Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Argument in Black and White

 Letter to the editor written in response to businesses promoting alcohol sales

      It seemed ironic to me, that in last week’s paper concerning alcohol sales in Blanding, a large anti-drinking advertisement also ran.  Then I read the Court Report and noted the number of drug and alcohol abuse felonies. Thus the conflict is presented in black in white.  As we consider the economic factors presented, we need to ask, just how many people will benefit financially from such sales? And what will be the cost to taxpayers in policing, and rehabilitating users of those sales?
      There is already a strong pervasive message in media today. Movies, television, reality shows, music, and even Facebook scream at us that we can’t possibly have fun of any kind unless alcohol is involved.  Hollywood along with partner corporations send strong “amoral” messages to our youth, and we allow it because money drives advertising, and branding on shows.  Is economic viability of more concern in a community than health, morals, education, or social issues?   Too many youth and adults in our nation have already sold their heritage of health and happiness for a mess of pottage in the name of gain and greed.  Economics is not the only concern our community should have. 

     I personally find it an extreme stretch in the argument, that anyone would choose to eat or not eat in Blanding, simply because they can’t have alcohol.  I’ve visited lots of countries and just because I couldn’t have a rootbeer, in Egypt, or Wales, was no reason to dismiss the experience of dining in a new location.   There are other highs in life to enjoy, not dependent upon alcohol.  That is the greater message that youth need to see and hear, and that we all need to understand.
    I agree that it would been great if new business growth occurred in the town, but at the same time I haven’t seen the Chamber of Commerce functioning in any progressive creative way for many years.  I think there are more important things to promote and encourage than grasping at “spirits.” We don’t need another Jersey Shore nor more youth in juvenile court.  We need to promote blue skies, clean air, gorgeous rocks, hiking, rappelling, boating, fishing, and health.

    Part of my bias is based upon why we came here in the first place, 43 years ago.  Blanding was a good place to raise a family.  We felt the community supported the values we deemed important, and we felt safe here and we still feel that way.  As long term residents, albeit “newcomers” to the community, it seems more important that the community should reflect what makes us STAY, not a temporary alcohol fix that opens a Pandora’s box of even more problems.

Our other concern about more alcohol in the community comes from working with the 12-step recovery program, both on the reservation and in Blanding for over five years.  We have seen too many lives ruined, health depleted, children taken from parents, suicide, child abuse, and deadly accidents caused by alcohol.  We have enough problems already; let’s not promote more chaos in our part of the world.

                                 Sincerely,  Steve and Janet Wilcox

Friday, September 28, 2012

What did you do when the lights went out?

Thanks to the recent encounter of a Blanding hay wagon with an electrical line, we were all reminded a few weeks ago, that we are perhaps too dependent upon electricity.  Its need pervades every corner of our homes and lives, and we are blessed to have it.  Sometimes, however it’s good to revert back to earlier, simpler times.  Sixty years ago, people still had a good life without 24/7 access to TV, Internet, appliances, radio, movies, games and the luxuries we now consider necessities.  Where were you when the lights went out?  Did you learn anything from that experience?

Lessons I Learned: 

1.      Know where your candles, lamps, flashlights, batteries, and solar lights are before it gets dark.  I remembered to use my solar lights this time, and found them easily! And thus didn’t have to worry about all the other light sources.  It’s a good idea to have extra solar batteries on hand as well.

2.      You don’t have to totally cook food.  Turn off the heat, with the lid on, and let it cook itself the last 15-30 minutes.  This is when a Dutch oven is especially useful, as they retain heat super well.  This decreases the amount of wood, or electricity needed.  You just need to plan ahead.  Our meal was only partly done when the electricity went off, and 40 minutes later when we returned it was still warm and good to eat.

3.      Don’t open your fridge and freezer if they stop working.  Things will stay cold for several days if left unopened.  If a freezer breaks, put everything into your washing machine, with a heavy blanket thrown over it.  That way even though items may thaw, there isn’t a mess and hopefully, the fridge can be replaced or fixed before you lose your food. 

4.      If you fear food loss because of long term electrical loss…you can bottle meat, and other frozen items using your camp stove (if you have propane.)  Plan ”B”:  dry fruits, vegetables, make jerky out of meat using solar heat.  Move your drying racks into a car, or any place with lots of windows.  This ups the temperature significantly and dries things fast.  Who knows, you may even be able to cook a frozen pizza in there, it’s soooo hot!

5.      What to do when you’re bored and in the dark:  Talk to your family; play “in the dark” games (plunk out a tune on the piano and see if anyone recognizes it. Sardines, and No Bears out tonight should be exciting!  Have a read around –pass the flashlight or solar light and take turns reading a story together; pretend you’re pioneers sitting around a campfire.  And of course, go to bed early, and rise early that your minds might be refreshed, and that you will enjoy and appreciate the sunrise as well as your thankfulness for light.  Hmmm, I wonder if they make solar chargers for Kindles?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

If you think you can, you can

Besides canners, food dryers and
steamers are part of preserving
Canning season is upon us, and this year has already been a bumper crop for produce in Blanding.  The provident person will make sure they capitalize on the opportunity to not only eat and enjoy, but can and dry everything possible while the opportunity is here.  Often there is a late spring freeze and we are not blessed with so much fruit.

     One of the great pluses this season, is that Facebookers throughout the county have been very generous and timely in either selling or giving away extra produce.  The Farmers Market each Saturday is another outlet for produce if you don’t have your own garden. 

     Thanks to Will and Jessica McFarland for initiating this trend by setting up Blanding’s 24/7 garage sale.  It’s an extremely provident and kind way to pass along items a person no longer needs but may help someone else.  One person’s trash may be another’s treasure!  Since they started this about 5 months ago, Blanding Classifieds, and “Free” have also sprouted up.  What a great way to cut costs, for locals who are being hammered by the $3.98 per gallon gas prices.  Any way we can share is wise and frankly a fun challenge and it makes us better stewards of the good things God has given us, much more so than throwing them away. [Update. As of May 2016 this community site has over 8000 members!]

     My son, Nathan, would be so proud of me today. I actually emptied three dozen bottles of old fruit that had been canned in 1982 and 1989.  Being the frugal person that I am, I had used the discolored fruit when I made whole wheat bread, in place of applesauce.  But I finally had to admit, I’d never be able to make enough bread to use it all up and that our composter would appreciate it, more than my posterity.  It freed up lots of bottles and space so I can preserve more of this year's garden.  So while you’re canning-- clean, reshuffle, and organize your food storage. [Update 2016, now as I empty bottles I'm giving them to Silvia, who will soon have a bigger storage room than I do!]

     In the process I experimented with several other uses for the pear and apricot pulp—mainly using it as a replacement for zucchini in cupcakes.  Not one to follow a perfectly good recipe more than once, I’m all for experimenting and using up what is on hand.  I’m sure that’s how most recipes originate. In fact, half way through this process (which I was doing while also canning tomatoes and grapes) I discovered I had used half of one recipe, then shifted to the other page and finished up with a 2nd recipe.  Carelessness, along with necessity, may be the mother of invention!  They turned out great, with the nuts coming from Autumn’s father-in-law in Logan.  He too, is a great one to pass-along the bounties of the garden.

   Yesterday while listening to Studio Five on KSL, I learned a few other new tricks in the kitchen: Pick pears while they are still green.  Put them into a shallow box to ripen and cover with a blanket.  Use as they turn yellow.  These are delicious dried, and don’t need anything added. They can be scalded just like peaches, which speeds up the peeling process.
2.  Spice up your pears when you can them, by dropping in an Atomic Fireball in bottom of each bottle to make them pink and give them a little taste of cinnamon.

3.  A simple way to cut corn off the cob for canning or freezing.  Pull out your Bundt pan, put the end of the cob in the open hole in the middle.  As you slice off the kernals, they fall into the pan.  What could be simpler!  If you have lots to do, use an electric knife.

When canning Thompson grapes or other light colored ones, 
you can add peach peelings, a plum or other bright fruit to 
give it a pink color.
4. From Marylynn Smith I learned if I want to color up my blah white grape juice coming out of the steamer, I can just toss in some peach peelings, a plum, or a few raspberries.

5.This last idea would not pass muster from my favorite county extension agent, but myself and  other multi-decade canners in my neighborhood reuse our canning lids!  I know Mason and Ball are throwing up their hands in dismay, but if you are careful when you remove the lids, they can be used 2-4 times.  Of course, you have to pay attention to whether they are flat, and not rusted.  If you can a lot, this really saves money. 

6.I also have an issue with the paranoia caused by expiration dates on packages.  These are really only guidelines to help you buy food at optimal freshness.  They should not be  considered as a dictatorial mandate, telling you to thrown away food!  They have nothing to do with whether the food is safe to use.  There is no standardization in packaging dates in the U.S.  So don’t be so quick to throw food away, just because a certain date is on it.   The bigger travesty is the amount of waste in our country caused by robotic cooks who waste perfectly good food because they don’t trust their own good sense, taste buds, and nose. The only items required by federal law to be labeled for expiration are infant formula and some baby foods; some states also mandate pulling dairy from store shelves on the expiration date.

7.     In celebration of the bumper crop of apples coming this year.  Here’s my favorite canning recipe for apples – Bottled Apple Pie Filling from the 2005 4th ward cookbook submitted by Relva Bowring
4-5 quarts of apples peeled and sliced
4 ½ C. sugar
1 C. cornstarch
2-4 tsp cinnamon (depends on taste)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
Mix and add 10 cups cold  water.  Cook until thick and bubbly.  Cold pack 20 minutes.  Fills about 6-7 quarts.  This is quick and easy to use if you need a pie in a hurry! 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The 100 year Metamorphosis of our Home

Door painted by Misty Little 2011
     This year marks 100 years that the Wilcox home has been in existence.  Our curiosity about the history of our house was first piqued when we remodeled the kitchen in 1977 and found copies of the Deseret Evening News dated 1912, in the walls.  They had evidently been used for insulation.  We saved some of the newspapers and these became the starting point for a research project that three of our sons (Aaron, Robert, and Nathan) did for a Regional History Fair in 1984. They interviewed several people who had either owned or lived near the home.  Primary informant was Alma Palmer who had kept a detailed journal of every improvement he made on the property when they owned it, as well as its cost. Verde Washburn Hughes who also lived in our home, also provided information via letters and sketches March 18, 1984.
     The original structure at 112 S. 300 W. was at first a small granary, but was later turned into a two-room home by Benjamin Grant Black, the year he married Jennie Melinda Brown in 1912.  Four the Black’s children were born in this little wood home.  They lived there for seven years, and the sold it to LaVell and Wasel Washburn.
It was during 1912 that the first elementary school was also built in Blanding, and in 1914 the South chapel was begun.  In 1915 the Grayson post office was changed Blanding, and the next year the town built its first reservoir (1916) and the stone bank and Blacks grist mill were also built. 
LaVell traded the corner lot west of Morley Guymon’s (where Deb and Charles Orvin now live) to Benjamin Black in 1919 for the little home and lot.  Originally the kitchen door was on the north, with a small porch.  Verde recalled, “Oh, the cave of that vine covered porch, the play house, the bed in summer, and reaching through those vines in winter for a bite of clean snow.” 

LaVell expanded the kitchen and added a lean-to bedroom and moved the kitchen door to the south. There was no inside water, but there was a stand tap on the north side.  The Washburns had six children and had two big beds in the bedroom, “There was with no room to move or mop,” said daughter Verde Hughes.  Vel and J.B. Washburn were both born in the living room of the little three-room home. The walls were adobe and the roof was tar papered by her mother Wasel.  The wall boards were calcimined. 
The corrals and barn were built by the Washburns.  An irrigation ditch ran past the north side of the house. The granary and livestock pens were located on the east side of the barn.  Like most Blanding families, the Washburns, kept a milk cow.  “LaVell could whirl a full bucket of milk around his head and not spill a drop,” remembered his daughter Verde. “Wasel made the best bread in the world, divinity candy, mashed potatoes and gravy, pies and delicious beans.”

In 1931 LaVell Washburn sold his Alkali Ranch and bought Zeke Johnson’s brick house across the street (where Maureen Beeson lives).  Wasel had helped her father David Patten Black build that home in 1915.  The Blacks lived there until 1929 when David Patten traded it to Zeke Johnson for the Charley Sipe home. The Washburns sold their little home to Alma and Lila Palmer in 1931.  All of the Palmer children were raised there.  They had three milk cows and 44 pigs at one time, and Lila usually did the milking, gardening, & watering because Alma was away doing road construction and other projects.  Alma did, however, keep a very detailed diary of all his business dealings and the following data came from his diary:
1946—Built a second level addition, also added a porch, and front room.  Robert Dodge and Frank Wright did the work. A garage was built, cost $370; a picket fence was also added.
1949—Cement walks were poured around the home, cost $117; brick planters were put in which cost $190.  The Chicken coop was built for $485.  (All are still intact.)
1950—Planted the maple tree on the north lawn. (Now 62 years old.)
1952--Planted the Ash tree on the north lawn. (60 years old).  Girls who grew up with Margaret, Ilene, and Shirley also remember the play house Alma built for his kids, and how much fun it was to play there.
1955—A fireplace and large patio doors were added on the south by Ernest Sondregger.

1959—The bedroom walls downstairs were lined with knotty pine; cost $225; more picket fence built by Alma.
1960—Installed the wagon wheel fence.
1962—Home was remodeled again; paneling installed in the front rooms for $300.  Doug Harvey and Don Pendleton, Glen Johnson did most of the carpentry.  This was beautiful dark walnut paneling made from scratch.
1973—Pete and Charlotte Black bought home from the Palmers; insulation was blown in to the attic.
1974—The Blacks sold the home to the Wilcox family.  We had four children at the time: Aaron 4, Rob 3, Nathan 2, and Chris 1 year old.  After living in a trailer for six years, we thought we had moved into a castle!!
1975—We reshingled the house, remodeled and insulated the middle upstairs bedroom.  Planted lawn on the west side of the house.  Debarked the elm trees on the north and south to kill them, as they were over powering the Maple trees.  We loved the large garden and orchard area as both of us were raised on Idaho farms. Two of the original grapes vines are still growing.

1976-- Feb. 2, Quentin born; large garden planted (and each year afterward). Steve has always put in a large garden and taken good care of it.  This not only gave us (and our neighbors) fresh produce all summer, but lots to can for storage. 
1977—Drilled a well near the barn.  Cost $1221. Anthony born Sept. 27
1978-79—Dick Einerson remodeled our kitchen, added new cabinets.  Cost $4000.  Autumn born Oct. 31   Built a grape arbor, and planted more trees and grapes.
1981—Andrew born April 6. 
1982—Installed chain link fence around three sides of our acreage. 

1987—Added on 12 feet to west end of home, and brought the walls straight up on the 2nd story.  This added four more rooms upstairs. Hoyt Hoagland did the work and remodeling for $17,000.   Our family did the sheet rocking, perfa-taping and painting and finishing work.  It was a long winter!

Jan. 4 , 1990—A house fire destroyed the interior walls downstairs, and smoke damaged the rest of the home.  We were devastated to lose all the hard work we had just completed. The basic structure, however, was still solid.  Bishop and Sister Webb generously invited us to stay with them, until we could find another place to stay. Nine people for company for over a week—just imagine!   Our neighbors and friends helped clear out the insulation, and burnt sections as well as wash our clothes, dishes, and anything salvageable.  What a labor of love they provided. We were soon able to rent Dr. VanDyke’s home, where the Giddings now live on the dump road.  Scott Hurst and his crew rebuilt our home and we moved back in 6 months later.  They did amazing work, and made the home better than ever.  We truly felt an outpouring of community love and support during this very trying time. 
January - July 1990  Hurst Building added new wiring, insulation, plumbing, bay window on south, termite prevention, storm windows, new furnace, porch in front, vinyl siding and cement work.  They took down walls in the kitchen/family room area, added a big support beam, to open up the back of the home.  Taylor Palmer did the cabinets for the kitchen and office.  They did wonderful work, and we were so thankful to be back in our home six months later.
1992—City installed curb and gutter on 3rd west and 1st south.
2003 -- With the help of the boys we leveled off the south patio area and added flagstone in time for Andrew's wedding.  So now the patio was part cement, part wooden docks from UNDC (that Silvia and I confiscated) and then flagstone.
2006—Tired of hauling around water hoses for 30 years, we installed a sprinkler system, in preparation for leaving on the mission in 2007.

2011-- We leveled off the patio area with new cement and vinyl on the garage. Virgil Steve and Dave Moore also tiled our entry way.

In 2012 we added a deck with an escape route in case of fire.  It has only taken us 20 years to do that! 

2013 During April Conference Ashley and Autumn helped give our kitchen a face lift, with a bright blue turquoise.  I would never been able to climb up on the cabinets to do it, and I love the cheer it brings to our home.
 We love our home, and appreciate changes and improvements made over the past 100 years.  It has served its occupants well and been a wonderful refuge to all the families who lived there, a temporary abode for students in transit,  and hopefully a friendly respite for those who come to visit and often to play games.

Often people are quick to tear things down and start over, instead of valuing the stability and soundness of our foundations.  We truly have learned to value those who came before us, each one adding significant and beneficial contributions. Each one adding a new level of enjoyment to the structure and property. So Happy Birthday to our Black, Washburn, Palmer, Black, Wilcox home.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Silver Anniversary of Blue Mountain Shadows -- Summer 2012

It was 25 years ago, that the first issue of Blue Mountain Shadows was published, with the hope that at least a dozen or so issues of the magazine might eventually come forth.  This year marks the 25 year milestone of the magazine, and 45 magazines, and several books having been published thus far.  This historic endeavor began as a small visionary seed that took tremendous tending and nurturing over the years. As a result of those dogged efforts the seed has yielded many successful harvests, thanks to hundreds of writers and dedicated staff members.

Current Managing Editor & Photo Editor, LaVerne Tate, has been with the magazine since its inception as has Editor Bob Pherson.  He states, “No other county in Utah, and most likely the United States, has had such a consistent, long term record of devotion to its heritage, presented in a public forum available to the non-specialist.” The San Juan County Commission has also been a key partner over the years.

McPherson says of this particular issue, “Readers can learn of Hole-in-the-Rock settlers who moved beyond Bluff to make homes elsewhere; the amazing skills of local craftsmen who created their own lime mortar, sawed lumber, quarried rock and fired brink to create buildings that still serve; miners who ventured onto the Navajo Reservation . . .; how Navajos, Utes and Mormons viewed each other. . .  . This issue of Blue Mountain Shadows is a fitting tribute to our past – in both the history of the county, as well as that of the magazine.”

This summer issue commemorates Blue Mountain Shadows’ beginnings. Initial founders Janet Wilcox and LaVerne Tate both write of the struggles beginning the magazine and the great help high school students and local adults provided in the collection and writing process. Deniane Gutke Kartchner includes her perspective as a high school interviewer/transcriber who “grew up with Blue Mountain Shadows.”  She eventually became the layout and design specialist of the magazine.

Several of the early topics are reexamined in this new issue with Bob McPherson discussing “Views Across a Chasm” a 100 year look at Ute-Anglo relations in the county.  Mabel June Palmer takes a closer look at the history of the Blanding Tabernacle, with humor and insight that few others have. Interviews done in 1975 and 1977 with George A. Hurst are included.  They recount the actual building of the South Chapel, while Winston Hurst gives detailed insight into the brick making process, as well as listing of buildings built from those bricks.  (You may be living in one of them!)

Other faithful history buffs and contributors James Knipmeyer, Ron McDonald, and Corrine Roring, add additional articles on homesteading, prospecting, and landmarks of the county.   Just when you thought you knew it all, inquiring minds keep uncovering more about the area.  Their information will both surprise and enlighten readers.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Growing Up With Blue Mountain Shadows

By Deniane Gutke Kartchner

            Some people grow up with horses or music, art or cooking, dance lessons, or team sports. Me?  I grew up with a magazine, and looking back at the last 25 years, I am amazed to see how Blue Mountain Shadows has changed my life through the skills I have learned, the friends I have met, and the mentors I cherish.

            I was sixteen and a sophomore at San Juan High (1987) when my English teacher Janet Wilcox told me about a summer job interviewing as part of an oral history project. I wasn’t the only high school student to help with what ultimately became Blue Mountain Shadows, but the process and the people influenced me so much that, years later, I found myself still caught up in the magazine, first as an interviewer/researcher, then a writer, and then as the layout and production editor. I am still an avid collector of every issue, reserving a spot in my personal library for each one. 

            As I recall, before the first issue was even in the planning stages, we sat down as a group (most of us high school students) and chose a topic to research over the summer. I chose the CCC’s. I had no idea what “CCC” was, and I confess it took me awhile to learn to say Civilian Conservation Corps (“core” instead of “corpse”).  But it sounded intriguing, and no one else spoke for it, so I took it. The best part of this subject ended up being the wonderful people I met.  

            We prepared ourselves to interview through workshops, where we practiced how to ask “open-ended” questions (encouraging people to elaborate on a subject instead of just answering “yes” or “no.”) We also learned how to use a tape recorder. Believe it or not, what I feared the most was getting half-way through a really great interview without actually recording anything! We also did some preliminary research; for example, I looked through interviews that had already been done in the ‘70s by California State University-Fullerton so I would be familiar with some of the people involved and know what questions to ask. 
            One of the first people I interviewed was Thomas “Brush” Keele. What I remember most—besides the fact that Brush was handsome and good-natured and his stories detailed and funny—was his answer to my open-ended question. “To begin with, why don’t you just tell me a little about how you got involved in the CCC’s, and some of the experiences you had while there,” I said.  His response, when I later typed it, took up four-and-a-half pages!  I was ecstatic. The time went by so fast that it didn’t feel like work at all, and Brush really helped set a positive tone for future interviews with his CCC buddies. My interview with Brush also stands out in my mind as a testament to the importance of the work we were doing. I interviewed him in June 1987 and that February (1988) he passed away.  What if we had waited to talk to him? The value of one person’s life experiences cannot be underestimated.

            Throughout that summer, I talked to anyone and everyone I could about the CCC’s—which turned out to be a government work program of the 1930’s. At first I focused on the Blanding “camp” (they were set up all over the country): what it looked like, where it was located (in a four-block area in northwest Blanding along 300 and 400 West), who had been involved (most boys came from back East), and who had stayed in the area after being discharged. I found out who the local foremen were and talked to local boys who had traveled to other places to be part of this same program (you couldn’t sign up in your home town). I tried to visualize the boys’ circumstances, what they were working on (most projects involved conservation and natural resources), and what they learned as far as skills and life in general.  Was it a good program?  Would they recommend it today?
            It was a huge task for a sixteen year old, to make appointments and go into people’s homes and interview, and then to transcribe the interviews (I’ve never been a great typist), but I was successful. I had the support of my parents and my mentors on the BMS staff helping me, and wherever I went people caught the vision of it and shared their experiences. I think other students’ experiences were similar; one of my close friends Annette Carroll (Cashin) and I have talked about the wonderful experience she had that summer interviewing those involved in the exodus from Old Mexico.
            My experiences with Blue Mountain Shadows could fill a book, but I’ll share a few more from this first summer. Thomas “Toddy” Wozniak from New Jersey was so great to visit with. He was soft-spoken and kind, with an amazing memory that included specific details about projects and people. So many boys came through this Blanding camp! What I remember most about my interview with Toddy was after we had talked for a while he said, “Here, I’ve got a book I’ll show you,” and then he brought back this scrapbook containing not only dozens of pictures, but camp exchange money, a CCC clothing patch, and his discharge papers, just to name a few of the treasures! I could barely contain my excitement, because seeing faces with the names I was hearing about was so cool. And to be allowed to touch stuff that was over 50 years old and so well cared for, I was just in heaven. Better yet, with the help of his daughter Donna, Toddy gathered everything he could find pertaining to the CCC’s and let the San Juan Historical Commission copy it all, so that future generations would have access.
               Local “old timers” also shared experiences and information with me; Lynn Lyman, LaVell Palmer, and Dave Guymon explained some of the CCC projects, what the boys’ part actually was, how the division of agencies worked. A plus was during these interviews they also shared stories about my own grandpa, Lynn Palmer, which led me to learn more about my own family and to later write an article about roads in San Juan County.
            And I absolutely can’t forget the interview I had with my grandma, Fern Palmer, and her lifelong friends Marva Laws and Georgan Burtenshaw. I can still picture them--each of them in their seventies, sitting there giggling over silly memories of the CCC boys. They told me stories with such gusto and vividness that I couldn’t help but be engrossed and transformed back in time. They sang songs: “When the blue goon has turned to gray again, when the Navy takes the curse away” and shared pictures they took with the CCC boys when they were all my age.  Along with their memories of the CCC’s they shared impressions of their teachers and stories of several pranks they had pulled--they enjoyed very much retelling capers such as drying fat snakes for belts and drinking homemade “hooch”.
            As I went from interview to interview that first summer, the places and the people began to tie together in a large “family” of people connected through the CCC’s. I don’t how it happened exactly, but I immediately felt a part of it. Maybe it was because as we met and talked we treated each other with respect, kindness and openness, which created a connection even though in most cases there was a difference of two generations between us. These wonderful, older and experienced people of our community must have been able to envision what this newly created organization was trying to do (even in the hands of high school kids), and what BMS has been trying to do ever since. As was said by one reader of the very first issue, “This country has a wonderful heritage which needs to be remembered…I am very pleased that the history of our San Juan County is considered important enough for projects of this kind and applaud the efforts of those participating.”[1] I was pleased to be a part of it. 

            As I continued interviewing, transcribing, and reporting back to my mentors on the BMS staff, we realized that the CCC influence expanded beyond Blanding into all parts of the county; subsequently, I got the chance to do some traveling. My mom took me to conduct out-of-town interviews; my dad took me over many dusty roads to visit first-hand some project sites. This aspect of my experience would never have been possible without my parents, who helped make arrangements and/or accompanied me. 
            In Monticello, I met with Kent and Fern Frost. Kent gave me an autographed copy of his book My Canyonlands: “To my friend Deniane Gutke from Kent Frost the Slickrock Hiker”. They fed me lunch, and Kent let me try out some of the equipment he had used in his adventures, including a pair of shoes with horseshoes tacked to the bottom of them invented solely for pulling pranks.

            Heading north to the Provo/Salt Lake metropolis I interviewed Walter “Prock” May, a fascinating man who came from Ohio with the CCC’s and consequently married a Blanding girl (Alene Jones, who was one of my relatives). Prock shed light on the organization of the camp with its Army officers, company sergeants and local foremen, and expounded on day-to-day relationships within the camps and community. I appreciated Prock’s perspective; I left his home with a bigger picture of the service those boys provided during that era and the impact of their arrival and assimilation into the community. I also interviewed my great aunt, Edith Palmer, whose husband Lawrence was the sheriff in the CCC days. Edith was a beautiful and stately-type lady in my memory and I enjoyed talking with her not only about what she knew of the CCC’s but of her memories of old Mexico (which, by the way, helped my friend Annette, and also brings to mind how many times we students were able to help each other during the project because we were taught in those summer workshops to listen, notice details and allow people to diverge and reminisce).

            Next, I interviewed Karl R. Lyman at his home in Orem about his experiences as a religious and political leader during the CCC time period (he was the county attorney in 1935). My impressions of this kind, regal man have stayed with me all these years—and apparently he remembered me, too, because when my marriage engagement appeared in the local newspaper in 1991 he noticed it and took the time to write my parents a congratulatory note and to remind them of our acquaintance four years prior. What I remember the most about my interview with Bro. Lyman is gaping in awe at the sheer number of books he had in his possession, particularly the journals of his father, Albert R., “The Old Settler” of San Juan. I felt like I had gone back in time and linked to the century prior. When I left, Karl gave me five books, including his book “The Old Settler” written in 1980. The books stand proudly in my library next to my Blue Mountain Shadows magazines.

            After a busy summer and more work into the school year, we students started putting together articles from our interviews and research. Here again, I had so much help from others as I put together my first article about the Civilian Conservation Corps in San Juan County, which was published in the first Blue Mountain Shadows magazine as “Open Arms?  The CCC Invasion of San Juan County.” A second article, “A CCC Enrollee A Day Kept Depression Away,” followed the spring of 1988.  I consider these articles about the Civilian Conservation Corps in San Juan County a great attempt by everyone involved to bring to life a crucial piece of San Juan history.
            When I look back at my experiences with Blue Mountain Shadows, it’s hard to believe they began in high school. Even though my interviewing “job” ended in 1987, I continued as a researcher and a writer and completed many other projects. (For example, I interviewed my own grandparents, and the stories they shared are, in some cases, a great majority of what we know about them.) I wrote for school and community publications and made long-lasting connections with many other wonderful people in the community through other worthwhile pursuits.

            When I graduated from high school and left Blanding for college, I thought my involvement with BMS might end, but it didn’t. I walked right into my first college job interview armed with several Blue Mountain Shadows magazines and got the job immediately because of my involvement. In fact, I went to college in the first place on an English Sterling Scholar scholarship that came about primarily because of the depth of my work with BMS. Later I got the chance to write additional articles and then to lay out the magazines, eventually putting together eleven of the issues as the layout editor.
            The influence of BMS in my life continues. Since 1987, my work experience with Blue Mountain Shadows has been at the core of every resume I have ever put together. Every article I have since written, every photo I’ve taken, every family history I’ve prepared, and every blog I currently maintain can honestly be attributed in part to what I learned in my youth through Blue Mountain Shadows.
            Because I literally “grew up” with it, BMS is so much more than just a magazine to me. In my youth I was welcomed into others’ homes and taught from their life experiences. From my interviewing experiences I learned to listen—really listen, not just say “uh huh, that’s nice” at appropriate moments--and to value others’ opinions. I learned that everyone has a story, and it is uniquely theirs and irreplaceable. Through my interviewing experience with Blue Mountain Shadows I also developed skills like remembering names, dates, and relationships--skills I use all the time when conversing with strangers who soon become friends.
            From my mentors on the BMS staff I learned you can have different backgrounds and strengths and all work together on a common cause. I have high expectations of what I can accomplish because these wonderful people who were my parents and teachers held me to greatness at an early age. I learned that age difference doesn’t really matter when your mentors treat you kindly, share their knowledge, and expect great things from you like hard work and fairness.
            The men I interviewed from the CCC’s were good men. They had families and jobs and were patriotic citizens. The period of the Civilian Conservation Corps was a huge adjustment for the little communities of San Juan, and it wasn’t always easy. Everyone had to adjust their thinking a little to accommodate each other. Even today, this home of ours can be a place where conflicting ideas and different cultures collide, but I have great faith in people because of our past. I really believe if our future is half as good as our history has been, we will all have grown up nicely.
            Thanks, Blue Mountain Shadows.

Memories of the BMS Staff

By Deniane Gutke Kartchner

            I have wonderful memories of the BMS staff who were my mentors while I was in high school and involved with the magazine; in fact, they are all still very important to me.
            My most trusted and loved mentor throughout my life, besides my immediate family, is Janet Wilcox, managing editor of BMS for 20-plus years. She is a woman who loves people and worthwhile projects. She works circles around me constantly, and I will always admire her and look up to her.  She is a very skilled writer and can bring to life the most mundane of subjects. Back in the early days of BMS, she was as I mentioned earlier my English teacher.  Janet worked with all of us students to help us hone our research and writing skills, and she along with Kathy Hurst as I remember were very instrumental in helping us choose topics and do our best work. Janet is the queen, the public figure and organizing force behind so many things, and she has been the glue that has kept BMS together all these years through her tireless efforts to “get out among the people” and do the nitty-gritty stuff—write grants, invite guest editors to edit the magazines, secure printing companies, set up panel presentations.  She is amazing, and my dear, dear friend. (She’s a “kindred spirit,” as Anne of Green Gables would say!)

            Every group needs a scholar—a person in the community whose reputation for published works gives the group’s projects merit.  In my opinion, that person for Blue Mountain Shadows is Robert S. McPherson (editor of this issue and of many past). Now, if Bob didn’t edit this out … my honest opinion of him is that he is a genius. Whenever I say to myself, “Work hard, do your best work,” it comes from working with Bob.  I have learned to love red marks all over my paper – it means the person actually read what I wrote with interest and questions. It means there might be a better way to say something. It means maybe I should take something out.  When I hear in my mind: “Too long of a sentence. Cut it. Too many small sentences. Combine them,” it comes from Bob. More importantly, Bob is a great example to me of what it means to be fair. He has been a stickler for truth in that we should not be content to represent only one group of people or one side of an issue. In other words, Bob’s philosophy in my eyes is if you have to choose between “fair” or “flair,” choose the one that does the most justice to the most people. Bob has worked tirelessly to help Blue Mountain Shadows maintain the professional, scholarly reputation he brought to the magazine in the beginning. His work at the College of Eastern Utah as a history professor and in other community pursuits has always been an example to me since the first time I met him through Blue Mountain Shadows.

            Speaking of editors, I have had the opportunity to get to know many wonderful, intelligent people because I worked with them as guest editors for Blue Mountain Shadows. First, K.C. Benedict.  I will never forget sitting down with K.C. for the first time:  she was the writing consultant for the second issue (1988) and worked with me on my second CCC article. I had typed my rough draft on the computer and brought a printed copy with me. K.C. came armed to a work table in her living room with several pieces of white paper, a glue stick, scissors, and a pencil; she used these tools to help me craft the article together, cutting and pasting sections, leaving out others, and writing transitions until it became a wonderful piece.  Something about this hands-on technique combined with technology stuck with me and I still use it. K.C. is an extremely intelligent woman whose ideas and knowledge of printed material, including historic collections and getting around a library have added to Blue Mountain Shadows integrity and value.  Helen N. Shumway is another wonderful woman I greatly admire and her contribution to the magazine over the years is astounding. I worked personally with Helen for months to put together her book “The First Forty Years: History of San Juan High School.” Beautiful, soft-spoken, kind, and intelligent Helen. 
            Next is Winston Hurst, whose involvement with artifacts and archeology over the years has made him a legend to me—including the fact that he is the first man I remember pulling his hair back into a ponytail. I recall meeting Winston during junior high school when I volunteered at the Edge of the Cedars State Park, and Winston’s work there, and his commitment to and respect for archeology and natural history, has been inspiring to me ever since. Every issue of BMS that Winston edits is solid and full of substance and historical treasures. In my everyday life, whenever I think of what is the right thing to do to take care of this world and to appreciate past cultures, I think of Winston Hurst. 
            Two more people I can’t leave out: Stan Byrd and LaVerne Tate. Stan is a legend to me because he used the first Macintosh computer at CEU and was the design guy. (Stan and my dad Dennis Gutke were always playing with the newest technology.) I remember him also as the high school recruiter and the one who put together all of the college’s advertising. For Stan’s part in BMS, I recall that he spent hours copying pictures for historical collections and he helped put together the first magazines. I have thought a lot about Stan’s skills over the years. You can have the greatest content in the world to offer, and no one will even look at it if it isn’t visually appealing. Stan was really good at putting things together with a purpose in mind.  Seeing what he did with design and photography encouraged me in these areas, and he was always helpful to answer my questions and show me cool stuff.  The subjects I explored in college were advertising, public relations and graphic design, most likely a result of Stan’s legacy.

            And now to LaVerne. At one time in my life I didn’t appreciate photos as history themselves, but that all changed through my involvement with LaVerne Tate and Blue Mountain Shadows. It is a tremendous amount of work to gather photos to compliment articles--many times over the years authors had their own to contribute, but just as often they did not.  Pouring through collections, especially in the pre-computer days, was time consuming and it was LaVerne’s job to see that the magazines had photos that went with the text. Talking to people, encouraging them to donate photos to the Historical Commission, manually cataloging and retrieving photos from collections, LaVerne did it all.  She has provided a lifetime of service to the community through her efforts to preserve photos.

            Whenever I think of LaVerne I also think of Corinne Roring, because they worked together so often and so well. In my memory Corinne has always been there somewhere doing something, behind the scenes and yet extremely important.  The number of articles she researched and wrote has left a legacy; her efforts through the San Juan Historical Commission to secure and preserve pictures and documents have been far-reaching and monumental. The number of volunteer hours Corinne has put in over the years to preserve our history is enormous—recently she has been tireless in putting together the Bluff Fort the same way she has completed so many other projects. 

            Others I met who influenced me positively through Blue Mountain Shadows: Gary Shumway, Jim Aton, Sandra Skousen, Finley Bayles, Rusty Musselman, Gary Guymon, and Mikki Palmer. I could write a book about the influence of Brian and Silvia Stubbs, Oliver Harris and Merry Adams (Palmer), with an entire chapter or more dedicated to Merry.  She, like Janet Wilcox, has shaped my entire life because of her writing talents, her teaching style, and her fervent example of goodness in our community. To my parents Dennis and Lurlene Gutke I owe the deepest gratitude for a positive upbringing filled with meaningful, service-oriented experiences and a love for the people of my community.

One of Deniane's last big projects 2012
            The mentors I gained through Blue Mountain Shadows were the age of my parents and grandparents, but they quickly became my life-long friends.  This connection between generations is possibly the most important benefit I received from my association, and I’ve noticed whenever a community has it the youth are happier and seem more confident of their future. My mentors/friends have influenced me in almost everything I do today, and it all started with a little organization called Blue Mountain Shadows.

[1] Mrs. William O. Sheppard in “Reader’s Roost,” Volume I, Issue II of BMS, Spring 1988.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pining and Pinning Pinterest

If you would have told me when I graduated from high school, that when I became a grandma I’d be pinning recipes, great ideas, and gardening tips, to an electronic bulletin board in the sky, I would have thought you were crazy.  But it’s true, I now do all those things.  An electronic world we never dreamed about as teenagers, is now commonplace, providing convenience and valuable ideas at the touch of a finger. As a grandma, I love Pinterest, and if I were still a teenager, I’d love it too!  What a great age we live in.

Pinterest takes me to craft workshops, quilting events, food fairs, celebrations, and model home shows at just the click of a mouse.   I don’t have to travel 5 hours to be invigorated, inspired, and motivated to try something new. This electronic scrapbook/bulletin board replaces boxes of recipe cards, scrapbooks of news articles, stacks of magazines we “might’ use some day, and file cabinets full of good ideas.  It is easy to use, quick to find, and fun to explore.  It might even replace reading and movie watching on a rainy day -- it’s that intriguing!  If it doesn’t replace them, you can at least get recommendations on what to read and watch from cyber friends whose opinion you value!

Pinterest has the intrinsic ability to connect even people in isolated San Juan with the best Blogs in the world, along with recommendations from family and close friends.  No matter your interest --photography, child care, gardening, health, frugal living, decorating, exercise, health, etc. -- you’ll find dozens of ideas each time you visit.  And just think, you can save each one by just “pinning” it to your personalized bulletin board.

From Pinterest I’ve learned more about things I already had a passion for, like sprouting seeds, making soap, and ways to save money (as well as spend it!) and ways to streamline my life. Just last weekend I ran into Rosalie Payne in Walmart in Price and she told me she’d discovered how to make summer porridge or Muesli on Pinterest, and how that fits well into her healthier life style.  Of course, I went home and tried it too.  is a web site that generates energy, positive change, and is highly motivational. Often the links provide step by step video “how tos”.   It may even get you back in the kitchen and cooking again.  It is wonderful rubbing “cursor shoulders” with creative thinkers, and kindred spirits you don’t even know, but who motivate and teach you.

Here is a recent recipe I found for a gourmet tinfoil dinner:

Foil-Pack Chicken and Broccoli Dinner
- Oven to 400 (or use hot coals outside)
- Spray 4 large sheets of heavy-duty foil with oil.
- Combine 1 pkg chicken stuffing mix with 1 1/4 c. water.
- Spoon 1/4 of the stuffing mixture onto the center of each foil sheet.
- Top stuffing with a 6 oz. chicken breast half.
- Top chicken with 1 c. broccoli florets
- Sprinkle with ¼ C. cheese and 1 slice of bacon, crumbled (if desired).
- Drizzle with 1 T. ranch dressing
- Bring up foil sides and fold to seal, leaving room for heat circulation inside
- Place packets on a cookie sheet and bake 25-30 min.
- Remove packets and let stand 5 min.
- Cut sits in foil for steam before opening.

Pinterest is truly fresh, frugal and fun! For sure you can tell when you’ve become converted (or obsessed), when you move your laptop into the kitchen, so you don’t have to print the recipes!