Celebrating Our “Dear Mad’m”
by Judy Bushy, Happy Camp, CA
“Dear Mad’m” is a book by Stella Patterson, published in January, 1956. Why do we who live along the beautiful wild Klamath River cherish the story that Stella, known as Dear Mad’m tells??
First of all, Dear Mad’m was a great storyteller. Her book illustrates what life on the Klamath is like. She wasn’t afraid to move to a primitive cabin in the midst of the Klamath Forest in the heart of the Siskiyous alone!. She enjoyed the beauty and diversity of the countryside around us. A great setting for fun with friends!
The fact that she was 80 years of age when she moved to the little mining cabin on the Klamath is hopeful for those who see the golden years come so soon! She was spry and adventuresome, and still able to enjoy life to its fullest. She had friends of all ages and situations down on the River. That’s quite common. In an area where the population is sparse enough to be considered a frontier, You have opportunity to not limit your friends to those your age category, but to fellowship with different ages, backgrounds and views! Our Klamath neighbors are the best reason to live here,\
Stella mentioned that the publisher wanted some things changed in her story, most notably her birthday moved from October 14th to April because it fit the story better. It’s a minor matter and doesn’t hurt the story at all, because the true riches we enjoy in the story are the highs and lows and adventures of living with friends and neighbors along the Klamath River!
Three ladies in particular moved to Happy Camp after reading her book. Vivian Witt, Marie Wilson and Joan Richardson, and lived on the same mining claim the rest of their lives. They were also a great contribution to the small community of Happy Camp! Many still come to see the land where Dear Mad’m lived, and tell of reading the story numerous times. It’s a story you can go back to and enjoy again and again.
We also are so thankful for those we have met as we seek to learn more about Dear Mad’m. Especially we have been so grateful for Rod (and Gloria,) Claudia (and Dick,) who with their brother, Tom, were the youngsters pictured with Stella on the original Dear Mad’m cover! Then we had the happy new book by Pete and Elizabeth Lismer who wrote the book, Dear Mad’m Who Was She? This book helped us explore the life of Stella Patterson before and after the writing of her tale. Then more relatives, of her husband, James Patterson, and Stella herself, became acquainted and the circle widens as does the circle of friendship!
Life on the Klamath goes on, much the way it was in those days, plus a little new technology. We are all so grateful for Barbara Brown of Naturegraph Publishers who has kept her story available to all her new fans and also published, Dear Mad’m Who Was She?
Linda Martin, the leader of the Klamath Writers’ Group that gathered at the Frontier Cafe Sunday afternoons, had the idea to celebrate our most literary accomplished author. The Klamath Writer’s Group, all good Friends of Dear Mad’m, enlisted the help of the Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce to provide a picnic lunch in 2011 in the beautiful shady green lawn of the Klamath River Resort Inn & Rafting Lodge, two miles east of Happy Camp. We so enjoyed Rod Diiradon’s wonderful story of childhood summers at his grandparents place near Stella’s cabin. The next year the luncheon as moved indoors to the Karuk-Headway Building on 2nd Avenue for the weekend nearest her birthday in October.. We hope you will enjoy the story of Dear Mad’m and how friendships have grown around her delightful story.