Looking back

100 years ago

This week in 1914, Idaho Falls was mourning the passing of Frank Hitt, who died after an extended illness. Hitt had come to Idaho Falls in 1888 to ranch and raise cattle.

“(He) made it a special object to meet and greet the new people coming into this part of Idaho to make their home, and his advice was frequently sought and always freely given,” Idaho Register Editor William E. Wheeler wrote in the May 5, 1914, edition.

Hitt was survived by his wife, Minnie, a prominent banker and businesswoman. The two had been married 13 years earlier, a day after he had been shot in Blackfoot by the husband of a woman to whom he might have been paying too much attention. Some sources have speculated that Minnie Hitt arranged their marriage in order to secure the money she’d invested in Frank Hitt’s cattle operation.

Minnie Hitt remarried in the early 1940s and died in California in 1959.

75 years ago

More than 650 Rotarians from Utah and Idaho descended on Idaho Falls this week in 1939 for the district conference, held at the city’s new $50,000 civic auditorium and armory. More than 200 attended a gala and pre-conference dinner-dance at the Hotel Bonneville, bedecked with Rotarian blue and gold.

Addressing the throng, Idaho Gov. C.A. Bottolfsen admonished business leaders to “use your initiative and civic influence to put men back to work.”

At the Idaho Falls Municipal Airport, runway paving work was scheduled to begin May 15. City Engineer Claud Black said the Federal Works Progress Administration had lined up five trucks for the project, and that the 4,000-by-150-foot landing strip would be finished by the end of the summer.

50 years ago

The little yellow boxes scattered around downtown, called “trafeterias,” were scheduled to be removed this week in 1964 after repeated acts of vandalism. Motorists who found yellow envelopes on their windshields for overstaying their metered times would henceforth pay their fines at a single box in the police station.

Fire Chief Carl Poulter reported there had been 38 calls in April, 31 of them within city limits. Two were in the business district and four involved clearing gasoline off streets.

At the Sky-Vu Drive-in, “Flight From Ashiya,” starring Yule Brynner and Richard Widmark, was playing, along with a short feature from United Artists, “The Beatles Come to Town.”

25 years ago

There was a hot air balloon launch at Freeman Park this morning in 1989 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. State and local officials, though only one from the Idaho congressional delegation, took turns issuing proclamations hailing the INEL’s social and educational impacts.

“We do not take for granted the last 40 years,” said George Felker, president of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Paul Menser is an Idaho Falls reporter and writer, and is presently working on the book “Legendary Locals of Idaho Falls” for Arcadia Publishing.

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