The week in eastern Idaho history

100 years ago

Idaho Falls schools were reopened on Nov. 19, 1917, after having been shut down for 10 days due to an epidemic of scarlet fever. Two nurses, Miss McIntyre and Miss Byers, were put in charge of the school health conditions, and the children were to be examined daily. Any child showing the slightest symptom of illness was to be returned home, and 15 were sent home the day school reopened. Still, county physician J.O. Mellor told the Idaho Register that things seemed to be under control. Mellor had been in charge of public health while the city physician, Harry Willson, was visiting family in the east with his wife.

75 years ago

There would be Christmas decorations in downtown Idaho Falls in 1942, but on a more modest scale on account of the war in Europe and the Pacific, the Post-Register reported. “The WPB board has asked city officials, civic clubs, chambers of commerce, merchants and citizens generally to dispense with outdoor decorative lighting this Christmas, but Secretary Gobble (J. R. Gobble of the Chamber of Commerce) pointed out the request is not in the form of an order,” the newspaper said. “In view of the fact the decoration plan will require little or no material that is vital in the war effort, chamber officials decided to light up the city.”

50 years ago

The Idaho Sheriff’s Association held its annual meeting this week in November 1967. At at dinner at the Westbank, Seventh District Judge Henry S. Matting spoke about the effect of court decisions on law enforcement. “I can’t understand how you fellows continue to do such an excellent job of law enforcement despite all the obstacles placed in your path,” he said. “Hardly a week goes by that another Supreme Court decision or law passed does not make your jobs more difficult, frustrating and harassing. … Now in addition to being law enforcement officers you need to be psychologists and lawyers as well. I’m afraid your salaries hardly justify training in those qualifications.”

25 years ago

Amber and Rachael Coffey, 5-year-old twins from Rigby, showed presence of mind beyond their years this week in 1992 when their mother, Darla, fell on ice in the garage, dislocated her knee and began to show signs of hypothermia. Coffey was at home caring for her children and babysitting six others when she went out to the garage. Snow from the car had melted and formed ice on the floor, and when Coffey slipped she said she could hear something pop. She cried for help for five to eight minutes, but the noise in the house drowned out her calls. Finally Amber came to the door, and her mother told her to call 911. Jefferson County Dispatcher Lois Poole said she first thought the call was a prank, because of all the children playing in the background, but Amber was very detailed about what had happened. When Poole asked for the address, it was up to Rachael, who took the phone from her sister. Once Poole had enough information, an ambulance was dispatched and arrived in about three minutes. Coffey was in so much pain she had to be given morphine, but the real danger was hypothermia. Without the girls’ help, “It would have been a lot more of a serious situation,” said EMT Darin Robinson.


Paul Menser is the author of “Legendary Locals of Idaho Falls.”


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