KIMBERLY — She’s a tiny little thing, but she’ll not disappear in a crowd.
At nearly 85, Marge Sligar is a bundle of spunk.
“How tall are you, Marge?” a visitor asked.
“Tall enough,” Marge said, as she flitted around her home showing off her memorabilia.
Hundreds of photos cover the walls and shadowboxes hold personal belongings of long-gone loved ones, and trophy mounts from her husband’s numerous hunting trips to Africa dominate the living space.
Some 66 years ago, Marge Duggan met the love of her life, Bill Sligar, on the Snake River near Hagerman. Marge and her brother Marvin were picking cherries in an orchard near the Owsley Bridge when she spotted Bill in a boat.
“We’re going to follow that boat,” she told her brother.
Across the river from Thousand Springs, Bill hitched the boat to a deck alongside gas pumps and a 15-by-20 shack of a store that sold beer, cigarettes and fishing tackle. Marge introduced herself and within weeks they were married.
“I always told myself I was going to marry a blond sailor,” she said with a giggle. “We were just snot-nosed kids.”
Bill’s parents owned the riverside property and after marrying into the family in 1952, Marge began working with the Sligars. Bill piloted a seven-passenger boat upstream from Thousand Springs to Blue Heart Springs and back.
“We charged 25 cents for the tour,” Marge said.
Within a few years, the family installed a pool and built a restaurant, ushering in its resort status. Bill and his brother Keith eventually bought Sligars 1000 Springs Resort from their parents.
The Sligars were an entrepreneurial bunch, doing whatever it took to make a living, said Marge’s niece Marcy Sligar. Bill and Keith built Northwest Crane and Rigging in Twin Falls, while Marge and Keith’s wife, Rita, ran the resort at Hagerman.
“I’d get Bill ready for the day, then drive to Hagerman by 10. We’d close the resort at 10 at night, then we cleaned the pools, restaurant and restrooms before leaving for home,” Marge said. “Then we did it all over the next day.
“I worked 48 hours a day, nine days a week, with no pay.”
Marcy grew up in the resort’s restaurant, working alongside her siblings and cousins. She remembers “Auntie Marge bouncing around the resort like a Banty hen,” she said. “We were brought up to work — it’s just what we did.”
The kids would do chin-ups on a bar near the gas pumps at the resort, but her aunt could outperform all of them on that bar.
“Now I sit and watch the hummingbirds float around,” Marge said. But Marcy doubts her auntie’s words.
“I don’t think she ever sits still,” Marcy said.
On the Oregon Trail
Marge has been on the move since childhood. Her family left Nebraska in 1937, in the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. Marge was 4 and Marvin was 2.
Their father transformed a flatbed International truck into a home on wheels, installed beds and a wood stove in the corner of the home, Marvin said, pointing to a photograph of his childhood self standing on the steps. The stove’s chimney can be seen in the photo.
“We loaded up every damn thing we owned and headed to Idaho, following the Oregon Trail,” Marge said.
And so did thousands of other Nebraskans.
In Wyoming, Marge's and Marvin’s father stopped to get fuel for the truck and the filling station owner asked if he could pay for the fuel; Doyle Duggan bristled at the question. The man then walked Duggan behind the station, where dozens of geese, ducks, chickens and pigs were penned — payment for fuel when travelers had no money.
“People did whatever they had to, to survive back then,” Marge said.
When the Duggans reached Hagerman, their father — Marge describes him as a workaholic — paid $100 for five acres on the river near the Owsley Bridge, and built the Duggan Sawmill and a home. The family continued to live in their “motor home” for six months until their home was finished.
Later, Duggan converted the International truck into a school bus, which he drove for the school district for years and years.
Marge remembers her childhood fondly.
“We never had much, but we were happy.”
Part of history
The Sligars have been an integral part of two towns, supporting Hagerman’s tourism and building large structures in Twin Falls, including major expansions at Amalgamated Sugar Co. and Universal Frozen Foods, now Lamb Weston.
They were also involved in tearing down Twin Falls’ past. The Sligars’ crane service demolished many historic structures in the name of progress, including the Hotel Perrine on the west corner at Main Avenue and Shoshone Street.
“I still have one of the tiles from the hotel,” Marcy said.
The Sligar families closed down the crane service before Keith died 15 years ago. They sold the resort 10 years ago.
Bill’s health has declined and he chooses to spend much of his time at their cabin near Pine. Marge keeps busy with her great-grandchildren — especially 4-year-old Mylee.
“I’ve had a good life,” Marge said. “It’s been fun.”
But if the past is a good predictor of the future, Marge is far from done. She says she’s had a hankering to become a photographer for about 70 years now.
“I worked 48 hours a day, nine days a week, with no pay.” Marge Sligar