Sibling Assignment #109: God's Country

Silver Valley Girl challenged me this week with Sibling Assignment #109. "Write about one of your earliest trips to somewhere special, besides Spokane and Orofino, and why it was special, and what you remember about it." You will find her recollection of her first trip to Boise and spending time with our Coomer cousins here s and Raymond Pert's will be here soon.

At Grandma Woolum's house during the early years.

It was a challenge because as a family we didn't take too many trips outside of Spokane and Orofino. We traveled to Spokane to visit Grandma Woolum and headed south to Orofino to visit Grandma West and extended family each summer.  Those two places hold many, many memories of hot summer treks and dangerous winter journeys on slick roads. We didn't steer too far from those two locations. Dad was often working two jobs, Mom spent many summers earning her degree to continue to teach, and Dad seemed to only have so many days off for vacation.

Money wasn't plentiful. I am guessing that was why we didn't go to the Seattle World's Fair, San Diego, or Priest Lake . I didn't mind. It was fun looking at the trinkets the Absec boys acquired when they toured the Seattle World's Fair.  When Grandma Woolum took a big journey to San Diego we could experience her trip through the pictures on our ViewMaster she gifted us upon her return. A neighborhood friend VS went to Priest Lake in the summer. In my child mind that seemed like an exotic place days away. (Priest Lake is located north of Priest River, Idaho and we could have traveled there in under three hours.)

We heard stories of Tennessee and Kentucky where Grandma Woolum had been born and raised, but I never thought about visiting there.   I remember a painting that hung in her living room that reminded her of that place where she grew up. I envisioned Daniel Boone or the Beverly Hillbillies when I thought of her childhood home. Because of what I knew about my Aunt Hattie I guessed that all women in Tennessee  chewed tobacco, everyone talked with a southern drawl, and when anyone took a trip, it was always on a Greyhound bus. What I remember more about Tennessee was its' straight borders as we put together the United States puzzle.

As Raymond Pert and I put together the United States puzzle on the floor in Grandma West's living room I didn't know too much about many of the other states. I knew Uncle Ted had come from Wisconsin which I figured must have been a big place that made lots of cheese because of those gift packs we got each Christmas that said "Wisconsin Cheese."  Lots of Dad's kin ended up in the San Diego area so California was familiar. It was also a big piece of the puzzle that was easy to put in place. When there was leftover gravy at dinner Dad would get more Bogie's white bread and make Missouri pudding (which was  leftover pork or chicken gravy poured on white bread) so I knew that dish must have been served at every dinner table in the state of Missouri.

Dorothy was from Kansas, a president was shot in Texas,  Delaware was so tiny the puzzle piece could be lost easily under a chair, and Donnie Rinaldi had a sister that lived in a faraway place called Wenatchee, Washington. I was convinced most people still lived in igloos in Alaska and I did know the Yankees were from New York.

 I don't ever recall wishing to travel to exotic places like Oregon or Montana. I looked forward to the trips to Spokane and Orofino. I felt safe sitting around the table at Grandma Woolum's house eating a fried chicken dinner. It was a thrill to roast marshmallows in July by the fire in her living room fireplace. Coming home from Beaver Dam with a swimming suit full of sand was a comforting memory of Orofino. Lying on clean, crisp sheets in the front bedroom I always remember waiting for the air to cool as night fell in the Clearwater Valley.

Were there trips to somewhere special? Our family made a few stops on those trips to our grandmothers' houses.  Our many Chervelots transported  us to Mother Goose Land by Missoula, a Chinese cafe in Moscow,  a stop for burgers in Colfax,  a break for  a "cool one" in Deary or Bolville, a view of Lewiston from the top of the hill, spotting the checkerboard on the Ralston Purina building in the Spokane valley, and enjoying a bottle of pop in Peck. We saw the world's largest white pine on the road by Potlach, a baby bear that dad called Boo Boo while driving close to St. Maries, and miles of miles of farmland as we meandered through the Palouse.

It is easy to understand why I call myself inlandempiregirl. The rolling hills, single-lane highways, and pit stops of the Inland Empire define my own personal geography. I still don't venture too far from home. I love to travel the northwest and want to explore more of it. As I remember Cavendish, Clarkia, Colfax, Bolville, Deary, Uniontown, Peck, Harvard, Lolo, Greer, and Kendrick I recall the stories. Aunt Ruth was born in Uniontown, Grandma's family lived in Peck, the crops are doing well in Deary, Deenie taught at the school on the hill in Lanore, and Kendrick is the prettiest little town around. I missed the Seattle World's Fair and still haven't traveled the Winchester Grade, but through the eyes of a girl growing up in northern Idaho, I saw many special places. My dad always called in God's Country.

Mom and Dad ... the early years.


  1. I loved this post!! Your recollection of "exotic" Oregon and Montana reminded me of when I was little. I don't remember what age I was but I wasn't going to school yet, so I must have been about 3 or 4. Up on the hill in Wallace, I could stand up in my dad's rock gardent and look down the valley toward Kellogg. I figured that was as far as anyone could see, therefore that must have been the 'end of the world'. I really had it all figured out at that age, didn't I?? :)

  2. Going to Wallace was a "journey" to us, and we only went to go to the dentist. Yuck! Mullan was like light years away! lol.

  3. It's hard and probably fruitless to rank each other's writing...that said, to my memory, this is the best piece you've written...I read for the first time when you first posted it, hurried on to something else, and promised myself I'd come back and tell you that I loved this post...the content is wonderful, and what I really love is how ingenious it is..what a great way to approach Carol's assignment. I'm blown away.


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