Light & Shadow #34

Saddle Maker — Caldwell, ID Circa 1983

I met more people than I can count during my years in photojournalism. They were passing acquaintances, save for one.

A reporter and I were assigned a story at one of the local fire stations. That’s where I met Jim. The seed of friendship sprouted that day when we discovered a shared love of fly fishing.

More than a first responder and angler, Jim Hanks embodied the cowboy spirit. When not at the firehouse, he could be found tooling leather for another custom saddle in the shop on his ranch south of town. To this day, he is on my list of favorite people and most memorable characters.

The Hanks household was a hospitable place. I spent many hours at the family table or in the saddle shop shootin’ the breeze over a cup of coffee. What they say about the link between memory and our olfactory sense is true. I can still smell that saddle shop and the juniper burning in the wood stove in the kitchen. 

Jim could always make me laugh with his stories and quick wit. ‘I wear the pants in the family,’ he assured me one day. 

‘But Paula controls the zipper.’

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