That House on the Hill 

Simplot mansion tour raises eyebrows and nostrils

So you want to know how your financial betters live? After touring the Simplot Governor's Mansion with a couple of other hundred slack-jawed gawkers last Friday, we can answer in five words: "hot," "smelly" and "in separate beds."

The overwhelming heat, of course, had more to do with the weather and the crowd than with former resident J.R. Simplot (although we were hoping they'd rev up that weather machine he secretly invented in order to cool us all down). Of course we can't be sure that the smell in that famous house on the hill had its root in J.R. and his wife Esther. It could have been from the plumbing, the visitors (again) or the fact that both Simplots apparently preferred that their bathrooms be carpeted right up to the bathtub (one volunteer's explanation: "She probably didn't splash around a lot").

As for the beds, well, even though the house was unfurnished during the tour, the master and mistress's bedrooms were just one place where visitors had ample opportunity to imagine its Dynasty-esque heights. We marveled at the golden his-and-hers bootjacks, both shaped like Texas longhorns and inscribed with Jack and Esther's initials, that were mounted in the his-and-hers garages (incidentally, her garage, like her bedroom and her bathroom, dwarfed his by a large margin).

We didn't marvel so much at the oven, dishwasher and other kitchen gadgetry, none of which seemed to have been changed out since B.C. (Before the Carringtons). We marveled mightily at Risch himself, whose gregariousness--both in dealing with strangers, and in arranging this free event in the first place--was a stark contrast to his supposed aloof political persona.

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