Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sibling Assignment #58: Furniture Exchange and Rollfast Bicycles

The next sibling assignment comes from InlandEmpireGirl: "Pick a local business in the Silver Valley during our growing up years. Share a story that happened to you while being at that business." InlandEmpireGirl takes readers back to Stein Brother's IGA, here, and Silver Valley Girl will be posting her entry as soon as possible.

Over the Christmas break just past, Don Elfsten, one of Kellogg's most beloved store owners died. For longer than I've been alive, the Furniture Exchange has been a fixture in Kellogg and Don Elfsten started the business. It's now run by his son, Pat.

Mom has always loved and trusted the Furniture Exchange. Her houses walls are painted with paint from the Furniture Exchange. We've worn out couches, hide-a-bed sofas, recliners from the Furniture Exchange and when they go out the door a new one from the Furniture Exchange comes in.

Our Zenith televisions, study desks, dining sets, kitchen stoves, refrigerators, all have come from there.

Now Pat has a garden spot at the Furniture Exchange. Last summer Mom's deck was covered in starters. Where'd they come from?

The Furniture Exchange.

The only product the Furniture Exchange sold that I really cared about was bicycles.

Don Elfsten carried Rollfast bicycles. They were sturdy, not very expensive, and the brand name always worked for me.

When I jumped on my Rollfast, it was like I had boarded P. F. Flyers on wheels.

If P. F. Flyers would make me "Run Faster and Jump Higher", a Rollfast had me screaming at the speed of sound up Mission Ave, down Utah, and back home up Cameron where we lived.

I don't have a particular story about going to the Furniture Exchange to buy. a Rollfast, but I do remember my most memorable ride.

I was in the fourth grade.

Bruce Walker's dad hadn't died yet, so he hadn't moved to Joplin.

The freeway through Kellogg was being built and was nearly finished. The road, however, had not been surfaced so the on and off ramps and the freeway itself was smooth dirt.

I have no idea why in the fall of 1963 no one cared that Bruce Walker and I rode our bikes east and west on the dirt freeway.

No one was working.

We had a freeway to ourselves.

We rode fast and laughed, not the laugh of getting away with something, but the laughter of pure joy that we could be on our one speed Rollfast bikes from the Furniture Exchange, no stop lights, no stop signs, no cars, no other bicycles.

It was just us.

It was the best bike ride I've ever had.


Inland Empire Girl said...

Where was I when you were riding bikes on the new freeway? I was probably learning how to make Snickerdoodles or running around in the new church before it opened. Great post.

Just Jen said...

First I want to say sorry I haven't been around in awhile. We've been extremely busy with 'life'.
That sounds like so much fun :D
The best bike rides we had as kids was a side road next to our house, we go up and down that dirt road, and jump paths for hours.

Anonymous said...

I read a few blogs, usually left leaning political ones, but rarely post comments. This one caught my interest because of its good writing and Kellogg connection.
I worked for Uncle Bunker during several summers in the 1960s to earn money for beer and tuition at the University of Idaho. Growing up in a small conservative farm area near Boise gave me no clue there could be any place in Idaho so culturally, socially, economically, politically, and geographically different from my town as Kellogg and Wallace.
The recollection posted about Rollfast bicycles at the Furniture Exchange got me thinking about Silver Valley businesses that were there during my Bunker Hill summers. I must have been aware there were kids from nice families riding their bikes, playing little league and Babe Ruth baseball, going to church, camping and fishing up the North Fork....but I don’t much remember that part of life there. I do remember paying for three dollars worth of gas with a twenty and getting seventeen silver dollars in change.
My friends and I frequented the the Miners Hat, the Boat and the Sunshine Inn. More vivid are my memories of the grittier side of life, the Happy Landing, the Snake Pit, Tony Matovich’s bar overlooking the brown baseball field, the Wardner Tavern, the Lux, the Arment, the Mint, Brownies Corner, the bar in Pritchard, and other watering holes with names I’ve forgotten...… Looking over this list of Kellogg and Wallace establishments that still come to mind after so many years reminds me that I was mesmerized by the wild side of life I found in Shoshone County. It was so surprising and intoxicating to learn first hand of these Idaho towns with drive inns where bottles of Oly were served by a cute car hop on a drivers window tray, with bars that stayed open all night, numerous brothels, illegal gambling operations, all protected by the local police and sheriff departments and generally accepted by a majority in their communities.
The Bunker’s mine, smelter, and zinc plant were toxic and dangerous places to work. It was great to see the video of the smelter smokestack coming down. That smoke stack was a symbol and vehicle of what must be one of the worst examples of industrial pollution ever inflicted on people and their environment in the Pacific Northwest. (The poison at Hanford is in a class by itself.)