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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday — March 19, 2004


Distinguished Wood River citizen star of open house

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 Jarbidge.

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 pole."

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.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.