Thoughts From Half A Century Ago
By DAVID R. FRAZIER, editor
I wanted to share a personal walk down memory lane which began 50 years ago today, ironically enough at what today is Memory Road–the overpass on I-84 near Micron.
It was 50 years ago today in 1968 when I drove from Ypsilanti, Michigan with all of my earthly possessions in a 1965 Mercury purchased with my “mustering out” Army pay to take a job as the cops and fire reporter for the Idaho Statesman. I had just served a tour in Vietnam.
The freeway, known at the time as I-80N, ended at Isaacs Canyon and became Federal Way (U.S. 20/30), a desolate two lane highway across the desert. First real sign of civilization was an old wooden dance hall where later the Perkins Pancake restaurant occupied the Southwest corner of Gowen Road and Federal Way. Gowen ended at Federal Way.
Old 20/30 Truck Stop On Federal Way is now Flying-J
Back in October 1968, I passed the seedy 20/30 Truck Stop which today is the Flying-J. The location overlooked the old Triangle Dairy and its rich green pastures across the street. Triangle Dairy used to maintain a fire truck in those days to answer alarms in areas not served by a fire department. It was typical of the sense of community that encouraged me to make Boise home for the rest of my life.
There was a small sign on Federal Way with a downward arrow which read, BOISE VIA BROADWAY. I dove off Federal Way, took the rugged two-lane Broadway toward the heart of town past the red brick fire station at Boise Ave., past the wooden bleachers which served as a football stadium at the young Boise State College and encountered my first stoplight at Broadway and Warm Springs.
Idaho Statesman was on NE corner of 6th and Bannock.
I spent the night at the Safari Inn on Myrtle Street and found an apartment the next day, thanks to a friendly classified ad clerk at the Statesman who let me have first crack at the new apartment listings.
City Hall and police station were located at SW corner of 6th and Bannock.
St. Luke’s hospital was a modest brick building with ivy covered walls, St. Alphonsus was at 5th and State (now state offices). The Idaho Statesman at 6th and Bannock was in the heart of the city less than a block walk from the Statehouse, Courthouse, City Hall, Police Headquarters, and Number One Fire Station. It was only two blocks to the Borah Post Office which also housed the United States District Court and was across the street from the towering Hotel Boise.
Half a century ago every vehicle traveling between Salt Lake City and Portland passed through the intersection and eventually down Capital Boulevard and out either Chinden or Fairview westward. Motels lined Capital Blvd. and the Village Inn was a major restaurant…all before there was a freeway around the city.
Central fire station once stood at 6th and Idaho.
It wasn’t just buildings that impressed this newcomer to Boise. Collectively,we Boiseans were headquarters to Morrison-Knudsen Construction, Boise Cascade, Albertson Grocery, OreIda Foods, and the J.R. Simplot Company. We were also a major stop on the Oregon Trail and home to what later became United Airlines (Varney Airlines carried the first commercial airmail in 1926). The Statesman was owned by the Miller family’s Federated Publications, The two TV Stations, KTVB and KBOI were locally owned along with the half dozen radio stations.
And the neat part was we all recognized the CEOs of these companies and warmly greeted each other when we met on the street. In short, Boise was an amazingly egalitarian society. Today Only the Simplot Company retains its original roots on the big business side of things.
The Bank of Idaho was the tallest building in the state at Capital and Idaho. I opened an account there in early November 1968 and a city hall worker I had met looked over the top of her glasses and sternly scolded, “You know, that bank is NOT locally owned!” Times have certainly changed.
Today, I am often accused of wanting life to be like it was 50 years ago. I may have to plead “guilty as charged.”