Keva Wolfe is enraptured with history. Specifically, North Idaho history. She has many stories from the past to tell—and she wants to hear from others as well.
That’s why Wolfe, a fourth-generation North Idaho native, created Old School North Idaho, a wildly popular Facebook page where people can reminiscence about yesteryears, quiz each other on old photos, reunite with former friends and immerse themselves in all things historically local.
“I didn’t have much content at first,” says Wolfe, who created the Old School Facebook page in 2013. “But there was a lot of interest from natives in the area and long-time residents who were looking for a place to share their histories.”
With assistance from longtime Museum of North Idaho Director Dorothy Dahlgren, Wolfe has grown her Facebook group to nearly 20,000 followers with anywhere from 10 to 100 new members each week.
“I approached Dorothy and told her about my group and that I’d like to have more content,” Wolfe says. “We traded ideas and she had pictures that she couldn’t identify so I would bring them to the (Facebook) group and see if anybody could identify the photos. They are pictures from the 1880s to the 1980s.”
Sparking old memories
By nature, people are nostalgic.
“Our followers get very granular when they’re identifying things because they can reach back in their (thoughts) and a photo will spark a memory and they will say ‘We went there for my 15th birthday,’ and now they’re 65 years old,” Wolfe says.
“It’s a site where people can find out the historical mysteries of the area.”
Dahlgren, who has been director of the museum since 1982, says raising awareness about the area’s past through venues like North Idaho Old School is important.
“The more places that we can get history out there for people to appreciate our regional history, the more that it adds to our own lives,” Dahlgren says. “It enriches our community, knowing these great stories.
“Learning about why our community is the way that it is today is often influenced by what’s come before us … and I’m really pleased people are enjoying the old photographs and striking up conversations about them.”
Aside from sharing historical dialogue, Wolfe engages the group with trivia and posts that raise memories of no-longer-existent-spots—from the old Rocket drive-in restaurant in Post Falls, to the Topper Too eatery that was located on Government Way, to the now begone Cloud 9 in downtown Coeur d’Alene.
“I’ll post a photo and say, ‘OK guys, tell me what this is,’” she says. “And (followers) love to go in and talk with each other and converse and reminiscence.”
Wolfe is as homegrown as can be. Her grandfather was a Russian/German immigrant who landed in North Idaho in the 1920s. He and Wolfe’s grandmother had 11 boys, including her father. Most of her family is still local.
The Post Falls resident owns Bob’s 21 Club in the River City, which she says is the oldest business in town, started by her father in 1966, and the oldest bar in North Idaho that’s operated by the same family.
“And I carry on the history motif in the bar,” she says. “You can see a ton of professionally matted and beautiful collages of historical pictures that are all identified and captured. It’s really like a mini-museum.”
New followers welcome
Wolfe is amazed at the growth of Old School North Idaho and excited with each new follower—but she does screen people interested in joining the group.
“I don’t let just anybody in the group,” she says. “I do scan their profile to make sure that they’re local or have local roots or backgrounds. I want people that are somehow connected to North Idaho.”
Locals know the history and what’s going on in town. One recent post that garnered more than 7,500 engagements was a question posted by Wolfe: “What famous people have you seen in our area?”
“The response was amazing,” she says.
Among the celebrities cited were Julianna Hough (Dancing with the Stars), Pierce Bronson (James Bond), Matthew McConaughey, Arnold Schwarzenegger and even Andy Griffith, to name a few.
Wolfe says she is thrilled with the popularity of the Facebook page and expects it to continue to grow.
“It has just exploded into something that I never dreamed would happen,” she says. It’s incredible and I had no idea it would become this popular.”
Visit www.facebook.com/groups/oldschoolnorthidaho/ to take a virtual walk down memory lane with like-minded nostalgic North Idaho folk.