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Clyde Chaffin
(August 5, 1934 - August 1, 2014)

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Clyde Chaffin

Clyde c. Chaffin, age 79, passed away Friday, August 1, 2014, in Salmon, Idaho. A long time Salmon resident, Clyde was born August 5, 1934 in Emmett, Idaho to Eliza Bullard Chaffin and Charles Wade Chaffin. He arrived when his youngest sibling was six years old and joined three older brothers – Rex, Wade, and Bruce and three older sisters – Ray, Marion, and Maxine. When he was four/five years old, his parents moved to Salmon, Idaho and his father worked for the W.P.A. building the rock wall along Front Street and pouring many of the sidewalks and curbs on East Main Street. Clyde started school in 1941 and, in December, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Shortly after, all three of his brothers and two of his brother-in-laws joined the navy. During World War II, Clyde’s parents moved to Farragut, Idaho and His Dad worked on the Naval base. While there, Clyde sold newspapers and made $100.00 one winter. After that they moved to Mountain Home, Idaho where his father worked on the air base, then to Salmon, and finally to Patterson where his Dad worked as a miner underground and his mom cooked three meals a day plus lunches for 35 to 40 men on a coal range. Clyde’s responsibilities included washing dishes, sweeping floors, and packing coal. While living in Patterson, Clyde attended a one room school house and did a lot of fishing. He said, “fishing in those days was fabulous. We would walk up Patterson Creek which had numerous beaver ponds all filled with trout and three of us would carry home over ½ gunny sack full of trout from 6 to 16 inches long. The year Clyde was in 7th grade, his dad leased a mine called the Turtle located above Bay Horse Creek on U.S. 93 South. He worked with his Dad and his dad’s partners to build log cabins, a road to get to the mine, and a ditch to run a small mill. Clyde rode a Shetland pony from the mine to the mouth of Bay Horse Creek and then caught the school bus to attend school in Challis, Idaho. After graduating from 8th grade, the family moved back to Patterson and Clyde went to work stacking hay in Pahsimeroi. He worked on several ranches until the day before school started in the fall with only 1 ½ days off all summer long. That fall he was a freshman in High School in Challis. He bought all of his school clothes and paid for his room and board at Challis Boys Dormitory. A natural prankster, some days Clyde would sneak out of class, go through the gym and out a window onto the school roof. He would then climb into the belfry and take the dinger out of the school bell and slip back in the building into the office and hide it in the principal’s desk. The poor old principal would go out in the hall when lunch was over and start yanking on this big rope hanging through the ceiling to signal the start of school. Of course there was always a large crowd standing in the hall to watch the look of frustration on the principal’s face. This always put him in a fit of temper and delayed classes because the teachers had to come out to help round all of the students up. The principal would then get on the intercom and announce no basketball (or football, track, P.E.) until he got his dinger back. Clyde would then sneak back into his office, pick up the dinger and put it back in the bell. This, and many more things, caught up with Clyde and the principal and superintendent decided that he would attend Salmon High School for his Junior Year. When Clyde attended Salmon High School, he earned a letter in football his junior year. When Challis came for a game, all of the first string were laughing and teasing him saying that “Salmon can’t be very tough if you are on first string. ”Chaffin reported that Salmon had no trouble beating them. During his senior year, he boarded with Mrs. Stine on Main Street and ran projectors at the show house in the evenings. In those days you had to splice the adds-previews of coming attractions, shorts, and the weekly newsreel all together. We had to run two complete shows every night so he usually didn’t get home unto 1:00 am or later. It was in the winter of that year that Clyde started dating Kay Nelson. They were together almost every night and went to all the ball games school dances. After a fun summer, Kay and Clyde wanted to get married and, after badgering her parents until they agreed, were married October 23, 1952. Clyde was a high-energy person and accustomed to hard work. For a time the newly-weds worked a small farm in Aberdeen that belonged to Kay’s dad. They decided they sure missed Salmon and soon moved back there. Other work experiences in his early married life included stints at the Ima mine in Patterson, the Blackbird mine in Cobalt, and driving truck for Doug Andrus Distributing in Idaho Falls. Many close friendships were formed at each of these places that have lasted for over fifty years. Clyde dearly loved attending the Cobalt and Patterson reunions whenever possible. Their first child, Tom, was born in 1953. Parenthood combined with the purchase of the old “Mountain View Motel” on Salmon’s Main Street kept the family more firmly anchored in one location. While renovating and improving the motel Clyde worked additional jobs at the Intermountain sawmill, delivering gas for Max Hemmert, and hauling potatoes for Rafe Nelson. Their second child, Christi was born in 1958. Finding room for the growing family proved to be no problem for Clyde. When accommodations seemed a little crowded he would simply get out his chainsaw and cut a doorway into the next available room in the motel. As the family continued to grow, availability of rooms in the motel for the traveling public continued to diminish. Ken was born in 1959. The family gained another bedroom and the public lost one. James was born in 1962. Perhaps Clyde thought if the family continued to grow he would soon be out of the motel business. He purchased a frame home on Main Street directly across from the motel. This was quite exciting for the young family as this was the first “real” home they had lived in. This was the Chaffin home until 1973. The home also served as the office for Clyde’s new career as a State Farm Insurance agent for the area. Clyde was quite active and had many interests, most notably hunting, fishing, camping, and Salmon High School sports teams. Summer evenings found him fly-fishing on the upper Lemhi River. In spring it was steelhead fishing. In fall it was more steelhead fishing and his personal favorite, elk hunting. The family has camped all over Lemhi County and spent many fun times waterskiing with the Mike and Leeanne Mitchell family. During the 1960’s and 70’s Clyde never missed a Salmon High School football or basketball game, in town or out of town. His love of adventure provided his family many great memories of traveling together. There were trips to Yellowstone, Disneyland, Calgary Alberta Canada and many others. The close-knit conditions of so many people in one car sometimes led to tensions and disputes. Clyde had little patience for this type of atmosphere and developed unique methods to deal with them. Son James recalled finding himself standing alongside a highway in the middle of Nevada not sure what to do. It seems he took up Clyde’s challenge to boot out the next troublemaker. Truck driving was very attractive to Clyde. He loved to travel, see the country, and be paid to do it. He bought a logging truck claiming it was a business venture. Kay thought it was a thinly veiled attempt to justify another of his favorite hobbies. The sign on the door of the truck proclaimed “C & M Logging”. The sign on the front of the truck declared “Chaffin’s Hobby”. This hobby actually resulted in a terrible accident that put Clyde’s life in peril. His traumatic injuries required a long hospital stay and even longer recovery time. It was at the beginning of this long recovery period that fifth child Robert was born in 1971. Clyde’s continued recovery led to a time of transition for the family. Clyde began a new career in residential home construction. The family moved to a small acreage on South St. Charles Street. The oldest child, Tom left home. Family life took on a more rural flavor including a garden, milk cow, bum lambs, tamed fox and an injured, non-flying Canada goose. It was while living here that the last child, Douglas was born in 1973. Life was good, the family flourished. There were marriages and then grandchildren. Clyde reveled in this new stage of life. Clyde & Kay’s home became the family center and gathering point. Clyde dearly loved each new daughter/son in law and each new grandchild. He was a tease and had a knack for developing insightful nick-names for all the family members. For some, these names have become favored appellations. He strongly promoted family activities and instituted a Memorial Day gathering at Gibbonsville that has continued now for over forty-five consecutive years. These momentous gatherings have become legendary as the final proving ground for prospective marriage partners. If the prospect can survive a Chaffin Memorial Day gathering he/she will most certainly prove to be a “keeper”. Family members will always remember great food, fun games, including “Old Sow”, kick he can, wash-tub balance, mountain man cricket , water fights, and even snow-ball fights…yes, it sometimes snows at Gibbonsville on Memorial Day. Clyde was preceded in death by his son James; parent, Eliza Bullard Chaffin and Charles Wade Chaffin; and siblings, Rex, Bruce, Wade, Marion, Maxine, and Ray. He is survived by his wife Kay; his children: Tom, Christi, Ken, Robert, and Doug, and 25 grandchildren and 38 great grandchildren. Funeral services were held on Monday, August 4, 2014 at L.D.S. Stake Center on Daisy St., Salmon, Idaho.


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