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


Introduction to my collection of excerpts tentatively titled "Some Kik-Backs." 

Walt and Esther “Sugar” Kik farmed in Lincoln County near Davenport, Washington State. Together they were actively involved in their community sponsoring 4-H groups and promoting healthy, active lifestyles. Between 1974 and 1990 Walt wrote history articles that appeared in the Davenport Times, Wilbur Register and Odessa Record. These were compiled into three “Kik-Back” books. 

Kik-Backs are a unique snapshot of history, mostly from the first half of the 20th century. Walt’s early life saw the introduction of many modern improvements: automobiles and airplanes, tractors and combines, electricity, radio and television. His first years of farming coincided with the hard times of the Great Depression: low wheat prices, crop failures, and droughts.

Walt’s free thinking and independent spirit was in sharp contrast to many in his community; but the deep affection he felt for farming, for his wife, and for his natural environment in the Big Bend Country, shines brightly through his unvarnished prose and  homespun insights.

-October 2022


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 


Extended posts containing collections celebrating a person, place, thing, or event:

Ellis Postcard Company:  Too Bad He Didn't Get Around More

Lincoln County:

The Railroads and Railroad Maps: A Very Stubborn Hot-Headed Bull 

Railroad Hand Cars: Lots of Sweat, But No Tears

Washington State Centennial: A Bit of Pioneer-Like Usage

Grand Coulee Dam: Electrical Juice Out of the Wall

Coulee Dam Postcards: Ninety-two Year Old Battle-Scarred Warrior

Asahel Curtis Photo Company:

Illustrated History of the Big Bend Country: Book of the New Century

Railroad Hand Cars: Lots of Sweat, But No Tears

Found photographs of people posing in front of automobiles:  I was Willing to Shoot the Works

World War One posters related to farming, Liberty Bonds and On Their Way to Get the Kaiser


Kik Backs by Walt Kik     (at

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.


July 2022
I have reached out to several people connected to Walt and Sugar since the inception of this project: Sugar's niece - she gave me permission to proceed with it after asking family members. 
The former reporter from the Davenport Times - (who wrote the editorial on the shirtless controversy that got Kik-Backs rolling.) 
A descendent of Walt's half-cousin - she gave me access to an old family photo.
A relative of the Hardys. (The wedding reception/shivaree where Walt met Sugar - a Facebook connection)
Two lifeguard partners I worked with when I met Walt and Sugar. (One had a close relationship to them.)
A guy from Davenport who hung out at Porcupine Bay as a teenager - another Facebook connection.
A grandchild of a Davenport Times editor - he was Walt's favorite Times editor.
Two sisters Walt met at Porcupine Bay - about them Walt wrote, "knocked your eyes out."
Only one person has reached out to me - an amateur writer who works and lives in Davenport and writes local history stories for The Davenport Times. He aspires to be "the new Walt Kik." Perhaps someday someone will reach out who has access to some original photographs or artifacts of Walt's or Sugar's. I have few good photos of them. -PAK


March 2022
A current thought about Kik-Backs:

Kik-Backs is a snapshot of the first half of the 20th century from the eyes of a farmer in a fertile corner of the Pacific Northwest whose coming-of-age years were shaped by the Great Depression and wrote first-hand accounts of the introduction of automobiles, tractors, airplanes, electricity and television.


Aug 2021

My present hope for the long-term impact of this page is informed by the blog 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.


An untypically diverse 24 hour period 15 Feb 2022


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.)



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.


(This could be called a "pandemic project".)



Stories where Walt mentions taking movies (probably 8 mm) of an event:

Walt Kik / Phil Krogh
Non-blood genealogical path between me and Walt from
(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 


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 assigned me the middle floor. I soon learned that several of my sixth floor dorm-mates 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 and when rooms on campus became available the "Idaho Women" were scattered but stayed close friends. Connie ended up on ninth floor Orton and 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
WSU Press Photo attempting to show the living environment of Orton Hall, the first co-ed dorm on campus.

   One day in the dorm I witnessed Connie's Idaho friends hold her down while they placed a pet gerbil on her stomach. They partly 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 to the dorm but didn't go in. Instead, we wandered aimlessly around and talked and talked. Around midnight we were walking and talking around the basketball courts when we decided to go inside. 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 it was morning.

Phil Krogh
My dorm-mates, 6th floor Orton, 1973, many of whom could not decide whether they wanted to live on an upper or lower floor of a 12 story building. I am not in this photo.

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.

A draft email, 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.

We, Christmas Children Of The Past

Once again, 

Christmas time is here.

It’s interesting to go over 

Our past childhood Christmases.

Every event was brand new 

 To us then. 

We have a lot to be thankful for, 

 As most of us 

 Will soon complete another year. 

We, Christmas children of the past, 

Are now playing the roles 

Of parents, 


Or the childless ones. 

It’s how we found ourselves 

Cast in life. 

                -Walt Kik

Blue Skirt Waltz

When the “Blue Skirt Waltz” 

was on the national number one list, 

I bought my young wife 

a blue dress. 

It was so beautiful, 

and made perfectly for dancing. 

The accordion-like pleats 

went all around Sugar’s waist. 

When she whirled to the tune 

of the “Blue Skirt Waltz," 

her body was in the center 

of all that flared out material. 

There was a certain sweetness to life 

in those days,

that our present boldness 

has wiped out. 

It was an era when 

you learned about things 

rather late in life, 

and in small doses. 

                    -Walt Kik

Grand Coulee Dam

The country was flat on it’s face,

    so planning a dam

        as big as the Coulee Dam,

Just simply scared the wits

    out of most people. A story got out

    that if they built Coulee Dam,

It could fill up with silt

    in about a hundred years. Rumors soon faded,

    as there were just piles

And piles of people,

    out of work and hungry.

Sheriffs were busy,

    kicking farmers off their farms,

And something

    had to be done.

Excitement ran high in 1934,

    down at the Coulee.

Shacks were getting

    nailed together,

People were walking around

    in all directions,

And the rattlesnakes

    were getting jittery.

                        -Walt Kik