STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK
Joan Davies couldn’t keep her nose out of Hailey’s history if she wanted.
Her husband John is a walking repository of the Wood River Valley’s history. He’s got a story about darn near everything in the valley, many of them with his relatives at the center.
John Davies’ great uncle Joe Rupert, for instance, was the guy who sued the county when Bellevue citizens thought they had won the vote to be county seat by one vote in 1881. It turned out a ballot box hadn’t been counted and Hailey got the nod to be the seat for the expansive Alturas County 1,110 to 1,090—an outcome that still sticks in the craw of some Bellevue residents.
And it was John’s great grandfather–attorney Francis Ensign—who settled a dispute with Mr. Quigley and another farmer, setting the precedence for water rights not only in the Wood River Valley but in the Pacific Northwest.
“He said, ‘First in time. First in line,’ ” Joan said.
Joan’s penchant for local history has made her an invaluable resource to a myriad of organizations ranging from the Idaho Heritage Trust to the Blaine County Historical Museum.
And it’s her role as a custodian of the Wood River Valley’s history that was one of the reasons she was nominated to this year’s heritage court. She will receive her official sash and crown in an entertainment-laden ceremony open to the public at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 12, at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
She will be joined by Teresa Bergin, Karen Young and Lois Glenn.
Davies grew up on a Hazelton on a farm that she still manages. Her father raised livestock, pigs, chickens, alfalfa, hay, sugar beets, corn, barley and wheat.
“I only jumped in a pile of grain once,” she recalled. “The chaff itched all over.”
Joan’s mother taught in the two-room schoolhouse where Davies learned to carve soap and build book ends, in addition to reading and writing.
The family often took outings to the Yankee Fork where Joan’s brother-in-law worked as a metallurgist on the Simplot dredge.
“You’d see strings of fishes hanging from the porches—they were either selling or smoking them. The dredge was scary because every once in awhile a huge boulder would come off the buckets”
Joan rode cutting horses in the South Hills, but it was the “North Hills” that she could see from her home that had the mystique.
The family would often vacation in those so-called North Hills, stopping in Ketchum where Joan’s father would take her into the Snug Bar and The Casino to see the hunting trophies—or what Joan calls “stuffed animals.”
“The road over Galena was a dirt road then. We’d stop at the Galena Store and gas station and look at the diorama of horses an artist carved in the back. We’d take a picnic of fried chicken, potato salad, watermelon and Kool-Aid and sit on the banks of Redfish Lake,” she recalled.
“There weren’t the people there are today—I don’t even go there in the summer today. But there were huge schools of kokanee—big red fish—in the lake and across from Stanton Crossing, as well. Talk about exciting!”
Joan met John at Twin Falls Business College in the days before there was a College of Southern Idaho. They married and moved to Hailey in 1961 where John’s family had an insurance business.
Hailey then boasted 1,800 people, Joan recalls. There was no Woodside. The Fox home was the only residence in what is now the Deerfield neighborhood. And Joan road her horse unfettered in what is now China gardens.
The couple had three boys, which they kept busy with scouting campouts at the 4-H camp in Quadrant Gulch and 15-mile hikes from Redfish lake to Grandjean.
“Raising my kids in this town was wonderful. The kids would get in trouble, but we knew about it before they got home. Kids were always knocking on our doors looking for odd jobs in those days—they don’t do that anymore,” said Joan, whose sons now live in Settle and San Francisco.
Joan helped develop the local 4-H program for the University of Idaho. And she helped set up the first computer labs for the College of Southern Idaho at its Blaine County campus.
“The first computer is now in the Blaine County Museum. It had the screen the size of a softball. A piece came off front and that would be your keyboard,” she recalled.
Joan was serving a 15-year stint on Hailey Planning and Zoning when the then-controversial Woodside subdivision was proposed. She has also served in the P.E.O. Sisterhood, championed Rotarun Ski area as a member of Rotary Club and taught Sunday school at St. Charles Church.
“It was wonderful to see the progress—from creating the Community Campus to expanding the hospital and building the new high school. I felt I was part of it.”
A couple weeks ago, Joan went to Minidoka where she helped build a ball field at the Hunt internment camp named for the Wilson Price Hunt who led an exploring party through the Magic Valley.
“When the Japanese were interned there, they had 10 ballparks for 10,000 people,” she recalled. “They harvested carrot seed, which was very labor intensive. The government wanted carrots for Vitamin E so our pilots could see. When they closed the camp, they gave the barracks away as if it were a mistake that they were trying to erase.”
Joan and her husband enjoy watching life go by from the back porch of the 1898 Hailey home where John grew up.
It takes no time at all for John to point out the alley where the ice man used to bring ice he had cut from the pond behind what is now Bruce Willis’ home north of Hailey.
“He’d stick an ice pick in it and snap the block of ice just perfectly,” John recalled
Joan is always fielding phone calls while on the porch that start with the words, “Do you remember…”
“I love history,” she said. “I always say: If you don’t know where you’ve been, you aren’t going to know where you’re going and you aren’t going to recognize it when you’ve arrived.”
STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK
And during 50 years in Carey she has helped make quilts for every Carey youngster who has gotten married.
“We have a group of women who get together to do that—and it’s something we still do,” said Young.
Young will receive her just reward for that and other contributions she’s made to the way of life in Carey when she is crowned as a member of the Blaine County Historical Museum’s heritage court. The 2016 ceremony—free and open to the public–will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 12, at The Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
Also crowned will be Teresa Bergin, Joan Davies and Lois Glenn.
The Community Library hosted a tea for the women and others who have been made part of the heritage court during the past dozen years on Friday afternoon. They used tea service donated by Betty Murphy.
Young and her three cohorts sported new pioneer woman-like skirts with a burgundy floral print stitched together by Shirley Spinelli. Each boasted an apron out of which Davies proudly pulled out her cell phone.
“The skirts are tucked like the ones I wore as a child so they can be let out as you grow,” she added.
Karen Young grew up in Huntington Park, Calif., where she often accompanied her mother on a seven-mile streetcar ride along Pacific Boulevard to downtown Los Angeles. There they shopped at the 230,000-square-foot Art Deco Bullocks luxury department store where they perused its vaulted Perfume Hall with its walls of marble, its mezzanine Doggery for canine accessories and the furs atelier lined by cork in exotic shades.
When they’d had enough, they’d sip sodas at Newberry’s lunch counter.
Young met her husband Ross Young—a meat inspector for the U.S. Army—while he was stationed at Long Beach, Calif., during the Korean War.
“He came to the church I attended. We met at 17 and we didn’t get married until I was just shy of 21,” she said.
The couple was married at the LDS Temple in Salt Lake City the day before Thanksgiving 1955. Then they headed for California where they had a reception. They spent a one-day honeymoon at Disneyland, which had opened that very year.
“I liked the Matterhorn,” Young recalled. “That was before they had Space Mountain.”
Young worked at Thiokol Chemical Corporation in northern Utah while her husband earned his Master’s degree at Utah State University in Logan. When Ross graduated, they moved to Paris, Idaho, where he worked for Kraft Cheese Company.
“My fourth child was born right after the Kennedy assassination. We learned about it on the way to the hospital for a checkup. It was scary to think that these things could happen,” Young said. “The news about the assassination was all that was on TV for days—it’s like today where we’re overwhelmed by every little thing that comes along.”
The Youngs moved to Carey three years later in 1966 when Kraft closed the Paris plant.
“I was very pregnant, very tired after a long, hard day. I thought I was coming to the end of the world,” said Young. “I didn’t see the beauty until after I’d been there for awhile. The mountains are beautiful; the people, wonderful. It was a good place to raise our six children.”
Young minded her brood while Ross traveled a circuit of farms in Gooding, Dietrich, Arco and Carey as field manager for Kraft.
He’d check to see whether the farmers could provide Kraft with the milk they’d agreed to provide. And he would work with them when their milk was contaminated with antibiotics or wasn’t kept cool enough enroute to the cheese plant in Carey, which churned out pepperjack, cheddar, Colby, Muenster and Monterey Jack cheese.
“You need bacteria to make cheese. If a farmer used antibiotics to treat a cow, the antibiotics in that cow’s milk would kill the bacteria,” Ross explained.
Ross worked for Kraft for 24 years—until Kraft closed the plant in the late 1980s to concentrate its resources on larger better automated plants.
Karen, meanwhile, kept plugging away, working in the Carey School lunchroom and then as a bus driver.
She drove sixth graders on their annual trips to Yellowstone National Park. And, as the driver for the girls’ athletic teams, she was such a boisterous cheerleader that she was asked to keep score to make her “less vocal and more ladylike.”
She organized the town’s Christmas programs, which she said boasted original dialogues by Barbara Roberts.
She taught knitting for 4H and served as a Cub Scout leader.
“I taught them to tie knots but I could never master anything more than the square knot myself,” she recalled.
The family had a couple horses and the children loved to ride around the “sand dunes” the highway department kept for road maintenance while Mom and Dad timed them. They fished at Little Wood Reservoir and visited Shoshone Falls while shopping at Twin Falls, which had no mall, no Winco, no Costco in those days.
Saturday evenings the church would turn into a movie theater attracting a majority of the town’s population. It would reopen as a church come Sunday morning.
Young fought—and won—a battle against breast cancer 14 years ago. And she and Ross, who will celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary this year, have served on two missions—one in Nauvoo, Ill., and another in Storm Lake, Iowa.
She has managed to put pot roast, potatoes and gravy on the family table most every Sunday.
That will require a little more aforethought now, she said, since Carey’s only grocery closed this month.
“Like my husband says, we’ll have to depend on our neighbors,” she said, referring to the time-honored tradition of borrowing a cup of sugar from the neighbor next door. “Fortunately, we have plenty of good neighbors in Carey.”
STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK
She found herself on the streets of Kansas City, waking up homeless people lying in the streets in the middle of the night to see if they were okay.
It was a far cry from walking meadow full of wildflowers in the Wood River Valley and Stanley Basin.
“Kansas City, where I received my training, was a whole other world full of shootings and suicides, multiple families living in one house. It was kind of scary, definitely an experience,” she recounted. “In Smiley Creek, by contrast, I checked lost hikers and attended to people who fell off snowmobiles, waterskiers who had an accident, motorcyclists who hit a deer.”
Glenn, 77, is one of four women who is being honored by the Blaine County Historical Museum’s heritage court for her contribution to life in the Wood River Valley. She and the others—Joan Davies, Teresa Bergin and Karen Young—will be honored at the 13th annual Coronation Ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 12, at The Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
Glenn’s choice to stick her neck out and go to a big city for paramedic training was especially daring when you consider she’s a small town gal. She grew up in Stockham, Neb., which she estimates boasted a population of a hundred people at one time—“most of them relatives.”
It was a farming community—her father drove produce to the market. And Glenn spent carefree days biking and fishing with her two brothers and playing hide and seek, hopscotch and a game where kids would throw a ball over the roof to youngsters waiting on the other side.
She attended Idaho State University in Pocatello with the idea of pursuing a degree in nursing. But, instead, she got married when she met a young student who was studying to be a pharmacist.
Jim and Lois Glenn moved to Ketchum where Jim became part-owner of Ketchum Drug, located in the historic bank building that now houses Rocky Mountain Hardware. And Lois ended up helping out with the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood, the PTA and 4-H, where she shared her skill in knitting sweaters with boys and girls.
“I loved that the Wood River Valley was so sports oriented. It was a place you could walk in nature, a great place for kids to grow up,” she said. “I never did learn to ski, though. I tried. I was just too clumsy.”
A bookkeeper, Glenn served as treasurer for the group of women who raised the money for Ketchum’s Community Library. She also worked for 20 years at the Gold Mine thrift store, which provided part of the income for the library.
“The Gold Mine was a community center where regulars came to gossip in those days,” she recalled. “The sales of ski clothes and equipment were always huge—people lined up for blocks. I remember when we moved into the new library, too—it was pretty exciting carrying the books into the new building.”
In time, the Glenns’ three children grew up and moved away. One is vice president of technology for Idaho Power in Boise; another is a bank vice president in Couer d’Alene, and the third manages a retirement community in San Diego.
When Jim died in 1998, Glenn sold her Ketchum home and moved to the small cabin in Smiley Creek that she and Jim had built as a getaway.
It was then that she decided to pursue a second career as a paramedic, fulfilling the dream she’d had 40 years earlier to become a nurse.
“Stanley had a clinic but there wasn’t much staff. So I went off to four months of training in Kansas City—the biggest case I had there was some guy who got shot in the head.”
Glenn worked as a paramedic for a couple of years, fielding a couple calls some weeks and nothing at all other weeks. She gave it up when she decided it was getting too hard to get up off the floor after tending to patients.
Today she lives a quiet life, watching the deer that mosey up to the cabin and putting dog food out for a couple small foxes that gratefully avail themselves of it during winter when food is scarce.
“Stanley never changes,” she said. “It’s been the same for the last hundred years, although it does get a little more lively during summer. I like the weekly summer concerts at Redfish Lodge.”
Glenn still makes frequent trips to Ketchum for doctor appointments and to see old friends.
“It’s changed a lot—I liked it better when I knew everybody. It was like a big family—everyone concerned for everyone else,” she said. “But it’s still a comparatively small town, still very outdoor oriented. And that’s how I like it.”
STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK
bergin’s roots stretch deep. Her great-grandparents came to the valley in 1884 from the tiny town of Vinegar Hill in Illinois, where they had worked a small lead mine.
Her great-grandfather scarcely had a chance to unpack his bags when he and another man accidentally struck a live dynamite charge with their pickaxe at the Idahoan Mine. The men’s bodies lay in state at the Alturas Hotel in Hailey before being escorted by the Hailey Brass Band to church and then to the Bellevue cemetery in a mile-long procession.
bergin’s great-grandmother, who was enroute to the valley at the time of her husband’s death, ended up staying in the valley. She supported her five children by cooking at a boardinghouse for miners at the Bullion Mine west of Hailey.
Such strong roots are part of the reason bergin will be inducted into the Blaine County Heritage Court today along with Joan Davies, Lois Glenn and Karen Young. The Coronation Ceremony—open to the public—will start at 3 p.m. today—Sunday, June 12–at The Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
“I feel like I and my family have always been a part of the history of this valley,” said bergin, 87.
bergin’s grandfather, father and even one brother chased the silver, despite the dangers.
“My father was a shift boss—we lived at Triumph until the kids started school. Then we moved to town,” bergin recalled.
bergin was born in Hailey in what was supposedly an old barn that had been moved from Indian Creek and converted to a home. Her son Tom lives in it today.
Her current home is believed to be one of the oldest in Bellevue.
“We’ve seen photos from the turn of the century and it appears to be in them. At least the nails are square!” said Tom bergin.
Hailey and Bellevue were bastions of gambling and bootlegging when bergin was young.
Her mother, Clara Walker, stirred up her own homemade brew during the Depression by boiling seven ounces of hops in a bag in 10 gallons of water in a copper boiler. The recipe also included brown sugar, six pounds of malt and gelatin.
When Mom needed a vacation from flipping sourdough hotcakes smothered in homemade chokecherry syrup, the family bellied up to the tables in the well-kept Basque boarding houses that serviced Basque sheepherders and miners. Or they ate noodles Chinese vegetable gardeners sold.
But bergin was repeatedly told to stay away from Hailey’s red light district on River Street
“We didn’t listen at trick or treat time,” she said. “The whorehouses were very generous with their handouts.”
bergin and her siblings skated on a pond behind the Hailey Hotel on Main Street. And they cross-country skied on wooden skis with bamboo poles out Quigley and Muldoon canyons.
“We wouldn’t get very high up on the hill because we had to climb,” she said.
bergin was 7 when her parents began making weekly outings to the new-fangled Sun Valley resort to watch workers build the world’s first chairlifts.
“The valley had been all mining and farming up until then so we were glad to see Sun Valley. It meant jobs for people. And it brought entertainment, too,” she said.
bergin met her husband Joseph during church service following World War II. They courted at Brooks Tavern, a bar north of Hailey where all the kids hung out. Teresa married in 1949 in a wedding gown she bought in Twin Falls.
Joseph started an auto mechanic business in Bellevue and the two busied themselves helping to build the Rotarun ski area west of Hailey, ensuring their six children could learn to ski. Come summer the family swam at the Hiawatha Hotel and Clarendon Hot Springs out Deer Creek where Teresa’s uncle treated his arthritis by soaking in the private pools.
Her children learned never to utter the word “bored”–they knew Mom would have a chore to ease their boredom, Tom recalled.
“Mom and Dad had a wooden spoon but it was never more than a threat,” he added. “One time I did something in school and the principal asked if he should call my Mom or punish me there. I told him to call Mom–it was a small town so she was going to find out, anyway.”
Teresa’s maternal grandmother, a teacher in Mackay, exercised her right to vote as soon as women were given the privilege. And politics—ranging from Kennedy and Nixon to Bellevue politics– were always part of the discussion around the family table.
bergin even served a stint on the Bellevue City Council—one of the first, if not the first, woman to serve in what had been an old boy’s club.
“Mom always voted and always a straight ticket—Democrat,” Tom said. “Frank Church was an icon in our family. And I remember as a kid campaigning for Cecil Andrus when he ran for governor.”
bergin has always loved to travel and in 2008 she, Tom and her sister traveled to Beijing to watch bergin’s granddaughter—a Stanford University alum–play basketball for New Zealand’s Olympic team.
“I’ve always got my bags packed–whenever I have a chance to go,” she said. “But this is a good place to come back to.”