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  • Writer's pictureRobert P. Fitton

Letter to Country Hide-A-Ways Magazine from Charley McGowan-Barclay, Idaho

Charles McGowan esq.

Corner of Elm and Main Street

Barclay, Idaho

Mr. Sam Freeman

Country Hide-A-ways Magazine

Los Angeles, California

Dear Mr. Freeman,

Greetings from God’s Country (This really is God’s country!) I’ve enclosed a post card from the area that might convince you that Barclay, Idaho is worthy of an article in Country Hide-A-Ways Magazine. I have two motives in writing to you. One is to have people visit Barclay and secondly to transcribe the remarkable story of Alan Sackett who summered in Barclay as a boy and then returned from Los Angeles to change all our lives.

International Circuits

We once had a huge plant called International Circuits. IC was the mainstay after the war. The plant provided two hundred and fifty-six full time jobs and half that number in part time work and summer jobs for the kids in school. Well, sad to say everything except the building shell was shipped overseas. As a result, the town lost its train stop, tourism just about ceased, and part of the population moved away. There didn’t seem like there was much we could do. We’re just country folk. We don’t own large corporations or investment houses. Then Alan Sacket got laid off.

Alan goes up Idaho

Alan vacationed up here when he was a boy and stayed with his Aunt Amanda. Amanda and Ned ran a wonderful little red store by the railroad tracks outside of town. As an adult Alan worked as a top-notch buyer for Lamberts out of L.A. He had an extraordinary sales increase and then found himself out of a job. I guess that’s how things work in the big city. Well, Alan’s Aunt Amanda died and left that little red store to Alan. That brought Alan to Barclay. In his high finance world Alan had built a massive credit and debt. Now he had no funds to pay his single debt to an unscrupulous loan shark named Roscoe from L.A.

Aunt Amana’s Store

Sure, Barclay got him away from the mess in L.A. But I wonder if it wasn’t that little girl he knew when he was ten years old that kept him here. Only she wasn’t ten years old. She was thirty-two, married albeit unhappily to a thug named Tug, and she had a boy named Ben. Alan Sackett changed everyone in town’s life-even his own.

The Cabin on the Lake

Tug and Alan faced off in Alan’s first battle. The irresponsible Tug left animal traps ready to spring open on the cabin island. Ben unfortunately was the first casualty, his tiny leg enveloped by the rusty teeth. It was Alan who rescued Ben and got him medical attention. But Tug fired back by threatening Alan and burning down Soonie’s house. Alan pulled out one of our volunteer fireman from the smoky blaze. Tug fled town and Soonie and Alan spent time together, eventually falling in love all over again if that’s possible.

Barclay Railroad Station

Alan’s mind was in a different universe when he walked through the abandoned train station or through Amanda’s empty store. He didn’t see what used to be. He saw what could be. He didn’t need a corporate board or research and development. Old Alan had it all inside his head. But he still had that one creditor on his back. We just didn’t know for just how much. Somehow Alan secured credit and raised the money to rehab his Aunt Amanda’s store. The stock he brought in came from thrift and second stores and Alan sold it as historic items. With the money he and Soonie piled up in they bought more stock and even some new stuff. Just shows what you can do when you put your mind to it and have the right attitude I might add.

He got people involved at a town meeting. People who thought they couldn’t- Alan showed them they could! He called the town not just Barclay but Historic Barclay. By God that got the retired professor Jacob’s blood flowing fast. Everyone had as they say a new lease on life. Smiles on their faces. Money in their pockets. Even Hershey that rattlesnake had a smile on his puss. Then it happened.

Alan still hadn’t paid Roscoe and his boys, well they made it all the way up from L.A. Then they came up a second time. They were looking for all their money and were going to use firepower to get it. And if they didn’t get it…. Well, here’s the skinny.

Roscoe had a gun; I saw it after he and his boys stepped out of their long maroon Lincoln. Alan was down Main Street near Soonie’s store. I saw the whole thing from my office. And he walks up Main real slow like he’s going to the firing squad. As God is my judge, one by one everyone in town, some with rifles, followed behind Alan. Kennie Baines from the bank carrying a brown leather briefcase, put his arm around Alan.  And he said what he said loud enough for everyone to hear. ” We’re not going to let you down, Alan.”  They stepped out of the woods and the fields and between businesses on Main Street. In a matter of minutes, I swear the whole town of Barclay was marching up the street with Alan. Even me!

Roscoe and the boys

To say that old Roscoe was slightly rattled would be the understatement of the year. I found out Alan owed two hundred and twelve thousand dollars. What happened next is now part of our beloved town’s history. If you’re interested in finding out that ending-You can purchase this letter in your magazine or we’d be happy to give you a tour of our wonderful town at your convenience.


Charley McGowan


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