St. Luke's

When you think of Giant Sequoia trees, you may think California before you think Boise. But Idaho’s largest Giant Sequoia, with its complicated history, is about to be moved from behind St. Luke’s Hospital downtown.

The 98-foot-tall tree is more than 20 feet around. The tree began life as a tiny cutting given to Dr. Fred Pittenger and planted next to his house around 1912.

It grew, and grew, as St. Luke’s and the city grew too. But it almost perished in the 1980s, smothered by the holiday spirit of the community.

On a summer morning in July 1915, thousands of poor factory workers lined the Chicago docks, waiting to board ships for the much anticipated annual picnic hosted by Western Electric Company. But as 2,500 passengers flooded aboard the first ship, the SS Eastland, disaster struck. The huge liner flipped onto its side, drowning more than 800 people in the filthy Chicago River, including 22 whole families.

Every once in a while, you come across individuals who make you feel better just for having encountered them. As David Brooks, puts it, “They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.”

Today we’re continuing our timely conversation with author Jacob S. Hacker about the changing dynamics between the public and private sectors in driving economic growth, and how those changes are impacting our politics, culture and prosperity.

Mr. Hacker is a professor of political science at Yale University and the co-author of a new book, American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper.  He wrote this book with his colleague, Paul Pierson, who is at the University of California, Berkeley.

For much of the 20th century, private and public enterprises worked as both partners and adversaries to drive economic growth in our country. But in recent years, the balance within this so-called “mixed economy” has shifted away from public investment and regulation. Today, the term “Big Government” is widely considered a pejorative – despite the role public institutions have historically played in laying the foundation for social development and prosperity.

Courtesy Twin Falls County Fair Board

So, Jesse Owens came to Twin Falls for a race in 1938 … against a horse. Yes, the Jesse Owens you learned about in history class who humiliated Hitler by dominating the 1936 Berlin Olympics. According to the Twin Falls Times-News Hidden History column, Owens was at the Southern Idaho Fair (now the Twin Falls County Fair) for a simple reason: money.

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A valuable, rare book is coming to Idaho for a month-long exhibition at Boise State University. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. is doing a national tour of the first collection of William Shakespeare’s plays, known as the First Folio. The university expects thousands of people to come and see this 400-year-old book.

To explain why this book is considered so important, George Prentice talked with reporter and the KBSX newsroom’s resident Shakespeare enthusiast Adam Cotterell.

It’s been more than 70 years since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, ushering in the end of World War II. Yet true stories such as the one from today’s guest, Pamela Rotner Sakamoto, remind us how much history still has to teach us, and why personal accounts remain so powerful.

Owyhee County is Idaho’s second largest county and yet one of its least populated. Despite its emptiness, Owyhee County has a rich history, one that has been thoroughly explored and documented by today’s guest, John Bieter.

On May 1st, 1915, crowds lined New York’s harbor to bid farewell to nearly 2,000 family, friends and crew aboard the world’s fastest civilian liner — the Lusitania. The luxurious British ship was bound for Liverpool, England, more than 3,000 miles away. World War I was entering its 10th month, but civilian ships and their passengers were widely considered off-limits from enemy assault. Although the great liner would pass through waters patrolled by German U-boats off the coast of Britain, few worried about the dangers.

In 1906, an African native known as Ota Benga was displayed in a cage in the monkey house at the Bronx Zoo. Thousands came to view the sensational exhibit. They shouted, pointed fingers, and laughed at the man, who stood 4 feet 11 inches in height and weighed 103 pounds. A sign outside the cage described him as an African Pygmy from the Congo Free State, and announced that he would be exhibited each afternoon during September. An orangutan shared the space with Benga, at times perching on his shoulder.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Castle Rock sticks out of the foothills in northeast Boise. Native Americans called it Eagle Rock and the land below it was considered sacred. But the U.S. Army rounded up the area’s Indians and sent them to reservations to make way for white settlers in the late 1800s. The descendants of those people are gathering Friday in Boise’s Quarry View Park, which is on part of that land below Castle Rock.

A shot fired in the lobby of a Washington, D.C. , train station in 1881 would eventually claim the life of the United States’ 20th president — James A. Garfield. According to author Candice Millard, the assassination also shook the very core of the nation.

Nearly a century ago, the Chicago White Sox faced the Cincinnati Reds in the 1919 World Series. The games attracted big crowds, widespread enthusiasm and plenty of action from the so-called “sporting men” who placed bets on who would win each contest. Gambling was an integral and accepted part of baseball at the time, but for this Series, something seemed off. The White Sox were heavily favored to win, but they lost to the Reds five games to three. Speculation quickly surfaced that the Series had been rigged.

1905 photo courtesy of the Idaho State Archives & Library

A group of dedicated historians and preservationists are working to educate people and protect downtown Boise’s historic architecture, one weekend at a time.

The non-profit group Preservation Idaho has started up weekly tours of the city, called WalkAbout Boise.

In the 1840s, a million Irish citizens died of starvation during what became known as the “Great Hunger.” Taking up the desperate cause of his countrymen was a spirited and wealthy young orator named Thomas Francis Meagher (pronounced Mar).

When Germany invaded its European neighbors in 1940, the United States was a long ways from being prepared. The country’s military resources had been all but drained by the Great Depression. The U.S. army was smaller than that of Belgium’s, a nation that could fit inside Maryland. Military war games were being carried out with broomsticks and eggs in place of guns and grenades, and in at least one instance, a U.S. general was forced to order tank replacement parts from a Sears and Roebuck catalog because the military couldn’t provide the items itself.

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Members of Boise State’s Osher Institute Tuesday heard lectures linking Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch-hunts of the 1950s to Idaho. History writer Marc Johnson connected the dots between McCarthy and two Idaho elections.

Grocery shopping is on almost everyone’s weekly list. For many households, that means driving to the supermarket, or an even larger discount mega-store, and loading our carts to the brim with our favorite brands. But grocery shopping wasn’t always this way. A century ago, small mom-and-pop grocers dotted street corners, staffed by storekeepers who packaged bulk items for customers they knew by name. Today, the retail landscape continues to change, as more of us go online for a variety of purchases.

Baseball legends hold a special place in our country’s collective heart. Dizzy Dean, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are still household names generations after their feats on the baseball diamond made them famous.

But perhaps none represents the promise and hard truths of the American experience during baseball’s golden age better than pitching great Satchel Paige.