Just when I think I want to run away from this land and this place, I am stopped in my tracks by the sheer beauty of our wide-open spaces. Sunday evening I took the “kids” walking out west of town just after the rumbling thunder has diminished and huge dark thunderheads had passed on to the eastern sky. As I stepped out of the pickup, the evening sun broke from behind a bank of clouds and illuminated a giant sea of tan prairie grass. There was barely a breath of wind, and as far as my eye could see in all directions there was only flat land and sky. There was a pureness in the silence and it felt for a moment as if God had blown me a kiss to remind me why I love this place. The dogs got a great run and I got an exhilarating walk and a cleansing for my soul. Amen.
Returning to town I made the circle of our square (is this an oxymoron?) and the same sun was highlighting several buildings. There was zero traffic, just me and the dogs and the square, and I was reminded of all the people and lives that have passed around that circle. Remember Dr. Merkley's office on the corner? I can still hear his booming laughter and see his face. He dispensed the shots and treasures from his treasure chest, while Mrs. Henson and Gerene Harmon soothed our hurt feelings after those same shots. I also remember being greatly impressed by the ivy plant that wound itself around the perimeter of the office's ceiling - it amazed and frightened me at the same time.
I then thought about R. J. French - my grandfather - and his office right next to Dr. Merkley‘s. I only have to close my eyes and walk through the door to see it as it was in the 1960s. There was Rosemary Belford, Pa French's secretary, sitting at her desk and kindly greeting us grandkids as we charged through the door. She would always offer us a stick of Wrigley's chewing gum. I can also see “Pa” French sitting behind his desk in the next room, stopping his work and leaning back in his chair, clasping his hands and saying “Hi, Granddaughter“. (I wish now I would have visited with him more often.)
Further around the square, and there was the Swan Cafe, resplendent in its coat of blue/gray paint. This was where our family went to eat on special occasions. I remember fancy table clothes and cloth napkins, glass tumblers filled with ice and water, menus too big to hold, and the sound of muted conversations swirling from the surrounding tables. And somewhere in my child's mind I got the idea that it wasn't Guy Slack who greeted our arrival, but it was Don Ameche instead who bowed, said “Hello” and escorted us to our table. (Hey, both men had moustaches! And I was a very impressionable little girl.)
Making the circle, I see the stairway that led to Mrs. Slack's apartment. I remember being intrigued by the fact she gave piano lessons up there - and wondered how they got the piano up those stairs? And someone who lived on the square? Well now - that was bohemian, and I always wondered what it would be like to look out the window and watch traffic go by.
Right below Mrs. Slack's apartment was The Style Shoppe. There is tiny Mrs. Phillip's, smiling and greeting her customers from behind the glass case that held all kinds of sparkling jewelry. I remember feeling like I was entering a special kingdom when I walked through the door, seeing all those racks and racks of women's clothing. To me, the Style Shoppe was a very upscale place - which meant I didn't get to go there very often!
People and businesses that reside in our memory - next week we'll visit a few more of them.
Boise City News