The Flower Pot

In 1948, when my dad was a boy, his family built a cabin on Priest Lake, Idaho. That cabin was home to countless memories for the extended Fry family. Even after my grandmother sold it in the early 1980s, we rented it for a few weeks during summers for family reunions. The cabin was torn down in 2003 and replaced with a new home. Earlier this year, when that house came up for sale, my parents bought it. We decided to celebrate the Fry Family Thanksgiving there this year.

For several years, while my dad’s family gradually built it, the old Priest Lake cabin had no running water. As a boy, upon arrival, my dad’s first job was to fill two buckets of water from the lake – one for drinking and one for washing. His dad, my Grandpa Fry, built an outhouse up the hill from the cabin. They called it The Flower Pot, and hung a sign inside that said “No matter how much you water it, nothing ever grows.” The outhouse’s unique feature: it was a double holer. Apparently my aunts, uncles and grandparents had no problem sitting next to each other while they did their business.

When my parents bought the current Priest Lake house this summer, The Flower Pot still sat atop the hill. It had long since fallen over, and nobody had used either one of its holes in decades. Before having the relic hauled off, my parents salvaged several of the boards that were used to build the outhouse in 1948.

This Thanksgiving weekend, we used those boards to spruce up the new Priest Lake cabin’s modern day Flower Pot. My dad and brother nailed the old boards to the bathroom wall to support the towel rack and toilet paper holder. My daughter Ruby, using my old wood burning set, made a new sign, which now hangs proudly above the toilet. It’s just like 1948. But now, you don’t have somebody sitting next to you while you water the flowers.


The Fry Side 

We spent the last full week of summer in North Idaho, home to many Fry side relatives and venue for the 2017 Fry Family Reunion. Unlike the Eitings and Watsons, who gather their extended family annually, the Frys only manage to get together every several years. And that’s probably a good thing. 

Brother Mike hosted the extended Fry clan at Priest Lake this past weekend. Four generations of descendents of Margaret and Carl Fry Sr. gathered at Mike’s place, which is only a few hundred yards away from the spot where Carl, Marge and their young family built a rustic cabin on the beach in the 1940s. So many Frys have made so many memories there. And, I’m sure more than a few were conceived in that old cabin. Frys, we’re like salmon returning to Priest Lake to spawn. 

It was a great way to end the summer. I spent quality time with each parent, sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, niece and nephew. Henry and Ruby got acquainted with their North Idaho cousins. And my mom and I finally had our potato salad face off. 

Fry family reunions are… rare events. Fittingly, as we drove home across Washington state today, the sky dimmed as the moon totally obscured the sun for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Once upon a time there was light in my life. But now there’s only love in the dark. Nothing I can say.  A total eclipse of the heart.

Fry Lodge Priest Lake


The Fry Family Quartet is spending some quality time in North Idaho this week. We’ve spent the first part of our trip at beautiful Priest Lake in the northern panhandle, where brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Alicia, have hosted us. This place brings back so many wonderful memories, and it’s been fun to watch Henry and Ruby experience many of the same things that I did as a little boy. They have spent half their time here in the water – swimming, floating and frolicking. Henry put to use his newly acquired kayaking skills when he and I circumnavigated Four Mile Island, which sits in front of Mike and Alicia’s house. Ruby has fearlessly taken to jumping off the dock and swimming to new depths. Last night Carl and Kaye arrived, followed by sister Kelley today.


Today we took a long boat ride to Upper Priest Lake, which is connected to the bigger Priest Lake by a narrow, two-mile-long channel. What a beautiful tour of this pristine country. Once at our destination, we had a picnic followed by a swim in amazingly clear water.


To remind us just how fragile paradise is, there has been a constant smoky haze hanging over the lake since we arrived, caused by multiple forest fires in the surrounding area, the closest of which is not yet contained. The fire is on the west side of the lake. We are on the east side. Though there is talk of evacuating the west side of Priest, we are in no danger. Scary nevertheless.


Four Mile Island in front of Fry Lodge Priest Lake