Book Review

by Doug Nadvornick & r & The Healing House by Elaine Ostergren Adams & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & 've often wished I could travel back in time to early 20th-century Spokane, when streetcars moved people from one place to another, when downtown was really bustling and Natatorium Park was the place Spokanites went for fun.

Old photos satisfy some of my curiosity about Inland Northwest history, as do books like Elaine Ostergren Adams' The Healing House: A Memoir. Adams writes about a Swedish immigrant couple, Jacob and Christina Thunborg, who homesteaded more than 140 acres at what is now Chicken Point on the eastern side of Hayden Lake, Idaho, in the early 1890s. The Thunborgs built a large farmhouse, barns and guest houses; grew hay and alfalfa; raised cows and chickens; and kept a large garden and small orchard.

For more than 50 years, the Thunborgs' farm was the summer gathering place for family and friends, including a young Elaine Ostergren.

In 1929, Ostergren's mother Ruby brought her 4-year-old to the farm for therapeutic reasons. Elaine had tuberculosis, which is now treated successfully with antibiotics, but which then was often a fatal disease. Marie Thunborg, one of the five Thunborg children, invited her close friend Ruby to bring Elaine to the farm to rest. Ostergren Adams writes about their thousand-mile trek and their two-month stay in a place she came to regard as her magical summer home. She also tells us about her dozen other summer vacations at the Thunborg farm, two of which helped young Elaine recover from other maladies, rheumatic fever and pneumonia.

Ostergren Adams' book is very readable and will be of interest to people who enjoy Inland Northwest history. I have some minor quibbles; for example, I found the explanation of the Thunborg family history a little cumbersome. And because it's a memoir, we also hear about Ostergren Adams' childhood in the San Francisco Bay Area, about which I had little interest.

This book offers us insight into a part of local history about which I would guess few of us know. It makes me want to get in my car and go searching for Chicken Point.