You may be thinking that that is an article about gaming in Humboldt County. Wrong! It is about an intrepid group of individuals who wanted to support and improve health services in our county. Fifty years ago at a “Krazy Days” street sale in Winnemucca, these folks set up their card table stacked with “White Elephants” to sell. The Humboldt Hospital Auxiliary was born. It was not long before they expanded to a series of rummage sales from the basement of the old Kirk’s Market at the corner of Bridge and Second streets. 

Donations began pouring in and it became obvious that a more permanent location was needed. Their search ended with the discovery of a rent-free location that was available. Of course, the house was built in 1900 and looked like no one but Norman Bates could love it. It was on the corner of Fifth and Bridge streets. The site is now occupied by the district attorney’s office, also known as the Hartoch Building. 

The town was now on its way to a permanent thrift shop. Armed with brooms, mops and plenty of enthusiasm, the intrepid group set about dusting, washing floors, sweeping decades of dust and evicting a small army of annoyed spiders. It was time for a name. Charter member Katheryn Hoxsey suggested “Poke and Peek”; now the “Poke” had a building and a name. 

Items were displayed on three large grocery store vegetable tables, which were donate by their former landlord. Business was amazingly brisk, with store hours from 9 a.m. 5 p.m. on Saturdays and a designated work day on Wednesday. Soon, patrons discovered the work day and were knocking on the door on Wednesday. Consequently, the “Poke” opened for business on Wednesday. Eventually, Friday was added. 

The Humboldt Hospital Auxiliary was off to a flying start. The small hospital was undergoing expansion, and an early goal for the volunteers was to pledge $10,000 underwrite a hospital room. This was shortly achieved and the future was bright with sunshine and rainbows. 

But wait! Rainbows usually mean rain. In this case, it certainly did, with one of Winnemucca’s torrential spring rain storms. Of course, the roof leaked and the precious thrift store inventory became a wet, soupy, smelly mess. The building was so old there was no possibility of a new roof. One of the auxiliary’s greatest fears about the building was that the termites would stop holding hands and the whole house would collapse into rubble. 

A permanent, rain-proof place was needed, and so the hunt was on.