Idaho and the Key to the Cosmos

Its bordello museum had just closed for the winter, so I almost did not stop in Wallace.

The Wallace depot now houses a railroad museum.  The interstate behind it skirts the protected historic downtown.
The Wallace depot now houses a railroad museum. The interstate behind it skirts the protected historic downtown.

The Coeur d’Alene was the most productive silver-mining district in the United States.

Lake Coeur d'Alene has scenic bike trails and an annual IRONMAN Triathlon.
Lake Coeur d’Alene has scenic bike trails and an annual IRONMAN Triathlon.

Every downtown building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wallace, Idaho

I was hoping the Oasis Bordello Museum would be open, despite what I had read.  I’m writing about the red-light district in another mining town, Cripple Creek.

It was cold and windy, so I warmed up with a latte and friendly conversation with the coffeehouse owner.

I took a stroll, and was I in for a surprise.

The arrow points to a manhole cover.

Click here for the logic behind the mayor’s 2004 proclamation and to learn more about Wallace and the Coeur d’Alene area.

“Give Me a Ring Sometime”

From Champaign County Historical Museum. Photograph taken by Dori (dori@merr.info).

Before 1900, some Western cities had telephone service, but most folks who lived on farms or ranches had to go into town to use the phone.  Telephone poles and lines connected towns, but it wasn’t until later that they extended to individual rural homes.  Stores and saloons in towns installed telephones for the townspeople to use.

This very common early phone was mounted on the wall, so a caller had to stand to use it.  There were bells, a stationary mouthpiece, and a receiver you held to your ear.  To begin, you turned a crank on the side to generate electricity.  I believe the caller turned the crank when the conversation was over, too.

The telephone pictured has a dial for phone numbers, but other ones did not have this.  You spoke to a person, an operator, and he or she connected you.

In When I Grew Up Long Ago, Alvin Schwartz writes that callers tended to raise their voices when they spoke, not because they had to, but for psychological reasons, because the people were blocks apart.

In the late 1800s and later, a “call” was the term for a visit.  “Callers” were visitors, and “gentleman callers” were often suitors.  The phrase “telephone call” meant a visit conducted by telephone, and it has stayed in our language over a hundred years.

January 1 — 150 Years Since the Emancipation Proclamation

The newspaper's headline indicates an article about the Emancipation Proclamation.  By H. L. Stephens, untitled watercolor, c. 1863.
The newspaper’s headline indicates an article about the Emancipation Proclamation. By H. L. Stephens, untitled watercolor, c. 1863.

January 1, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary that the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect.  This declared permanent free status for all slaves in Confederate states at war with the U.S.  These slaves were not liberated until the Union Army regained control of their area.  Later, freedom for all was added to the constitution in the Thirteenth Amendment after a fight for it to pass Congress, which was dramatized in the recent movie Lincoln.

Slaves gathered in churches on that New Year’s Eve to wait until midnight.  This link mentions this as well as the slaves’ previous New Year’s Eves, which were sometimes sad occasions:

http://www.interpretermagazine.org/interior.asp?ptid=43&mid=11612