The Very Definition

Podunk. Po-dunk. \ˈpō-ˌdəŋk\: A small, unimportant, and isolated town.

I needed to start with the definition mainly because my Grandma Ruby, a lifelong Scrabble master, wasted my Christmas letter because I used the non-dictionary term waify to describe my anorexic looking 12-year-old son. Apparently “waif-like” would be appropriate, or “my son is a waif” would be fine, but just calling him “waify” put me in the Too Dumb to Play Scrabble with Grandma category.

Podunk, on the other hand, is a word. And I’m sure some people who know and/or love Salmon, Idaho, are already losing their wigs over the fact that I could associate that word with this town. Small and isolated — certainly hard to argue those issues. But unimportant — how dare you?

I’m not saying Salmon is unimportant to me; I’m merely observing that in the worldly scheme of things Salmon is rarely considered as a benchmark.

Weather for instance… Salmonites can check on the weather in Missoula, Montana, or Idaho Falls, and then split the difference by walking outside and checking to see what our own weather system is doing.

Currency … while everyone is measuring the dollar versus the euro and the yen, raffle tickets are legal tender in Lemhi County. Cordwood is the commodity price that locals can quote by the hour (1/24/12 @ 9:30 a.m. I can get a cord of split lodgepole for $125).

My longtime friend Kate, at the time of urban and retail ilk, once heard me talking about the prospects of growth in Salmon, ala the Bitterroot Valley in southwest Montana. “Whoa,” Kate reined me in, and then spurred me in the loins of reality, “You guys are a LONG way from the good shopping.”

Visitors walking downtown Salmon are often overheard (I have a Main Street office and keep the door open) remarking, “This place reminds me of [fill in the blank city or town] 40 years ago!” Usually that’s a good thing, polyester pants not included.

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