The Legion Hall..Sweet Memories

Legion hall in Bruneau (3)
Bruneau American Legion Hall Post #83

So very sweet and dear to me are my childhood memories of this place.  Several generations of my family called Bruneau, Idaho home; from my great-great-grandparents to myself. I called Bruneau home only for the first five years of my life, but it still pulls at my heart.

Although we moved away, we still visited Bruneau quite often through the years.

Being only five when we moved away, a lot of my memories from here are fleeting, and not very vivid.  Sometimes I am not sure if I really remember incidents my family talks about, or I just remember their stories, so often repeated.

But my memories of the Legion Hall…they are mine! I wish my children and grandchildren could have shared memories like this place has given me.

What do I remember about the Legion Hall? Dances! They were family, community dances, and I can’t begin to tell you as a kid how much fun they were! There just aren’t many places in today’s world where people can bring the whole family together and share the love of dancing like we did back then.  The adults danced with each other, kids danced with each other, adults danced with kids.  Sometime during the evening when everyone was tired and needed a break, we were served a dinner (provided by everyone).

After dinner….more dancing! Most of us younger kids would wear out before the night was over.  I remember blankets folded up in the corners and along the walls where we would crash. Sometimes it was just a little nap, and then we would be back on the floor, untill we could take no more. We were packed to the car when Mom and Dad finally called it a night also.

When I was reading the book, “Bruneau; Then and Now”, I learned some things about the Legion Hall I did not know.  The building that is now the Legion Hall was formerly a country store called The Valley Merc. It had several different owners down through the years, some of them were Noble’s. My great Aunt Nellie, (granddad Ed Craig’s sister),  married Roy Noble, so I am assuming that was his family.  I have a wall thermometer Dad gave me many years ago. It has a picture of Bruneau Valley on it and the name “The Valley Merc.”  It has always been very special to me.  Now that I know it’s connection to the Legion Hall, where so many happy memories were formed, it will be treasured even more.

Also from the book, “Bruneau; Then and Now,” I learned that The American Legion bought the building in 1930 from the Bruneau State Bank for $3500, to be paid back by donations and having dances! How wonderful to know all those dances I loved as a kid, actually helped to pay for this special place!

My father, James E. Craig, has his name on an Honor Roll plaque inside the hall, honoring those of Bruneau who served our country in times of war.  Below Dad’s name are the names of two of the Colyer brothers, who were always like uncles to me.  Their brother, Marvin, was my uncle, married to my mother’s sister, Leah.

Honor Roll for military service in Bruneau, James E. Craig (3)

The Legion Hall is the Community Center for Bruneau.  It is used for many occasions, not all of them happy ones.

pictures & memoribilia at Grandad's memorial (15)
Jim Craig at his father, Ed Craig’s, Memorial

If you notice the dates on these pictures you will see they were taken on May 30, 2009.  This was my Grandfather Ed Craig’s, Memorial. He was just over 101.  This picture is of my Dad, standing at the display.  There were many pictures of Granddad through the years. If you look closely, you can see his boots, hat, and some of the many belts, chaps, and leather carved boxes and crafts he produced through the years.

Below is the poem I wrote for Granddad’s Memorial.

Riding Home

The home place at Bruneau

still holds his memory.

It’s there his life began,

it’s where his resting place shall be.

His saddle now is empty

but it remembers too,

the cowboy who gave rodeo

to Bruneau, for me and you.

His cowboy hat, his boots and chaps,

the rope held in his hand,

were all a part of this man we loved,

so gentle, kind, and grand.

He could sit a horse in cowboy style,

not much he couldn’t ride.

And now Ed… ride in style once more,

in grace, to the other side.

Sheryl Craig Russell

I have wanted to do a post on the Legion Hall for a long time. With Granddad’s Memorial being held here on Memorial Day weekend 2009, and 2018’s Memorial Day weekend just ending, it seemed the right time. I think Granddad would have liked this one.


Mother’s Day With The Vice President

It has been a year since Vice President Mike Pence visited our little church in Nye, Montana. I have to share this post again in honor of his visit. This was a day I don’t think any present will ever forget! What a polite and humble man he is…….and by the way Happy Mother’s Day!


IMG_0601 Vice President Mike Pence at Nye Community Church

Today is Mother’s Day.  We went up to Nye, Montana to attend  their little country church, as we sometimes do.  As we were pulling into one end of their circular driveway, lo and behold, the Motorcade with Vice President Pence, was pulling into the opposite end!

What a thrill!  Not a sight you see every day!  Secret Service agents in black jackets, some with bullet proof vests, helicopter overhead, being “wanded” before entering church, and seeing the Vice President of the United States of America and his wife, sitting just a few pews away from us!  Unbelievable!

You have to understand.  Nye is not really even a town.  It is a small rural ranching community up in the mountains where we used to live.

It was a very special and humbling day.  I feel so honored.  I was able to worship the Lord…

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My Better Half

My Better Half on his Best riding friend, Johnny

I never really thought much about the saying, “my better half.”  Everyone knows that is in reference to one’s spouse.  But there is a biblical truth to that phrase.  God tells us that when we marry, ” the two shall become one.”  I am no longer wholly me.  I am half my husband.  He is half me.  That man above is truly my better half.

We have been married 45 years; 46 this coming June. We have shared a life that I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world.  Our life has not always been easy, but it has always been good. It has been good because even in the most trying and painful times, we have always had each other.  God has blessed us so much, and I pray neither one of us ever forget that.

Mike has a part of him that forever is the spirit of a kid.  He is a mischievous, teasing, prankster.

I remember once in the early years of our marriage, being close to the end of my 2nd pregnancy, I was chopping up veggies on a cutting board for supper.  It was dark outside, Mike had been doing evening chores.  He came up to the kitchen window, smashed his face upon it, sporting a big smile, holding a flashlight under his chin.  I screamed hysterically, dancing a little jig with knife in hand.  We both laughed till we were crying!  It is a wonder I didn’t go into labor!

These are the kind of little things he is always doing that keeps our life light.  He has another favorite thing to do that drives me crazy.  We can be in a small country diner or an expensive, “sophisticated” restaurant, it matters not to him.  We will be sitting opposite of each other.  When no one is watching him, he will make goofy faces at me.  He’ll keep it up until I am laughing, and crying, and can’t stop.  Of course “HE” can stop, and then will act like he is trying to make me stop, because “I’m embarrassing him!

This man….how I love him!

I wrote this poem for my husband’s birthday many years ago.

My Better Half

What blessings your love gives me,

what joys you bring my way.

I thank God you’re in my life,

Each and every day.

My memory is a special thing

where time somehow  stands still.

I see your face aglow with light,

pressed against the window sill.

You took delight as I danced my jig,

and tears and laughter rolled.

It’s little things like this you do,

that mean more to me than gold.

Your hands are strong and callused,

yet soft as a touch can be.

When reaching out in hard times,

you can’t know how they comfort me.

You are my knight in shining armor.

You’re my friend, my better half,

my hero with a roping hand

the one they call to catch the calf.

My world is full because of you.

Thanks for all you bring my life.

There’s nothing more I need to be,

than this cowboy’s wife.

Mike, thank you for being my better half for all these years.   Happy birthday!




The Homestead

Old Bruneau Homestead maybe late 1890s 001
Homestead of Charles E. (Ed) and Missouri Suzie (Gran) Holverson  Bruneau, ID 1800’s

This post is connected to two older posts, the first, “Down Memory Lane….The Homestead, and  my last post, “Sheep Camp.” I mentioned in Sheep Camp, that my great-great-grandparents lived in a nice home in Bruneau.  This is a picture of that house; “the home place.” This picture was probably taken in the late 1800’s.  That is Gran Holverson standing in the pasture.  Directly behind the pasture fence you can see the large orchard I mentioned.

I was told my great-great- Grandmother usually went by Gran.  I found a couple of pictures written on the back identifying her as Suzie, and Missouri Suzie.  Her obituary has her name as Missouri Catherine Harris Holverson. That is a pretty long name.  She was married once before to a F.E. Thompson, so I’m assuming the Harris is a family name. I don’t have any information about Mr. Thompson, so again family or Bruneau friends, if you know anything about him please write a note on my post.  The only thing I do know is that he died when he was only 34 years old.

Ed came to Bruneau when he was 21 years old.  His obituary said he became involved with the stock industry (livestock) shortly after and his achievement was “substantial.”

I was asking my dad about their large orchard, and if they used it all for their own use or if they sold some of the produce.  He wasn’t sure but said it was common back then to trade extra home “commodities”, like produce, eggs etc., to the local store for credit against other things they might need.

This picture stirs a lot of emotions in me.  When I look at this picture I see where I came from, and the people from whom I came.  I wish I would have known my great-great-grandparents.  I was lucky enough to know their daughters (Ed’s step-daughters) Edna, my great-grandmother and Effie, my great-aunt. I loved them both dearly.

The ranch was later handed down to or sold to my grandfather, Ed Craig.  This is where my father, Jim Craig, was born and raised, and where I spent the first five years of my life.  Because of my young age when I left Bruneau, my memories are not plentiful, but the ones I have are precious.

Many of those memories are of dances at the Legion Hall, which will be the subject of my next post.

Sheep Camp

Sheep Camp Hot Springs George Craig,Gran Halverson, Ed H.child,2 001
From left, George Craig, Gran (Missouri) Holverson, Ed Holverson

I love this picture of my ancestors.  The gentleman on the left is my great-grandfather, George Craig. Next to him are Missouri Holverson, and Ed Holverson.  They were his mother and father-in-laws, making them my great- great- grandparents.

The picture states that this is their sheep camp at the Hot Springs, in Bruneau, ID.

Sometimes we take it for granted how hard things were back then. I am struck by the primitive corrals, and make-shift table and chairs.  I’m not struck by the table itself which looks like a slab of wood sitting of blocks of wood, but by how nice Gran made it look.  This was not their home.  They had a very nice house in Bruneau which is still standing today.  This was the sheep camp, where they summer pastured their sheep.

Gran was obviously their camp cook, and she made it feel as homey as she could.  She had it set with a tablecloth, and there were manners at her table.  I can see hats were removed and the one man holding the frying pan for her as she served.  Can’t tell for sure what the meal is, but I believe I see homemade bread and home canned jelly.  I also see another canning jar on the table that was probably some kind of fruit.  They had a pretty large orchard.

I was talking to my dad on the phone about this picture.  I was curious about the “look out” stand in front of the corrals.  Dad said the sheep camp was used as a place where several different ranches gathered to sheer their sheep before they turned out to summer pasture.  The stand was probably used to locate where different herds were stationed as they came into the area.

Also if you can enlarge this picture a little you can see a large wheel behind the table in front of the corrals.  This was a stone sharpening tool used  to sharpen the sheep shears.

I have watched, modern-day sheep shearers with their electric shears and it is back-breaking work.  I can ony imagine how hard it was with the old shears, that look similar to hand-held grass clippers.  We have two old pair of sheep shears.  One belonged to my Grandfather Otis Wells, and the other to Herb Russell Sr., my husbands’ grandfather.

If any family members or Bruneau friends would happen to know who the two gentlemen on the right and the child is, please respond on this post.  I would appreciate it.

The Cross

Mike's Cross

I love crosses.  I have more than one.  But I think most of the time we take the symbol of the cross for granted.

Crosses have become a big fashion statement lately.  You see the cross symbol on purses, and wallets.  You see it on blue jeans, on jackets, and t-shirts. Crosses are on belts, and boots, and just about any type of clothing or accessory you can think of.  You see the cross on bodies in the form of tattoos and nail art. It hangs around our necks as a necklace and on our wrists and ankles as bracelets.  It hangs on our walls, and from the rear view mirror of our cars.

Please believe me when I say I don’t have a problem with any of that….except maybe the tattoos; I personally don’t like tattoos.  But even the tattoo can be a witness about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

That is what that cross stands for.  Jesus.  It stands for what he did for us, all mankind.  But it has become more than that to me.  All mankind is so general.  And all mankind do not accept his sacrifice for our sins.  Many even deny his existence.  There are many who believe “in God” but do not have a personal relationship with him.

I was that person for most of my life.  I always believed in the trinity of God.  I believed Jesus died for my sins so that I could have eternal life.  Then one day I read a passage in the Bible that said, “even the demons, believe in Jesus, and they tremble at the sound of his name.”  It was at that moment I realized my belief was not enough.  It was what brought me to genuinely seek Jesus to have a relationship with him….to know him.

I am still on that journey.

This last week I wrote a poem about crosses.  It lead me to Luke 14: 27.  This is from the amplified bible.

“Whoever does not carry his own cross (expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come) and follow me [ believing in me, conforming to my example in living and, if  need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in me] cannot be my disciple.”

That is a pretty harsh statement.

That symbol of the cross stands for the sacrifice Jesus made for us all.  But it is personal to me.  I see that cross, and I see an innocent Jesus, who was beaten so severely he was unrecognizable.  I see him being spit at and mocked as he had nails pounded into his hands and feet.  I see him grasping for every breath until his last.  When I hear the words, “It is finished” I know he finished it for “ME”.  Me, he did it for “me“. Why me?  What have I ever done for him that he would be willing to go through all of that for me?

Nothing…I have done nothing….and yet he loved me that much!

Until you put you in that picture with the cross you just can not appreciate what the symbol of the cross really means.

But it doesn’t stop there. In Luke 14: 27 Jesus makes it clear we are to try to love those who abuse, reject, and may even kill us.  We are to do this daily as a witness to what he went through on that cross for me….and for you.

I try, but I know I fail so many times at this.  Thank you Jesus that your mercies are made new each day!

Wear the boots and jeans, t-shirts and jackets with the cross on them.  Wear the bracelet and necklace.  Pack that wallet or purse.  Hang it on the rear view mirror.  Hang it on the wall!

But when you do, when you put it on, take a moment and remember what it stands for.

And maybe, just maybe, someone who is feeling down and lost in this world, will see that cross and they will reach for that hope as well.

Happy Easter!




Sam Jack

Aunt Nellie Wells Duffield  1935

This cute picture was taken of my Aunt Nellie when she was 4 years old.  I believe it is probably at Wintercamp, Id.  Her puppies, Salt and Pepper are sharing the stump with her.

My Mom used to tell a story from her youth about my Grandfather, Otis Wells.  He would jump up on an old tree stump and with great enthusiasm and antics, recite a poem he wrote.  It was called Sam Jack.  When I saw this picture I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the stump he used.

My Grandparents, Otis & Lillie Wells

My Grandma Lillie was an artist.  She didn’t have any true formal training but I believe Mom told me she took a class from one of those ” Can you draw?” ads in magazines.  She was always sketching something.  I have a few of her drawings…wish I had more.  She would sketch on her art notebook, post cards, or like this one she did of “Sam Jack”, on an old envelope.

Sam Jack
        “Sam Jack”            by Lillie Wells










Sam Jack

I’m Sam Jack of the West.  I was reared in the Rockies,

Sired by an aligator, mothered by a grizzly bear.

I can run faster, jump higher, dive deeper,

and come up dryer than anyone here.

I was tossed up with a basket of butcher knives

and come down without a scratch.

The further up the creek you get, the wilder they are,

and I’m right from the head!

Otis Wells

I started going through boxes of old pictures a couple of years ago.  I hope to continue digging through them and sharing the memories they evoke.  Hopefully new generations of our family will have a small glimpse into some of their ancestors.

This memory is for Sam Jack and his creators….Otis and Lillie Wells.  Love and miss you both!