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Looking back: License plates for bicycles, feuding families cause arson and Star Wars

Looking Back

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EAST IDAHO — Every week, East Idaho News looks back in time at what life was like during this week in history.

This week is Aug. 9 to Aug. 15


GRACE — A preliminary hearing regarding an arson charge was held Aug. 11, 1920, according to The Pocatello Tribune.

The defendant in the case was Mrs. Nina Mortinson, who resided on a ranch near Grace. According to evidence that was submitted, there was a family quarrel between the Mortinsons and another family named the Kellers. Mr. Keller leased a farm from the Mortinsons and lived in a house near the Mortinson home.

“Trouble arose between the two families regarding neighborhood matters,” the paper reported.

Mr. Keller was arrested in July 1920 “on a complaint sworn out by the Mortinsons” and was brought to Pocatello.

According to Mrs. Keller’s testimony, on the night of July 27, she, her two children and her mother were alone at the farm house leased from the Mortinsons.

At about 10 p.m., they went to bed, but Mrs. Keller and her mother “did not sleep soundly on account of worrying about the arrest of Mr. Keller.”

Mrs. Keller said that around 11:30 p.m., she heard a match strike the outside of the house and a flame immediately went up the side of the building.

She claimed that she ran to a window and saw Mortinson running away before hiding herself in a plum orchard nearby.

Mortinson alleges that the Kellers set fire to the house themselves “as a matter of spite as a result of the quarrel between the two families.”

A decision on whether Mortinson would be “bound over or discharged” was expected to be made that afternoon.


PRESTON — An ordinance of the city of Preston was published in The Preston Citizen on Aug. 14, 1947, in regards to bicycles. The ordinance, which passed a few days before the newspaper’s publication, stated that bicycles must be registered with the Preston Police Department. After paying the registration fee of .50 cents, a number plate would then be assigned and need to be attached to the rear end of the bicycle.

Other rules associated with the ordinance included bicycles needed a headlight attached to the front and reflectors on the back if riding at night. Plus, two or more riders on the same bicycle was prohibited at all times, and all bicycles were required to be parked in bicycle racks.

The ordinance said if anybody violated “any of the provisions of this ordinance,” they’d be guilty of a misdemeanor. They’d also be subject to a fine of not exceeding $100 for each offense.


SALMON — An article published in The Salmon Recorder Herald on Aug. 13, 1970, said boating on the Salmon River and Middle Fork was on its way to setting an all-time record.

The Forest Service reported that 1,700 people had floated the river past Thomas Creek. This number was “way ahead” of the record year 1969 when they tallied 1,624 people.

Middle Fork was drawing a steady stream of both commercial and private boaters. The Main Salmon River was continuing its popularity as a jet boat stream along with float boats and kayaks, the paper mentioned.

Salmon River 1970 no3
Passengers riding in a boat down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. | The Salmon Recorder Herald
Salmon River 1970
Three passengers riding in a boat on the Salmon River. | The Salmon Recorder Herald


POCATELLO — Several popular movies were released in 1977, including Smokey and the Bandit and Star Wars. The Idaho State Journal ran advertisements for both films. According to an ad in the paper on Aug. 11, 1977, Stars Wars wasn’t only the No. 1 movie in America at the time, but it was also No. 1 in Pocatello.

Star wars no 1 movie in Pocatello
The advertisement that ran for Star Wars in the Idaho State Journal. | Idaho State Journal
Smokey and the bandit ad in 1977
The advertisement that ran for Smokey and the Bandit in the Idaho State Journal. | Idaho State Journal