Category Archives: History

What does a room of my own mean to you?

When asked what one needs in order to write, Virginia Wolf said she needed “500 pounds and a room of my own.”

What do you think she meant? Was she saying that she needed exactly “500 pounds” as money in her day was measured? I do not think so. I think she was saying that she needed an income comfortable enough that the basic necessities of life were covered. Enough money that she did not have to worry where her next meal was coming from, or wonder if she could pay the rent. After all if I am always hungry and worried that I may be thrown out into the street and be homeless at anytime, I’m not going to be able to focus on similes and metaphors.

I believe “A room of my own” could mean a whole house or just a small corner of a room. It doesn’t matter. Many years ago I was sorting boxes of old magazines I wanted to keep for reference, into order by date of issue. I had so many magazines that I had to spread them out on the living room floor. It was the only space large enough. I’d spent an entire afternoon lining them up into rows and moving them from one area of a row to another as I worked through many years and months of dates. I was about halfway through when I had to stop to get dinner for my family.

When the evening dishes were finally done and the kitchen back in order I returned to the living room to resume my sorting. My magazines had been gathered up and thrown into a huge heap in the corner of the room. Nobody would admit to the deed, but I knew then the living room was not “my room.”

In my room or my own space I can spread out my projects and nobody will bother them. I can lay my papers and books on a table or on the floor if I wish and leave them there all strung out and in disarray. If this is truly “my own room” when I come back my papers will be exactly where I left them. Nothing will be touched. That I believe is what she means by “A room of my own.”

I recently staked out a room of my own from vacated rental space that the tenant no longer wanted. It is 20 feet by 22 feet with a huge storage area. It is in an area where I do not think I will be able to re-rent it easily, So, it is mine.

In my room I will put my favorite books, a library table, a music maker of some sort, my computer and printer, plenty of reference books, a big easy chair or recliner, reading lamp, coffee table, inspirational pictures on the wall, and enough shelves in my storage area to hold paper, ink supplies, glue, staples, paper clips, pencils, notebooks, paper cutters, laminating machines. I want plenty of daylight and maybe even a dorm sized refrigerator and microwave for snacks. The room will be comfortable enough that I will want to spend time there.

Who knows I may even store some folding chairs in the closet for friends or students, in case I decide to invite someone over or host a seminar in my space.

Right now I am measuring for carpet and plan to put a curse on any who disturbs my space. There will be an amulet above the door.

Dixie Thomas Reale

A Ghostly Affair. Meet the ghost hunters

Do you believe in ghosts?
Do you have a ghost story about Idaho to tell?
Join us for A Ghostly Affair, as Marie Cuff, Executive Director of the International Paranormal Reporting Group, and her team talk about paranormal activity in Idaho. The Other Bunch will provide details on submitting your ghost stories for its new book, Hauntings from the Snake River Plain. Marie and her team will be investigating historical Stricker Ranch the night before. Come find out what she found lurking in the dry cellar, if anything. This will be a fun event, and admission is free!

When: October 15, 2011
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Twin Falls Historical Museum
21337A US HWY 30, Filer, Idaho

Join us for a great, enlightening day and learn a little about the history of southern Idaho. See you there!

Question of the Month: How Do You Want to be Remembered?

One of the first exercises I tackled when I started writing was to create my own obituary. The point of the exercise was to get me to think about what I wanted to accomplish with my writing. Why was I writing? How did I want to be remembered? What kind of stories did I want to leave behind? That was many years ago and I wish I had kept the exercise because I can’t remember what I wrote. I’m sure I wrote something like “her books are entertaining and character driven” because I always wanted to see my books on the same shelf as Charles Dickens.

This may be a depressing topic for the month of December when things are festive and people are thinking about Christmas, but because it is the end of the year, it is a good time to reassess goals accomplished, and maybe set some new ones.

I’d like to share a story about my friend Mary Inman. Mary joined the Twin Falls Chapter of the Idaho Writers League back in the early 1990s, about the time I left my job at the bank to pursue writing full time. Mary was one of those interesting characters who had more ideas and experiences to recount than she had hours in the day. She was health conscious and walked everywhere she could. She was usually bubbling with energy and ideas. Always interested in life and history, Mary created Gramma Maudie, and from her rocking chair gave many presentations about life on the Oregon Trail. Mary organized walking tours of the original Twin Falls Village, and wrote a book about Twin Falls, Idaho, called Twin Falls Centurybook, 1904-2004.

Not only was Mary interested in history; she was also interested in conserving the planet. She started a xeriscaping club that met once a week at the Twin Falls city council chambers. She did all the legwork, sent out notices, arranged for knowledgeable speakers, organized fieldtrips to the South Hills to view native plants, and xeriscaped her yard to set an example.

Mary was the kind of person who wasn’t afraid to take a canoe down the river alone, or sleep in her car. Instead of shying away from strangers and “No,” she’d extend her hand and ask, “Do you have my book yet?” She was positive, full of energy, and probably had no idea how many lives she touched.

Mary Jane Inman died October 27, 2010, at her home. She was 82. At her request, her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered. Also at her request, no service was held, nor did an obituary run in the local paper. She was a pleasure to know, and I will miss her.

As 2010 draws to an end, take time to reflect on what you stand for. You don’t have to write an obituary, but it would be a good time to determine what you have to say, and what you want to leave behind.

Like my friend Mary, I want to be remembered for making a difference. I want to create characters that live long after my demise. I want readers to ponder my poetry after the books are closed and put away.

What would you like people to say about you when you are gone? Decide how you want to be remembered, and then get busy and do the things that will make it happen.
-Bonnie Dodge

Grabbing story ideas at Stricker Ranch

As a writer, I look for story ideas everywhere I go. Recently, Patricia Santos Marcantonio and I took in Fright Nights in Old Towne Twin as a way to increase our cache of stories. For two hours we heard about the history of Twin Falls County and some of the colorful people who lived there. Not only did we come away with a better understanding of the area, we also came home with several new story ideas.

What if a ghost really haunts the public library?
What if Lyda Trueblood isn’t really buried in the Twin Falls Cemetery?
What if Stricker Ranch really is haunted?

As The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz declared, “I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I doooo.”, I do believe there are good story ideas all around us. All you have to do is reach out and grab one.
-Bonnie Dodge

The Other Bunch will be at Live History Days

The Other Bunch will have a booth at Jerome’s Live History Days, June 13, 2009. Live History Day is the second Saturday in June each year with many people portraying life at the turn of the century in Jerome County, Idaho.  There will be people making soap and butter, flint knapping, tractor pulls, and wagon rides, to mention only a few of the scheduled activities. After watching the live demonstrations, tour some of the original Jerome County buildings, see a real traveling wagon train and what life was like at the Minidoka Relocation Center. Then stop by and browse our books, and make a miniature one of your own. Or just stop by and say, “Hello.” We hope to see you there!

Book edited by Jennifer Sandmann now available

A FOREST OF WORMWOOD: Sagebrush, Water and Idaho’s Twin Falls Canal Company written by Idaho writer, Niels Nokkentved and edited by Jennifer Sandmann is now available. A softcover book of 240 pages, the book contains maps and photos as well as relates the history of the Twin Falls Canal Comany. Copies may be obtained from the Idaho State Historical Museum Store, 610 N. Julia Davis Dr., Boise, the Twin Falls Canal Co., P.O. Box 326, Twin Falls, ID 83303, or direct from the author at N.S. Nokkentved, 2812 N. Grandee St., Boise ID 83704. You can also reach Niels at

Shoshone, Idaho


From its beginnings as a railhead for farmers and ranchers, Shoshone was a bustling, thriving community on the rise. Like so many other towns, however, when the railroad stopped passenger service, it had to reinvent itself. Shoshone has kept its sense of community while it starts to grow anew. Read the complete article written by Dixie Thomas Reale in the October 2007 issue of Idaho Magazine.

How we became “The Other Bunch”

Feeling a need for an active writing community we — Pat, Bonnie, Jennifer and Dixie — began meeting once a month to critique one another’s work and talk about writing. We also hold annual writing retreats in places that inspire our writing muse, like Silver City, Idaho City and Boise back when Boise State hosted its annual bookfest. In addition to our “day” jobs, we regularly submit stories, essays and poems to publications and writing contests.
About five, maybe six years ago a college in northern Idaho was soliciting submissions for publication in a literary project. I, Dixie, emailed a poem to the director of that endeavor.
Within a couple of days I got an email from a local poet. I didn’t realize he had anything to do with the publication, but the email contained my poem, instructions to reject it and the remark, “She’s a local writer. There is a whole other bunch of them around here.” I forwarded that misdirected email to the director.
The Director replied with a quote from Burns, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”
On a subsequent writing retreat to Bonnie’s cabin in Featherville we four friends were laughing about the “other bunch” remark, wondering what the poet meant by it. We agreed that we each often felt like members of the “other bunch.”
Since the name stuck we decided to adopt it as our mantra and use it to attract other writers who may sometimes feel that they too are members of the “other bunch”.
The label has been a driving force. We have all published more stories and books since adopting it — Bonnie published a book about the early days of Twin Falls; Pat landed a book contract with Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Dixie published a collection of short stories and Jennifer got a book editing contract.
Today we are proud to call ourselves “The Other Bunch” and offer encouragement to other writers struggling to find their voice. There is strength in friendship.

Dixie Thomas Reale