Heritage Court 2005

BY KAREN BOSSICK

The Wood River Journal~Bellevue

 

           
lula2005Lula Shoemaker never moved more than a few miles from the farm where she was born and raised.

            But the world has sure been on the move around her.

            In her 87 years of living in the Bellevue area, Shoemaker has seen the school house she learned her ABCs torn down to make way for the Bellevue City Park. She’s seen a few cow pastures up north transformed into a world class destination ski resort. And she’s seen fish runs so abundant you could spear the fish nearly disappear.

            Shoemaker, one of four women named to the 2005 Heritage Court, was born Lula Barker on her family farm between Bellevue and Gannett.

            Her father B.H., who’d crossed the lava fields between Idaho Falls and Bellevue in a covered wagon, built a little cabin in Muldoon Canyon east of Bellevue where the family spent summers raising hay and grain.

Shoemaker fed slop made of sour milk and leftovers to the hogs while her sister Lillian Wright milked the cow.

            “We grew up in the Depression where we didn’t have anything. But we lived happily ever after,” Shoemaker recalled. “We had a close family and we lived on a farm so we had everything we needed from chickens to vegetables. If we hadn’t lived on a farm we might have gone hungry.”

The family moved back to town come winter. There Shoemaker and some of her 12 sisters and brothers piled into a covered camp wagon—the school bus of its day—to ride some seven miles to school.

            “If you were lucky you got to sit close to the fire in the stove,” she recalled.

            After high school Shoemaker attended beauty school. But instead of becoming a hairdresser, she married George Shoemaker whom she had courted on the back of a motorcycle as they went on dates to the movie theater.

            “I was 20 when we married. No cake, no big ceremony. Just said a few words and that was it. Then we went to Wendell for our honeymoon where we stayed with his mother,” she said.

            Shoemaker met her husband when he came to work the hay on her parent’ farm.  After they married in 1939, he worked at the Triumph Mine out East Fork Road and the Silver Star Queen Mine on Broadford Road south of Bellevue.

            But Shoemaker can’t tell you what he did.

            “I never questioned it because I didn’t like the mines. I don’t like dark, deep holes.”

            Conversely, she can tell you every detail of how the couple had an old schoolhouse at Fish Creek northeast of Carey moved more than 30 miles to Fourth Street in Bellevue where Shoemaker continues to live 53 years later.

            “I wanted a house and it was not easy to get houses then,” she said.

Shoemaker and her husband tore down all but one side of the schoolhouse. Then they rebuilt it one stick at a time over the course of the next two years, expanding upon the original building as they did.

“We set our son Dan in a wheelbarrow and he watched, his fingers in his mouth, as we worked. My daughters Jan (Lyke) and Lois (Koonce) helped me lay sheetrock. We did the whole thing—the house and the land it sits on–for $500. And I’d say it turned out pretty good. It’s still standing, at least.”

When the work was done, the family went fishing—at Magic Reservoir, at Redfish Lake, at Henrys Lake near Yellowstone National Park.

They eschewed sleeping bags and pads for quilts—“You could see the blotchy red spots on some of the men’s backs the next morning from sleeping on rocks,” Shoemaker recalled.

And they cooked the 8- to 16-pounders they speared or reeled in by rolling them in pancake mix and frying them on the grill.

Come winter, they snowmobiled along Baker Creek. And Shoemaker tried skiing at Rotarun until her husband dissuaded her by telling her he’d pick her up with her leg broke.

“We thought they were crazy when they started building the resort up at Sun Valley. We didn’t understand what they were doing—nobody did,” she said.

When lung cancer forced her husband to quit work in the mines, she became the breadwinner of the family, working at the county assessor’s office for 10 years until 1983.

She also sold Avon door to door and helped out at Bellevue’s public library.

Over the years, she also performed hundreds of free perms for friends in her home, upholstered people’s chairs, couches and cars on her two “old, old Singers” and knitted dozens of ski hats for kids at church.

“Mom was a tremendous seamstress,” recalled Jan Lyke. “She started sewing for us girls, making us dresses out of flour sacks. They were beautiful with florals and pictures of little girls printed on them.”

Able to see only shadows now, Shoemaker spends most of her time listening to Louis L’Amour books on tape that she gets from the Idaho Commission on the Blind.

Her husband died nearly two years ago so she keeps her TV turned to CNN Headline News to keep her company. She also gets frequent visits from her sister Lillian, who lives a block up the street, and her children, all of whom live nearby.

“I like this valley. It’s a pretty little valley,” she said. “But sometimes I think people are pushing too hard nowadays. This was a nice town when I came here. Then they decided money was the big thing. It used to be we never paid the mayor, the council people. But they wanted money and money is the root of all evil.

“Now all they want to do is raise taxes so the little guys have to move out. I always felt I’d like to be covered up here. But, if I don’t die pretty soon, I’ll be covered up by Californians.”

 



orpha2005Carey~Talk about roots–Orpha Smith Mecham’s stretch way back to B.C .

            Before Carey, that is.

Her grandparents were the first to settle in the Carey area—back in 1880 when it was a valley of tall thick meadow grass.

And Mecham has been in the thick of what’s come since—from the one-room schoolhouses she taught in to the times she and her brothers drove cars between the electric poles strung up down the middle of Carey’s main street as if they were slalom gates.

On June 26 Mecham and three other women will be inducted into the Blaine County Heritage Court—a payback for their role in the history of the Wood River Valley.

It’s been an odyssey of 91 years for Mecham—more if you count the generations that came before.

            Mecham’s grandparents Joseph and Anna Smith left their home in Tooele, Utah, in search of greener pastures that friends had promised them near Eagle Rock, Idaho, now Idaho Falls.

But they made a detour when Joseph’s brother Brigham Smith sent them a letter at the Blackfoot Ferry singing the praises of a “Little Woodriver Valley paradise” with a small stream, good untouched soil, a shimmering lake and sagebrush “in which to hide.”

            There are dozens of birds and animals, and freight wagons cross the valley “all the time” carrying supplies to the miners, he added.

            Joseph Smith obliged, traveling two days from the lava fields near Arco until he and Anna reached Dry Creek three miles west of the Little Wood River Reservoir.

            The two brothers built a one-room house out of cottonwood logs with a dirt roof that leaked when the snows melted and the rains came. They covered the windows and door with burlap and quilts to keep the wind and cold out.

And then they promptly went to work hauling freight between Bellevue and Blackfoot via horse-drawn wagons, leaving Mecham’s grandmother alone.

            “Grandmother was very unhappy. Here she was with three little kids—she had five more after she came here–and not a soul, nothing,” Mecham recalled. “The saving grace was that she had her cast iron stove to cook on—Grandpa had tried to throw that out in the lava fields and she said she was not about to cook over a campfire.”

            Anna also had plenty of frightening moments, Mecham added. She held her breath as she heard bears tromping around the cabin, fearful they’d come in through the doorless entryway.

And she wasn’t any keener about the Indians who stopped to trade moccasins for “white man’s bread” as they traveled through Dry Creek on their way to the camas fields near Fairfield each summer.

When Joseph Smith died at age 40 in 1893 Anna moved to town, which by then had been named after its first postmaster.

“She never really did come to grips with moving here,” Mecham said. “She lived to be 82 or 83 and I don’t think I ever saw her smile.”

            Joseph Smith served as the first Sunday School superintendent of the Mormon church after 25 people organized it at a dance hall meeting in 1892. Anna helped with the primary  when it operated out of a one-room log schoolhouse and trained her children to be active in the church.

In fact, Mecham’s father Lafayette became the first of Carey’s residents to go on a mission for the Mormon Church.

            He was met by a hostile mob in his mission field of Arkansas. One man hit him over the head with the butt of a gun and knocked him out. His missionary partner dragged him to safety.

            “He always had a bald spot where he was hit,” Mecham recalled.

           

CAREY GETS ELECTRICITY

 

Lafe, as he was known, returned to Carey where he ran sheep up Fish Creek until he sold out and went into the cattle business, raising hay where the high school football field now sits.

            “That made mother happy. She was raised in Colorado and didn’t know anything about sheep and she thought they stunk,” Mecham said.

            Mecham’s mother, who met Lafayette through his cousin, turned the family’s two-story frame house into a hotel since there was no place for the sheep men and people traveling through Carey to stay at the time.

            She rented out five of the home’s eight bedrooms and served up family-style dinners featuring the chickens she raised, tomatoes, corn and beans from her garden and her famous lemon pie.

            “I grew up waiting tables and I remember asking one man what kind of pie he wanted. He said, ‘I want a whole one, a round pie.’ And he ate the whole thing,” Mecham recalled. “We didn’t serve broccoli, though. It wasn’t popular in those days.”

            Mecham also kept the coal oil lamps filled, the wicks cut and their chimneys clean. They stunk and they smoked and that’s why she was delighted when the man who wired the town for electricity stayed in their hotel in 1920.

            “He looked at the lamp and said, ‘I’m not going to have that in my room so our house was the first to get electricity. I fell in love with that man,” she recalled. “And I brought all my school friends home to see that little cord that came down from the ceiling with a lightbulb on the end of it. I thought that was the most wonderful thing.”

            Mecham  graduated in a class of three in 1931—only after school district found some money to have it at the last moment.

            She followed her brother Cecil—an artist whose romantic pictures of the West were published in “Western Horseman”—to the University of Utah. But it was too big for her so she transferred to Albion College where she got the last of the lifetime teaching certificates.

When Mecham started teaching, school houses were situated three miles apart so every child was within 1 and one-half miles of a schoolhouse.

Mecham started her teaching career at the Tiquara school eight miles south of Carey with seven children from four different families. But parental interference was enough to prompt her to hang up her teaching credentials after just one year.

But ranchers living in Upper Fish Creek above the reservoir, which was completed in 1923, wouldn’t let her.

They offered her $75 a month–$15 more than teachers were making at the Carey school. Then, when she turned them down, they raised it to $125 a month and offered her a furnished house and all the meat, milk and freshly baked bread she needed.

“My parents had a fit. It was too far away and I’d be snowed in all winter,” Mecham recalled. “But they finally relented and sent my brother who was in sixth grade, with me to keep me company. He said it was the two years he spent in jail since he had to live with his teacher. But I loved it. The people were so good to me.”

Mecham sent the older kids out for recess while she worked with the younger ones. Then she repeated the process with the younger kids.

She skied to a spring where she filled a five-gallon milk can and hauled it back on a sleigh. And one of the ranchers, Jim Tilfer, occasionally picked up care packages from her mother when he took his sleigh into Carey between Christmas and Easter when the residents of Upper Fish Creek were snowed in.

On the last day of school, Mecham took her students to the annual Spelling Bee in Hailey. One of her first-grader blew away his competitors because he’d been learning spelling with the older kids.

“They just gave me silly baby words,” he told Mecham.

 

TALK ABOUT BIG CLASSES…

 

After two years, one of the families moved and there weren’t the six kids required to keep the school open. So Mecham went to work at other schools in Gannett, Victor, American Falls, Arco—even Gooding where she taught 50 fifth-graders in one class during World War II.

During summer she drove tractors on the family farm.

“The day I went to Gooding to my first teacher meeting, I worked on the tractor from 5 in the morning to 10. Then I took a shower and went to the meeting. I didn’t learn to sit around,” she said.

Finally she returned to Carey where she taught fifth grade for 20 years between 1956 and 1976 before switching to substituting. She even taught one class at the old ranch house in Dry Creek while awaiting the new school to be built in Carey.

By the time she substituted for her last class at age 80, she had taught three generations. She had taught many of the teachers she was substituting for and she’d taught the parents of many of the students she was teaching.

She still tears up as she recounts success stories—say, of the boy who refused to wear glasses because he thought they were for sissies until she invited her 6-foot-2 cowboy artist brother to the classroom and told him to be sure to bring his glasses.

Carey Mayor Rick Baird credits Mecham with helping to instill the discipline that got him through 20 years in the Army and now serves him as mayor of Carey and manager of the Friedman Memorial Airport.

“She was firm, tough. She was fair. She had a more than average hand in making me who I am today,” he said.

“I was strict,” Mecham confessed. “One of my nieces told me, ‘The kids don’t like you.’ I said, ‘I don’t care whether they do or not. I’m here to teach the kids, not win a popularity contest.’.

“I wouldn’t teach now, though. When I was teaching if a child needed discipline, you could give them a couple whacks with a ruler. And if you wanted to praise a child you could put your hand around their shoulder and give them a hug. You can’t touch them now. I ‘m glad I got out when I did.”

Mecham married Lowell—“the boy across the street”—in 1952 and they had two boys and one girl. They lost the girl to polio, however, and one of the boys to a defective heart at age 4.

Her husband was killed in an accident at a grain elevator near Picabo 15 years ago and her son Krea decided he didn’t want the family farm—too many government regulations, he said.

Mecham moved into a mobile home at Carey’s crossroads where Highway 93 meets with Highway 20. A new service station and convenience store opened across the street from her this year and she’s delighted to see such progress come to her town.

She still reads the newspaper—“all of them”–from one end to the other. But arthritis and a metal plate in her wrist has forced her to stop crocheting and decorating cakes. And two plastic knees have forced her to give up driving, except for her electric wheelchair.

Unable to care for herself as she once did, she will move to Cedar City, Utah, this fall to be with her son who is now a field man for Intermountain Farmers.

“When he went down there, I said I wouldn’t go. I wouldn’t move. I don’t want to leave Carey. I was born here. My husband and children died here,” she said. “Why, I went back up to Dry Creek where my grandparents and it was so green and lush. Truly one of the most beautiful places on Earth.”

BY KAREN BOSSICK

The Wood River Journal~Sun Valley

 

            anita2005Anita Gray doesn’t need to stroll down the hallway at the Sun Valley Lodge to check out the pictures of Hollywood celebrities and other legends who frequented Sun Valley during its formative years.

            She’s got her own pictures.

            Ernest Hemingway taught her to shoot. Gary Cooper used to come to her home for dinner. And she used to share cocktails with Norma Shearer.

            “I wasn’t much into the stars—I thought they were fake,” said Gray, now 83. “But Gary Cooper was a darling. The kids were watching a Gary Cooper movie when he first showed up. They looked at him, then looked at the TV screen and their jaw dropped. He went hunting once and shot a coyote and brought the skin back for the kids.

“And I thought Ernest was marvelous. But then, I probably saw a side of him others didn’t. He could put on an act for others because they wanted it, they expected it.

            Hobnobbing with Greek shipping magnates and others who came to Sun Valley was more than recreation for Gray and her husband Win Gray.

            It was a job.

            They were, you might say, among Sun Valley’s first ambassadors—paid to ski with the guests and have them over for cocktails.

            “Pappy Rogers at Sun Valley would call up and say, ‘We’re sending over a bartender with all the stuff. You’ll have a dozen people for cocktails. And I’d set out cheese and crackers and dip. They wanted to try to keep people away from Ketchum where all the gambling was,” said Gray, who has a treasure trove of memories underneath her head of light golden curls.

            Gray was a Chicago gal when she met a Navy man named Win Gray, who had been stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. They settled first in Buhl where he grew up but Win missed the camaraderie of other vets to swap war stories with and so they moved to Sun Valley in 1949.

Here they bought a lot overlooking the Sun Valley Lake with a thousand dollars they received as a wedding gift.

            The Sun Valley life proved idyllic for a tomboy like Anita Gray.

            Ernest Hemingway became an instant friend, in part because they had so much in common what with him hailing from a Chicago suburb. The two had also vacationed  frequently at Bay Harbor, Mich.

“I first met him at a party at Trail Creek Cabin where I complimented him on his books,” Gray recalled. “He said, ‘Do you hunt?’ I replied, ‘I’ve always wanted to.’ He said, ‘Well, get a license.’”

Hemingway, who had a fondness for Gray’s German apple cake, took Gray hunting, starting her out with a 22 to get used to the gun kicking and working her way up. He also taught her to shoot on instinct by pointing her gun where she thought the bird or animal would be.

            “I became a fairly good shot, as you can see,” she said, gesturing to the geese, six-point deer and antelope trophies scattered around her home of 55 years.

            In between trips to shoot rabbits near Shoshone and ducks near Silver Creek, Hemingway collected Gray and her two sons Pete and Jed and together they’d go walking along Trail Creek with the dogs.

            “We’d walk summer and winter,” recalled Gray, who still has the wine glass Hemingway drank out of while visiting her.  “He liked to stay in shape. And there were no houses along Fairway Road, then. No people, either. He didn’t like people because they always wanted to talk. Sometimes we’d go out and not even talk.”

            When Hemingway did belly up to a barstool to chat with Anita and other friends, people would sometimes lean over, “their ears hanging out, intruding on our conversation,” Gray recalled. Quite often Ernest would concoct a story that wasn’t true just for the benefit of those people.

            “I never saw him drunk. I never saw him do any of the bad things some people claim he did. He just wanted you to understanding what he was thinking. I remember I used to go over to his house and wait on him while he was writing on his typewriter, looking out the window at Ryan Peak—he loved that view.”

 

            A fierce competitor

 

            With her husband busy with work—he managed the trail rides for Sun Valley, the Camas gold mine and served as a Realtor–Anita taught her sons how to hunt, fish, downhill ski and cross-country ski.

            “I told them, ‘You get high on the mountains and fishing and these things and not the other,’ ” she said.

            “She was one strong broad—and competitive, too,” recalled Peter, as he recounted and picnics up on Trail Creek with the Seagles, Moritzes, Kneelands and Struthers.

“I remember golfing at Elkhorn with her about 30 years ago when she had a detached retina. She was feeling hang dog as the blind lady of Sun Valley. She overshot one hole with water in between. And, as she was complaining about it, her next shot goes into the cup across the water from 20 yards off the tee. Meanwhile I flub three balls from that point.”

            Another time, Gray recalls, she and her sons went duck hunting down at Stalker Creek near their ranch.

“All the ducks came in and I had to catch my breath I thought they were so beautiful. Finally, they left and I realized none of us had fired a single shot. It turned out my sons were waiting for me to take a shot, and I was waiting for them.

“I made up for it, though, when we went hunting on snowshoes. The ducks were mighty surprised. They didn’t expect to run into any people.”

 

Selling the actress’  exercise regimen

 

Gray pursued other interests, as well. She taught her sons to play bridge and is still involved in the 700-person bridge network that son Peter oversees.

            She, her Chicago friend Jeanne Lane and Mary Ellen Moritz organized the auxiliary for the Sun Valley Community Hospital at the bidding of Dr. John Moritz.

            “We held string combo golf tournaments and other fundraisers to buy some wonderful stuff—like the valley’s first mammogram machine–that the hospital didn’t have and the Union Pacific Railroad, which owned Sun Valley at the time, wasn’t interested in buying,” she said. “We were the ones who came forward and did the things the people who had young babies couldn’t.”

            Gray was also among 17 women who founded The Community Library, which  celebrated its golden anniversary this year.

One of the initial contributors was actress Norma Shearer. She donated boxes and boxes full of clothing and jewelry to the Gold Mine second hand store, which funded the library. She also invited Gray to draw pictures of her exercise routine, which Gray then sold around town for additional library funds.

 “Win and Pete Lane didn’t think we could do it. They thought we were biting off more than we could chew. We were but we did it, anyway–for the people in town because they didn’t have any books,” said Gray, an avid mystery reader whose mother kept her supplied in books before the library was built.

“We opened it in a rustic cabin with a coal stove that was very dirty,” she continued. “We plugged holes in the wall with newspapers and all of us had to learn to start the stove without killing ourselves. We all learned the Dewey decimal system, too.”

            Win served on Sun Valley’s first city council and then became mayor of Sun Valley in 1965 at the urging of his good friend Eddie Seagle. He continued as the city’s non-paid mayor until 1979, making him the longest running mayor in the history of Sun Valley, according to Anita.

            An avid gardener, Gray now spends winters in Rancho Mirage, Calif., where she grows grapefruit and other citrus fruit. But come summer she’s back in Sun Valley where she’s always up for a game of golf, despite two hip replacements.

            “There’s too many people here now, and too many tall buildings. But my son Jed’s in real estate so I can’t make too much noise,” she said.

“I am really proud, though, when I look around and see the things that I had a part in. I marvel at all the wonderful things the auxiliary has bought for the hospital. And the library—look at how beautifully it has expanded with no public money–not a dime from city, county, state or nation. I’m told there’s only three like that in the United States—and I had a part in it.”

BY KAREN BOSSICK

The Wood River Journal~Hailey

 

           

gladys2005While movie stars were sunbathing in the glamour of the new Sun Valley resort, Gladys McAtee was scratching out a life the hard way.

            She peeled the bark off logs as she and her husband Van built their home in Ketchum. She rode on a hay rake as she helped clear 350 acres of sagebrush out Croy Canyon. And she endured childbirth with only a hot towel for an anesthetic.

            “What did we have to holler about? We were happy all our lives. We never had a lot of money, but we never went hungry and we never wore rags,” said McAtee, now 91.

            McAtee, one of four women honored in this year’s Blaine County Historical Museum’s Heritage Court, helped pioneer a valley that was coming into its prime during the Depression years of the 1930s.

            Her husband Val worked on the rotary snowplow that cleared the railroad tracks of snow from Shoshone to Ketchum for “a special trainload of dudes coming from New York.”

Eleven hours later, the train chugged through five feet of snow into Ketchum and Union Pacific Chairman Averell Harriman and Count Felix Schaffgotsch got their first look at the winter wonderland  that they would transform into America’s first destination ski resort.

That set the stage for the McAtees to move from Shoshone, where Val had helped build Twin Falls Power Plant dam and the slice gates at Magic Reservoir, to Ketchum  where he would help build the Sun Valley Lodge and the ski lifts on Dollar Mountain and Baldy.

The couple moved their three small children into a canvas tent while they built a three-bedroom log home, which now serves as Felix’s Restaurant.

Gladys peeled the bark off the logs and fetched water from one of the spigots that were set up on each block in the days before running water became commonplace.

Dad, Mom and the three kids slept in one bed to keep warm.

“It got so cold when I changed diapers at night I’d drop them beside the bed and they’d be frozen the next morning,” recalled Gladys, who returned to the home with her family a couple years ago to eat in what used to be a bedroom.“I remember one year where it snowed 8 feet and our older son had to crawl out the window so we could shovel open the door.”

In 1946 the McAtees moved to a 20-acre farm just south of the present-day airport in Hailey. Gladys sold the eggs and butter, cream and frying chickens she raised there to Sun Valley workers.

“Mom hated to have people see her milking cows—it was embarassing for a woman to be seen doing something like that. So we’d always take them to the end of the field and I’d hold their tail while Mom milked,” recalled McAtee’s daughter, Marilyn Shilue.

The McAtees summered their cows in Croy Canyon, pushing the first snow of winter out of the way with their truck as the cows followed them home, enticed by the hay in the back of the truck.

And they loaned out their sheep for the 1954 movie “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” which was filmed north of Ketchum near the North Fork store.

“I remember an article in the New York Times saying if you ever had lambchops that were particularly good probably it was from those little stars,” said Shilue.

Fear of falling mice

In the 1960s, the family sold the land, worth millions today, for $200,000 and moved five miles out Croy Canyon.

As the first to take up residence in Croy Canyon, they paid a hefty sum to have the first telephone line extended out the canyon.

 And they cleared a sea of sagebrush off their 520-acre farm, rooting it out with a Ford tractor and raking it up into piles that they burned.

“I was so afraid the seagulls would dump a mouse on my head while I was out there working,” recalled Gladys, who wore cotton dresses purchased from Hailey’s Penney’s. “I hate mice.”

Gladys and her children held races to see who could change the irrigation sprinlers the fastest—the fastest turned the water on the others.

And every day Gladys cooked three big meals. She served up pork chops and fluffy buttermilk biscuits and gravy in the morning. Come evenings she fried up the chickens that she’d plucked and baked ham butchered where Backwoods Mountain Sports sits today.

She was one of the most loveable wives that the Lord had put breath in,” Van said on the occasion of the couple’s 72nd anniversary just before he died two years ago.

Despite the backbreaking work, the McAtees managed to take occasional fishing trips to Redfish Lake. Gladys always got so carsick on the narrow winding turns over Galena Summit that she’d fall out the car door when they arrived at the lake.

She especially relished dancing the “Virginia Reel” at Ketchum’s old schoolhouse, which sat where Giacobbi Square is today.

“I never learned to ski—I was always afraid of what would happen to my family if I broke a leg. But I loved putting on fancy formals for the Eastern Star dances,” she recalled. “We traveled all over the state one year when my husband was Grand Patron of  Eastern Star and he joked he needed a wagon to haul my dresses because there was so much material in them.”

Two of Gladys’ children—Kent, a retired Forest Service employee, and Marilyn, a retired pharmacist who worked in Alaska and at aid stations near Mt. Everest—returned to be with their Mom a few years ago as surgery and failing eyesight took its toll.

Her oldest son Wayne was killed years ago when a tire blew on the tractor he was driving.

Even with failing sight, Gladys still manages to bake pies and cakes from scratch—no Betty Crocker required, thank you.

She’s helping her daughter finish up a quilt that her husband’s grandmother  started out of century-old shirt material. Once her own 3-year-old great-great grandson adds a few stitches, seven generations will have been involved, she notes proudly.

She’s even the architect of the pioneer apron that this year’s Heritage Court honorees will wear. “It has to be gathered, and it needs a pocket for a hanky,” she specifies.

Gladys almost lost her home out Croy Canyon a decade ago when the Ro wildfire burned a fence down before parting around a neighbor’s house and tearing off  through the foothills toward Bellevue.

“Oh, it was a bad fire,” she recalled. “They told us to be ready to go. We gathered our valuables together—clocks, boxes of paperwork, my daughter’s silver dollar collection. But  we didn’t have to evacuate.”

Now Gladys just hopes she can live out her life in the house at the end of Croy Canyon.

“I love it and I would be brokenhearted if I ever had to leave it. I like the seasons. I like the quietness. And, no, all the new houses haven’t made any difference. There’s always been enough space between us.”