Joe Vitley, who turned 79 this year, is a North End native. He went to Washington Elementary, graduated from Boise State University and had a career in the military and civil service. When he was a boy, he spent his time on Camel's Back hill.
Winter meant sledding, even a little skiing.
"We had more snow back then. On a moonlit night, you could go up the hill and sleigh ride until you froze to death. And sometimes you did. But it was a beautiful experience," Vitley said.
He nominated Camel's Back hill as a Boise icon.
In the summer, Vitley and his friends found lizards, horned toads and "a snake or two."
"It was wild and woolly back then," he said.
Anytime the neighborhood kids found an old car fender, they carried it to the top of the hill and rode it down, skimming through the weeds.
Vitley once watched his cousin walk down Camel's Back wearing stilts. "I don't know how he did it, but I saw it. That boy lived on the edge."
Vitley credits a young man from the neighborhood with cutting the hill's first trails with his motorcycle in the 1940s.
"We called him Blackie because he had a black motorcycle and wore a black suit," said Vitley.
Blackie and his fellow riders tore up the front side of the hill, known by neighborhood kids as the "angel slide." They careened down its back, known as the "devil slide."
Angel or devil, the whole hill was a playground.
"We killed buffalo, cowboys and indians on that hill and dug foxholes to fight the Germans," he said.
His grandchildren play on Camel's Back. The foxholes are still there.
Anna Webb: 377-6431