Huckleberries | Coeur d’Alene Press

Bob Templin was 23 years old when he hawked tobacco juice onto Sherman Avenue to the cheers of a festive crowd.

Now, 40 years later, the Worley man says he did okay in the tobacco-spitting contest, but he should have discharged his wad of tobacco rather than the juice. His try by him fell far short of the best patooey that May 15, 1982, by Rich Gunther of Coeur d’Alene, who spewed a wad 21 feet 5 ½ inches.

Bob, son of late restaurateur Bob Templin, was photographed on the front page of the Coeur d’Alene Press, lips pursed and ready to launch.

Bob doesn’t remember much about the first – and maybe last – Coeur d’Alene Days Tobacco Spitting Competition. But he does recall that his third-grade girlfriend, Paula, was looking over his shoulder and that he turned “half green” from the tobacco.

Bob vaguely recalls that the contest took place in front of Clark’s Diamond Jewelers.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment thing,” he said from his home in Worley. “Other guys did better.”

Jet Warren, then a 24-year-old Coeur d’Alene mother of three, also caught the attention of the Press reporter. She was looking for a gift for her husband’s birthday from her. And she figured the prize offered to all competitors would fit the bill – a blue-and-white visor inscribed with the words: “I Love Coeur d’Alene.”

The Press detailed Jet’s attempt.

“She sighed, popped a stringy piece of chewing tobacco into her mouth and cocked her head back. To the delight of her audience, Jet then sat a tiny brown ball airborne. The crowd watched the projectile rise to a modest height, arc and land with a splat several feet into the parking lane of Coeur d’Alene’s main thoroughfare.”

The crowd erupted.

Later, the reporter cast Jet’s “courageous” expectoration as a breakthrough for women. Maybe next year, he wrote, two women will enter the contest.

Simple times. Better times.

Spit It Out!

Admittedly, the younger Bob Templin and Jet Warren were amateur spitters. But Coeur d’Alene once was the home of a Guinness Book of World Records spitter. In fact, that’s probably why Coeur d’Alene held the original Coeur d’Alene Days Tobacco Spitting Competition.

The late Jim Deffenbaugh who was chairman of the 1982 Coeur d’Alene Days had set a world spitting record four years earlier. In a contest at Calico, Calif., I hawked a tobacco plug 28 feet. Deffenbaugh used a Heimlich, pushing on his diaphragm maneuver, to add distance.

But, six months later, a Colorado man hoicked a gob 32 feet to break Deffenbaugh’s world record.

Prior to the Coeur d’Alene spitfest, Deffenbaugh offered this advice for budding spitters: “Spit the wad instead of the juice.” Now, forward.

A Special Ceremony

Memorial Day was made for Jim Shepperd. The World War II veteran from Coeur d’Alene was a fixture at Memorial Day services. I have placed flags at veterans’ graves. He was photographed several times by the media over the years, tossing a wreath into Lake Coeur d’Alene to honor his submariner cousin and others lost at sea. Jim also had a great wit. After his death in February 2017, several friends shared stories about him, including Intermax president Mike Kennedy. After moving to Coeur d’Alene in 1991, Mike met Jim at a Kootenai County Democratic Club luncheon. Jim was sitting a few seats away as Mike ordered clam chowder. The waitress assured Mike that the chowder was available, prompting Jim to pipe up: “Yea, Mike, and you’re in luck. I heard last week they got a new clam!”

fan mail

“The explosion in housing is unbelievable,” emails Fred G, a former Coeur d’Alene resident who returned to the Lake City from southern California for the first time in three years recently. “Are there any community planners to halt or control this month? Soon the reasons that have attracted many people to the area will be canceled out amidst the urban sprawl. When I first bought property in Kootenai County in 1990, a million-dollar home was a rarity. Now there are ROWS of them, jammed together, like a ritzy cookie-cutter ghetto.”


· Poet’s Corner: In spring the grass grows night and day,/unceasing in its ancient way;/some time beneath it I’ll lie meekly –/until that day I must mow weekly – The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“The Philosopher Contemplate His Lawn”).

· Roger Stewart, a superb local sports official for almost 40 years, has this advice for fawning parents of entitled young players: “Sign up to ref youth league BEFORE you open your mouth at your kid’s game.” The Coeur d’Alene official says sportsmanship at the high school and college levels are at an all-time high. But it has never been worse at the youth levels.

· Karen Prosser of Coeur d’Alene had a rough go with cancer during the second half of 2021, spilling into 2022. So, she bought a 2019 Cadillac this month. Ella she’s always wanted a Caddy, but she couldn’t afford one. As she mends slowly, she says she still can’t afford one. But her outlook on her has changed. “Why not?” she said. “You only live once.” Words to continue living by.

· Sixty-five political flyers landed at Casa Oliveria this GOP primary season – 56 by mail and nine hand delivered by GOP loyalists. It’d be a shame to throw them in the trash, what with all the work – and in some cases malice – that went into them. Cis Gors of Kootenai had a better plan for her propaganda: “I love the thick ones,” she said. “They clean the shredder so well.”

Parting Shot

It has been seven years since executive artistic director Chuck Ethridge of the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theater was peed on. And he didn’t need the memory prompt on Facebook to remind him. Chuck was standing in a stall at the Kroc Center, in flipflops, answering nature’s call, when he felt a warm stream watering his ankle. Someone in the next stall was urinating on his foot from him. Chuck cowered against the stall wall farthest from his neighbor’s. Was it a theater critic? A disgruntled actor? No and No. Chuck emerged from his cubicle to find the culprit who’d missed the mark badly – ​​a 5-year-old boy. And we’re left to contemplate that old public potty saying: “We aim to please you. You aim, too. Por favor.”

DF “Dave” Oliveria can be contacted at

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