashed down the street on Sherman from 7th to 3rd Street with a cage of lions. I had always felt that cowboys in these parades were just window dressing. But by the time the horses had reached 5th and Sherman the riders appeared from all directions with their lassoes flying. They soon had ropes on all the horses and they were under control by the time they reached 3rd Street. The way the teamster handled that string of horses was something to watch.
There were many interesting characters, one of whom was Cap Laird, one of the skippers on the Red Collar Line. His stories of Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox became famous. The Milwaukee Road had arranged an optional side trip whereby passengers could get off the train at St. Maries and board one of the steamers for a trip down the Shadowy St. Joe to Coeur d’Alene. There the electric train would be waiting to take them on to Spokane where they could resume their journey. He took great delight in inviting the tourists up to the wheel house where he could amuse them with his wild stories, many of which later appeared in print. I recall many of these stories.
In closing I have one to tell on Heinie Glindeman. G. R. Scott, the editor of the Press, was noted for his brief and succinct editorials. Heine had just concluded his term as mayor and had turned over the keys to the city to his successor, Dr. John C. Dwyer. The next day the following editorial appeared in the Press:
“H. P. Glindeman has just completed a successful term as mayor and is to be congratulated. Today he bought a new Ford.”
This meeting, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce, is of special significance to me since 1912 was also the year of my arrival in Coeur d’Alene. At that time, looking ahead to 1962 would have seemed to be a long, long time. Today, in retrospect, it is just a flash.
Kittie and I, with our month-old daughter, Beverly (Duane’s mother) arrived here on May 20, 1912. The town was crowded with visitors. There were no houses, rooms, or apartments for rent. The spring meet of the horse races at the Allan Race Track was on and most of the owners, book makers, and followers of the horses, were living here and they occupied most of the available space. It was much like Coeur d’Alene during Farragut days of twenty years ago, only on a much smaller scale. We finally succeeded in renting a small apartment on the alley in the 600 block on Sherman Avenue. We stayed there until the rush was over.
My folks were living in Coeur d’Alene at the time. My father had a wheat and stock ranch at Hillsboro, North Dakota. He had spent several winters in Spokane. On a sight seeing trip to Coeur d’Alene he was impressed with the town as a desirable place in which to live. When my parents retired they moved here, where they made their home the remaining years of their lives.
When the Chamber of Commerce was organized in September just 50 years ago today, it started with a clean slate and the old Commercial Club was a thing of the past. I had a small part in the refinancing.
Since I was not too active in the Chamber for the first few years, my part of the program will be devoted largely to relating a few incidents in connection with city government. Many of you are too young to remember our town at that time and, of course, many of you arrived at a much later date. Our population at that time was estimated by the Chamber of Commerce to be approximately 6,600.
Just a word of advice to those of you would be candidates for office. I found that the voters appreciate being asked for their votes. I had cards printed and I made a house-to-house canvas and one incident proves my point. If no one answered the door I would leave my card. On election day we stationed workers near the polling places. The first ward was at the fire station and Mrs. McEachran was stationed at 5th and Sherman, opposite City Hall (the Court House at that time), passing out cards for Ralph Nelson. I had left my card in the door of a house near the Methodist Church which I later learned was occupied by a colored family. When Mrs. McEachran asked her to vote for Mr. Nelson, she replied, : “No mam, I done guine vote for Mr. Edmonds, he done left his card in my door.” Mrs. McEachran said, “That is fine. You can vote for both of them.” We were elected by quite a substantial majority.
Our police problems were not as serious in those days except for a few street fights and an occasional drunk. We had no automobiles to speak of, except a few owned by bankers, lumbermen, and doctors. We had three policemen on the force, one for the day shift and two at night, twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Chief Evans met all boats and electric trains which would cover all transient and new arrivals. He could spot a crook before he stepped off the train and many times he would find someone who was undesirable and would tell him that the next train would leave in one hour and he would expect him to be on it. However, one fellow did get by him and eventually was appointed as a night patrolman on the police force – until one day a “Wanted” notice came in the mail and Evans identified him as one who was wanted in one of the eastern states. He admitted his identity and was sent back. Evans reportedly collected a $500 reward. However, when the prisoner came up for trial he was let off with a light sentence. Believe it or not – he eventually returned to Coeur d’Alene and became a respected citizen. He later lost his life in a railroad crossing accident.
In 1913 the City undertook an extensive program for improving the area extending north to Harrison Avenue and from 9th Street west to Government Way, with grading, curbs, and sidewalks. The contract was let to the 2 Miracle Company from Butte, Montana. That reminds me of an amusing incident. I had rented desk room to the contractor for his bookkeeper and time keeper. He was the type of fellow who worried a great deal about little things. He and three or four of his fellow employees were living in a tent out at Fernan Lake. He became quite concerned about one of the fellows who had been bitten by a dog. Since it was during Dog Days he was fearful that he might become infected with the Rabies. These fellows were always playing practical jokes on each other.
One night when they retired the fellow who had been bitten complained that he was feeling terrible. In the meantime he had gotten some slippery elm bark and about daybreak began chewing it. Suddenly there was a commotion which awakened the timekeeper and the first thing he saw was this poor fellow frothing at the mouth, barking like a dog, and hopping around on all fours. He decided that he had better get out of there so he went out under the side of the tent. The last they saw of him he was heading for town as fast as his legs would carry him.
Chet Rodell, an Idaho Swede
Chester Emil Rodell (1912–1998) was born in Vaxjo, Sweden, on November 20, 1912. Chet’s brother, Herman Rodell, (1909-1959), his mother, Hannah Carlson Rodell, (1882-1966) and his father, Emil Rodell, (1872-1928) sailed from Copenhagen City, Denmark, aboard the Frederick VIII, and arrived at Ellis Island on May 16, 1914. (Frederick VIII, 1843-1912, was King of Denmark from 1906 until 1912.)
Built in 1913 by A/G Vulcan Shipyard in Stettin, Germany, for Scandinavian American Line, the Frederick VIII provided Copenhagen-New York service. At 11,580 gross tons, she was 544 feet long and 62 feet wide. Steam triple expansion engines, twin screw, allowed a service speed of 17 knots. She carried 1,350 passengers – 100 in first class, 300 in second class, and 950 in third class. She sported two funnels and two masts. She was laid up in 1935 and scrapped in 1936. (Source: Ellis Island Foundation)
Family lore held that Emil made earlier ocean crossings on business, each time asking Hannah to join him. The last time she agreed and after they were married and lived briefly in Sweden, they spent the remainder of their lives in the USA, and never returned to their country of origin.
The Rodells temporarily settled in Kellogg in Idaho’s Silver Valley. Unfortunately, the pollution from local mines so affected Herm’s health that doctors said the family would have to relocate. Herm could not have survived the steady nosebleeds that threatened his life.
In 1918, when Chet was six years old, the Influenza Pandemic, known as the “Spanish Flu” and the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history, affected 28% of all Americans and killed an estimated 675,000 Americans. Chet was the only family member not affected and he nursed his father, mother, and brother. During their illness he cooked oatmeal and fed them a diet of only that. All survived.
Emil purchased land in Hayden Lake, Idaho and the family farmed there, adjacent to Government Way and not far from what would eventually become the Hayden Lake School. Chet rose early on summer mornings and helped his father drive a produce truck back to the Silver Valley, full of the efforts of their farm labors. They sold fruits and vegetables to households unable to grow produce in the mining region. The drive, over the “old highway,” took many hours and was quite precarious. Chet began relieving his father of driving the Model A Ford Truck at age nine, as soon as he could reach the pedals.
In 1928, when Chet was 16, his father became ill with meningitis. As was customary then, local doctors were called to the family home for a conference. As the doctors sat around the kitchen table, Chet’s father died on the living room couch on December 28 at the age of 56. Chet and his brother, Herm, made the funeral arrangements.
Chet walked to and from school in Coeur d’Alene from his home in Hayden Lake. He graduated from Coeur d’Alene High School with the class of 1929. He attended the University of Idaho, affiliated with Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, lettered on the golf team, and graduated in 1933. He had a number of jobs while in college, including one as a salesman in the men’s clothing department at David’s Department Store in Moscow. He did quite well there, selling suits to his fraternity brothers. He was said to have cut quite a dashing figure on campus, always dressed in the latest fashions. During the summers Chet worked as a car salesman at his brother’s automobile dealership, Hull-Rodell Motors, in Spokane, Washington.
After graduation Chet taught a variety of subjects at the Hayden Lake School, was appointed the school’s first principal, coached the girls’ basketball team – and bought their uniforms, too. He would love and support children’s, high school, and college sports teams all his life. The Chester E. and Marabel E. Rodell Scholarship Fund at the University of Idaho is but one example.
Chet married Marabel Edmonds (1916-2005) on May 26, 1940 at the family home, 816 Sherman Avenue, in Coeur d’Alene. Marabel, the daughter of Oscar Willard (Foxy) Edmonds (1890-1982) and Kathryn (Kittie) Sturtevant Edmonds (1892-1980), attended the University of Idaho where she affiliated with Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She graduated with her brother, Duane, from Stanford University in 1937. Foxy owned Panhandle Abstract Company and served as the mayor of Coeur d’Alene for two and one-half terms. He was a charter member of many of Coeur d’Alene’s early organizations, including the Coeur d’Alene Rotary Club and the Hayden Lake Country Club. Kittie sang at many community events, and painted a full set of china and a variety of landscapes that are treasured by the family today. She was active in a number of community organizations, including P.E.O. and D.A.R.
In addition to her brother, Duane Willard Edmonds (1914-1990) Marabel had a sister, Beverly Edmonds Hagadone (1912-1984). Beverly’s restaurant at the Coeur d’Alene Resort was so named in her honor.
Chet was proud of his wife’s many contributions to the community. At the request of the hospital administrator, Marabel founded the Kootenai Memorial Hospital (now the Kootenai Medical Center) Auxiliary, served as its first president, and spent many years volunteering her time to get “the ladies in their pink coats” off to a strong start. Today her name is at the top of a long list of names of volunteers who have served in some capacity in the auxiliary. Their names and service hours are engraved on a plaque by the elevator in the hospital’s central lobby.
Chet and Marabel had five children: Kathryn Ann; Steven Chester (July 5 – October 8, 1943); Thomas Chester (June 26, 1944 – June 8, 1957); Elizabeth Jean; and Samuel Edmonds Rodell. Stevie died of unknown causes, probably of crib death, and Tommy died of leukemia after an illness of eighteen months.
During World War II Chet worked as a Special Agent assigned to Fairchild Air Force Base, as his color blindness prevented active duty service. After the war he managed Radio Station KVNI in Coeur d’Alene, Radio Station KNEW in Spokane, and purchased Rodell Mid-Town Motors (Chrysler-Jeep-Plymouth) in 1958. He received the Chrysler Quality Dealer Award and served on many boards of directors and in organizations devoted to community service. He belonged to the Royal Order of the Jesters, the Coeur d’Alene Rotary Club, and the Hayden Lake Country Club.
Before each Christmas Chet took his children into snowy woods to cut the Christmas tree, establish it in the home, and then, with a big smile of anticipation on his face, he would rub his fingers together over the greenery and share the evergreen’s fragrance with everyone within sniffing distance. The holiday was always celebrated with a smorgasbord. The many dishes from Chet’s homeland were prepared by his wife, Marabel, with recipes provided by his mother, Hannah. Chet enthusiastically led the process of stuffing the “blood sausage.” Family members participated in decorating the home with seasonal items found in Sweden. With his home full of family and friends, Chet would appear in a suit with a red vest and his signature bow tie. The more enthusiastic celebrants wore Viking hats complete with horns.
Chet enjoyed hunting, fishing, travel with Marabel, University of Idaho football games, and always fondly remembered Sweden and anything Swedish. He and Marabel traveled to the city of his birth and spent time with relatives still living there. He would try out his “Swedish” on the natives who generally found his version of the language completely baffling, but that never concerned Chet. He was known as “Peppy Chet” and had a good joke for any occasion. He will always be fondly remembered by his proud family.
Submitted by Kathryn Rodell Hunt
A baby girl was born on October 1, 1892, to Mr. and Mrs. James Monroe Sturtevant in the small town of Emmetsburg in IoWA There was an older brother, George, who was 14 or 15 years older, and a sister, Nelle, who was between 7 and 8 years older. Ours was a happy family in every way. The father and mother lived life at its best and were loved by all who knew them. Father was a contractor and builder and he drove a horse and carriage about to look after the houses he had under construction. I can remember so well the rides I had with him, sometimes all over town and again just to the corner. The horse’s name was Johnie and a pet of the family. How Father happened to own this particular horse was rather interesting.
It seems this little brown horse that was so fine looking and spirited was also so mean that his owner had decided to do away with him (have him killed). He told my Father he could have him and save him the trouble. Johnie wouldn’t let this owner into the stall or come near him and tried to bite and kick at every opportunity. Father liked the looks of this horse so bought him for a very minimal sum to make the transaction binding. All that this horse wanted evidently was kind and loving treatment for it wasn’t any time at all before Father had him eating out of his hand and following him all over the place, nudging his hands for the sugar lumps he knew were in his pocket. Father taught him to nod and shake his head, clap his front feet together, shake hands, and many other tricks. A circus wanted to buy him but Father wouldn’t think of parting with him and later when he began to grow old had him shipped to North Dakota to a farm where he ended his days and was a very old and gray horse before he finally died. Even when months would lapse between visits and Johnie was very far out in a field when he heard Father’s voice, he would come running and it was nice to see the devotion of this horse to the man who had befriended him.
I started my music in Emmetsburg and at 12 or 13 years of age was doing the solo parts in the adult choir before we moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota. This was a hard move for my Mother. She loved her home which was sold to the Catholic Church as a home for Priests. They had built a very fine new church about a block from our home. When we visited Emmetsburg in later years the Fathers sent word to Mother asking her to go through the house at anytime but she didn’t care to, it seemed.
Mother was a Charter Member of Chapter [not given] of PEO of Emmetsburg – joining in 1900.
(People from) the Sherman Williams Paint Company went through Emmetsburg at the time our home was being built and asked if they could paint it with their paint, choosing a color scheme best suited to it, take a picture, and use it in their advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post. They used it for years. I often wish that I had saved a copy as it was a beautiful home.
When we moved from Emmetsburg to Grand Forks, North Dakota, we were all pretty heartsick to leave all our friends. There were many parties and the last night after our house furnishings had been packed in the cars for shipping these friends had a reception in the empty house for everyone.
I can remember so well that sometime in the night my pet cat gave birth to her kittens in a barrel left at the house. All my friends received a kitten.
One finds fine friends, it seems, everywhere for we loved Grand Forks. Father bought a large home for us on Reeves Avenue, later selling it and building two smaller houses side by side for Mother and himself and for my brother and his wife. The University of North Dakota was located here – also Wesley College of Music. Mother was again chosen as a Charter Member of Chapter (not given) of PEO of Grand Forks and my parents were active in the church. I studied music again at Wesley College which was a fine opportunity as people who were interested in music gathered from over the state and we all enjoyed a great deal of good music. My Father sponsored an Artist’s Series for the Conservatory – one of the first artists to appear was Madame Shumarin Heinke and as my Mother and Father couldn’t be there that night I was asked back stage to meet her. She was the mother of six sons and five of them were Sigma Chis. Whenever she visited Grand Forks the Sigma Chis usually had a reception for her and always gave her Sigma Chi roses at her concerts. She later owned the house that Father built in Grand Forks as an investment, I believe, for she did not live in it to my knowledge.
Professor George A. Stout was the head of the Conservatory at that time and he also directed our choir of forty voices. He later went to Oberlin College as Director of Music and still later to Spokane, Washington which was a mistake as there was little opportunity for larger experiences in music there. He organized a Choral Society in Grand Forks for the purpose of promoting a May Music Festival.
Each winter this group prepared the music for this week of music each spring. The soloists were hired from different parts of the country. The Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra which was a wonderful organization at that time was hired for the week for $1,000. Those were the days when $1,000 was a lot of money. I can still see Ruby Redman Stout, Professor Stout’s wife, as she walked out on the platform attired in a Paris gown that she bought in Paris on their honeymoon. She played a piano concerto with the symphony orchestra accompanying. This organization was so successful that they were able to build an auditorium which seated 5,000 or 6,000 people from money earned each year.
The choirs we had in Grand Forks were a joy to work in – all vested and all good voices for we had so many to draw from. I had the solo work in the quartet in our choir and was paid for it. I also received an extra lesson at the Conservatory for every funeral. I got so I could go in and sing and leave and not know who it was and I must say it was easier that way.
All during the years I lived in Grand Forks, from the time I was 18 until I was 19 and married, I had the association of a group of wonderful girls. I was rather a timid girl and my professors used me in as many places as possible in order to help me overcome this trouble as it took away from the joy of my music. The association with these girls was a very happy time of my life and I look back on those days wishing I could live them all over. Music, painting, and school days seemed to use every minute but one day N. B. Black came to our house and asked father if he would mind my competing in a contest put on by the Grand Forks Herald for the purpose of encouraging circulation. While it didn’t seem possible to find the time or overcome my parents’ objections, I managed somehow to convince them.
The prize for getting the most votes in this popularity contest was an E.M.F. touring car or $1,000 in cash. Votes were given – everyone helped me – Father sent subscriptions to all relatives and friends it seems and a good time was had by all for I won the car and it was surely fun to have during those school days. I can remember the night I won. The boys of our crowd carried me around on their shoulders down at the Dakotah Hotel and we all had a big party. I learned to drive and the man at the automobile company sent to teach me gave me a pair of elbow length gauntlet gloves which would be fun to have today if I had kept them.
The wonderful girls in our crowd all seemed very outstanding to me. Temple Irwin’s father was a physician and surgeon so Temple chose that for her field of endeavor. She received her MD and married a very wealthy young man in Chicago. Misfortune befell them it seems and they were later divorced.
Vivian Dinnie was an only child, very good looking, and the girl who always had the most beautiful clothes. She graduated from National Park Seminary in Washington, D.C., a very fashionable finishing school for girls. She married a dentist in Chicago and has done very well, it seems. Irene Cross who was a musician and went to New York to study, married her vocal teacher in New York. He was an older man and not much good came of it as they, too, were divorced. Vera Kelsey, one of my favorites, was troubled with hip disease. When she and her mother visited a hospital down south in the hope of correcting the trouble, which was caused from injury at birth, she decided against marriage as it seemed at that time that when mothers are so afflicted their children would be also. She has become a very successful writer. I have read some detective stories she has written and her last book, “The Red River Runs North,” is interesting but too full of statistics to suit me. She has traveled the world over and at one time taught at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Margaret Williams, Kittie we called her, was married and died shortly after. Maude Bagg, a musician, married her childhood sweet heart, Paul Griffith, who is a very successful man in Grand Forks. She is very happily married – fine family – beautiful home and according to all reports has everything worthwhile. Still uses her music.
Viola Wood, an only child, was rather unfortunate. Her father died after losing all his money and her mother married again. She disliked the stepfather very much. Viola had been so pampered and used to too much money so she went through a very difficult period. She began going about with the cocktail drinking crowd in St. Paul. She married a wealthy man of Fargo she didn’t love. She divorced him, then later remarried him, and in a few short months he was killed in an automobile crash. He left all his money to her so she has been very well taken care of but she must have learned many lessons and learned then very rapidly for she is now a practicing Christian Science practitioner in Hollywood and looks grand. She has surely changed for one of the last times I remember seeing her in Grand Forks I was having breakfast at the hotel and she came to my table wearing a very beautiful mink coat. A Pekinese dog was on her arm, and when she kissed me I was embarrassed for she looked almost like a sporting woman.
Gretchen Oeschaer was a dear little dark eyed girl. She graduated from Smith but I haven’t had any contact with her through the years. She was a professor at the University of Michigan.
Geraldine Jacobi came from a very interesting family. I always loved her mother. She seemed like one of the gang. Geraldine’s father was a banker and she was one of five children. She graduated from the Boston School of Arts and Drama and was on the stage in New York with George Arlis in “Daddy Long Legs.” This was during the First World War. A chap by the name of Roy Russell had always been in love in Geraldine. He had been overseas and when he returned called Geraldine there in New York and told her that after the play was over that night that they were going to be married. That if they didn’t they would be separated and he might lose her. Of course she didn’t know what to do and said she couldn’t because her family was not there. She wept around all day about it and her friends said that they couldn’t see why she should be weeping, that if they had anyone as handsome as Roy in love with them they wouldn’t think it the time for tears. They were married that night and Geraldine stayed with the show until her clothes wouldn’t fit her because of her first baby. They had a very marvelous life together, having a family of five boys and one girl. They moved to Van Nuys, California, when Roy was made head of Jergen’s Lotion for the entire west coast with a salary of around $80,000 a year. They lived beautifully, riding horses, swimming pools, etc. Then Roy took sick with pneumonia and died in a few days’ time and the income stopped.
My sister, Nelle, gave a tea for me in Los Angeles for old friends and Geraldine and her one daughter, Jane, drove in from Van Nuys. As Jane walked through the front door I was indeed speechless for Jane was a combination of Geraldine and her sister, Earnestine, and quite the most beautiful girl I had seen. As Geraldine and I were having our tea in the dining room I said, “Geraldine, you have the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.” She said, “Yes, the movie people think so, too, and Howard Hughes wants to put her under contract. With Roy’s death and six children to raise it is a hard question for me to decide.” Of course with Geraldine’s experience with George Arlis it would seem a most natural thing for Jane to have the same talent. To make a long story short it wasn’t long before we heard Jane was appearing in “The Outlaw.” I looked forward to it with so much pleasure and told everyone about this beautiful Jane (Russell) and imagine my sorrow when I found she had been cast in such a dreadful picture. Not one bit of her beauty was in evidence and I was indeed heartsick. She has since reached the top and is now appearing with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, etc. Not one picture that I have ever seen, however, has been able to register the beauty of that lovely girl. She is married to Bob Waterhouse, the great football star, and they have two adopted children. Jane teaches Sunday School and they live a fine life. I am told the five brothers are handsome young men as Geraldine has a grand family but it is such a tragedy that Roy couldn’t stay.
J.F.L. O’Conner was also McAdoos’s partner in law. He was also very much in love with Geraldine. He was a fraternity brother of Foxy’s and lived at the house at the same time. He never married and left $250,000 to the University of North Dakota.
While this group of girls was growing up together, I was one of them and was the serious musician of the group. I met the most wonderful boy in the world. I was very much engaged to a boy by the name of Jim Mathy. I was only seventeen and too young to be engaged but I think the experiences of singing for so many of my young years made me older. We were going to a dancing party to be given at the Hotel Dakotah. Another chap by the name of Burto Olson asked me to go as he wanted me to meet a boy by the name of Foxy Edmonds. I told him I was going with Jim but would see them there. Jim and I were seated across the dining room when Foxy walked in the door.
I turned to Jim and asked who that boy was who just came in. He was the boy I had been watching for a whole year and hadn’t met. Jim said, “That’s Foxy Edmonds, and when I stopped at the Sigma Chi house last Sunday this chap said he is going to ‘cut me out.’” That was an expression at that time.
Our family home was on Reeves Avenue and each day on my way to school I passed the Sigma Chi house. This Foxy would wait until I had gotten a little further away down the street and then he came out of the Sigma Chi house and walked down to Law School behind me. I saw him at other times and had him confused with another Sigma Chi by the name of Wendal Linewell. They looked so much alike.
Soon Burto brought Foxy over for an introduction and Foxy asked for a dance. My program had been filled and so he took an extra which turned out to be a three-step. We didn’t care for that dance so we spent our time around the dance floor. Behind the drapes were some silver sugar bowls. We dumped out the sugar and took one of the bowls. Foxy put it in his pocket where it stood out all evening. I don’t think we have done anything dishonest before or since. That night as Foxy said good night he said, “Good night, Sugar Bowl,” which didn’t sound good to Jim at all. Someone took our Sugar Bowl from the cupboard at the house so we don’t have it.
This was at the time the local Bungaloo Fraternity were being initiated into the National Sigma Chi. It was also Christmas time and time for all the fellows to go home for the holidays. Foxy stayed at the Sigma Chi house for the holidays and by the time Jim Mathy got back I couldn’t see him for star dust.
Foxy and I were dated up for all the lovely affairs in connection with their initiation into Sigma Chi. It was all very beautiful and the social affairs I was asked to enjoy were out of this world. We surely fell in love with the music of the “Sweetheart of Sigma Chi,” which will always be a very beautiful song, especially for us.
This Foxy Edmonds was a football player and a very handsome blonde, a big fellow of six feet weighing about 200 pounds. Earl Sarles and Foxy were considered the two handsomest men on the campus and of course I agreed. His fraternity brothers took turns telling me what a wonderful fellow he was and that I couldn’t ‘go wrong’ if I dated him. How right they were. All this was in 1908. He graduated from (University of North Dakota) law school at the age of 20 in 1910. We were married in 1911.
Grand Forks had two telephone systems and ours was Tri State while the Sigma Chi had Northwestern. Foxy had the Tri State put in his room so he could call me up.
It was such fun to have the car and Foxy learned to drive a car with me. We always had it full of kids going and coming from the University. Foxy had given me his lovely Sigma Chi fraternity pin set with diamonds and pearls. I wore it on my slip under my dress. Then before too long his father bought a beautiful diamond for me. As we were not ready to announce our engagement, I turned the stone around and closed my hand over it. One day as our car was full of boys and girls and we were driving down Reeves it seemed the fellows had heard about the ring and in fun grabbed my hand and opened it. The diamond was there and we all had lots of fun over it.
Then it was time for spring vacation and Foxy had to go home. He lived in Hillsboro where his father owned farms around. His father also owned the telephone company so Foxy could call me long distance every night which helped a lot. It was only forty miles away so he could spend an occasional weekend with us.
There was a Minneapolis girl who spent some time each summer on one of her father’s many farms. She was very fond of Foxy and would ride about the country to visit him as he worked on his father’s telephone line. Her name was Dorothy Dabrample and she was small and dark. I heard she looked very stunning in her black riding habit when mounted on her palomino horse. She asked Foxy out for dinner many times and made quite a play for Foxy but to no avail.
Even then when I was 17 and Foxy 19 we were never interested in anyone else and haven’t been since. We were both told we were handsome and beautiful which, of course, we took with a grain of salt. But the fact remains that we both had many opportunities to change our minds but since the day we met back in 1908 we have seldom been separated except when Foxy goes (hunting) to Kilarney Lake each fall and from nine to five on week days.
All the rest of our lives have been practically spent together. It has been one long honeymoon and the joy of our lives is the fact that we feel each one of our children has found their perfect mate. I often thank God for His goodness in that respect, for of all the blessings this world has to offer that is the most important. Love is something that has to be earned. One can’t say to another, “You’ve got to love me. I am your husband – or wife, or child.”
I think it is grand to see each member of our family making every effort to keep his or her place in the affection of all other members of the family. Quite a trick if you can do it. Of course I think the fineness of our “out laws” is the reason for it. We love Burl, Betty, and Chet as we do our own. Each one so different, each one so especially dear.
I have been asked to give an account of my experiences during my life in Coeur d’Alene and a few historical events which took place during that time and a brief history of our Rotary Club. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to give an account of the many interesting events during a period of 62 years in half an hour.
If I talked from notes and off-the-cuff I might be inclined to digress and devote too much time to incidents which might well have been omitted. Consequently, I have boiled it down as much as possible and hope that you will bear with me if I read it.
Many of your have first-hand knowledge of many of these events, but there are many historical matters which should interest the younger members and new arrivals in Coeur d’Alene. Heine Glindeman, who came to Coeur d’Alene several years prior to my arrival, is better qualified to relate the earliest history and is scheduled to continue the program in the near future. He will undoubtedly fill in many of the gaps which I have not covered.
The first 20 years of my life were spent at Hillsboro, North Dakota, the County Seat of Traill [sic] County in the Red River Valley with its black, fertile soil which James J. Hill, the president of the Great Northern Railroad often referred to as the bread basket of the world. My first visit to the northwest was in 1907. I was a private in Company L of the National Guard. Our regiment held its summer encampment that year at American Lake, now Camp (Fort) Lewis. Our train stopped in Spokane for about three hours. I was greatly impressed with the city and the beautiful surroundings and decided that this was the place that I would like to live.
I graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1910 with an L.B.D. degree and this is where I met my future wife, Kittie Sturtevant. I have kept in touch with the university through the years, especially with the deans of the law school, and was quite surprised and honored when I was awarded an honorary Juris Doctor degree in 1969. I have never practiced law but had specialized in real property, probate, and corporation law. That became very helpful in my title business through the years.
Kittie and I were married in 1911 and took up temporary residence in Spokane. My parents, who usually spent their winters in the south, spent a winter in Spokane and were impressed with the milder climate. When they retired in 1909 they returned to Spokane. On a sight-seeing trip to Coeur d’Alene they decided that they would prefer to live in a smaller town. They located here and built their home at 801 Foster where they lived during the remaining years of their lives.
My sister was employed in the office of the Coeur d’Alene Abstract and Title Company. Fred Tiffany, the owner, was rather pessimistic over the future of Coeur d’Alene. He had decided to dispose of his interests and return to his former home in the east. I purchased his interest in the title company and later acquired a controlling interest in my competitor, the Panhandle Abstract Company, which I operated until my retirement in 1965.
Kittie and I, with our month-old daughter, Beverly, arrived here on May 20, 1912. At that time there were very few automobiles. About the only ones who could afford one were the bankers, doctors, lumbermen, and one or two attorneys. Sherman Street from 2nd to 7th was the only paved street and the dirt streets were impassable in winter. There were no facilities for plowing or removing snow. It became the custom to remove batteries and store cars until after the spring thaws.
I recall when Joe Peterson, who was in the real estate business, decided to branch out in the automobile business. He took delivery of a carload of Overlands and before the summer was over he had disposed of all six of them. The next spring I asked him when his new cars were coming in and he told me that he had quit the business since he had sold cars to everyone in town who could afford to own one. Since he had “gotten in early and had taken the cream,” he was satisfied to “let someone else do the gambling.”
There were no highways leading to St. Maries and the upper country on either side of the lake . All travel and freight was delivered by steam boats as far as St. Maries and by pack train from there up on the St. Joe. Wallace and the mining country were supplied by rail. The Union Pacific ran a branch line to Amwaco in Windy Bay and from there passengers and freight were ferried across the lake to Harrison and then by rail where the tracks are still located.
In passing, I might mention that much of the timber, especially on the south side of the lake, had been burned by the tragic 1910 fire when millions of feet of valuable timber were destroyed. It is hard to visualize the difference between the barren hillsides at that time and the beautiful landscaping with second-growth timber which we now enjoy.
I became involved in city politics in 1913 and was asked to become a candidate for City Clerk and Police Judge with Ralph S. Nelson as the Mayor. We were elected and my salary of $1,000 a year was real money in those days. I served three terms. My most vivid recollection was a sad duty which I had to perform as Police Judge. The first action of Mayor Nelson’s was to close our only house of ill fame, located in the brick building on the ground now comprising the Idaho First National Bank Parking lot. I was only 23 years old and had never had any experience in matters of this kind. It became my sad duty to pass sentence on a group of quiet nice looking gals. Judge McNaughton, who was the City Attorney, advised me to find them $50 which would be suspended providing they left town within 24 hours, which Chief Evans advised.
A forerunner of the recent hydroplane races was the Coeur d’Alene Regatta. Frank Colquhoun, who had done considerable rowing in Canada before coming to Coeur d’Alene, was instrumental in forming the Coeur d’Alene Rowing Club in 1913. Sufficient money was raised to purchase six shells from Pocock Brothers in Seattle, a company that still makes the shells for the University of Washington and many other universities across the country. Our races were features of the celebrations and were held locally during the annual Regatta with Nelson, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. Since rowing required too much time for training and practice for the business men, the club was abandoned after World War One. Our boats were sold to the Portland Rowing Club. We realized just enough to clear our obligations for rent and storage expenses. As far as I know, Jim Evenden and I are the only survivors of the rowing crews. White it lasted the Regatta became quite famous and was one of the more successful promotions of the Chamber of Commerce.
The Milwaukee Railroad built its branch line into Coeur d’Alene in 1911 and the future looked brighter. The shore line of the lake originally ran along what is now Sherman Avenue and Front Street and the depot grounds, upon which the North Shore (hotel) is now located are entirely on filled ground with earth removed from the cut extending north along First Street to north of Garden Avenue, thence westerly along the north side of the Courthouse site. The original plans called for an attractive brick depot beautified by landscaping. The Milwaukee encountered financial difficulties and those plans never materialized.
Those of us who remember the old warehouse, which served as the depot, the Yandt boat works, and the Pointner machinery and welding shop, and empty box cars stored on the side tracks, can certainly appreciate the improvement of the lake front by the acquisition of the railroad by Bob Templin and the improvements in connection with the construction of the North Shore. The railroad tracks originally crossed Sherman Street and when the street was extended to connect with Mullan Road and Northwest Boulevard. The increased traffic made it necessary for the city to formulate a plan for merging the three railroads on one line through the city over the tracks of the electric railroad which ran to Bozanta Tavern at Hayden Lake and later extended on Mullan Avenue to the Rutledge Mill.
The tracks of the Northern Pacific originally crossed Sherman Street to connect with the Northern Pacific dock on the lakeshore where the depot was also located. Fortunately, the depot burned and the Northern Pacific dock was abandoned. A new depot was constructed where it is now located on Fourth Street, thus eliminating the dangerous crossing of Sherman.
Coeur d’Alene was having a difficult time economically and the taxpayers constantly complained about our high taxes. In 1915 when C. H. Potts, one of our leading attorneys, was asked to run for mayor he agreed to become a candidate on one condition – that the mayor and councilmen, if elected, served at a salary of $1 per year. Several years later when I was elected as Mayor, we were still being paid $1 per year. I have in my possession a City Warrant dated April 5, 1927, for $1 for the year 1927, countersigned by J. Ward Arney, City Clerk.
The Rutledge Mill was completed and in operation in 1915 with Hunt Taylor as manager. Things began to look up decidedly when the Winton Lumber Company extended its
operations from Rose Lake and purchased the Stack Gibbs Lumber Company, now Northwest Timber, in 1919. The Coeur d’Alene Lumber Company, located on what is now the city parking lot at McEuen field, had been closed for some time, due to lack of timber and obligations to the Exchange National Bank of Spokane which forced it into a receivership. The City voted a bond issue and purchased the land for $19,000. This land then became known as Mullan Park. During the war when Farragut was built and the need for housing was acute, a permit was granted for the construction of temporary housing. The whole area was leased to the government and many houses were built for the use of personnel at Farragut. The houses were all torn down after the war but the city retained the administration building next to the tennis courts. It is still in use.
Many of you who are more recent arrivals and members of Rotary might be interested in some of the highlights and history of our club. The Spokane Rotary Club undertook the project of sponsoring our club at Coeur d’Alene and a preliminary survey was made early in 1921. The original charter list was comprised of fifteen members and the charter was issued in November of that year. Regular meetings were held in November and December. It was stipulated that the charter list would be held open until January, at which time ten additional members were included. Huntington Taylor was our first president and the installation ceremonies were conducted by Miles Higley, President of the Spokane Club, and Ellis LeMaster. For the next three months our meetings were attended by either one or the other and we certainly received the full treatment. We learned all about Paul Harris and the other founders of Rotary and that we were required to memorize the Code of Ethics, the Objects of Rotary, and all the slogans such as “Service above Self,” and “He profits most who serves best.” In the early days of Rotary it did not seem quite natural to be told that you should invite any member to the Club if he competed in any line of conflict with your business or to be told that you should love your competitors. This, of course, was revised and special classifications have been provided for each vocation or line of business.
One of the first community projects undertaken by our club was the Memorial Athletic Field, under the leadership of J. H. Morrow, one of our charter members. This tract was in its original state and not included in the city park. The money was raised for clearing the timber and grading for use as a baseball field. It was enclosed with the present steel fence for which it was necessary to borrow $2,750 on a note executed by the club and endorsed individually by a group of the Rotarians. Coeur d’Alene had a semi-pro baseball team and it was agreed that 15% of the gate receipts from all sources would be applied on the note, which eventually retired the obligation.
Through the years many Rotarians were outstanding in contributions to the community welfare. One was the donation of the present North Idaho College campus by the Winton Lumber Company, of which Walter Rosenberry was General Manager and one of the owners. The gift was subject to reservation of booming rights on the lakeshore and river frontage and restrictions to its use for a worthwhile community project. The Dike Road was constructed just prior and during the 1933 flood, which is an interesting story in itself.
One of the most valuable contributions was the gift of the present Boy Scout Camp by Fred Fitze. The valuable lakeshore and acreage under present conditions is worth several hundred thousand dollars. The original Scout Camp was at Sunnyside and was named Camp Easton in honor of Stanley Easton, President of the Bunker Hill mine at
Kellogg. For some reason the present camp was also given the name of Camp Easton. Although Mr. Easton’s devotion to the sponsorship of scouting was greatly appreciated, I have always felt that the camp should have been named Camp Fitze.
The present city library was donated to the city by Ralph and Jeanette Nelson, the father and mother of Ralph Nelson, one of our present members. The house was originally built by M. D. (Dick) Wright for his home. He was the owner of Atlas Tie Company and one of our live wires. He was one of the prime movers in promoting the Allen Race Track until it was legislated out of business with the ban on horse racing.
I recall that when I was a candidate for City Clerk in 1913, while discussing the forthcoming election with Dick Wright, I mentioned the fact that I did not feel that I could be elected since I was practically unknown, while the opposition candidate was an older resident and well known. He offered to bet me $20 that I would be elected. I accepted the bet since I felt that it was a good bet even if I lost the election. After the election I gladly paid the $20 bet.
I recall a full-page display advertisement in the Coeur d’Alene Press: “For sale a Sash and Door Factory, will sell or trade for anything on God’s Green Earth except another Sash and Door Factory. Signed: M. D. Wright”
When he passed away he was buried at Elk’s Rest in Spokane and a special train with friends and mourners accompanied the body to Spokane for the burial services.
During the term of Bill Wood as President, our club took an active part in promoting Camp Neewahlu of the Camp Fire Girls. The land was donated by Henry Day of the Wallace Rotary Club and all of the communities in North Idaho and members of the North Idaho Council participated. Bill devoted a great deal of his time during his term of office to selling the project to the organizations of the various communities in the district.
Rotarians through the years have been outstanding in the promotion of activities for the good of the community, working through other organizations. Except for an occasional special project or activity as mentioned above, Rotarians, who are chosen for membership as the leaders of their profession or classification, are expected to work through other organizations, particularly the Chamber of Commerce, United Crusade, programs for the betterment of schools, hospital facilities, recreation and playgrounds, etc. Activities of this sort, community-wide in scope, naturally should be supported by a good Rotarian if he follows the teachings of Rotary. Our most recent project, which has yet to be completed by lighting, is the tennis courts on McEuen Field.
One of the greatest disappointments which occurred during the times that I served as Mayor was the defeat of a bond issue in 1942 which was submitted to the people for the purchase of a water system. The Washington Water Power Company had offered to sell it to the city for $212,000. This included Tubb’s Hill, a portion of which was recently purchased from the Idaho Water Company for $135,000. The WWP records showed that their net income for the preceding year before taxes as $91,000. Under city
ownership this would have been net income and would have retired the bonds in less than three years. However, our water rates were very low at that time and there was a strong feeling against municipal ownership. The opponents spread the rumor that the wooden water mains would soon require replacement. We now find that many of the old water mains are still in good condition.
Subsequently that water system was sold to the Idaho Water Company who have placed a valuation of $5 million on the plant. The Idaho Water Company at its hearing before the Utilities Commission claimed that one of the principal reasons for increasing rates was the excessive taxes which they were required to pay. With the advantage of not having to pay taxes, the city could well have made all of the present additions for much less than the present asking price of five million.
Another serious loss to the city was the fire which destroyed our beautiful auditorium in the park. One of the sailors at Farragut later confessed to having set the fire. We had turned the building over to the U.S.O. for the duration. It had been built by W.P.A. labor during the depression with logs furnished by the Forestry Department. It was large enough to hold basketball tournaments and had other rooms for meetings and banquets. We filed a claim with the Navy and U.S.O. for replacement but were unsuccessful. If Congress spent money in those days like they do now, we would have had a new auditorium.
I imagine that in 1912, were I to look ahead to 1974, it would have seemed to be a long, long time in the future. The probability of my presence on that date would be quite remote, since life expectancy at that time was about 65 years. Today, in retrospect, it’s just a flash.
I am very thankful for having found such a wonderful place as Coeur d’Alene to make our home and to raise our family, all of whom are also living here, and I am doubly thankful that my wife has been spared to enjoy it with me.
I feel that we who have lived in this century have experienced the most interesting and progressive period in the country’s history. During my lifetime I have seen many changes which have affected our mode of living such as the automobile, airplane, silent movies, talkies, wireless, radio and television, atomic energy and flights to the moon.
I am quite concerned about our future economy and am not in favor of expending further billions of money in continuing explorations of outer space. Our present debt is in excess of 300 billion. With increased budgets and continuing deficits we cannot continue these programs without serious results. The constant increase of salaries of our public officials, which in many instances are greatly in excess of incomes received in private life, is unwarranted. If they were patriotic citizens and interested in the welfare of our country they should voluntarily reduce their salaries and discontinue worldwide travels with their families at government expense. I have never made it a habit of talking about the “good old days,” and am more interested in our future.
The recent television show broadcasted over the country, with a cheering section in the gallery, Sam Irwin presiding, as the comedian quoting scriptures, uncalled for abuse of the defendants, especially by the senators from Hawaii, New Mexico, and Connecticut, without the privileges of defense, before millions of people as jurors, would have not been permitted in any court of the United States. Those proceedings were broadcasted all over the world and this has resulted in loss of prestige in all the foreign countries. And now Senator Mansfield has requested that the forthcoming trial of the President for impeachment should also be broadcasted. While it is conceded that President Nixon has made a number of mistakes in judgment, the prestige of the office of the President should be upheld. No impeachable crimes have been proven. Until the facts are brought out in a hearing before the Senate with the proper opportunity for defense, judgment should be withheld. He should not stand convicted.
Shortly after the war Kittie and I had quite an unusual experience while driving down the east coast of Florida. We were on a freeway in a 45-mile per hour zone with traffic signals ahead. I slowed down for the yellow light and, seeing no cars approaching the intersection, I proceeded to cross. I heard a whistle and saw an old fellow wearing a policeman’s cap and sitting on an orange crate. He blew his whistle so I pulled over and stopped. He asked me for my driver’s license and proceeded to write a ticket claiming that I had run through a red light. Just then a motorcycle cop who had recognized my Idaho K license stopped and asked me how things were in Coeur d’Alene. I said, “Fine, are you from Coeur d’Alene?” He said that he was not but during Farragut days he had spent three years as head of the shore patrol in Coeur d’Alene. He said, “You undoubtedly don’t remember me, but I saw quite a lot of you when you were Mayor of Coeur d’Alene, so naturally your face is familiar. And, wasn’t your name Edmonds?” he turned to the old fellow and said, “Tear up that ticket, Pop. I know this gentleman and know that he would never run through a red light.” I thanked him and we decided that this was a small world, after all.