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For the week of Sept. 1, 1999 through Sept. 7, 1999

Reflections of Old Times

Growing up in the 1930s in Hailey

Written Aug. 20, 1989.

Said Twin Falls resident Glenn Miller in a letter sent two days later to Charlie Benson of Hailey, "Setting here thinking about the good old days in Hailey when we were young. I composed a poem which I thought you might wish to have a copy of.

"You and I had good times when we were young scamps….The record you made in the war is much to be proud of. I guess, we all did what we had to do, but I’ll always be proud to say that I was a friend of Charlie Benson…")




Hailey High School Class of 1938

We moved from the ranch to Hailey back in ’27.

At the age of eight, I thought it was heaven!

My dad bought a place down close to the woods

A red-headed buddy and I ruled like two Robin Hoods.


Dense, dark woods, wild streams running cold and free,

‘Twas a fantasy playground for two young lads to be

By the river, there in the mud and the sand

Were the tracks of bear and cougar displayed just grand.


Big wood drifts and bars held the water all back,

Sure wasn’t straight like a railroad track.

Mighty big trout were swimming in those deep holes,

But we little kids couldn’t catch them on our willow poles.


Dad raised a garden, and had a good cow,

Times then were tough, but we got by somehow.

We ate fish in the summer, then in the fall of the year

If we were lucky we went hunting and got a fat deer.


The Indians used to come in a wagon each fall

To trade moccasins for deer hides, clear from Fort Hall.

I was always thrilled to see their brown faces,

Ageless and noble, like their horses in traces.


Mom always gave them her fresh baked bread.

They didn’t talk much, but their eyes always said

"Thank you, white man, for this small token,

"We’d like to give more, but our spirit is broken."


Population was thin from Timmerman Hill to Galena peak.

All tough old timers, among them not many weak.

The boom of the mine town was just about gone,

But wild fish in Wood River would always spawn.


Wintertime found us on Main Street in Hailey,

Dog races and contests sometimes daily.

Les Outz and George Cutler with their racing breeds.

Flexible Flier I had, with old Spot for my steed!


Bob Bushnell’s Great Dane and my little dog Spot

Raced down the street, the contest was hot.

Spot always won ‘cause he kept on the go,

But "Gyp," Bob’s dog, stopped to check scents in the snow!


Summer times were great, you could still remember

How cold it had been back in December!

Good things growing in the China Garden abound

Fresh vegetables they sold to most town folk around.


Dust always puffed up around your bare feet

Headed for town, penny clutched for a treat.

To old Mrs. Dorsey’s candy store,

A penny got some, a whole nickel lots more!


The old livery barn stood there on Main Street,

Watering trough out in front, water cool and sweet.

Always took a drink from the pipe as you passed by,

Tasted so good there under a horse’s watchful eye.


Past Scottie Stevenson’s or Van Heller’s you could go,

Went along real easy, moving careful and slow.

Sometimes they would stop you and ask you to stay,

Told about game and Indians they saw in their day!


Blind Bill Sharp always stood by the post office wall,

Just to greet people was his best thrill of all.

Always knew who you were by the sound of your voice,

Friendly to all, Bill did not make any choice.


On Labor Day in Bellevue a big picnic they had,

Roast beef in a pit, to help cut and serve they always asked Dad.

People from miles around came for racing and games,

No strangers there, all knew each other’s names.


For haying and threshing around the whole valley

To help each other all the neighbors would rally.

Tables stacked high with corn, potatoes and meat

Kids went along to help too—sure was a treat!


School in those days wasn’t always too neat,

Just like nowadays, kids thought it no treat.

In winter we walked two miles in two feet of snow,

Would have been more fun hunting, didn’t always want to go.


Lela ruled her domain, on that you could rely!

If you were bad, punishment she’d not deny.

The lessons she taught you remembered quite well,

For not paying attention, she really gave you h------.


Lela Montgomery was a strict little prize.

You gave her respect not because of her size.

She gave her whole life to educate our little minds.

‘Neath a tough exterior she was loving and kind.


Little and fierce, of diminutive size,

If you goofed off you met her bright blazing eyes!

She got your respect, on that you could bet.

The lessons she taught you’ll never forget.


Many years rolled by ‘fore we came to realize

What teachers gave up for us in the land of blue skies.

They lived alone, walking long ways to school,

Gave you their all so you wouldn’t wind up a fool.


So remembering all the good teachers we had,

Going to school to learn wasn’t really so bad.

Compared to today, discipline then was quite tough,

But teachers made you settle down and do your stuff.


All the canyons were beautiful, wild and free,

Elk and deer wintered low down in each, you see.

To snowshoe there when the weather was cold

Always left great memories to treasure and hold.


The woods all abounded in birds and much game.

In the river big fish teeming, they weren’t tame!

Porcupine and cottontails were always there,

Trees were thick and green, no ground was bare.


Our old house was built of wood and frame,

A wood-burning range made bread-baking fame!

Central heating was from an old wood stove,

Cut quakies to burn from some secluded grove.


Winters were long and severe as time moved on,

Many mornings temperatures 30-below just at dawn!

To an outhouse out back, when you had to go,

Frigid Sears-Roebuck catalog and four feet of snow!


We had a well and pitcher pump most the time,

To get water in mornings, you had it to prime.

A soft feather bed warm and cozy at night,

To get up to build a fire sure was a fright.


From down in the timber came the hoot of an owl,

Up Quigley could be heard a coyote’s howl.

And once a week you’d hear the lonesome wail

Of the railroad train bringing in the mail.


‘Twas so quiet and still in the valley those days,

From afar you could hear barking dogs or horse brays.

Only narrow gravel roads came into our town,

Few times daily cars came in with dust hovering round.


In the spring of the year, going past our old place,

Thousands of sheep went by, always leaving their trace.

From deserts where they wintered and lambs were dropped,

Heading for mountain pastures now they couldn’t be stopped.


A pristine place then with cold and ice,

Everyone raised good kids, polite and nice.

Hunting, fishing, skiing—good, clean fun to enjoy

We all had good neighbors, ours George and Marge McCoy.


In 1935 Sun Valley began to set things aglow.

Celebrities, movie stars, thousands of skiers playing in the snow.

Sun Valley was great, a quiet, quaint charming place,

Everyone swimming, riding, skiing with a smile on his face.


Disrupting all pleasure, in ’41 came the war.

The highway was paved, strangers came, nothing same as before.

Many boys and girls from Hailey were healthy and tough.

On the Japs and the Germans, they sure made it rough.


Elbert Heckert, Fred Hurst, Joe Sara, Donald Wilson and more

Gave their lives to preserve this land as it had been before.

Charlie Benson returned, two Silver Stars on his chest,

Did his thing in Italy, knocked out two German machine gun nests.


We all had our names on the old Honor Roll

That stood by the courthouse on top of the knoll,

To show we’d gone to serve our country well.

To come home from the war really seemed swell!


Youth from Hailey, land of high mountain and tree,

Gave their best to the nation to keep us all free.

Those who came back, returned from the war

Found their small town and valley not the same as before.


As the years rolled along, newcomers moved in.

Airplanes, cars, snowmobiles made an awful din.

Old ranches are gone, big new condos now there,

People roaming river and woods like those at the fair!


All the canyons are crowded, costly homes abound

Where a few years before was game wintering ground.

Trees have been slashed to build houses so fine,

New roads everywhere searching for a new mine.


Thinking back through the years and the fun that we had.

My red-headed buddy and I, each as a lad,

Now when I return and see buildings so high,

Old ways, old days gone, brings a tear to my eye.


The valley was good, so wild, rustic and clean,

People lived and enjoyed even if times were lean.

Remembering all the good times and some of the stress,

Everything changes day to day, they call it Progress.


For all the youth now in the valley going to school,

Their future is to preserve the land following the Golden Rule.

My wish for new residents in this beautiful place

Is to share in the memories time cannot erase.




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Copyright 1999 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.