Gay Way Corner

gaywayThis is Gay Way Corner, I’m guessing around 70s.  In the 40s the upper corner NE had an old motel built around a pool.  Pools in those days were called a “plunge!”, and around the motel were many small cabins.  I remember going swimming there in 1944.  Very rare and the first time I had ever been in a pool — always before was the canal!  After WWII the bowling ally, seen here, was built.  Went bowling there many times with school buds and
dates well into the 50s.  I think before the bowling it had been a skating rink — but was competing with Fruitland’s skating rink and the competition seemed to do them both in.  There was an out door movie drive in behind this bowling alley in the late 40s-50s.  You should be able to find a news article in early 50s — was a stink because coupons in 50s were a rage — this family got raffle coupons on a new Studebaker car (had to be early 50s). This family took one of its daughter’s girl friends to the movie — gave her a raffle ticket which won the car.  Then big squabble, whose car it was!

The opposite corner held used car lots, real estate offices, etc. The best location in town.

Just to the right of this photo is the gasoline pumping station for a pipeline going to Salt Lake, moving gas from a refinery just north of Salt lake to Spokane.  That pipeline just misses my dad’s farm by a hundred feet as it crosses Butte Road.

To the left of the Bowling alley over on the bluff overlooking the Snake was a “Castle” built by an old German whose dream was his very own castle. It had a name, which I have forgotten. The property had long been in disrepair and gutted when I last went thru it with a friend ~1949-50.  It is long gone now. I must have been thru that old castle a dozen or so times.  It was within easy bike range of my house. It had been completely picked clean long before my time — so there was nothing of value except exploring.  We would take a lath 1/2″ by 2″ x 18″ stick that came on a pack of cedar  shingles as a “bat” to use against the wasps and the hornets that infested the castle.  They are clumsy flyers.  So as they would come at us we simply swatted them with our sticks. Very effective.  Of course, it could get dicey if any number came simultaneously — then we would stand back to back.

At the very top of this photo — but hard to make out here — was a big car junk yard.  I bought parts there all thru the war and afterwards.  To us poor folk, junk yards were a veritable paradise of opportunity.  We got all the tires used on any farm implement — and many for my Model A.  We got car axles to use in making many trailers. Recycled car parts was huge business.  No one dreamed of using new parts.  But, you had to take your wanted part off the wrecked car.  Very cheap.  Now most parts like this are 50% of new price.

One of the most interesting things about Gayway was the WWII prisoner of war camp just south on west side (Ontario side) of the highway — about 10 acres fronting on the highway, rows of single story barracks, with single big fence — not a concentration type fence. They all spoke German, of course, and a smattering of local Swiss and German descendants could also speak German mostly (Platz, Shurtz, Pritzls, Dueson, Smelzel, Schmidt, etc.). The prisoners were put to work in sugar beet fields, and picking fruit, where they were a great help.  Good workers, and caused no problems. There were not many guards, very unlike movies we saw of European prisoner of war camps.  The guards would tell us that they were not worried about escapees.  The vast distance from the coast (all the prisoners had crossed the US by train and were awed by the size of the country), and then the vast ocean to cross, and then still would have to cross the active military controlled areas.

Old timers who were in military in WWII, like Dick Platz, tell of being on trains with German prisoners, and love to tell stories of the Germans seeing jackrabbits.  Seems that they had never seen a jackrabbit (kind of hard to imagine since a rabbit is a rabbit!).

Dick Platz told me, “Navy train to West coast, coming home to see family before shipping out to Pacific (spent early 40s in service and didn’t really come back until 1974), had a number of German prisoners on train — he was Swiss and talked German, so prisoners saw all rabbits coming across Wyoming and Utah couldn’t figure out what they were and wanted to know what they were — he jokingly told them they were miniature horses — then finally told them what they were.”

The roads thru Gayway have multiplied many times in size and traffic.  Now sporting 4 way-stop, then traffic light.  Seems to me the city fathers are waaaay behind this situation.  Eventually they will be forced to put in an overpass/cloverleaf — perhaps more than one, where will they put it?  They already have interstate traffic added to local traffic — a lose/lose situation.  Payette, has lost many businesses to Fruitland, the Gayway jamming up of northbound traffic must be very painful to Payette.

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