As everyone knows, the 1938 Idaho State Checkers Champion was Alfred Wilke who lived just outside of Boise about two miles west of the Cole School. That’s right, the Cole School that is no longer there.
It’s hard to pin down what Wilke was best known for, outside of his wicked checkers skill. Many would remember him as the man who bred white leghorn chickens at his home, which he called Wilketon Hatchery. In 1930 you could buy 1,000 “chix” for $95. Some would recall that his wife had a little bird business on the side, selling singing canaries, “the finest in a decade” if you believed her classified ads.
Working in all those chicken coops gave Wilke chronic bronchitis, so he switched careers in 1924. Taking what he’d learned about nutrition in the chicken business, he started Wilke’s Dog Food Plant at 8201 Fairview Avenue, where Boise Funeral Home is today. The establishment didn’t look like much, but the product was popular. Wilke sold the dog food all over Idaho and in adjoining states.
You can see in the photo that Wilke had a creed. The first point of the creed was to “Produce a superior product.” The second point can’t be read from the photo, but we know it involved nutrition and longevity. His third creed point was, “Love for all.” It almost sounds like he was building Subarus.
Wilke did love dogs. He bred and sold Irish setters and Airedales, “unprecedented guardians of the home,” in 1938.
One item in the picture to take special notice of is the landscape scene beneath the Wilke’s sign. Alfred Wilke was an amateur artist who participated in shows put on by the Boise Art Association and even had a show of his own in 1973 at Boise Blueprint, where they touted his “four decades of experience” in producing scenic Idaho art. No mention was made of his dog food or skill at checkers.