STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK
April MacLeod has seen a fair chunk of Hailey history from the double-decker wooden deck that her husband Bob built off their 1927 home near Buttercup Road.
And she’s had a hand in a lot of that history, having worked and volunteered for an array of organizations from the Blaine County Recreation District to the Crisis Hotline, from the board of the Hailey Public Library to the Blaine County Fair Board.
MacLeod will be honored for her contributions to Hailey and the Wood River Valley on June 10 when she is inducted into the Blaine County Heritage Court, along with Faye Hatch Barker, JoAnn Levy and Vonnie Olsen. The coronation ceremony, which will feature entertainment and refreshments, will be held at 3 p.m. at The Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
“April’s one of the quiet strengths of our community—she does so much people are not aware of. And she loves our valley and takes pride in the in the things that get done,” said Hailey Public Library Director LeAnn Gelskey, who with her husband Brad grew up playing with the MacLeod boys–Tyler, now a firefighter, and Brandon, an executive chef near Seattle..
Mile-high Hailey seems far removed from the bayous of Monroe, La., where MacLeod was born. But she met Bob MacLeod, a chief engineer with the Merchant Marines, on a blind date. And the two, who were married in 1977, fell in love with Sun Valley because they could ski here without getting “sopping wet” as they did skiing near their home in Seattle.
They decided to try the area out for a year, living in a farmhouse that Bob had brought with a college buddy.
“The first year I was miserable because I didn’t know anyone,” said MacLeod, whose husband was often away for three months at a time. “Hailey was small then—maybe a thousand people. And we had no neighbors then. I finally joined a bowling league and I grew to love going down by the river before there were homes there and fishing for a couple hours. Now, 37 years later, voila!”
Growing up, MacLeod learned about drawing and gardening from her mother, who was both an accomplished artist and gardener who built her own greenhouse.
“She told me just to get my hands in the dirt,” MacLeod recalled.
And MacLeod has done plenty of that, transforming her city lot April into an oasis of blue spruce trees towering over a small pond featuring Koi fish, lilies and water lettuce.
Lilacs and honeysuckle line the fence line, taking their place with a Beauty Bush from her grandmother’s garden and yellow roses that homesteaders brought from the Carolinas. Colorful art hanging on the exterior of the house augments the color provided by window flowers and gurgling fountains.
And April has planted all sorts of plants in colored pots for a corner of her yard she calls “Calypso Corner.”
Her yard was on the Friends of the Hailey Public Library Garden Tour in 2016.
“I’ve served 23 years on the library board. When I started, it was located where The Attic thrift store is now. Now, we’re planning for its hundredth anniversary celebration next year,” she said. “We’re always thinking: How can we afford to squeeze another inch of books in there? It looks like it’s got a really open space, but it’s pretty crammed.”
MacLeod worked at Louie’s restaurant in Ketchum in the days when long lines of hungry vacationers and backpackers, dirt still smudged on their faces, lined up for family style dinners incorporating pizza, lasagna, salad and spaghetti.
“If you had been to Louie’s before, you were willing to wait two hours,” she noted. “It was like going o Grumpy’s, except a little fancier.”
MacLeod also helped out at the College of Southern Idaho when the Blaine County campus was short of staff and she served as program assistant for the Blaine County Recreation District from 2006 to 2010.
She taught the youngsters how to grow pumpkins, tomatoes and Cinderella squash in a 16-foot garden in back of the BCRD offices on the Community Campus.
“I loved the little kids,” she said.
MacLeod’s own penchant for putting up 300 quarts of Dragon’s Tongue green beans every year, along with green and purple-striped heirloom tomatoes and jellies and jams she cooked on a little stove in the garage during the hot days of August led her to serve on the Blaine County Fair Board.
It started when she and her girlfriends stopped to have a beer at the Loading Chute in Carey after fishing at Little Wood Reservoir.
“Someone made a big deal about how people from up north weren’t involved with the county fair. And so all of us decided to enter the fair,” she said. “I won Best of Show in woodworking and blue ribbons for my jams and jellies and candies—it was so much fun.”
In 1989 MacLeod started volunteering for 24- to 48-hour stints with The Crisis Hotline, something she did for 20 years.
“It was in the days before cell phones so, if I was on call, I’d put my Princess phone on the windowsill so I could hear the phone ring outside,” she said.
“We’d deal with a lot of domestic situations since there were no Advocates or other resources in those days. And we’d help people find food since we didn’t have the Hunger Coalition then,” she recalled.
“Every once in awhile, we’d have someone threatening to kill themselves or others. It was usually about getting people through that first hour.”
Population growth has brought more diversity and a wider array of interests to the valley, MacLeod said.
“People are a little more open minded,” she said. “I like the opportunities we have today for entertainment and education. And I’m so pleased to see The Hunger Coalition and Hope Garden for those who go through a hard spell or something.
“I’ve never felt fearful here. “I love that you can walk forever and not see anybody. I love that you can walk out your door and be in Eden.”
April MacLeod, who was introduced to Heritage Court members at community Library’s annual tea, has volunteered with numerous endeavors, including the Button Barbecue at the annual Fourth of July Celebration and the Northern Rockies Folk Festival.
Pat Barker didn’t know a lot of girls growing up, considering there were just 50 students at the old Bellevue School in what is now Bellevue Park.
But it felt right when he slipped an engagement ring on the finger of Faye Hatch, who was one grade behind him, as she entered her senior year.
It stuck. Pat and Faye have been married 53 years, carving out a niche for themselves on a patch of ground along Gannett Road that once was part of the family sheep ranch.
“I wrote ‘A diamond is a girl’s best friend’ in my high school yearbook,” Faye said, pulling the Growler yearbook from a shelf in her living room as evidence.
While Pat trekked through the mountain each summer with the family sheep, Faye stayed home raising the couple’s three children, and working in local post offices while volunteering in a number of activities that. All that earned her an invite to become part of the 2018 Blaine County Museum Heritage Court.
The court, which will involve a coronation ceremony on June 10 at the Liberty Theatre, honors women who have made a significant contribution to the Wood River Valley’s history and heritage.
Faye was born at the old Hailey hospital when it was in the building that now houses the Hailey Public Library.
Her father Hobart “Hobe” Hatch had moved here from the Midwest at age 17, meeting his brother at the train station in Shoshone. He worked on ranches in Jerome and out Rock Creek west of Hailey before buying his own ranch on Baseline Road and moving his family to a house two blocks from the current Bellevue post office.
Faye’s mother, Inez Hatch worked in the Bellevue School cafeteria, serving up homemade fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, bread and biscuits.
“That school had the best damn hot lunch program in the whole world,” enthused Pat. “And Faye’s mother was such a good cook. She could bake cookies that never got hard but always stayed gooey.”
The old Bellevue School, located in what is now the Bellevue Memorial Park, featured a gymnasium in the basement, elementary school classrooms on the first floor and middle and high school classes upstairs.
With so few students, Faye had the opportunity to participate in everything from cheerleader, drill team, basketball and even something called “home nursing,” perhaps the forerunner of home economics classes.
“It was great having the small classes. Our teacher would teach our class, then another. So I learned to study and do things on my own,” she recalled.
While Faye finished out her senior year, Pat joined the Marines. He had grown up on his family’s 22-acre sheep ranch along Gannett Road
“They called our land ‘China Gardens Ranch’ because the Chinese used to raise vegetables and sell them in Bellevue,” he said.
After graduating with 10 classmates in the Class of 1962, Faye attended business school in Twin Falls. She was living with her brother and working for a bank in Winnemucca when Pat invited her to meet him in Las Vegas. When she got there she found he had arranged for a church wedding, even lining up witnesses to stand up for them.
“I was tickled,” Faye said. “I had wanted a big wedding, but I knew that would be a long way down the line.”
The couple had their first son while living in Santa Ana, Calif., where Pat was stationed. They moved back to the Bellevue when Pat left the Marines in 1965.
They bought lodgepole pine harvested near Island Park for $2,600 and Pat poured concrete for basement before hauling in rock from the desert south of Carey to build a home on five acres of his father’s land.
Faye got a job with the Bellevue Post office, which was then located in what later became the Full Moon restaurant. She went above and beyond her job description as she and Pat would drive around town in their green motor home on Christmas Eve delivering packages that had not been picked up.
And she got some surprises that most postal clerks across the nation probably wouldn’t have to worry about.
“One time I stopped by to tie up the mail and some boy had put a snake in the slot where people drop the mail,” she recalled. “It was just a water snake but I didn’t know that. I got pretty excited.”
In search of more hours, Faye began working weekdays at the Ketchum Post office, situated then in an A-frame building on Main Street, while tending to the Bellevue office on Saturdays.
“Bellevue had maybe 500 people then so we knew everybody,” she said. “Ketchum was a busy, busy place. And I hated driving up there—the highway was two lanes then and there was a steady line of traffic.”
Barker worked for the post office for 31 years, retiring at 55 when loss of hearing affected her ability to work.
She got a cochlear implant, which made a world of difference, even though she believes that the anesthesia involved in the operation triggered Parkinson’s Disease.
“We were sitting in the living room and she said, ‘What’s that?’ It was the clock ticking. And I said, ‘This is going to work,’ ” recounted Pat.
Fourteen years ago, Pat volunteered as secretary of the 1806 Bellevue Cemetery, walking around the cemetery cataloging each of the 1,335 headstones, which she then entered into the computer.
“The law said they needed three bodies in order to start a cemetery so the story is they killed three Chinamen,” said Pat. “The Chinese were treated pretty bad.”
The couple also volunteered with the Labor Day Barbecue, wrapping thousands of free sandwiches every year for those who swarmed into the Bellevue Memorial Park from as far away as Boise. The event started when the city park was behind Mahoney’s Bar and Grill.
Pat would donate 10 lambs some years while others provided beef. They would cook the meat in pits in the ground covered with burning wood they’d harvested from the forests. And, when they weren’t babysitting the fires at night, they shucked hundreds of ears of corn donated by farmers near Twin Falls.
“We had a good time with that because we could see everyone as we made sandwiches,” said Faye. We had to shut it down because they said it wasn’t sanitary enough, even though we wore rubber gloves. Plus, Wagon Days moved from August to Labor Day and, when they moved, they took our clientele.”
Pat would be gone all winter, watching over sheep in the deserts near Mountain Home, Bruneau and Grandview. He would return home in spring, then take his sheep from the desert near Richfield up the North Fork of the Lost River to pasture near the East Fork of the Salmon River, 4th of July Creek and Fisher Creek.
“My dad couldn’t speak Basque so he didn’t hire Basque sheepherders,” said Pat, who would kill as many as nine bears a summer to protect his sheep. “He said, ‘I could speak English when I was 2—those guys are 40.’ So we did it ourselves. It was wonderful as I loved the mountains. I’d take the sheep in with a pack string of horses. They always said you can’t teach horses until they’re tired. The mountains would tire them out and I could teach them all the way to camp.”
At 72 and 75, Faye and Pat winter in the desert 60 miles east of Yuma, Ariz., where they’ve built their own desert golf course with no grass or greens.
Their son Curtis and his wife Vicki live in Bellevue, as do daughter Cindy and her husband Don Karst. And daughter Crystal and her husband Dirk Helder live in Boise.
They have four children and recently celebrated birth of their first great-grandchild.
“I love going to all the grandkids’ stuff,” said Faye. “Devin, for instance, is involved in everything from playing saxophone in the school band to singing with the B Tones and doing shot put and disc. And Hayden plays soccer…”
JoAnn Levy Embodies the Aloha Spirit.
Her license plate says “Aloha O.”
And JoAnn Levy has always striven to impart the aloha spirit to Sun Valley—her paradise on earth.
“ ‘Aloha’ is a way of thinking and a way of being,” said the Hawaiian native. “I practice aloha. I work at being friendly and making people happy.”
Levy’s efforts to do her part to create a Sun Valley paradise have prompted her to take on a variety of tasks from serving as mayor of Sun Valley to being a faithful donor of furniture, clothes and books to the Gold Mine thrift store.
And that got her named to the Blaine County Heritage Court, which honors women who have contributed to the fabric of the Wood River Valley.
Levy will be inducted in the court during a ceremony capped by entertainment and refreshments at 3 p.m. today—Sunday, June 10—at The Liberty Theatre. Joining her will be Faye Hatch Barker, April MacLeod and Vonnie Olsen.
Levy grew up in Oahu where her father was in the Navy.
But she yearned to know more of her mother’s Scandinavian heritage. And, so, in 1963 the 23-year-old Aloha girl hopped the Snowball Express in Los Angeles with a ticket provided by the Union Pacific Railroad, which owned Sun Valley Resort at that time.
“I wanted to learn to ski because that’s what Scandinavians do,” she said. “And all the Hawaiians I knew who skied came to Sun Valley because the Austrian ski school was so famous.”
Levy worked the 3 to 11 shift at the Sun Valley Inn’s soda fountain, which was the go-to place for the after-dinner crowd.
“It was hard work because the ice cream was so hard. But I was famous for making really good banana splits,” she said “The night the Beatles were on TV no one showed up at the soda shop so I put up the ‘Closed’ sign and ran around the corner to see them.”
Levy’s schedule enabled her to ski all day long. Having learned balance on a surf board, Levy learned to ski on Dollar Mountain and within a week was skiing Baldy in her long black Head skis and leather boots.
Skiing remains a passion of hers all these years later. You can count on her being among the first in the lift line on opening day, standing in her K2 skis. And you can set a watch by her appearance in the lift line at 9 each morning during the season, although she’s beginning to spend more time on Dollar Mountain with her three grandchildren ages 4, 6 and 7.
Levy taught skiing to little tykes like them for several years.
“I remember one little girl with red hair who didn’t want to ski so I told her she could watch the others put on their skis and shuffle around to get an idea what it was like. Pretty soon, a lady with an elegant shiny silver Lemay jacket came down wanting to see her ski. It turned out to be President Kennedy’s sister Jean Lawford, and Ski School Director Sigi (Engl) was furious that I couldn’t yet show her daughter skiing. Finally, I got her up on skis.”
Like so many in the valley, Levy came for one winter but had so much fun she soon became a permanent fixture.
She worked as the hot bun gal in the Lodge Dining Room, serving pecan rolls, croissants and doughnuts from a tray hanging from a strap around her neck. At dinner she served dinner rolls and French bread to celebrities and other diners who were dressed to the hilt.
“I noticed that the waitresses who had nice foreign accents were getting a lot of tips so I tried saying, ‘Ja.’ One table of guests asked me where I was from and I replied Oslo. They started talking in Norwegian and I knew a few words, having studied a semester of international relations at an Oslo university. But I told them, ‘In this country I’m only speaking English.’ ”
Other jobs followed. She served as lifeguard at the Lodge pool, took photos of skiers for Magic Photography and oversaw The Place, a center for teens to hang out and play pool, pinball and watch TV, Come Christmas she organized a teen dance for them, with Frank Sinatra records for them to dance to.
She worked at a property management company and sold real estate back in the day, she noted, when there weren’t so many realtors. And she put her Master of Education degree to work as a substitute teacher when the school was located where Atkinsons’ Market is today.
“One of my students was Mariel Hemingway and she was so cute in her little jumper,” she recalled.
JoAnn met her husband-to-be Buck Levy while working as secretary for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation in its early days. Buck, a doctor, had become an Olympic Nordic ski racer and jumper while attending Western State Colorado University, even though he grew up in Louisiana.
It was he who introduced cross country skiing to Sun Valley in 1972, in hopes of getting the fledgling SVSEF to sponsor a Nordic racing team.
“He said Sun Valley would be an ideal place for cross country skiing, but none of the stores had cross country ski equipment then. So he had his teammates from the 1956 Olympics in Cortina, Italy, bring some equipment and they stomped out a track at the high school. And people loved it. Even women who did not care for downhill skiing loved it because they could go along at their own pace without fear of heights.”
Bob Rosso, who owns The Elephant’s Perch, saw the potential and ordered equipment. And JoAnn added a pair of wooden Nordic skis to her arsenal of skis, learning how to burn syrupy pine tar on the bottom. Pretty soon, she was skiing downhill and cross country every day.
She readily entered all kind of races, including one from the top of Galena Summit to the flats where partners switched to tandem skis and proceeded to Busterback Ranch. And she took part in the first Boulder Mountain Tour when it began in 1973 as the Sawtooth Mountain Marathon.
“When they began setting up aid stations along the way, one station served oysters on the half shell,” she recalled.
JoAnn raced in 41 straight BMTs, often winning her age class. Most of the races are a blur because they were “perfect, all alike.” But she’ll never forget the 2008 race when her eyelids froze so she couldn’t blink and her fingers almost became frostbitten.
“I was determined to finish, and I survived a real adventure,” she said.
Levy missed her first BMT last year after her son Dan, his wife Dream and their children escaped the rat race in Los Angeles to move in with the Levys.
“I didn’t have enough time to train because I was busy helping to homeschool my grandkids. Maybe next year,” she said.
After she and Buck became married in 1973, JoAnn took up many of Buck’s favorite sports, including fly fishing and duck hunting.
We married in October in Carmel on the first day of duck season. Our plane hit a duck as we flew to Boise so Buck said he got his duck after all,” she recounted. “Now I’d rather feed birds than shoot them.”
JoAnn also became a marathon runner, although her “four and a half” marathons never came closing to matching the 37 marathons Buck ran from 1978- to 1984 in places like Pikes Peak, Colo., and Boston..
When she wasn’t recreating, she volunteered for the hospital auxiliary, the Sun Valley Writers Conference where she particularly enjoyed the Irish author Frank McCourt, and the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, where she served as docent for several exhibits and helped put on wild game dinners.
She served as president of the PTA at Hemingway and the Community School. And she published a book of cartoons titled “It Happens in Sun Valley,” illustrated by her father Norman.
“I did a movie for Warren Miller—he took me to France to ski in one of his early shorts called ‘Skier a Go Go’ following a tryout on Baldy. And I was an extra in the 1965 movie “Ski Party” that Frankie Avalon made in Sun Valley. You can still see it sometimes on TV. It’s a lot of fun.”
Levy served on Ketchum City Council, advocating for one of Ketchum’s streets to be named Corrock in honor of Susie Corrock’s 1972 Olympic stint. When she and Buck moved to Sun Valley, she served on Sun Valley’s Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council before undertaking one 4-year term as mayor beginning in 1994.
“I loved to marry people on top of Baldy, at Trail Creek Cabin, by the river,” she said. “I’d always send them a card from Sun Valley on their first anniversary to remind them of their special time in Sun Valley.”
Today the Levy home is filled with signs of their grandchildren’s presence. Little clay figures that the grandchildren made the day before sit on the island of the country kitchen where JoAnn has cooked scads of recipes from her many cookbooks representing every cuisine around the world.
Their artwork is everywhere, even interspersed among Buck’s extensive array of hot sauces from Louisiana. And the days are chockfull of field trips to such destinations as the fire station.
“I live in the perfect place with friendly people and a great lifestyle with an emphasis on nature and the outdoors,” she said. “And I am loving sharing it with the grandchildren.”
Vonnie Olsen had no idea the adventure that awaited her when she married the milkman of Carey.
When heavy snows came, even she was pressed into collecting and delivering the milk.
“Paul would collect the cans of milk and take them to the Kraft plant,” she said. “And when everything got snowed in, you couldn’t get to the places where they had the cans because nothing was plowed. So we’d commandeer all our friends who had snow machines and everyone would go out and collect the cans of milk. If we hadn’t done that, the milk would have gone to waste.”
Olsen had never heard of Carey, growing up in Rigby where she milked ewes and shoveled sawdust at her father’s small sawmill. But she has carved out a rich legacy since moving to town in 1965—and that earned her a berth in the 2018 Blaine County Heritage Court, which honors women who have made noteworthy contributions to the Wood River Valley and Carey.
“Paul brought me to Carey to meet his parents and it was dark by the time we got here,” she recounted. “Paul told me, ‘We’ll have coffee in the morning and I’ll give you the grand tour.’ The next morning he said, ‘This is the high school,’ and I said, ‘Where do the rest of the kids go?’ ”
Olsen was flabbergasted to learn that everyone went to school in the same building. But she’s come to believe that one of the best things about the school is its small size and intimacy.
“It’s small enough that it allows each child to be so individual,” she said. “Students get to try out lots of different things because they’re not competing with so many students to get a spot on the football team or in the band. And they get a lot of individual attention. I think a lot of kids have trouble finding their niche in bigger schools.”
At that time, Olsen had no idea she would spend the next 53 years of her life in Carey.
She met Paul Olsen in Rexburg where Paul received his associate degree at Rick’s College where his mother and sister had studied. He planned to finish studying math at Utah State University.
But, nine days after the two were married, Paul developed an eye infection and the two went to Carey where Paul could tend the family cows while recuperating from treatment that involved injecting him with dead typhoid fever vaccine to kill the infection.
In 1968 the couple bought a house on Main Street that included the Tee-Pee Restaurant, and Vonnie began serving up hamburgers, fries and shakes to travelers enroute to Craters of the Moon National Monument.
“We got people from all over the world—a lot from Europe,” she said. “I remember in particular a group of five kids who were driving their parents’ van from California. They had run out of money on their credit card by the time they got to us. They wanted a free meal, but I told them they’d have to work for
it. I made them mow the lawn and, after we closed, we had a really good visit. I sent them on their way with sandwiches.”
The Olsens also milked their own cows, with a Hereford bull helping to herd them.
“The kids would rid the bull down to the pasture and when they got to cottonwood trees, the bull would brush up against them, forcing the kids to get off. It was like he was saying, ‘Time to get off!’ ”
Eventually, the Olsens decided to close the Tee-Pee because they decide it would not be economically feasible to build a fire retaining wall between the Tee-Pee, which was housed in the garage, and the house they lived in.
Vonnie went to work as county court clerk and as a receptionist for the Hailey Medical Center and Carey Clinic. She served on County Planning and Zoning and later Carey Planning and Zoning and Carey City Council.
Olsen was able to help with the incorporation of Carey. And she started the Carey Economic Revitalization Group to improve the town’s economy and beautify the valley.
She’s most proud of the Boyd Stocking Pavilion, which was named after a man who played a major role in the Wood River Irrigation District.
“I had heard the irrigation district wanted to build a pavilion in his honor and so I asked if they would like to partner with us,” she said. “They provided the money to build the pavilion and we got donations of picnic tables and trees. It’s been a vital part of the community because we didn’t have motel or public restrooms to get people to stop. And it’s used on a regular basis with people renting it for things like family reunions.”
Olsen also headed up the drive for the Croy Canyon Ranch, which would have provided a three-tier assistive living/nursing home where the new animal shelter is being built.
“It was so disappointing that that didn’t happen. Everybody wanted that so badly,” she said.
Always an avid outdoors enthusiast, Olsen taught 4-H snowmobile classes and swimming at the Hot Springs Ranch when the Ellsworth family allowed the Red Cross to use it for lessons.
More recently she has taught the Carey Senior Citizen Fit and Fall-Proof Class whose biggest inspiration, she said, was 80-year-old Lucky Stocking.
“I like having people around and I like to do things,” she said. “Not only does it make me feel good but I feel I’m contributing to others’ health, as well.”
Olsen started off lifting weights to improve her own strength at what is now Big Wood Fitness. And a decade later she began coaching a group of teenage powerlifters.
The kids got so good that she took them to NASA-supported high school meets in Salmon, Reno and elsewhere wearing T-shirts and hats with the motto, “All it takes is all you got.”
“I don’t think anything does any more for confidence building and mental clarity,” she said. “It’s not easy to get teens to give up their free time to do something so to get them to be committed to powerlifting was big.”
One youngster-Michelle Kelsey—got so good that Olsen accompanied her on an international powerlifting cultural and peace mission to Leningrad and Moscow where they toured Red Square and Russia’s famed onion church.
“It was such a different culture,” she said. “The first thing we noticed was that women were considered second-class citizens. If we started to get on an elevator and there were three men there they’d move us aside and go first. We were supposed to march into the gym and the men were having no part of us going before they.
“At the same time, we saw how much young people wanted to come to America. They would cry a few tears and raise their hand in the air and say, ‘America.’ Then they’d lower their hand and say, ‘Russia here.’ ”