Distinguished Wood River
citizen star of open house
By MATT FURBER
Express Staff Writer
Long-time Wood River Valley
resident Rupert House is celebrating his 88th birthday this weekend.
Everyone is invited to an open house in his honor 2 p.m. Saturday, March
20, at the Senior Connection in Hailey.
The denizen of local history has
many tales to share from his experience as a hard rock miner, a Hailey
city councilman, a county commissioner and even a paper delivery boy.
During the Depression, House delivered the Evening Times in Twin Falls
where he was a high school student.
Rupert House looks forward
to meeting friends at the Senior Connection in Hailey on his 88th
birthday on Saturday. Express photo by Matt Furber
House was born in Hansen on March
21, 1916, and graduated from Twin Falls High School in 1933.
"It was a hell of a time to need
money or a job," House said in an interview at his home on East Fork
Road. It is a home he built from scratch. He started building the house
in 1949 while working at the Triumph mine.
House thought he would follow his
older brother into the Navy after high school, but was disqualified from
enlistment due to a limitation in his color perception.
Instead, House married Bonnie
Rayborn Nov. 25, 1933. In the early years of married life House worked
as a mucker at the Vienna mine by Smiley Creek, a basement boy for a
department store in Twin Falls and a service station attendant in
The Houses’ home on East Fork Road
is a bump of land just before the last jump up the valley to the town of
Triumph. House started as a mucker at the mine and climbed the ladder to
become a mine boss.
"Miners made 50 cents more a day
than muckers," House said. "I started out as a low man on the totem
From his vantage point in
retirement, House has a clear view of Hyndman Peak to the east and the
Smoky Mountains to the west.
"I lived here for 20 years before
I got the right end up to look at them," House said.
House pinched a lot of pennies
over the years to provide for his family. His father, Oscar House, even
came to work with him at the Triumph mine, bringing along House’s four
younger siblings, who all went to school in the Wood River Valley.
"Dad came from Twin when he was 56
years old. I broke him in," House said. "I never cursed at home. I had
learned a lot of new adjectives in the mine. I had to curtail it when
Dad came. He enjoyed working at the mine. He worked until he was 65."
After the Triumph job, House
worked on various mine equipment salvage crews and worked as the mine
boss at the Silver Star Queen Mine in Bellevue. He was farmed out to
help at other mines in the valley as well.
In 1968 House and his crew
received a safety award from the state mining inspectors office for
having the fewest injuries the year before. When House received the
award from the state inspector he accepted it with his right hand. His
left hand was in a cast because he had just broken his wrist on the job.
But, that was a different year.
House is a teacher of mining
history in the valley and takes issue with homage people pay to skiing
as the activity that made the valley famous.
"There is a lot of history before
skiing," he said. "If it hadn’t been for miners and trappers there
wouldn’t have been beans around here."
House started working for the city
of Hailey in 1970 repairing wooden water pipes, putting in new water
service connections, patching streets, maintaining the parks and plowing
snow. While still on City Council at age 64, House became county
commissioner in 1980. He served the county for 16 years. House said he
did not make friends with everyone at the job, but he enjoyed it.
"Believe me, you’ve gotta have
something to do when you retire," he said.
House has five children, four of
whom will be home to see him for his birthday. For those who make it
down to the Senior Connection to hear more stories about the life and
times of Rupert House, be sure to ask him about the humorous birthday
card he received.