This is my latest short film. It’s a different approach to the podcast I had recorded with author Stacey Guill, PhD, who wrote “Stone House in the Cañon.
Here is a behind-the-scenes blog that goes way beyond the movie.
For many years, I’ve taken whatever dogs I had at the time to hang out once in a while at Discovery Park. It’s a good place to chill out, and watch the water. I noticed a few things happen across the river, then a plaque appeared saying there used to be a stone house that a famous artist and author, Mary Hallock Foote and her husband Arthur Foote used to live in. Mary Hallock Foote had done illustrations in this house for books written by Louisa May Alcott, Tennyson, and many other famous authors.
Her husband was an engineer, who was trying to build waterways and dams in the Treasure Valley. While he struggled for income, his wife’s drawings and articles kept them going while they raised children in this stone house in the valley, with helpers including a cook and a nurse who lived there as well.
I found myself taking more trips out there, hiking longer, finding more clues about what life was like across the river. I studied books, archaeological digs, and years of historical documents. I discovered that this stone house was actually built on an important Native American site that had originally been an encampment to make all types of hunting blades from the nearby obsidian. The more time I spent out there, the more I saw it through different eyes. Artifacts were dug up, covered up, and locked up in special collections that most eyes will never see.
At first, I imagined Mary Hallock Foote, from her upper-class background hating the first part of her residence in Boise. I imagined her drawing from the rooms in the house, taking her kids to the beach, taking a rickety canoe or footbridge across the river, and tending horses in the park area I would hang out in. I feel in her writings, you could see a transformation of respect from resentment at times. You have to wonder how someone kept small children out there away from rattlesnakes and a dangerous river. She came to love the view, and the sound of the river.
I would guess that local people didn’t necessarily welcome them with open arms as well, and not knowing the western ways, I’ll bet the Footes were sometimes taken advantage of.
I imagined the stagecoaches traveling from The Oregon Trail and Bonneville point, being lowered down those treacherous canyon walls. I tried to imagine the river without Lucky Peak or Diversion dam. I tried to imagine women not being allowed to vote, or how the prohibition era must have been in Boise.
Going through Stacey Guill’s book, many hours of research and looking into the artwork of Mary Hallock Foote, I wanted to put Stacey’s words to some of the beautiful drawings, and take a creative approach.
“All We Didn’t Do,” was made with months of research, editing, getting photos and aerial shots, looking at library art and special reference collections. For a while it seemed to meet some resistance, I questioned myself as to why. I wondered if maybe the original spirits who reside there are tired of their land being exploited. Some might think it’s strange, but I made a special trip out there to talk to them. I apologized for the hundreds of people who had stomped around and built there without acknowledging them. I thanked them for letting a beautiful park exist there so people could imagine the same things that I have from over 100 years ago and more. I hope that everyone who goes out there takes a moment to reflect on this, and give respect to the Native American tribes who were pushed out of the area. Just a few years before the time the Footes were going to gather volcanic rock for their home with a beautiful view, a treaty forcing Native Americans within 30 miles of the Boise River, from Table Rock to Eagle Island, was enforced to vacate those areas. Even though the treaty wasn’t law, it was enforced. I stand there now on those banks, and can imagine the pain and sadness of their relocation. You can feel them there. I wonder what they think of the hundreds of paddle boards on the water on a summer day there.
Maybe this is why Wallace Stegner won a Pulitzer Prize for what seems to be a mostly plagiarized and fictionalized tale of their lives in his novel, “Angle of Repose.”
Maybe this is part of why Arthur Foote ultimately failed on his engineering plan of Treasure Valley waterways, only for Boise to have success using his very plans, once they had moved away. They did so much in planning and developing, yet I would guess that very few Boiseans know their names.
I feel honored to know about, and share just a portion of intense history of this area. I am grateful that Idaho Film Collection felt it was a project worth supporting, and this film will be forever archived at BSU Albertsons Library. They also supported my film “Pink Feather,” and I do not at all take this support for granted.
Anyway, all this to say you can see my film “All We Didn’t Do” May 7th at Colossal Film Festival at Overland Park Cinema. It is a great local film fest that starts at 4pm. Everyone going can take part in the red carpet photos before it starts, and there will be an after-party at Mad Swede on Cole. I really hope to see you there.
Also, just for fun, I was able to interview someone I’ve admired most of my life from The Carol Burnett Show.
Here’s my interview with Vicki Lawrence, from my Podcast “She Likes To Go Slow.”