The Sandpoint Magazine Almanac

Who, What and Why in Greater Sandpoint

Reprinted from Sandpoint Magazine. 2093 words


The Wolf People Who Run With the Pack

Bill and Nancy Taylor were wolf people long before they became the Wolf People. But blending their love of wolves with their backgrounds in business came naturally.

Like many others, the Taylors came to Sandpoint looking for a better quality of life. They brought with them their beautiful, shy pet wolves Cochise and Cherish.

At first, Bill sold real estate and was a musician. Nancy worked in insurance. But about two years ago, an itch to start a business led them to start "jamming" on business ideas. They liked the idea of marketing T-shirts and the perfect design was as close as their back yard. With Cochise and Cherish as models, they hired artists to make renditions for their first T-Shirt design.

And so was born Wolf People, retailers of fine wolf merchandise. The Taylors have since developed more gifts and garments with wolf motifs, and a year ago they put them into a mail-order catalog. Their second catalog will be published for the '95 holiday season.

They've also opened a retail store in Cocollala, where they bring two of their wolves to the store every day. They've found a rich vein of interest in their wolf-oriented merchandise.

"The wolf has been popular for a long time. It's not just a fad," Nancy says. The Taylors' own interest in the animals shows that. They've owned wolves and wolf-hybrids for eight years. Today, their pack has grown to nine of them.

Owning Wolf People helps the Taylors promote responsible ownership of wolves. They've installed a hotline to provide facts and tips on care, and are developing a video. Nancy was the subject of an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation for a 1991 special entitled "Dogs." More recently, their female wolf-hybrid Lona Akee was an "actress" for the film Cry of the White Wolf, due out soon.

Nancy also established the Inland Empire Wolf Association, of which she currently serves as the president. The group has grown to 40 members.

"We try to prevent backyard breeding situations," Nancy says. "Because of the lack of understanding of wolves they're one-owner dogs they often get passed on and then get abused and the situation gets worse and worse."

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Hot on the Track of the Area's Oldest Building

At first glance, the hip little stucco building with its turquoise and purple trim hardly resembles the old wooden school house built by the Farmin family in 1894. But the Dolphin House and the old school are one and the same -- likely making it the oldest standing structure in Sandpoint, according to Ann Ferguson, curator of the Bonner County Historical Museum.

After searching through stacks of photos and fire insurance maps dating back to the turn of the century, Ferguson concluded the school house, which was constructed on the northeast corner of Second and Church, was moved between 1909 and 1914 to where the Dolphin House stands today on the southeast corner of Third and Church.

The building has gone through many transitions. It was sold to the First Episcopal Church for $500 before it was moved and converted into a duplex. The wooden frame was stuccoed and windows replaced sometime after the move.

According to one record at the tax assessor's office, an old boarding house at 704 Third was built in 1839, which would make it the oldest building. However, Ferguson perused old photos of the area and found none dating before 1900 to 1903 that showed the boarding house.

"It is possible the old boarding house is the oldest building, but it's not probable," she said. She thinks it was built when the Humbird Mill came to Sandpoint around 1900.

Some of the buildings across Sand Creek from downtown Sandpoint may be contenders. However, Ferguson said that is also unlikely. "It's all sort of shrouded in mystery. The Whittaker House on First and Superior, and the house next to it, came about around 1898. But I really doubt it would be as old as the Dolphin House because that area burned several times," she said. "All the buildings were wood-frame structures, and at least one major fire burned through town almost every year."

-- Nann Alleman

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Pete Conway Carves Out a Good Life

"As long as I can remember, I've always been carving something," says Sandpoint's Pete Conway when asked how he got started in his rarefied craft of carving carousel horses.

He was born in 1914 to Scottish immigrants who nine years earlier had migrated to the gold mining town of Cripple Creek, Colo. Conway laughs as he recalls his earliest memories of his father teaching him how to sharpen tools, a necessary skill for a carver. His first carvings were with a pocket knife in the Boy Scouts.

Conway's family moved on to Los Angeles, where, at 17, a totem he carved for a contest was selected for display at The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

During those Depression years, the women's costume jewelry he carved sometimes provided the family's only means. Later in the '30s, he earned a sporadic $20 a day carving Scotty dogs at a time when $18 a week was a living wage.

Conway continued earning his way by carving custom window displays for department stores, balsa-wood headdresses such as large birds for Hollywood shows, and laminating wood patterns for metal casting. Eventually, he became the lead man assigning work for aircraft test models.

Much later he started developing his specialized craft of carving carousel horses. In 1980 after spending 12 years behind a desk as a design engineer, he met Dick Troon, a bird- and carousel horse-carver in Oregon. Conway's passion kicked in again, and he began studying the masters of what was then a fading craft. Soon, a parade of horses began to emerge from his workshop.

Conway sells most of the horses he carves to private collectors. Carousels aren't as plentiful as they once were and don't feature hand-carved, hand-painted showpieces like Conway's. On occasion, Conway restores an antique horse -- relics that can be quite valuable -- and he enjoys the thrill of bringing an old horse back to life.

Although he hasn't intended to sell recent pieces at market, they have nevertheless been quickly herded off to pasture upon completion. He is currently carving a steed with an eagle on its back and an angel on one side. "I've never done an angel," Conway says. He plans to paint it in oils rather than the more expedient acrylics because, at 81, he's in no hurry.

"This one's not for sale," says Conway. But, who knows. Maybe some lucky horse-trader will ride off on this one, too.

-- Steve Sparks

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Terry Cooper is Taking His Best Shots with Ski Flakes

It started 10 years ago with an apres-ski video shown for laughs at the end of the ski day at the Schweitzer bar. Nowadays, skier-cum-videographer Terry Cooper finds his business, Hot Shots, has become a full-fledged video production company that is reaching well beyond local audiences.

For years the most visible Hot Shots production has been the Sandpoint Fun Guide, which airs daily in Sandpoint and at Schweitzer. The Fun Guide is a hosted half-hour show featuring things to do and events around northern Idaho.

Cooper is now expanding on the Fun Guide concept with a show called Ski Flakes, that takes his favorite sport into homes and hotel rooms across a far larger region. He's secured air time six nights a week in Coeur d'Alene, and this winter is negotiating deals to air the show in Spokane and Cranbrook, B.C.

Ski Flakes features great ski destinations, most especially Schweitzer, but with footage of other areas ranging from Fernie and Kimberly in Canada to Big Mountain in Montana. The show also includes ski tips, great ski shots, travel guides and events, all served up with a dash of humor.

For a guy who would rather be skiing, Ski Flakes is a great way to make a living. "I never thought this is what I would be doing," says Cooper. "But I love to ski -- that's my passion. This allows me to do that."

Cooper's arrival here is a quintessential Sandpoint story: He and his wife, Brenda, rolled into town on bicycles in 1983 from Steamboat Springs, Colo. They liked it enough to stay, and early on Terry got a job on the mountain teaching telemark skiing.

Prompted by the example of a friend who was making money videotaping ski action for resorts in Colorado, Terry decided to try it here. Since those first hot shots, he has slowly been building his business up. These days, along with his two shows he hires out to produce videos for anything from weddings to training tapes at local companies.

But when the snow falls, don't look for Terry inside at the editing machine. He's got the perfect excuse to hit the slopes.

"I'm still a kid at Christmas every day when it snow," he says. "I feel real lucky that I get to ski as much as I do."

-- Chris Bessler

The Sandpoint Fun Guide and Ski Flakes each air 10 or more times every day in Sandpoint on Channel 10 and at Schweitzer on Channel 5.

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Waldorf School Now Has `Education in the Round'

The Sandpoint Waldorf School has taken the concept of a well-rounded education to a new dimension -- quite literally. Racing to keep up with a big jump in growth, the school this fall erected a yurt for use as its seventh-eighth grade classroom.

Yurts are round, cone-roofed dwellings that originated with nomadic Mongolian tribes, who built theirs with yak fleeces. No such exotic materials went into the Waldorf yurt, which was purchased from a manufacturer in Oregon who makes them with a tough, plasticized fabric.

The idea of erecting a yurt came when the school began researching alternatives for adding classroom space. They considered the type of portable classrooms commonly used by public schools, but found them to be more expensive and not so environmentally friendly as yurts. "Yurts are extremely pleasing in design," said school Administrator Susan Prez. "When you're standing in them they're very spacious."

"Round spaces have an effect on humans," agreed Thomas Jenkins, who teaches in the yurt. "They're soothing."

Although yurts for shelter and housing are catching on in many parts of the nation -- the state of Oregon purchased 100 for use in its parks -- "we're the first northern climate to use it as classroom space," said Prez. The yurt is insulated and has an insulated wooden floor; the school hired an architect to upgrade its truss system with a steel column to meet building codes.

The Sandpoint school is one of the newest in the fast-growing Waldorf School education movement, which tallies more than 600 schools worldwide. Based on a philosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner around the turn of the century, Waldorf emphasizes "developmentally appropriate" education. "The uniqueness of Waldof curriculum lies primarily in how and when the children are taught, rather than what is taught," said teacher Carole Street.

The Sandpoint school was founded in 1992, and this by winter had grown to 72 students. Families who send their kids to Waldorf find the school stresses parent participation -- right down to the manual labor of erecting yurts, a job more than a dozen parents helped on.

-- Chris Bessler

For more information on the school or Waldorf education, call Susan Prez at 265-2683.

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