It wasn’t as if we were all alike in the small Idaho town of eleven hundred people I grew up in. My best girlfriend was a Jehovah’s Witness and a boy I dated in high school was Mormon; the town undertakers were Seven Day Adventist, so it wasn’t as if we were all alike. The prettiest girl in town’s father was black, and down the valley some Japanese farmers owned land, but that was pretty much it, except for the Basque sheepherders who brought sheep through Long Valley in spring and the original Finn settlers, some of whom still spoke the language. I never thought much about how insular we were until the Walkers adopted Elvira from Mexico.
The Walkers were friends of my parents and sometimes Mr. Walker worked with Dad on construction jobs. I remember the summer I was four, our families lived in tents back in the hills because Dad and Mr. Walker were building Brown’s Logging Camp and my mother washed clothes on a washboard and Mrs. Walker taught me to draw trees. Mother saved the resulting mountain scene in my scrapbook, just as she saved the note Mrs. Wal...
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