Friday, July 6, 2007

Smelterville: Frontier Days

Photo was taken (prob by my mom) behind the Wayside Market in Smelterville - circa mid-1960s. Left: Iona Huber, Center: Hazel Noyen, Right: Ralia Berry .

Frontier Days started as a celebration of the Wild West and the town of Smelterville. Since my mom worked in Smelterville, we would go to the festivities when we were young. There was always a carnival that came to town, with all the cotton candy, hot dogs, games, rides. It was really something for a kid to look forward to. In the early years, the employees of the various businesses dressed up in Western attire and everyone got into the mood of the Wild West. Sometimes the Old Time Fiddler's would play in one of the metal buildings near the Carnival on Washington Street.

During the day, the arena hosted various equestrian events, such as barrel racing, but on one night the highlight would be the Demolition Derby. Local people would paint their junker cars and enter them in the contest. The cars would be crashed into one another in an every "man" for himself bumper car [sans bumpers] contest. The last car running would be the winner.

As I got older, I went to the Frontier Days activities with my friends. I attended the horse events one year when Cheryl Spoor competed - probably in '74, as we had become friends at NIC during her first year. I think that was the same year, I accidentally dropped my pocket Bible in the middle of the Carnival area, and a classmate (whom I had once has a crush on) saw me pick it up. He said, "I don't talk to people who read the Bible." It hurt my feelings, but I felt even worse for him. I wondered what had happened in his life to give him such strong feelings against the most published and read book of all time.

Nineteen seventy-four was also a year of great change in my life. I had become a Christian in May of '73, but by the summer of '74 I no longer drank. It really gave me a different perspective on life in the Valley. Events that had one been "must" be there and participate had deteriorated in my eyes. Smelterville's early Frontier Days of the Wild West were gone: it had degenerated into a city-wide drunk.


raymond pert said...

Frontier Days, my friend, it was Frontier Days!

I have many many memories. Some of them occurred with Wucky the Beached Whale himself.

I'll get to those in my blog some time.

myrtle beached whale said...

Funny, I had already corrected Ponderosa about the name of that blessed event. My biggest memories of it are when some little Smelterville fat kid, I think his last name was Berg, was tossed off of the swing ride and landed on the porch of someone's house on Washington Street. I think it was the Mulholland's house. He was not killed, but he was racked up pretty good. I drove in the Demolition Derby the year before I joined the Air Force. I learned the hard way that greasy corn dogs and the Tilt-a-whirl are not compatible. We used to terrorize the Carnies, not knowing in those days that the majority were on parole from prison and would have killed us for sport.

myrtle beached whale said...

One good thing about dropping your Bible in Smelterville: there is no chance of anyone picking it up. Since when does drinking conflict with being a Christian? Have you not heard of Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, and Lutherans. Have I left out any? By the way, Frontier Days was always a village-wide drunk (you gave Smelterville city distinction, I beg to differ). You probably just noticed it after you climbed up on that mountain and looked down on those poor sinners below. I believe that the Bible is the most published book, but read? I doubt that very much. I am going with Catcher in the Rye. I can't tell you how disappointed I was when I found out it was not about baseball. Same thing with Ruth Fielding. I was certain that was about the Yankees. Maybe 1984 or Animal Farm. Wow, both by Orwell. Well done.

raymond pert said...

I quit going to Frontier Days because I figured out it was the most dangerous three days in North Idaho:

There were

mining competitions
logging competitions
demolition derby
motorcycle hill climbs

What happens when these people, along with your basic drunken Valleyites get together on one street with about four bars and open alcohol: they fight. I heard about more gnarly fights happening at Frontier Days then anywhere else in the Valley.

I'm not a fighter.

I think the fighting and near riotous situation was why they eventually close it all down.

By the way, the Berg kid was Kim Berg.

That incident might have foreshadowed the course of his life.

He's a funeral director and mortician!

He's also a very good actor and does a lot of community theater in Spokane.

Lively thread Pinehurst!!!

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

I wondered when I read MBW's comment if it was Kim Berg he was talking about. He married one of my good friend's from college - Jill Bodah. She was a "hoot." Haven't seen or heard of or from them since the time they got married (long years ago).

I didn't remember some of the stuff you mentioned, RP in your second post, but I do remember there was no limit to where one could drink, and often no one to insure all drinkers were "of age." Business was probably great for the business owners - particularly the bars and stores. That's probably one reason it lasted as long as it did.

You could write on the Elk's Round-Up sometime. I only remember the parades. . .the last one I remember was in '78, when I rode on the float for Millie's Beauty College. (I take it back, '85 must have had a parade, too, as my husband rode on a float with a bunch of his classmates who were there to attend their 10th year reunion.)

Now Crazy Daze - that would also be an event to remember. . .

InlandEmpireGirl said...

Don't get us started on Frontier Days... there are the Silver King PTA sloppy joe memories ( Mom I believe worked while pregnant with Silver Valley Girl), the time Janet K threw firecrackers at me in the bathroom at the Happy Landing, and the time when I played for the Smelterville Lions softball team and we all did the dunk tank. That is just the beginning. lol

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Sounds like a lot of crazy memories. Maybe you will blog on them sometime!

myrtle beached whale said...

I am not sure of the name of the middle woman in the photo but she was great in the Wizard of OZ until that house fell on her.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Thanks MBW. I was trying to remember her name! Ha Ha.

myrtle beached whale said...

You will come to realize that most of what you read from me are jokes, not serious observations. I do remember Raylia very well. She was at Wayside for years. I got all my penny candy from her. She was always nice to kids.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

I remember Raylia, also. My mom worked with her and Bill Noyen for many years. Wish I had written stuff down when I was a kid. I'd probably remember more now.

InlandEmpireGirl said...

When M. Gallaher babysat us when I was in kindergarten ( it was myself, Raymond Pert, and K and S White) we got 5 cents each day to go get penny candy. My favorites were the black licorice pipes, pixie stix, Bazooka bubble gum, Kits, and those wax things with juice in them. My students fall over when I tell them candy only cost a penny.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Your list of candies made me think back. I loved candy cigarettes, black licorice pipes (still do), wax lips and juice filled wax (could chew the wax when you were done with the rest), bit-o-honey, little packages with round chocolates (they sell them at Ben Franklin here, but I can't remember the name). So strange, I can't remember as many penny candies as I used to.

When I lived in Smelterville, my friends and I would round up as many beer bottles and pop bottles as we could find, and take them to the store to trade for candy. Beer bottles were worth $1 each and I think pop bottles were $3 each.

We'd find the bottles laying in the alley - thrown here and there. Sometimes my parents would have a few bottles on hand for returning.

Jackie's Garden said...

Oh, funny. And your comment section is a hoot. You all have such good memories. My uncle owned the feed store in Smelterville for years - I'll have to ask him about Frontier Days.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

I wondered if you were related to them. (Last name was on markers when your family went to the cemetery over Memorial weekend). I met one of the boys (your cousins) when my husband and I were young marrieds. Can't remember his name now.

Anonymous said...

Who are you guys? I just happened to google my mother's name, Hazel Noyen. Mom passed away in February, and I'm missing her very much. Anyhow, I found the Smelterville Frontier Days blog and love the picture. The ladies in the picture, though, are mom in the middle, Iona Huber on the left, and Ralia Berry on the right.

I think I must know you all if you remember Frontier Days!

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Anonymous: I am so sorry for your loss. Your parents were great people. email me at and I will tell you who we are!

Also, thanks for the correction on the pic. I will change the info. (I think my mom shot the picture. . .as she worked at the Wayside Mkt for years, and this pic was in my parents stash.)