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 Janet Keeler Wilcox

A seed is planted
Blue Mountain Shadows started with a seed planted at the Fife Folklore Conference in Logan in June of 1983.  K.C. Benedict and I had just become friends, and attending the two-day conference was our first historical foray together.  Little did we realize at the time that the seed would eventually expand to encompass 25 years of historical work and 45 magazines.  1983 was also the year we bought our first computer.  What a blessing this new technology was to be in facilitating the birth of Blue Mountain Shadows and helping it blossom.
 The conference was not only interesting but motivational and a seed began to germinate.  As we travelled home from Logan to Blanding, ideas and possibilities of how I could incorporate folklore were turning cartwheels in my mind. The whole trip was a memorable one, as we bounced ideas back and forth.  Eventually K C helped on our planning committee and became the writing expert who trained our first crew of researchers in 1987.  She has also been an editor and writer.

Initially I applied what I learned at the conference in doing a folklore project for USU credit.  I conducted about 10 interviews that summer, all focusing on a local trickster. This was eventually printed in issue #7 of BMS.  I began teaching at San Juan High the next year in 1984, and besides all the other “have too’s” I began incorporating historical research and writing into the curriculum. Jessie Embry who worked at BYU’s Charles Redd Center came down and trained my students and me on how to do oral interviews.  I have used her strategies ever since. By the time these 11th grade students did background research, prepared questions, conducted interviews, transcribed them, and wrote a paper, they had processed a lot of language in multiple ways  

By 1986 I had had compiled a good collection of student generated stories and reports and I wanted to find a way to share their work.  It was during that time that  I met with Bob McPherson, and LaVerne Tate, both of whom were already involved with historical preservation and loved the history of San Juan County. While the seedling of historical research had been growing, there had yet to be a harvest.  We formed a committee and hammered out a mission statement of what we hoped to accomplish and have stuck to it for 25 years. 

Our initial goals included:
1.     Publishing two magazines yearly
2.     Conducting oral interviews with Hispanic, Ute, Anglo, and Navajo San Juan County residents
3.     Transcribing and translating all taped interviews
4.     Cataloging and indexing tapes, transcripts, photographs, and research articles
5.     Sponsoring public programs which explain and share new historical information
In a sense this was our garden design and we became the caretaker-gardeners of the Blue Mountain Shadows dream, tending and nurturing it and keeping it going.  It took all three of us to make that happen, along with many talented layout people, local artists, and dozens of dedicated writers.

The Gardeners: Bob, LaVerne, Janet,
At the time that this historical “Awakening” began in Blanding, none of we three principal “Gardeners” were twiddling our thumbs looking for something else to do. We were all raising large families, working, serving in the LDS Church and community, and dealing with the vicissitudes of life brought on by tots and teenagers.  We were, however, all open to new ideas, and felt the import and urgency in preserving local history.

 LaVerne Powell Tate had recently been appointed the first chairman of the San Juan County Historical Commission.  She was the mother of a large active family of 12 children and during the time we worked on the magazine she faced many trials and challenges in her life, among them the loss of her husband Jack following a life-altering logging accident. LaVerne is made of tough stock, however, and is San Juan County through and through.  She knew first-hand about trading posts, Navajos, Utes, pioneers, and history, genealogy, and geography.  Based upon her early experiences she had a life-long appreciation for culture and history and the impact of "place" on life in the Four Corners.  During the early years of the magazine, LaVerne did the leg work on finding and copying photos for each issue. She served as business manager and fiscal officer for grants as well as photo editor, magazine distribution and has often been a writer and editor.  For the past five years she has worked as managing editor and kept the magazine going since I retired in 2007. Through her steadfastness and skill she has helped to publish 45 issues of Blue Mountain Shadows.

Bob McPherson, like me, was a transplant to San Juan County; however, the Four Corners area soon became the center of the universe for all the key places, people, and history he loves.  He has been our resident scholar and advisor while teaching history and anthropology classes at USU/San Juan Campus. He had toyed with the idea of creating a regional magazine, even before we organized, but didn't have the resources to make it happen. He had many articles and ideas at his fingertips, that needed publishing and was so supportive and positive about the project from its inception.

Bob has written and served as editor of BMS dozens of times. He has been dogged in collecting oral histories, some of which have included the changing role of Navajo women, medicine men, early traders, plants, Comb Ridge, and stories about Navajo Oshley. It seemed he was always off to the reservation with sacks of Blue Bird flour, encouraging Navajo people to share their stories and culture. His interest in Native American culture uncovered stories that had been buried for nearly a century. Bob’s strengths helped us and others see the larger picture and the deeper meaning of county events and people.  He also kept us supplied with wonderful research topics, and themes for future issues. He is one of the reasons, the magazine will never run out of subject matter.   His research skills and ability to analyze, contrast, and compare, gave both depth and credibility to our efforts.
As the ringleader of this historical triage, I also had a large family of eight children, all at home when the wheels were set in motion for Blue Mountain Shadows.  I had a BA English and minor in history.  At one time I had begun a Masters Degree in folklore.  My real passion however, was journalism, and through early experiences writing news and feature stories for the San Juan Record I’d come to know and love many of the good people and rich history of San Juan County.  This menagerie of experiences prepared me in for the role I was to take as managing editor.

Even though most people only think of the “magazine” when they hear “Blue Mountain Shadows,” my role definitely included much more than just publishing.  In addition to making sure a magazine came out twice a year, I also spearheaded dozens of public presentations where we presented historical information to local audiences.  Topics included the Posey War, Archaeology, mining, ranching, trading posts, and many Native American topics. 
Between 1989-1997 Blue Mountain Shadows sponsored a series of 4th of July folk festivals in Blanding. These were done in partnership with Kigalia Fine Arts and the San Juan County Historical Commission, The festivals included quilt shows, programs, performances, workshops, and booths all related to folklife.  I served as the chairman seven years for that event, working with dozens of wonderful people who helped pull it all together. We also sponsored a big Blanding Birthday party with cowboy poetry, workshops and a hoedown.
Another role I filled was supervising the collection several oral interview projects.  These projects started in 1987 when Blue Mountain Shadows began, then expanded later to World War II oral histories as well as the collection and transcription Cottonwood Mining oral histories, the indexing and partial translating of 70 Navajo interviews; as well as the collection of over 350 documents related to historic road use in San Juan County.  Most of these required special funding, which meant writing proposals to make the dream happen.  In the process of sharing history I also learned how to create documentaries using Photodex and spent hundreds of hours creating the Blanding Centennial Show, 100 Years of Quilting, and 20th BMS Anniversary DVD. 

Work in the Trenches: Preparing the Ground
As in real life, the main killer of dreams is lack of funding, and that was the first big obstacle to overcome if we were going accomplish any of our goals.  Fortunately, a few years earlier Lynn Lee had helped me successfully write a proposal for San Juan Education Days which was funded by Utah Endowment of the Humanities (Utah Humanities Council).  In 1983 and 1984 our committee organized dozens of workshops throughout the county.  This experience helped me in writing the initial proposal which funded Blue Mountain Shadows.  The state UHC director, Delmont Oswald, was very encouraging, though he cautioned that the board would likely not approve the project more than once, as “they were not in the publishing business.”  My main role from then on was to keeping the dream growing by securing grants for our “great ideas.”
Our first Humanities Excellence Award
Presented by Delmont Oswald

I wrote over 20 proposals in the 20 years I worked as managing editor.  These helped to partially fund the magazine and other historical events we organized. Over the years, the Utah Humanities Council awarded dozens of grants to help us with our specific issues as well as oral history projects.  Other groups and individuals who periodically helped fund our endeavors included Clyde Harvey, The Charles Redd Foundation, Utah Arts Council, Bureau of Land Management, Edge of the Cedars Museum, Recapture Metals, San Juan School District Foundation, San Juan County, and Division of State History.

Just thinking about writing another proposal makes me shutter today, but at one time I did it to help Blue Mountain Shadows survive and thrive.  Those were the years I learned to get by on 5-6 hours of sleep. Today, BMS has simplified its focus, and between San Juan County funding and magazine sales they are able to pay for publishing costs. We have also been thrilled to see the Edge of the Cedars Museum take the lead in hosting and organizing historical and cultural programs.  That has significantly lightened our burden.

Preparing for the first harvest
In 1986, our planning committee determined that the first grant request should include funding for conducting interviews and transcribing them as well as publishing one magazine.  From these interviews we hoped to have enough material for two or more additional magazines. We concentrated on the history of San Juan County from 1900-1940.  The pre-selected topics were the CCC camps, Mexico Mormons, pioneer entertainment, the building of the South Chapel, bootlegging, remedies, Ute culture, law enforcement, the Anasazi, and the influenza epidemic. 

We next selected a team of students, and adults to conduct interviews.  These included Bertha Parrish, Anna Marie Nat, Kim Hurst, Deniane Gutke, Laura Shumway, Annette Carroll, Gipp Redd, Thelma Tate and Regina Yazzie.  Once all these details were hammered out I wrote the first proposal, which was funded for $6649. Half of our hours were considered volunteer donations that summer, so I made $3 an hour, and my transcribers made $2.  We certainly weren’t in it for the money!

Helen Shumway was another consistent and loyal writer, who provided dozens of articles, ideas, and even art for the magazine.  She also took on the daunting task of collecting and editing the first 50 year history of San Juan High for BMS.  She just passed away in 2011, and will be missed.  Her cousin Dora Shumway helped us with distribution for many years, which lightened our burden. Gary Shumway, Jim Knipmeyer and Winston Hurst are three other key writers who added to the magazines veracity and longevity.
On June 10-11,1987 we officially began with a series of workshops to train the BMS staff, then we all joined in force to conduct the interviews. Even though each person had a specific topic to write on, as interviewers we asked questions related to all the topics when we talked to someone. 

The School District Foundation donated money so we could purchase variable speed recorders and microphones for interviewing and transcription. We did interviews in Monument Valley, White Mesa, Monticello, Blanding, and Salt Lake City.  Each hour of recorded tape required nearly 10 hours of transcription.  It was tedious work requiring a high level of concentration. Additional transcribers were pulled in including Preston Blake, Patrice Webb, Beverly Brown, Shana Stubbs, Karalene Brown, Stephanie Blake, Sheri Balch, Staci Brown and Maureen Black. We relied heavily on these responsible high school students to get the job done, and when we ran out of money to pay them, they worked as volunteers. This time was as valuable as money, as we could use their work hours as match to the actual cash the grant provided.  All this had to be documented and tabulated when the final reports were made – another task I didn’t enjoy.

Denianne Gutke’s assigned topic was the CCC camp in Blanding.  She interviewed at least a dozen different people while collecting her information. She recalled interviewing Frank ‘Bo’ Montella. 
 “He was a CCC enrollee from back East who stayed in the area. Thinking back on my interview with Bo, my mind recreates him as this fascinating rogue from New York, still carrying an accent after all his years in Blanding. I glimpse a twinkle in his eye as he tells me the pranks of the camp and we laugh together. “When the mess sergeant wasn’t around, there were the biggest food fights you’ve ever seen!” Bo recalled. To this day I remember the connection I felt to the CCC’s just by being in his house—so close in proximity to the camp where many of their experiences occurred. Bo made so many good friends through the CCC’s, and several stayed in contact with each other their entire lives. Ultimately, my interview with Bo was vital to history because he was so good at seeing and explaining both sides of the story. Political and religious clashes were a part of almost everyone’s experiences with the CCC’s, and Bo was able to share this aspect in a way I could understand and later share with others through magazine articles. (Letter 1/9/2012)”           

That summer Blue Mountain Shadows staffers conducted 60 interviews and we about wore ourselves out getting them transcribed. Even though many on the team were intimidated by the thought of interviewing, I believe it was actually one of the most rewarding parts of the whole process.  We all made new friends, while validating and preserving the experiences and memories of the older people we interviewed.

            High school senior Annette Carroll recalled the experience: 
Blue Mountain Shadows 

I was privileged to be in on the first project. Mrs. Janet Wilcox asked me, as a senior in high school, if I would like to participate in writing a couple of articles for a local magazine. She hoped it would be long lasting. I agreed, knowing it would help me in high school. She actually let me use part of two research papers I had completed for school work as the basis of the two articles that I was to write about. One was the myth of Bigfoot and the other was on the Last Indian War of the United States which involved Posey, a native of our San Juan County area. 

I remember interviewing a couple of good men for these articles as well as my own grandmother. I also remember using the transcribing tape recorders that were new then! We had to check them out from Mrs. Wilcox. 

When we were done with the interviews we spent several hours at the school on weekends using the "new" computers of the time to type out and save what we had done. Not fully understanding computers and electronics yet, I had spent a few hours one stormy day transcribing, when suddenly the power glitched and it deleted all I had done. I was so frustrated when I had to start all over! I learned to save often after that. Transcribing was tedious work. It required careful listening and constant rewinding to be able to understand and type all that the people said in those oral interviews. 

When we came to a point where the publishing process was ready to begin, I had a deadline I was trying to meet. I had gone to St. George with some of my family to get registered for college. As we were returning home, I was working on one of the articles with papers spread everywhere in the vehicle, when we were involved in a serious car wreck. The papers were scattered all over the car, and I thought I might lose my life. However, God was watching over us and though we sustained some injuries, everyone was OK and eventually I got my article turned in on time. 

Being involved in the beginning of such a project was so cool. Being able to watch what it has grown into, is even better. Thank you for the opportunity to be involved in something so wonderful that preserves our heritage
(Facebook post 1/7/2012)!

Reviewing the list of people we were privileged to interview the summer of 1987, reads like a San Juan County Hall of Fame. Many of them lived nearly 100 years, so their life experiences were wide and varied. The ones I personally talked to were Eva Torres (1912-2007), Hilda Oliver Perkins (1912-1999), Alma Jones (1902-1989), Ervin Guymon (1907-2006),  Frank Wright (1903-2002), J Glen Shumway (1908-1992), Parley Hurst (1892-1995), Gene Blickenstaff (1916-1996), Ray Hunt (1902-1998), Kent Frost, and Ray Jarvis.  As I reflect upon the years of experience these good people had, I’m so thankful we started when we did, or their memories may not have been preserved.  Ray Jarvis just died in 2011, but his stories of the southwest and Mexico were some of the wildest ones I’d ever heard, and told in a most entertaining fashion.

Patrice Webb Crandall remembered working for Blue Mountain Shadows as a high school student:
When you first approached me about working on the Shadows, the money was tight and we knew it would probably be a lot of volunteering. I think I made $2 an hour, and that was only until the money ran out. I still thought it was a great summer job, and I'm sure I was thinking my resume would benefit, too.

I was pretty nervous when I first started interviewing people. I actually had to talk to old people I didn't know. That's pretty scary for a teenager. But, over time, it was easy and enjoyable. I wish I remembered all that we talked about, but I do remember interviewing people on home remedies. Mustard plasters and herbs and even how they used a hot knife on the back are a few I remember.

Much of my time was also transcribing mine and others' interviews (I must have been a fast typist). I learned so much about the area, that I truly felt I fell in love with San Juan County. Thanks for the opportunity to be a part of something special. And now 25 years later? Wow” (Facebook post 1/3/2012)!

San Juan High Principal Jim Harris allowed our staff to use San Juan High’s computer lab all summer.  Besides organizing the interview teams, and keeping track of their tapes, typed manuscripts, and work hours, I supervised the high school students throughout the summer, answering their questions, clarifying words, and making sure everyone was paid their pittance.  Editing transcripts was part of my tedious task, but it also had its humorous moments:  Oljato being written as “Old Jay Toe” and Verdure was often spelled “Verjur.”  By the end of the summer a vast bank of data had been collected and we were ready to begin writing.

Hard Fought Harvest:
From these transcripts three magazines were generated, with the first one published fall of 1987.   I was so tired and worn out after we completed that first year of work I didn’t feel I could do any more work on Blue Mountain Shadows, much less teach school that fall, but somehow I did.  At this same time, our family had started a major second floor addition to our home and were doing much of the work ourselves; plus, my mother had moved to Blanding and she needed quite a bit of attention as well.  Had it not been for our older boys I’m sure I would have had a nervous breakdown. I always felt I was juggling a dozen balls and at times I wondered if we’d ever get the first issue out.

I wrote In my journal Oct. 25, 1987: “Mon-Thurs. I worked on the magazine and nearly have it all done.  There is just a little more photo shooting to do, and a couple of captions to finish.  It has really been depressing in lots of ways—lots more hours than I had expected, and we’re a month behind schedule.  I hope it turns out well.”
Another role my students played was in selecting the name of Blue Mountain Shadows.  Through 1986 and most of 1987 I always referred to it as “the magazine.”  But as we got closer to publishing date, we had to decide on a name.  I asked my English students to submit possible names for it.  We did an initial vote in the classes and I let them vote 3 times as I recall.  The next day they voted again on a narrowed down list of 10.  The final vote had 3 names on it, and Blue Mountain Shadows rose to the top. Finally the dream had a name!

My Rattler staff and I did the layout for the first issue.  This was all done using the old fashioned cut and paste method on a light table.  Computers were only used for composing and editing text, which was printed out in columns, cut apart, and pasted on the layout paper.  The titles were strip printed at the media center, and they also half-toned the photos for us. Lea Hurst and Betty Shumway were our key help there. We had some problems with the first issue, as the school district media center had never printed on slick magazine paper before, and it required a special ink to make it adhere. There were no machines to collate the 66 pages and cover, so again my classes manually collated all 500 magazines.  That was a little wild but we got it done. Next they had to be stapled, which we helped do as well.  That first issue was really a “hands on” experience.

Miraculously the first issue came out a month later.  I wrote on Nov. 29th, “Our first issue went on sale this week and we have sold about 3/5ths of what we need to pay the printing bill.  There were a few really bad boo-boos.  Three black photos and two captions left off and one photo upside down, but the articles are good.  We are selling them for $3.50 or $4 for mail orders.” 

All the BMS staff and writers were especially excited to get the first issue out.  When they came to pick their copies up, we all signed each others articles.  It was our big payoff for all our work, and we all felt we had really accomplished something.  Now to market it and hope others would love it too.
A week later on Dec. 5 I wrote, “The first sales of our magazine have gone so well.  It will only be three weeks since we got it out and we only have about 75 left that aren’t placed.  The response has been better than I had even hoped.  That is very encouraging, knowing that it has been so well received.”

We only published 500 copies of the first issue, but later Gary Shumway helped us do a reprint in 1988. He has been a faithful contributor/supporter over the years, full of ideas, and willingness to help write and serve as editor.  We had a brief few months respite and then we jumped right into preparing articles for the 1988 issues. I knew I couldn’t do layout again with everything else I was responsible for, so we hired Debbie and Terri Slade to design the magazine -- plus it was handy for me as they lived just through the fence!  They had started a local paper in Blanding, and had the equipment necessary to do layout.  That took a lot of pressure off my shoulders.  Stan and Eva Byrd did layout for the following two issues.  Stan had experience in publishing, and made more improvements to the magazine.  By issue #5 Deniane Gutke came back to Blanding with a whole new bank of skills and creativity, and she took over the layout for the next seven issues.   Even though others were doing the layout, the magazine always required a final read and corrections.  I remember several all-nighters when we worked through the night making final edits and changes.  “Sleep deprived” became my “modus operandi.”

Shurrell Meyer was our next specialist for layout and did a great job as well, helping to produce issues 13-39. Her cover designs were always striking and creative.  Issues 40-45 have been designed by Donna Blake. The amazing progress in computer technology the past 25 years has truly made publishing a small town magazine a viable possibility that has become more of a pleasure instead of a pain.  Word processing, page design, photo scanning, and spread sheets for compiling data have all enhanced our ability to produce attractive and interesting magazines. Yet at the core of any publication such as this, is the basic need for accurate historical research, and engaging writing and we have tried to do that from the very beginning.

How our Garden Grew
As readership grew we would publish anywhere from 1500-3000 copies of Blue Mountain Shadows, depending upon the topic and our financial status.  Looking for additional ways to promote the magazine and share our findings we expanded our presence through a web site which I created the summer of 2001. Though a great idea, a web site is a whole different garden to tend, and requires diligence and technical skill to keep alive. My volunteer bank of energy only had so much to give and it hasn’t been updated since 2006, but it does articles from the out of print issues, as well as summaries of issues through #26.  It can be found at
Through the years several of our issues, and oral history projects were given state as well as national recognition.

In February 1988 I wrote in my journal, “We received two letters from UEH commending us for the project and saying it had been selected as a merit project for 1987.” K C and I went up for the awards program in March.  I was on foot, and not knowing where the Rio Grand Station was I had walked to 530 E. and instead of 5:30 W.  Fortunately, I was able to catch a bus back and was only 5 min. late.
As exciting and happy as we were with this first commendation, I wrote in my journal that week, “It was really a nice recognition and plaque they gave us, but walking back afterwards, I realized that it was less satisfying than the feeling I have when my kids do what is right.  They are my real “merit projects.”

In 1990 the magazine was recognized by the American Association of State and Local History, specifically for our effort in interviewing and preserving local history. I gave a presentation for them at their conference in Park City on using oral histories and drew heavily upon Blue Mountain Shadows on our experiences.

In 1992 the magazine’s contribution was recognized along with other community groups and Blanding was given The Governor’s Award for the Arts at special banquet in SLC with Norman Bangerter. 
In 1996 our State Centennial Issue also received a Merit award from UHC. This time I asked Nathan to represent Blue Mountain Shadows and pick up the award, which he was able to do.

in 2006 Blue Mountain Shadows was honored by UHC for our public programming and the Blanding Centennial issue in 2005.  LaVerne and I attended the awards program Feb. 1. We had worked hard to make our town’s centennial celebration historically richer not only because of the magazine but through four events which Blue Mt. Shadows sponsored: 

Blanding’s 100 year History slide show. This was shown at 6 different events during 2005, with approximately 1900 people seeing it.
2.     The Centennial Swing on March 5 had 1000 in attendance with old time dance instruction, and a lecture on the history of dance in rural Utah.
3.     Centennial Quilters slide Show featured 100 years of quilting and quilters in the county.
4.     Lecture on The Early Native American Experience presented by Bob McPherson and Winston Hurst.

During the 20+ years I worked on the magazine several family crises occurred.  A house fire in 1990 and the tragic death of a son two years later were especially devastating. During those difficult times there were always good people who shored me up, and kept us going.  I love the integrity and grit of the people I’ve come to know through researching writing about the history of San Juan County.  None of this, however, would have happened without a very supportive husband and good children, who helped so much at home and supported me in my never ending projects.

As with any good “seed” that is cultivated and cared for, it thrives, and Blue Mountain Shadows continues today because there are those who tend it.  Their inventory of past issues fills an historical granary of sorts and new readers to Blue Mountain Shadows can purchase enough past issues to have almost a full set.  There have been many good harvests and our little historical publication became much more than I had initially envisioned. I thought perhaps we might be able to publish 10-12 issues of the magazine before we ran out of ideas. Now it has grown to #45.  Hopefully, there will continue to be dedicated gardeners who can help keep the harvests coming.

         1986-2012 First 45 Issues
           TOPIC                           COVER
#1 Mexico Mormons, CCCs, (Sheriff Oliver Pix)
#2 Bluff history, Anasazi,  (Twin Rocks)
#3 Bootlegging, sawmills, etc.  (Orange)
#4 Posey War, pranks, M. Ogden (Newspaper articles)
#5 Trapping, Livestock (Lt. Blue w/ wolf) 
#6 Land and Livestock (Tan Branding) 
#7 Folklore and folk crafts (Green, native papercutting) 
#8 Civilization comes to SJC (Gray) 
#9 Education in San Juan (Red Map with schools) 
#10 Living on the Land ( Brown Mainstreet) 
#11 Native American (Turquoise Navajo) 
#12 Rivers & Roads (Blue-Frank Wright) 
#13 Archaeology (Sandstone Rock Art) 
#14 More archaeology ( Patchwork) 
#15 Cowboys & outlaws (Brown Adobe house) #16 Mining in San Juan

#17 Centennial history (Maroon, paper cutting)
#18 Quilting (Forest green, quilts)

#19 Sesquicentennial (Rainbow Bridge)
#20 WW I and W.W.II (Flag)            

#21 An Outsiders view (Blue Mountain)
#22 The Millennium (Green/orange)
#23 Folkarts & crafts (Black, Navajo art) 
#24 Historic homes (Tan house collage)
#25 Cottonwood Mining (Grey John Black cover)
#26 Cottonwood Mining #2 (White Mesa Mill cover)

#27 Cottonwood Mining #3 (Vanadium Mill, Green cover)
#28 Monticello homes (F.I Jones Home cover)                                                 

#29 Cowboys, Indians, Conflict (Green collage cowboy cover) 
#30 Fort Montezuma (Montezuma Creek scenes)
#31 Monticello Businesses (Hyland Cafe cover) 
#32 Blanding Centennial issue (School papercutting)                                                                             

#33 Natural History (Water rocks cover)
#34 San Juan Canyons (Hovenweep Cover) 
#35 Bringing roads to San Juan (Natural Bridges Cover)

#36 Beyond Monticello  (gold, Marie Ogden home)
#37 La Sal, (Mt. Peale in La Sal)
#38 Military in San Juan (Recapture Res. Medals)
#39 Movies in San Juan (Monument Valley Mittens)
#40 Bluff, Buttes, and Backcountry  (Lady in the Tub)
#41 Hunting in San Juan  (Green, Cougar)
#42 Law Enforcement 
#43 Scouting in San Juan (Green, scout badges)

#44 Deep History II, (Archaeology (gold rock art)
#45 Twenty-five years of Blue Mountain Shadows