It’s Sweet to be home

BLACKFOOT — The Sea Dog and his bride are back home from Mexico. Again. But this time they intend to stay.
Dwain and Pauline Sweet of Blackfoot have been spending part of each year in the tiny fishing village of Kino Bay, Mexico, since 1989.
Because of advancing age and the fact their children want them home, the Sweets sold their park model trailer and their boat and are determined to stay close to the hometown they have claimed since 1964.
“When we went down last year, we had an idea this was going to be our last trip,” Dwain said as he and Pauline sat in their dining room last week.
The Sweets moved to Blackfoot after he retired from the U.S. Navy. A machinist’s mate, he had been assigned here as part of the Navy’s nuclear program at what is now the Idaho National Laboratory.
After leaving the Navy, he operated a small engine repair shop and they farmed north of town. He also worked several years from a contractor at the Site.
“I had a friend who kept bugging me to go,” he said of their initial trip to Mexico. They stayed two months.
“The next time we sold the sheep and stayed for three or four months,” he said. Eventually they stayed six to eight months a year for 21 years, each time returning to the village on the Bay of Cortez.
“We didn’t know word one of Spanish when we went down,” Dwain said. “We picked up enough to get by. We would pick up a little bit every year. We weren’t fluent, but spoke enough to get by.”
Although they went to enjoy the fishing — something they did on a regular basis — both Dwain and Pauline did things for their Mexican and American neighbors.
“I used to crochet afghans for the grandkids,” Pauline said. “That got old because they were loaded down. Someone suggested that we make blankets for the Mexican children.”
The people in Kino Bay were simple folk.
“They’re all destitute, but they don’t know it,” Pauline said. “They’re a happy people.”
Over the years Pauline made between 400 and 500 baby blankets and gave them to the Mexican people. She used donated yarn, much of it from friends in Bingham County, and had help from other people. About 200 Americans and Canadians add to the community’s population each year.
“I replaced rods and reels,” Dwain said of his part when he wasn’t fishing. “Any time they broke anything, I would get them repaired. And we caught lots of fish. We always had Mexican friends who were more than willing to take it.”
Shortly before they left to return to Idaho, the Sweets headed out to sea again.
After a good day of catching rock bass, they decided to make one more drift before heading for home.
Good decision! They got a double hookup of something big. Dwain lost his, but helped pull hers to the boat. After a long battle, they hauled a 49-pound white sea bass into the boat and took it home.
“That was kind of a hoopla for our last fishing trip,” Dwain said as he broke into a smile.
The couple, which has been married 59 years, doesn’t have “any hard and fast plans,” Dwain said.
“They’re going to enjoy their two girls and we’re going to enjoy them,” their daughter Jackie (Jacqueline) said, “and we’re going to enjoy them.”
She and her sister Sharon Mecham are excited to have them home.
For now they expect to find their way to the Senior Center from time to time and to find some new projects to keep them busy.
“If people would donate yarn to me, I would make lap blankets for seniors,” Pauline said.
“If we were younger, we would go back,” Pauline said.
“In a heartbeat,” Dwain agreed.
“I always though you had to be very rich to go to Mexico but that’s not the case,” Pauline said.
And, Dwain said, they didn’t have any concerns as they traveled back and forth.
Readjusting to Idaho’s winter weather hasn’t been easy, of course. But they’re slowly doing so. They will likely be found on some of Idaho’s waterways or at Montana’s Hebgen Lake once the weather breaks.