Vintage Idaho – Great Fire of 1910

During the August of 1910, a massive wildfire destroyed three million acres of land in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The Great Fire of 1910 is believed to be the largest, although not the deadliest, forest fire in U.S. history. Smoke from the fire was said to be seen as far east as New York and as far south as Denver, Colorado.

Seven small towns in Idaho and Montana were completely destroyed by the fire, and one third of Wallace, Idaho burned to the ground. The Big Burn Collection, a digital exhibition of materials related to the Big Burn fires of 1910, contains many startling images of the destruction.


Vintage Idaho – Textbook costs in 1983


This nostalgic look at textbook costs in the early 1980s is brought to you by the 1983 Gem of the Mountains Digital Yearbook.

A Pain in the Pocketbook

As the cash register beeps away, a nervous student stands clenching his checkbook, hoping he’ll have enough money to purchase a semester’s worth of textbooks. Finally, the cashier pushes the final button and the verdict appears on the register.

“That will be $134.50,” the clerk says.

Grumbling to himself, the student fills out his check and leaves the bookstore – mourning the new low in his checking account. This scene is repeated thousands of times each semester as students flock to the bookstore to purchase required textbooks.

According to Peg Goodwin, textbook manager, the average student spends roughly $100 to $150 per semester on textbooks, with the average hardbound edition selling for about $22.

Students often receive a false impression about the textbook business, however. The bookstore’s 20% mark-up barely covers the cost of selling the books, stated Goodwin. Shipping charges and employee wages are among the costs which must be covered by the mark-up. The bookstore also loses money on the books that aren’t sold.

“Generally, it’s not textbooks that make money at a university bookstore,” Goodwin said.

Many students also think the bookstore selects the textbooks which are sold, but, according to Goodwin, faculty members make the decision.

At the end of the semester, students can return their texts for a partial refund. If the university plans to use the book the following semester, the student receives 50 percent of the current market price, even if the book was purchased used.

Books which have been discontinued by the UI, however, are purchased by the textbook company representative at a substantially lower price.

As the dilemma of expensive textbooks continues, it is (at least) comforting to know the financial burden only strikes twice a year.

Vintage Idaho – The Canine Candidate


This nostalgic story of a nearly successful political campaign is brought to you by the 1983 Gem of the Mountains Digital Yearbook.

He wasn’t your ordinary ASUI senatorial candidate: he had four legs, a wet nose, and was able to catch Frisbees flawlessly in his mouth. He had no political affiliations or living group loyalties, but was extremely affectionate to strangers in public.

His name was Dook and his master and campaign financial director, Bill Malan, organized a write-in campaign for the three-year old Springer Spaniel and Lab. Their slogan was “Write in DOOK… because every dog has his day.”

Although Dook didn’t win, he did “have his day.” The canine candidate attracted 815 of the 2319 votes, and some students said they participated just to cast ballots for Dook. Counting Dook, there were 13 candidates for the senate, and the dog came in seventh. There were only six open senate seats.

According to Malan, Dook was qualified to become an ASUI senator, but there would have been drawbacks if he were elected. “I think Dook would make a good senator, but he probably wouldn’t show up for any of the senate meetings.”

“A lot of candidates say their job is mainly to listen to students,” he continued. “Well, Dook’s ears are about three times bigger than any of the senators. He also had twice as many legs, plus I don’t think he could do worse of a job. It would also save the students some money because he wouldn’t accept any pay.”

Malan and campaign director Kirk Nelson accompanied Dook as he campaigned throughout the UI dormitories, with good response. Nelson said, “He’s got Upham Hall solidly behind him, plus he’s got a large portion of the women in the Tower on his side. The girls, especially, went for him.”

Malan reported spending about $10 on Dook’s campaign, most of it for glue used in sticking up posters and flyers.

While some people considered the campaign a mockery of student government and questioned the motives behind it, Malan said he took it seriously, and questioned other candidates’ motives for running as well.

“I think the ASUI is mostly used as something to pad peoples’ resumes,” he said. “It’s used for their personal motives, and while I don’t mind that, I do mind it when they try to pass it off as doing students a favor. At least they should be honest about it.”

By voting for Dook, Malan said that students would be sending the ASUI “a clear mandate to cut the fatheads out of the senate.”

If Dook had been elected, he wouldn’t have accepted office according to Malan.

Dook, himself, didn’t particularly care one way or another… he’d probably just as soon catch Frisbees on the Ad lawn.