It was a gray depressing day when I drove into Boise in October 1964 to start a job as a cub reporter on the night desk at the Idaho Statesman on Bannock Street across from a small park, City Hall, the Capitol Building and Ada County Court House. I bought a copy of the Statesman and searched the wantads for a boarding house. Two were advertised: Mrs. John Cook’s home and nearby John Martin and his wife had rooms for rent. As I drove up to Mrs. Cook’s I had all my worldly belongings which included an Arvin portable radio, a Smith Corona portable typewriter and a few clothes in the back seat of my 1961 Plymouth Fury two-door which coworker Jim McLaughlin would describe as a going 20 miles per hour when it was parked.
Mrs. Cook had only a basement room that I would have to share with her grandson and I didn’t want that so I moved into the basement of the Martins’ house which was probably interesting. John Martin was a 50-ish big blue collar redneck homophobic middle aged man. The Martins had both been injured on the job -- she when her knee ran into an open refrigerator door in a restaurant where she was a waitress. He when a caterpillar he was driving on a construction job tipped over and took a chunk out of his ass. He would drop his drawers in the living room and show off his half-ass which was a defining moment in my life at Martin Manor. Homophobia may have sent John scurrying from gay-friendly California in the 60s but I guessed that they were ill-equipped to compete in the job market and the cost of living was cheaper in Idaho.
They moved to Idaho with their disability settlements to enjoy a simpler life as proprietors of a boarding house. A month or so later all that would go up in smoke like what they created with the constant haze from their Marlboros.
Probably to piss off his wife, without telling her he traded in their beloved Ford Galaxie 500 convertible that the disability settlement bought on a junky old Ford station wagon and a pickup truck for reasons that only he understood.
A deep chill settled over the Martin household after that incident and I think the marriage was probably doomed. Shortly thereafter they sold the house and presumably went their separate ways. I did enjoy some adventures with the Martins including a fishing trip to Lucky Peak Reservoir on a cold November morning and shlepping around town on errands. Later I would do a hunting trip with Ken Burroughs in his Rambler Classic with a loaded gun and then a weekend fishing trip with Statesman night editor Dick Hronek and outdoor editor Walter Johnson in the scenic Idaho mountains, catching trout. I got into the Idaho scene at warp speed. One highlight of Boise Madness was fishing trips with Dave Frazier, the Statesman police reporter. Who can forget beer for breakfast?