Fifty-three days into the year 2013—how are you doing? I was thinking about this during the Presidents Day weekend. So much has happened since I rolled into town 39 years ago with my wife, Nancy, and two sons, Mark, 10, and Harry, 2, in a 1961 Ford Econoline van with carpeted bumpers, searching for a new life. The turbulent 60s were over. It was a time for new directions and a calmer way of life. The moment we saw the mountains, we knew we were home. “Now,” we thought, “how do we make it all work so that we could stay?”
We stopped at the Western Café on Main Street in Ketchum for breakfast and picked up the local papers, the Ketchum Tomorrow and the Idaho Mountain Express, to look for a place to rent and a place to work. We thought it odd that such a small town (pop. 500) had two newspapers and quickly learned there was a newspaper war going on. Nancy and I were entertainers and it wasn’t long before we were playing five nights a week at the Holiday Inn, north of town. We stayed at the KOA campground until a two-bedroom house became available for $250 a month right behind where the Mountain Express stands today. (Apparently, they had won the war.) The house faced Baldy and had a strawberry patch in the front yard. We were in heaven.
The Holiday Inn had a coffee shop that was open 24 hours and we soon got to know a lot of the locals plus all the musicians in town who would drop by after their gigs. Six months later, we were playing weekends at the Alpine (now Whiskey Jacques’). To supplement our income, I followed the lead of most locals and got a second job. I became a cook at The Cookhouse in Giacobbi Square where T’s and Temptations is today. We were making it in the Wood River Valley in just our first year. We were in heaven.
Family night out usually consisted of eating pizza at Louie’s and going to a G-rated film at the Magic Lantern Theatre. There was softball in the summer and après ski in the winter. Joe Cannon and Mike Murphy ruled in this format, but we always found a place to play. Our daughter Sarah was born in 1977 and Nancy left the entertainment business to care for the children and leave it all to me. In the coming years, I joined the Mountain Express as a columnist, Laughing Stock Productions as an actor, started a comedy revue at The Kneadery called “The Whoop Show” and created a radio soap opera called “All My Bummers” on KSKI Radio. We were in heaven.
Looking back at such happy times gives me great feelings of warmth and satisfaction. Many of you have similar stories on how you made this valley your home. At those particular times, we were all in heaven.
Nice talking to you.