Bill Croke

Bill Croke, formerly of Cody, Wyoming, is a writer in Salmon, Idaho.

The Fires This Time

 

In August, 1910, a huge fire burned three million acres (destroying whole towns and taking 87 lives) in Washington state, Idaho, Montana, and adjacent Canada. This has come down to us as “The Big Burn,” the title of a 2009 book by Timothy Egan, which chronicled the disaster. At the time, the United States Forest […]

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Life Is Library

 

I’m a volunteer at my local public library in a small town in Idaho. I sort through donations of books, move furniture, take out the trash, shovel the walks in winter, and do other minor chores that don’t require much time away from reading. Just three years ago we moved into a new building a […]

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Vermont Redux

 

On a recent journey to visit my family in upstate New York, I took a side trip to Waterbury, Vermont. From 1986 to 1990 I was on the staff of Vermont State Hospital (VSH) there (an experience I wrote about in “Asylum in Vermont: A Memoir” TAS, September 1996), and had not been back to […]

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Mud Fight at the Montana Corral

 

Montana is one of those Western states with quirky electoral preferences and a history of splitting tickets. Small but divided Congressional delegations, governors in the opposing party at odds with state legislature majorities, deep red rural counties and bright blue urban ones, especially if those little cities are college towns (in Montana, Bozeman and Missoula). […]

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Too Blue for Red

 

In May’s Idaho Democratic gubernatorial primary, 38-year-old Paulette Jordan prevailed over A.J. Balukoff, a perennial Democratic candidate and two-time loser. Jordan is a Native American and member of Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene tribe, who served as a two-term state legislator and supported Bernie Sanders in his 2016 presidential bid. Balukoff, 72, a businessman who formerly served […]

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Hollywood Devolution

 

“In our time the destiny of man presents its meaning in political terms.” — Thomas Mann I haven’t been to the movies in months. I passed on Dunkirk after reading a few reviews that told me that it lacked historical context. Nothing new there. The film industry long ago tossed out artistic excellence for PC politics. […]

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The Firesign Theater Media

 

If you are a graying Baby Boomer like me, you might remember a comedy troupe from the 1970s called “Firesign Theater.” They had their origin in FM “progressive” radio (KPFK-Los Angeles, 1966). The ensemble put out some two dozen comedy LP albums (remember those?), the most prominent with titles such as “We’re All Bozos on […]

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The Catskills Revisited

 

When most people hear the word “Catskills,” they think of Borscht Belt comedians and Woodstock (both the town and 1969 music festival). Others think about fly fishing and the Catskill Park, maybe the wildest piece of public real estate located near a major American city. That’s because there are two Catskills: the popular culture one, and the other, the big woods just two hours northwest of New York City.

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The American Museum of Quaint

 

I’m intrigued by the notion that despite their futuristic ideals, liberals are obsessed with the past in nostalgic ways. On the one hand they reject days-gone-by as politically and culturally retrograde, on the other they seek the past’s simplicity in what they eat and drink, the clothes they wear, and the homes that they live […]

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For Our Benefit and Enjoyment

 

Wonderlandscape: Yellowstone National Park and the Evolution of an American Cultural Icon By John Clayton (Pegasus Books, 285 pages, $27.95) A common cliché used to describe the national parks is that they are being “loved to death.” The “crown jewels” (Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Great Smokies, et al.) have for some years seen record annual […]

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