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I am hosting this "Walt Kik Fan Page" until someone more qualified comes along. I am not related to Walt; I am not from Eastern Washington; I am not a farmer; and I did not have a special relationship with Walt and Sugar during the two summers I met them while working in Big Bend Country. But when I read his writings and discovered they had little or no media presence, I resolved to share them: his unpretentious homespun insights, his humanitarian world view, and his free-spirited lifestyle. Walt was ahead of his time. His very first article began: "I was born at least 40 years too soon." I aspire to be more like him. 

- Phil Krogh, July 2020, Woodinville, WA

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My Favorite Stories

Sugar                  Lots of Luck, Love, and Tender Care

Younger Days     Off to a Bad Start        

                                    Boy, Oh Boy!

Hard Times         Three Helpless Farmers        

                                    A Flood of Memories

 Wheat Farming     Second Prize...Two Quarts of Beer 

 California            I Already Appreciated America

            Recreation           Too Bad He Didn't Get Around More 

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Archive.org

Kik Backs by Walt Kik

Publication date 1982-01-01

Reviewer: Phil Krogh - - February 10, 2020

Perhaps these writings will only be of interest to someone who had met Walt Kik, or who has a connection to wheat farming in the Big Bend country of eastern Washington. However, I think his work has merit on its own; it is unpretentious, concise, and sprinkled with homespun insights.

Here are some examples:

“Gramps started to get bugged when he saw what the grasshoppers were doing to his crops. He found a guy that didn’t mind grasshoppers, and sold him their farm.”

“When I got old enough to shave, all I could think about was how to raise wheat instead of heck.”

“(Their) wives’ brain power was weighed one notch lower by their ego-filled, hairy-chested husbands.”

“When Frank died, he was financially as naked as when Alice Marcellus bore him back in Jesse James’ country.”

“She sure did look different since all her equipment had arrived.”

“Ever since the crystal set days, my love affair with radio and TV may explain why I have a TV set in every room except the bathroom, and that’s because it’s just used mostly during the commercials.”

Walt Kik farmed wheat from the 1930’s to the 1970’s near Rocklyn, Washington. He was known for his free thinking and independent spirit, was a health enthusiast, and sponsored many youth clubs with his wife, Sugar. After retirement he wrote history columns for local newspapers, from which this book (the first of three) is compiled. I met Walt in 1971.

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January 2021

About a year ago I began devoting much more time and energy to this project, posting and editing almost every day. I recently realized that this has evolved into something more than just a Walt Kik fan page. It is becoming a showcase of my enthusiasm for this corner of the world in which I grew up and still live - the Pacific Northwest; its landscapes and natural beauty (formed by mind-boggling geological events), and its infrastructure of cities and towns, bridges and dams and highways built by our pioneers and their descendants; our public servants, politicians, architects and artists.

-P.K.

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July 2021


I am presently attempting to weave Walt's stories into one long continuous narrative. (Should I call it a book?) The biggest challenge is, of course, where to put what story where. It quickly became clear that simply arranging the stories chronologically would be less interesting than doing it so that it reveals who Walt was in an interesting, evolving manner. The page is "I Was Born". I am editing the page almost daily.

("I Was Born" is at the top of the "Popular Posts" home page only because it is the oldest page. Nothing of the original page exists.)

-PAK


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Aug 2021


My present hope for the long-term impact of this page is informed by the blog BigBendRailroadHistory.com. Searches I do about Big Bend people, places, and history often point to that website. Currently, I notice surges of traffic to my site about once a week from Germany, Ireland or the Netherlands. I suspect these readers are most probably searching genealogical information.

-PAK


Walt Kik / Phil Krogh
Genealogic Path between me and Walt from Geni.com
(I was recently informed that genealogical information of this type is only 90% accurate.)

December 2021

Some of Walt's writing feels more like poetry. It may be a coincidence, but the first two texts that jumped out at me are last paragraph of a story:

Enjoy Harvest

When the recent clouds
Moved in and
Got a bit of our 
Standing grain
All wet and chilly, 

It caused concern 
To replace the stress 
In the excitable, 
And woke up the meek 
To reality. 

Now both are 
Able to walk 
Arm in arm, sharing 
The same anxieties, 

'Til the last wheat heads 
Get threshed and 
Put away, where 
It's nice and dry.

-Walt Kik


Before Sugar Entered My Life

During the summer months 
My bedroom partner was a combine,
Next to my cot, 
In an open machine shed. 
(The shed was located by a wheat field.) 

On sultry nights,
Sudden wind storms would rattle the standing wheat. 
And the dampness gave off a fresh vegetation aroma.

A few raindrops would find their way through the cracks, 
Causing a restful, contented feeling to pass over me. 

It gave me reason to believe 
That we could have a fair crop after all. 

-Walt Kik


Walt Kik
Connie and I were on the cover of Washington State University newspaper Jan. 1974

Walt Kik

15 June 1974 in Ballard, Seattle, Washington State


September, 2021

I am giving up on trying to weaving one long narrative - I am building three. Kik-Back Country will contain all the places of local history in Walt's books. Kik-Back Characters contains the stories of the persons he wrote about, and a third book (booklet?) containing his first-person stories about his life, his beliefs and his relationships - especially with Sugar. PAK 


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Drafts / notes

Notes on threads: Where a thread leads is somewhat arbitrary; some stories are not directly continued or connected to other stories but some are very much so; the benefit of a thread might be mostly to a reader who is not reading systematically by labels or dates.

Some stories/rough drafts inspired by Kik-Backs which might be inserted at the bottom of an appropriate page:


 How I found my "Sugar"

    In 1970 I entered Washington State University in Pullman. I was assigned to live in Orton Hall which became that year the first ever co-ed dorm on campus. On move-in day the admissions volunteers in the lobby asked me if I wanted to live on an upper or lower floor of the twelve story building. I said I did not know or maybe that I couldn't decide, so they put me in the middle. I soon learned that several of my sixth floor dormmates had said the same thing and were assigned the sixth floor for that reason.
    Connie and some other women were assigned housing in a dormitory eight miles away at the University of Idaho because of a campus housing shortage. Spending those first few weeks of college together naturally created a high degree of camaraderie but when rooms on campus became available they were scattered. Connie ended up on ninth floor Orton but hung out with two of her Idaho friends who lived on my floor. That is how I became aware of her existence. PAK


Phil Krogh

Phil Krogh
Dorm room - not my photo

   One day in the dorm I witnessed those Idaho friends of Connie's hold her down while they placed a pet gerbil on her stomach. They did it because they knew she would hate it but mostly because that is just the kind of thing college kids do. She scrunched her eyes closed and struggled to get away, but she didn't scream. The gerbil belonged to me.

    It was the last week of school when Connie and I went out together for the first time. We saw a dollar movie on campus: "The Sterile Cuckoo" starring Liza Minelli and Wendell Burton. After the movie we walked back towards the dorm but didn't go in. Instead, we walked aimlessly around and talked and talked and talked. We were walking and talking around a basketball court when we decided to go inside, around midnight. The elevator had a broken, plastic button which, if you pressed it at the right moment, would stop the elevator between floors. (My dormmates had discovered this.) I stopped the elevator, we sat on the floor, we acted silly, and we talked and talked and talked until the sun came up.




Freshman Prom I had only one dollar in my pocket to spend on dinner the night of my freshman prom. Even in 1967 this was far too little money. I would not have gone to prom at all but my older brother and her older sister did some serious arm-twisting. By the time I got the courage to call and ask her, it was too late to get reservations at the Ming Tree, the preferred restaurant for eating out after the prom. Freshmen had to walk somewhere to dine or get driven to Olympia, preferably the Jacaranda. The evening began when my father drove me to her house to pick her up. Almost there I realize I forgot my wallet so I have no money. My father looks in his wallet and only has a five dollar bill, which I accept. We pick her up and arrive at the dance, which is in the school cafeteria, the Angle Building. Outside the entrance is the table where they are selling tickets, four dollars a couple. Standing between the table and the entrance is a student, whom I know, and the Vice-Principal. They are asking everyone to put a dollar into a bucket for some fund-raiser. The peer pressure is so great that I drop my dollar in. Halfway through the dance I start to worry about where we will go for dinner and how I will pay for it. I excuse myself and go look for the Vice-Principal. When I find him I nervously explain to him that the dollar I donated was my last dollar and I wonder if there was any way that I could get it back. He apologizes, gives me a dollar and asks if I need more money but I say no. The only other thing I remember about the dance is that her dress was made of chiffon and it made a lot of noise when she walked. When the prom is over we walk down Railroad Avenue. As we pass the Ming Tree, I point out how crowded it is. Her dress is making a lot of noise and she says it is embarrassing her. We keep walking and go into the Pine Tree Restaurant, an all-night diner that caters to mill workers. No tables, just booths. Everything brightly lit. Not at all romantic. And not one other prom couple there. As we sit down I casually say I’m not very hungry and I think I’ll just have a Coke. She, of course, says the very same thing. The Cokes cost twenty-five cents each. I leave a twenty-five cent tip and walk her home with a tremendous feeling of relief and a quarter in my pocket. I wish I had kept that quarter as a souvenir.



(An email to a friend fron Porcupine Bay - probably unsent)

I have been thinking of reasons I did not make a personal connection with Walt during my time at PB. The first summer I spent too much time with MJ who loved to tell me about Walt’s eccentricities. The next summer I couldn't compete with the other lifeguard who shared Walt’s obsession with food and nutrition. When I read Walt’s stories today it haunts me that I could have known him better and that I have so much in common with him today. Walt loved hard work and fixing his machinery. His obituary says he was best known for his “free thinking and independent spirit”. His Humanist opinions are evident and his writing is concise and clever. He ran Bloomsday in his eighties. I relate strongly to these qualities and am jealous Bill knew him better. Did you know Bill stayed with Walt and Sugar one summer?
I have begun to inquire as to who owns the copyright to the three “Kik-backs” books. I think they deserve to be published on-line.