Day 177: Mellow Bordello

When Laetitia arrived, her tour group had assembled in downtown Wallace, Idaho, a picturesque mountain community that was the setting for films Heaven’s Gate and Dante’s Peak. Traditionally Wallace was a gold and silver mining town, but now tourism is one of its more important businesses. The group’s first scheduled event was a ride on rented bicycles on the Route of the Hiawatha. Formerly traversed by trains of the Milwaukee Road Railway, the route includes eleven tunnels and nine high trestles as it passes through the spectacularly beautiful Bitterroot Mountains.

Returning to Wallace in the afternoon, Laetitia and her group visited its famous Oasis Bordello Museum. Built as a hotel and bar in the late nineteenth century, it soon became another brothel in Wallace’s thriving red light district. From the 1960s through the1980s, the Oasis was owned by a Madame named Ginger, who was known for her generosity. When the local high school needed new band uniforms, it was Ginger who donated the money.

In January 1988, Ginger was tipped off by the local police that the FBI was coming to town and that she and the girls should leave for a while. They packed their cash and a few clothes and left town within two hours. The FBI’s investigation of the local sheriff for racketeering ultimately went on for months, so Ginger and the girls never returned. Except for mannequins in the rooms dressed in the clothing the girls left behind, the rooms are almost exactly as they were in 1988. On the counter of the brothel’s kitchen is a bag of groceries, delivered on the day everyone left and never unpacked. The Oasis’ most popular service was eight minutes for $15, timed by and egg timer. Since Idaho is a border state, visitors who drove down from Canada could pay in their own currency, adjusted according to the current exchange rate, which was posted on the wall of Ginger’s room.

That evening, Laetitia took the group to the 1313 Club for dinner and microbrew and presented the limerick of the day.

In Wallace, a callow young fellow
Shunned love that was languid and mellow
And deemed it sublimer
Timed by an egg timer
Like down at Oasis Bordello.

Day 176: Dreary Query

Laetitia met her group in the Nez Perce National Historic Park. It presents the history of the generally peaceful Nez Perce Tribe, which was eventually forced to fight during the late nineteenth century when settler encroachment and government pressure shrunk their lands to the point that they could no longer sustain the tribe. After viewing some of the exhibits, Laetitia took her group on some hikes. They spent the evening in the town of Dreary. It’s a town name that people are prone to make jokes about. One of them led to Laetitia’s limerick of the day.

A townsman who answered the query
Of a visiting girl named O’Leary
Said, “The mayor and the rest
Are lacking in zest
‘Cause the town that they live in is Dreary.”

Day 175: Yellow Pine Pearl

Yellow Pine is a small community in the Salmon River Mountains, not far from 9,329-foot Rainbow Peak. Laetitia and her group went to Timpanogos Cave National Monument, hiked the Notch Mountain Trail, and later did some whitewater paddling in Chalk Creek. Back in Yellow Pine, Laetitia and her group did a walkabout. While they were walking, Laetitia overheard a conversation between two young women, one of whom had just changed her mind.

A young lass from the town Yellow Pine
Thought that all men were nothing but swine
And that she was a pearl
Until she met young Earl
And then she thought some men were fine.

Day 174: Crouch Tale

Crouch is a village of fewer than 200 residents a bit north of Boise, Idaho, near the Packet John National Forest. The group made a relatively lengthy side excursion to visit the Bonanza and Custer ghost towns before returning to Crouch late in the afternoon.

Walking back to the motel, Laetitia encountered a local teenager named Millicent who had strong opinions about the town. Children in small towns often develop vivid imaginations to help them cope with boredom. Millicent and her friends were not exceptions to this rule. There was a group of retired men in the town who had played baseball when they were young, and most of them had played the position of catcher. Millicent and her friends imagined that when the men were at home, they would squat, in the manner of catchers, rather than sit on the furniture. The rumor soon evolved—as rumors do—and one of Millicent’s friends claimed to have peeked through the window and seen one of them crouching along the wall reading a book. Soon imagination and hearsay created a story that Millicent and all of her friends would swear was true. Laetitia found the story amusing, but thought it was unfortunate that this the way a lot of the news is created these days. However it gave her the limerick of the day.

Young Millicent said she could vouch
That the old men residing in Crouch
Who’d been catchers of yore
Would squat on the floor
When they ought to have sat on the couch.