Lenora Conkle

An Interesting Journey By LeNora Conkle Aug 10, 1909

I was born in Hazelton Idaho, a small farming community a few miles north of the deep canyon of the Snake River. My parents Jesse Dudley and Olga Elfrieda Quint had married young, and with two little boys left Dewey WA and moved out to the ranch in Idaho they had bought, thinking to live the life of farmers. My father was a trained electrician and he had a good paying steady job. Both their parents lived close so it was an unwise decision, and Iím sure they must have regretted it. When five more babies were added to the family and they had given up on ranching, they moved into Hazelton, hoping to find work that provided a paycheck to help him feed their growing family. The type of people who had settled here were quite capable of doing their own work or doing without. Plus there was no electricity, so no need for my fatherís work as an electrician. I donít remember how old I was when he left for San Francisco CA, and soon had a good paying job with the Bell Telephone Co, so was sending money home to mother to help with the grocery bills.

My oldest brother Jess, was the first to leave home. He went to Meridian Idaho to work on a ranch then eventually, the U.S.Army. Next to leave home was Harold. He had met some cousins who had their own fishing boat and fished the seasons in Alaska, and hired out to work with them. I was noted as a good and dependable babysitter and started earning money. Not a lot, but enough to buy candy and gum to share with my younger brothers and sisters. Made me very popular with them. When still young, I was happy to live on a ranch to care for a baby so the mother could help her husband with ranch work. I loved my work there and their baby. They treated me like their own. What I so vividly remember while with them, they took me to a Cowboy Show that came to entertain in such a small town. Was an expensive evening, but a full house. He was Will Rogers. He did all his famous rope tricks, (of course the gun he used had blank bullets). At this time I had no idea who Will Rogers was. Years later when I was living in Fairbanks Alaska, Will Rogers and his friend Wiley Post flew their own airplane to Fairbanks. They spent the day with their airplane tied to the bank of the Chena River. They were generous with their time and visiting with the people who were stopping to greet them. I drove by and saw their airplane while it was docked. Rogers and Post were standing close by talking to the crowd. I went on by, but it was easy to distinguish which one was Rogers and which one was Post. So I can truthfully say I saw Will Rogers again in Fairbanks, too.

THE NEWS THAT SHOOK A NATION.

Of course news media had followed their famous flight from the time they left Oklahoma and were on hand in Fairbanks, as well as for their take off early next morning, headed for Barrow Alaska on the north coast. Will Rogers and Wiley Postís plane crashed on landing on the beach a few miles north of Barrow. Was startling and sad news. A few years later a nurse at the Fairbanks hospital talked me into flying to Barrow with her, because she was offered a job in the emergency hospital that was being planned there. Her flight on the Wien Airline airplane was paid for, so she paid mine.

Courtesy of the pilot the day we flew to Barrow, went out over the monument that had been erected for Will Rogers and Wiley Post. Since we were his only 2 passengers that day, he flew us close enough to get a good look at the whole surrounding country where it was erected. It must have been close to five feet tall. We could see the names in large letters and lots of writing. What a memory the day will always bring back to me. Years later my husband C.M. "Bud" Conkle and I were visiting friends in Oklahoma and they took us to the Will Rogers Memorial. It covered his life. Very Impressive.

While I was still in school another memory I treasure was the first airplanes that flew into Hazelton. They were two Barnstorming Pilots and they gave people a 20 minute ride for $5.00 each. Looking back now years later, I doubt if they had enough customers to pay for their own gas. It was the first time most of these farmers had seen an airplane and wasnít sure how dependable it was. Their horse drawn wagons and buggies were good enough for them. School was let out for the day and the kids from the grades, would have loved to give it a try, but unless their parents were there and had the $5.00, they couldnít. There were only six high school students to take a ride. Of course, they bragged about being so brave,, the younger ones wouldíve been just as brave, but they didnít have $5.00. I knew it was completely out of my reach so didnít give it a thought to wanting too, but my memory of this day is still rewarding enough. After I graduated from 8th grade in Hazelton school, I moved to Twin Falls to start High School. (Because Hazelton didnít go beyond 8th grade). Twin Falls was a fairly big town just across the deep canyon of the Snake River. I had no problem finding a "live in" with a family who had 2 little boys, Iíd be taking care of. The man owned a lumber yard and they had a nice home and it was within walking distance of the school. The mother was expecting another baby.

CHARLES LINDBERGH IN BOISE IDAHO

When "Lindy" as he was called, made that famous trip from Paris France back to the United States, he made stops at many airports and Boise was one of them. I donít remember the year, but the plane was the, "Spirit of St Louis". I had graduated from High School in Boise and was married to Alonzo "Al" Huntley and worked in a cafť there. I took off work and joined my husband at the airport where Lindbergh was to land. Al Huntley was a motorcycle cop , stationed at the airport that day going into the front door, where Lindbergh would be escorted into the airport lobby. After landing on schedule, he was escorted by two uniformed police patrol officers to the door where I was standing on the side, closer to the door then Huntley in uniform was standing. Lindbergh mistook me for a Guard, most likely since I was not in uniform, was hired for the day and reached out to shake my hand, and had a pleasant smile along with greeting us both. "STAND BACK" yelled a uniformed guard with a threatening voice of authority.

BOB HOPE AT THE MARINE CORP BASE

I was living in San Diego CA, when the war with Japan broke out. It was an almost "conclusion" that San Diego would be bombed so was preparing for it. Both the U.S. Army and Marine Bases, were located in San Diego and filled to capacity. These young enlisted men, as well as the drafted, were our protection. The public treated them like heroes. Invited them into our homes to dinner, and gave them rides to where they were going, if hitch hiking. My youngest brother Robert had a job in military tailor work for the U.S., for all branches of the service. This work required sewing chevrons on the military uniforms, altering their uniforms or whatever was required. My marriage to Huntley had ended in divorce. I was still in Boise. My brother sent me a ticket to San Diego because I could work on the job with him. They needed another experienced seamstress. This was my type of work. I enjoyed it,,, met so many young soldiers coming back from the Aleutians, and we had free tickets to the Bob Hope Shows. Bob Hope was a frequent entertainer with all his big name stars along with him. Ginger Rogers was dating Glen Ford at this time.

When the war ended and our Boys were returning home, I met a Marine who was just back from Japan. As soon as he had his discharge papers, he talked me into coming to Alaska with him. THIS story is told in a book I had publishedĖWIND ON THE WATER. This book is about my life in Alaska and Iím still in Alaska, and this Pioneer Home Iím living in now, will be the end of my journey. It HAS been an Interesting Journey. It has left me with many memories.

Story written by LeNora Conkle September 2011

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