by Judy Bushy
Tuesday twice as many came to the Book Club! The special guest of the meeting was that the author of Beginner’s Luck; Dispatches from the Klamath Mountains, Malcolm Terence was coming. Most of the books that the book club reads are novels, and we’ve had some good ones! This is the story of life along the Klamath River from Malcolm’s eyes.
How Malcolm got here was a very interesting story! He had graduated in Journalism and worked on the Los Angeles Times, a far different world than Klamath River life. After traveling with a rock band, and experiencing the life of Haight Asbury, he took a trip to Black Bear Ranch. Legal entanglements kept him longer than he had planned. At that time the commune was beginning in the remote area of the Klamath Mountains near the Oregon-California border. He waited at the ranch enjoying the fresh air, but by mid October with thirty of them living in the wilds, the romance, and the food, were disappearing. That’s when Malcolm shares his culinary triumph at the Commune.
Later, some residents returned to civilization, some, like Malcolm, moved nearby to take a place among the Native American, timber-logging families and other very varied views in the community, but there are some things that they found they had common to share. Some of the locals wondered about the hippie neighbors, but many befriended them, told them their stories, and joined them in fighting herbicide use in the area. Some gathered together to form a cooperative to plant trees for the Forest Service, and when the wild fire came to the forest, they learned fire fighting. They learned about the disputes between the Forest Service and the miners, and the habits and stories of their neighbors.
He joined his neighbors in a gold mining effort to save the mining claim, enjoying berry and apple pies, quiches, soufflés of the hostess and said the Potluck is a highly honed tradition on Salmon River! There were some great storytellers that he met and enjoyed their craft! They started a reforestation cooperative and named it Ent forestry!
The wood-stove heated tents that made a portable city which are pictured on the front cover of the book served as kitchens dining rooms and dorms which were kept comfy by wilderness standards, but a shantytown elsewhere. Personal stories such as the impromptu wedding with his wife with which a son, Slate was included, and the home-birth of his daughter are some special stories and we appreciated him reading the “water and love” and other parts of the book.
It was also interesting to hear from Malcolm, who had an academic publisher, Oregon State University Press, who had it peer reviewed and an editor who gave lots of input and questions in the process. We always hope that more of our Klamath neighbors will write down their memories of the past along the river and Memoirs and appreciated reading new (to us) aspects of life on the Salmon and Klamath Rivers.