Wish we knew their story- “Remember That!!”

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Light breezes kept the mosquitoes at bay around the campfire. Stars sparkling in the vast black sky overhead gave a peaceful feel. Occasionally you’d hear a fish splash in their jump from the Klamath River nearby. Sitting around a cheery campfire with friendly camaraderie was the perfect end of a very busy day.

We were content from the 50’s style Sunday chicken dinner that Bonnie had made and was served by smiling young girls. Previous year Gloria had made delicious so ‘mores, but we’d enjoyed dinner and all the homemade pies! Pete had brought his guitar and sang a couple of songs, one about the silver-hair aging, and one he’d just written about new young life. How fast it goes from one to the other.
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A couple from the resort joined the circle and asked what brought us here. Liz explained we were celebrating the author, Stella Patterson, who wrote Dear Mad’m. Liz and Pete Lismer, grandnephew of Stella had written Dear Mad’m Who Was She? answering many questions about Stella’s life. They shared Stella’s life before and after she wrote Dear Mad’m.

Stella’s relatives wanted her to move back to San Francisco to “take care of her” in her declining years. Her independent streak and having been told she had “young legs” recently led to her plan. For one year she wanted to live on her mining claim on the Klamath River and it gave her the excuse, that it was for “business reasons.”. She’d try it for a year. Dear Mad’m was the book she wrote about living in a rustic cabin, the friends she met, a mule named Pete, goats invasion, learning mining and clean-up, storms wildlife, wood-stove, without indoor plumbing and other challenges, with only her faithful dog, Vickie.

Even with all the answers to questions about Stella’a life, more questions pop up. On that night around the campfire, as we so often wished that we could ask her questions and get to know her better. If only she had written more!

Rod Diradon said right then, “Remember That!”

Have you ever written down the stories of your life? I appreciate so much those who have told us what life was back in long ago days, or even what Happy Camp was like a few years ago, before mills closed which brought changes to our little town in the woods. We have different perspectives, and think we will not forget the little day to day things that made up our lives as the years pass. But we forget, and they will never be known to those who come after us and wish they knew more about that life. You can pass on to them your wisdom, experience, the happy times and the difficult times. Consider saving it all in a biography or memoir! Your family and maybe others as well, would enjoy getting to know what it was like if you record it now!

Children love to see the photo albums of pictures of them in the times before they remember…the times before Facebook too!! The story of their birth, how everyone looked forward to their arrival, when and where they were born and any other special things that are memorable. One memoir teacher that I had a class with suggested a mother write these things in a letter to each child, but that’s just the beginning of the important memories of their life.

Rather than outlining a whole life, Denis LeDoux’s method of listing each year you have lived down the left side of notebook paper. Next to each year, starting with your birth, or before to include heritage that directly affects you, write just a few words remembrances from that year. Once you start school, it is easy to list the teachers each grade, best friends. There later will bring to mind stories abut things that happened. Some years may have many things, siblings births, moving, pets, and hobbies while other years may be difficult to recall. Don’t worry, things will come to you later to add.

Pick out one topic from that list, sit down and write out the story. Don’t worry about perfection at the beginning! Later you can correct and add details and descriptions. Get it down on paper. Then each morning, or a couple of times a week, or weekly, whatever fits your schedule, write about another topic on your list. It may take a year but if you don’t start now, the time will still pass and you’ll still have not begun! You’ll be wishing you could get “around to it” someday.

It might end up being something you’d just want to share with your family and friends, but Stella W. Patterson’s one year story turned into a best seller! Seventy years later. People are still reading and enjoying her adventures. Adventures which are like those you have in your own life each day and could write about as well.

Touring back in time – Karuk Reunion musings

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By Judy Bushy

It was at the Karuk Reunion that I had the pleasure of meeting Huddleston Oakes! Huddleston grew up Down River with his sister. His sister, Arlene, was the young girl who visited Stella in Dear Mad’m. What fun to talk with him about her! He said he didn’t hang around them much because of the Ladies there, well, he would have to behave!! He is listed, with Arlene in the 1939 Methodist Church rolls too. Their neighbors were the Southards mentioned by Re. Dr. Leon L. Loofbourow who was a circuit riding Methodist preacher who came and encouraged the building of the Log Church in Happy Camp which is the Bible Church now!! His mother, Virginia Effman Oakes, (and later added Anderson) wrote newspaper articles. Before my day, Debbie Wilkinson and Hazel Davis Gendron also wrote articles. It was also happy news to hear that he can read Klamath Views in Weed!

Huddleston had come for the Reunion, of course, with his son and others of his family, but he agreed to take time to give us a tour after lunch. Pauline (Sis) Atteberry and Jeanne Burrer were also at lunch, and Buster Atteberry stopped by as well. Buster mentioned that his Dad often spoke of childhood fun they shared and “Hud” recalled a fishing trip with him. Buster also mentioned that his dad’s first job was to sweep out the schoolhouse at Ferry Point and for that chore he received $8 a month.

Later, Huddleston and his son showed us where he had lived as a child, west of his grandmother’s place, and where another cabin was that they raised chickens to sell. We stopped by the Southard graves and recognized some names from Happy Camp history. We saw where Buster’s Dad had lived as a child before the family moved to Happy Camp for high school. We saw the site of the old one room schoolhouse. The most fun, of course, is to hear the stories of the people who used to live there.

Someone once came by and asked Mr. Southard how far his property went, and he replied, “See that Winchester there, about as far as it can shoot!”

Pete, the mailman, that brought Stella Patterson to the Dear Mad’m cabin in 1946, also used to give Huddleston a ride down to Ti-Bar. It was a great afternoon hearing about those days when every creek had a miner’s cabin or even some cabins where there was only a spring or they had to pack water.

We went back to the Reunion as there were more old time friends and family still to visit with. But he left us wishing we knew more about the Hastings brothers, Taylor’s Ranch, and those characters who lived down where Tinkum Creek met Titus Creek to flow into the Klamath and Robert E. Lee Southard and his family had their cabin.

When I got home and opened the computer, a quote popped up in bold black letters on a bright yellow background.” When you are young your grandparents try to tell you their history, and you don’t care because it doesn’t interest you at the time Later on, you wish you had written what they said down.” (Quote by Lillian Trujillo.) It isn’t likely that we really don’t care, but we are too busy. Too bushy to listen. Too busy to sit and hear all the stories, and we think that we will someday, later. But sometimes, we keep so busy and don’t have time, until there is no one left to tell us the stories and we have lost a priceless treasure! Take time today.