Happy Camp celebrated a literary celebrity of our community. The book “Dear Mad’m” by Stella Walthall Patterson has brought many visitors to our community and encouraged many “senior citizens” to lead an adventurous life despite advancing years.Three ladies retired from careers in Chicago and moved to Happy Camp after reading this book published in 1956 and still a favorite today!
Stella Walthall Patterson moved and celebrated her 80th birthday on a remote mining claim in the mountains near Happy Camp, CA launching an experiment. She began living alone in a cabin by the Klamath River in the Siskiyou Mountains with her dog, Vickie, for a year, This tale of her adventure has won the hearts of Happy Campers and many others
The town of Happy Camp celebrated “Dear Mad’m Day in August with many visitors from afar at the Picnic Luncheon. Sandwiches, BBQ ribs, salads and specialty breads, as well as Dolly’s Strawberry Lemonade and dessert were enjoyed under the shade of the sugar maple trees on the green lawn of the Klamath River Resort Inn on the Klamath River east of Happy Camp, a beautiful setting for a picnic!!
We are so pleased that guests who have knew our Dear Mad’m from their time on the River, Rodney Diridon, Sr, his wife Dr. Gloria Dunn, his sister, Claudia and her husband, Rodney, Claudia and their brother, Ton who wasn’t able to be in Happy Camp for this event were the “Friends of Dear Mad’m on the cover of the first edition published in 1956. They grew up in Dunsmuir but visited grandparents, on the mining claim on the Klamath in the summer. Rod Diridon told of the “river apples” that needed picking up upon their arrival, and other tales of that era from the viewpoint of a young boy on summer vacation.
Peter and Elizabeth Walthall Lismer, whose book (Dear Mad’m, Who Was She?} will be published by Naturegraph were here researching the story of Dear Mad;ms life. Cinyhia and her friend the niece of James Patterson of Willow Creek. who Stella married about the time following the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 brought family photos to share. Hazel Davis Gendron who used her artistic talents for a portrait of Stella Patterson and is a well known authority of the history of life along vicinity of the claims on the Klamath was also present. Numerous other fans and “Friends of “Stella” from near and far came to the Picnic Luncheon.
Rid Diridon, well known in political circles in California and called the Father of Transportation in the state was glad to share thoughts about Stella, the Clear Creek Claim and our even earlier times at the Classic Hill placer mine. The Classic Hill placer mine was about 12 miles up Indian Creek near the state line. Grandfather John Covert filed three mining claims at Clear Creek with Fred Crook around 1910 and Fred, an authentic mountain man, stayed there to do the annual “claim improvements” to hold title. Grandpa wondered off to earned and loose a couple of fortunes. Seems he was a brilliant builder but imbibed a bit too much.
After quite a time in set design and construction in Hollywood, Grandpa helped to build the Hurst’s Wintoon “Castle” from the mid 1930s to the late 1940s. After an altercation with a couple of loggers in a Dunsmuir bar, Grandpa resettled (was resettled) on the Classic Hill Mine that was purchased by Grandma Allie’s Redding-based logging family (Middleton, Cocherine, and Notley) for timber rights.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s Grandpa worked the claim illegally in the winter when the streams were muddy so his tailings weren’t discernible. It was a massive old systems with miles of ditches and high flooms, hydrolic “giants” and piping, a small town (blacksmith shop, stables, hay shed, machine repair shop, large orchard, etc.) at the main HQ bunk house and superintendents home dating to the late 1800s. He worked the claim with a team of Native Americans led by a man who he called the “Big Indian”, a giant who scared the devil out of this young kid.
There was an altercation in Happy Camp on a Friday night between Grandpa and the Big Indian over a remarkably pretty red headed lady (she used to hug me until I thought I’d smother). After that notorious confrontation…and because of the Red Head, Grandma Allie moved to the Classic Hill and they then moved to the Clear Creek claims with Fred. Grandpa built a very nice home, later cut in two and moved to Happy Camp after Caltrans condemned and bought the claim in the early 1960s to straighten and widen the road.
Presentation of Dear Mad’m to Barbara Brown who is the publisher of the Dear Mad’m book at Naturegraph Publishers in Happy Camp and Dear Sir award to a miner who works on the River and is friend to all, human and animal.
Books of local authors, as well as the Dear Mad’m book and a Nellie Ladd book of Photos of the Denny area were available for purchase as we honored our local neighbors who use their writing and artistic talents to enrich our lives. The Klamath Writers Group of the Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce that meets every Sunday afternoon is planning the luncheon picnic to celebrate Stella Patterson and those who still maintain the spirit she exemplifies today!.
Following the luncheon, Dave Tulledo of the Happy Camp District office of the Klamath National Forest planned to take the group to Ferry Point to see remains of Dear Sir and Up and Up’s claim as well as the part of the mining claim where three ladies from Chicago made their home for many years. The cabin where Dear Madm lived was destroyed when Highway 96 was improved years ago.
However, the tour guide was called away to a wildfire in the Doolittle Creek area and was not able to unlock the gate and take the group to see the sites. Undaunted, several of the Dear Mad’m fans explored the remnants of the other claims at Ferry Point which was an adventure in itself. Quickly discovered that going off the gravel path was not advised and several vehicles needed a push or pull with a chain to get back on the right track.
For a fitting close to the day of activity, there was a campfire around down by the River at the Klamath River Resort Inn. Pete Winslow played his guitar and sang some, especially a song fitting the age of Dear mad;m, My get up and go has got up and went and a precious little tune he had written also.
Dr, Gloria Dunn made great s’mores. All enjoyed the flow of the River going by and seeing shooting stars in the sky.
Next year, October 12-14, 2012 will be the Second annual Dear mad’m Day in Happy Camp. October 14 is the actual birthday of Stella Patterson although for the purpose of the book they had changed it to April. Watch the Website www.dearmadm.com for further information next summer.