Talking about Thanks Council

Posted: September 3, 2010 in Life


Thanks Council

To Council           


            I had a life reminder this last year, so I have been taking stock . I have been lamenting some setbacks and the fact that I have not gotten to do some of the things I want to do as of yet.  I know some of us have gotten hit by the economic crunch, I have two 401 K’s in the cellar myself, all the more reason to celebrate life, not dwell on the negative!  Everyone can find something to be thankful for. I, for one, am thankful that I had the chance to grow up with a group of people as special as the ones that peopled Council Idaho when I was a teenager. 

            When I was eleven years old I ran away from my stepfather and mother. Can’t call it running away from home, there was no such thing for me in those days. I went back after 3 days, watched until I knew they were both sleeping one off, and then took my sister with me. It is a long story but I convinced my stepfathers father, a Pentecostal minister, that if he did not hid us out until they gave up looking, I would run away and no one would ever find me. He knew why I had run, so he agreed. All it took was his telling my supposed parents that he would find us, and care for us and that they could go to California as they had planned, and off they went the same day, not a care in the world. They didn’t get worried or pissed off until the social security money they used to stay in liquor, without too much work involved, dried up because the people I was staying with had applied for it. Good church going people, the kind that are convinced it is their goal in life to “save” wretched wicked sinners such as myself. Any deviation from the Ten Commandments and a long list of other commandments, pages long, resulted in the wicked sinner getting a good beating with a paddle made special just for me. It took a year of planning to run this time, since I lived 90 miles down a canyon that had to be traveled before the next small village came into view.  A mountain and then Hells Canyon one side, a protected wilderness area 600 miles across, not roads, not even fire trails allowed on the other, so yes it took a year. It had been drilled into me that I was a sinner, even though you can ask anyone that knew me that I was the most well behaved person they knew, I guess the people I was staying with figured sin was catching and my stepfather had somehow infected me. I mean he had emptied a rifle at me the day I ran away, so one or both of us had to be wicked.

            So I planned, and waited until we were visiting in southern Idaho, where I figured I could disappear easier. I left after midnight, my secret stash of clothes in a bag, headed down an old dirt road toward the local highway from the farm we were visiting, and there waiting for me was a lady I had seen at other gatherings of the family I was staying with, kind of the black sheep of the family, her name was Dolores, yeah that Dolores. She was sitting in her car having figured out what no one else had, waiting on me to flee.  She made me a deal on that deserted road that if I would put off running away she would figure out a way to have me live with her family. She said she had been trying ever since I had originally taken off, but because she was not attending a church regularly the people I was currently with figured  that my soul would be in danger. She said that she had a way and eventually she would get my sister who was living with a minister, another member of the family I was staying with, and actually the most evil family I have ever come across, probably why I have problems with established forms of religion to this day.

            So I went to live in Council with Dolores and her family.  I started my 8th grade and met the best group of people I could ever hope for.  Not just my classmates, but a town full of people who made no judgment about me one way or the other and teachers who actually cared.  Dolores was teaching high school and was probably the most influential person in my life.  I went from C’s and D’s to straight A’s the end of my sophomore year in high school. I made some of the best friends of my life in Council, some I talk too regularly to this day. I excelled in sports, but I was also editor for the school paper two years in a row, junior class president, and on the student council my senior year, member of several clubs, and campaign manager for the winning candidate for student council, one of the captains of an undefeated football team, so Council created a whole new person. A lot of credit going to Dolores, who taught me integrity, never ever lied to me or once broke a promise she made to me. I will give you an example, one you will be hard pressed to equal. As some of you know, the Huffman’s and I moved away after football season my sophomore year. I loved Council, and I was now going from a class with an average if 29 students, to a sophomore class of 1,500 in Wenatchee Washington. I missed Council and was feeling sorry for myself one evening and bemoaning my poor, poor existence when Dolores looked at me and said, “look, you take all those C’s and make yourself a straight A student by the end of this school year, and I will move you back to Council before school starts next year.” She forgot all about it, I never mentioned it again, but I was a man on a mission. I did nothing but study. I didn’t date; go to parties, movies, or anything else. I got special permission to use a period a day to go down the road to the junior college and finish my German II class which was not offered at the high school. I used every other minute to be the best damn student anyone had ever seen. I did extra credit in every class, and aced every test, I left my sophomore year with a 5.0.  I presented my grades to Dolores who was impressed, but had never given a thought to moving back to Council. I reminded her of her promise and said these grades are a direct result of that promise. You cannot imagine the myriad emotions that crossed that women’s face in a matter of seconds. First surprise, then you see the memory of the promise and what that meant, then the realization that she was either going to break the first promise she had ever made me, or have family living in two states, at least for a while in order not to break that promise. By mid summer I was back in Council, and that is how the Huffman clan came back to Council. She made Melvin give up his foreman job at the Dalles dam being built on the Columbia River, the reason we moved in the first place, so he was back by winter of that same year.

            So was able to return to the people and the town I loved, and also learned that being an A student was actually easier than being a C student. It just took an adjustment to never put off studying what you can until later. It also meant you did not have to cram for finals, a healthy and steady review to refresh your memory, but since you had taken the time to learn it right as it came to you, you were not trying to learn nine or 18 weeks of work in a week. I still had time for sports, extra curricular activities, and most importantly, dating!

            During my junior year Melvin got his old business started back in California.

Dolores figured she had honored her promise now it was time for me to make the sacrifice and to leave Council again. I, being a selfish teenager, refused and being of sufficient age and having Dr. Edwards as a willing guardian, I stayed in Council. My Junior and Seniors years were probably the most outstanding in my life, so I cannot regret that decision, even though it hurt Dolores to the core, but we made up and when she died, I was there to give her what  support I could, and to Bob her second husband, who was devastated.


I know I got a little long winded here, but the moral of the story is, that I went from a person who thought of themselves as worthless, to a very confident young man due to the fact that I had the honor to grow up in Council with the people I did. I am adored by my wife of 35 years; I have a daughter I am very proud of. She was an honor student who is now an English teacher receiving her Masters in Literature this spring.  I survived over two tours in Nam, I live by a good set of moral rules, although I have some issues with religion,  I wore one employer out with 30 years of steady service, I have a second job of seven years with a company I love, I am not financially as well off as I could have been, but my life was and is full, I would not trade it in even if I could, and growing up in Council is the reason I am a steadfast husband, a good friend to have, and a pretty decent human being. So even though my house is falling down around my ears, and just as we were taking estimates to get it fixed up the money was gutted, I had to sit down and examine my life, and as I did I realized how great my life actually was and is. I am out of shape a little, put on some weight, but the doc say’s I am healthy,  I still ride big iron every day, 1850 cc of chrome and horsepower at the age of 62, I rarely am ever sick, and still not totally gray. What the hell do I have to be depressed about, so I am now working out, and am determined that my 60’s will be even better than ever.  If you are part of the Council I fondly remember, thank you for the gift of my life, I mean that sincerely. I have never shared these feeling before with anyone except Jim Mahon, who is my brother in this and any life, but that is another story.


John Edward Love and Family



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