Thursday, May 18, 2006

Boise Boy: Return of the Native

Where’’s Boise?” my friend Floyd asked as I gushed on about my triumphant return to the Capital City after leaving my job as local government reporter at The Statesman from 1964 to 1969.
“It’s in the same place it was 38 years ago,” I responded. Boise like Minneapolis is in fly-over-land underneath the clouds as the silver bird wings it’s way to Seattle or LA. Now that’s sad and more needs to be done to let the world know that Boise is a great destination and should not be overlooked. It speaks to our provincialism that too many Minnesotans don’t know Boise or think its ground zero for white supremacists. I am here to say they are full of crap.
I never leave Boise even though I live in Bloomington, MN because of the recurring dreams wherein I am on the night copy desk writing obituaries or else Gordon Peterson is breathing fire down my neck as deadline rapidly approaches for the City Council story way too late at night. You never outlive that stress and adrenaline rush. A sense of accomplishment is followed by nagging doubts about your facts or grammar.
Dick Hronek (then night editor) and Sandy Klein, managing editor, gave me a break when I was an unemployed green reporter with only eight months experience at UPI in Spokane and Los Angeles before I joined the Coast Guard. It was super on-the-job training from that great Statesman staff in the 1960s and I wish I could say that I went on to a stellar newspaper career but that would be a huge lie.
Klein held my hand as I nervously wrote my first big story for The Statesman in 1964, a steamy tale of sex and murder where handsome drifter Billy Butler strangled a college coed with her bra after meeting her on a bus. That was my page one baptism under fire as a news reporter working the weekend night desk. (For more on this case see Arthur Hart’s book, “Echoes from the Ada County Courthouse.”, p 65).
Another memory from the night desk was the short bit on police Sgt. Vern Bisterfeldt nabbing a shoplifter at Welles Department Store while he was moonlighting as a Santa Claus. An angry mom called the news desk the next day and screamed that we were destroying the Santa myth for her small children. I was only too happy to conspire on that. I will argue that Boise has changed cosmetically for better or worse but it’s still the same accepting city it was when I was an Idahoan 38 years ago.