The Heart of Mazama

History + Recipes

At recent Autumn Potlucks at the MCC, Louise Stevens presented interesting and informative history lessons about the Mazama Community Club.  We felt they should be included on the MCC website.

She mentioned a 1979 Mazama cookbook she found at a Twisp book we thought it'd be fun to include some recipes from it and from the 1990 Mazama cookbook. You may recognize some of the cooks.

Mazama Potluck History for October 15, Louise Stevens

In 2014 when I became secretary of this group I inherited a folder of minutes and memos from 1980 to the present.  Last year at the Potluck I shared some stories about the colorful people who initiated and maintained the Mazama Community Club.  

Then I got curious about the building itself.  So with the help of Doug Devin and Barry George at the Okanogan Museum I have ferreted out some history of our building.

Mazama School was built in 1921. Blanche Stewart was the teacher. Interestingly, her contract stated that if she were to marry her teaching contract would be “null and void” The school used 8 cords of wood per winter.

Prior to 1921 Mazama youngsters attended school at a log school on the Cassel property near the Goat Wall  or commuted to the McKinney Mt School built in 1910.  The Mt McKinney School was located  across highway 20 from PJ’s little red house…all that is left on the site is a lone apple tree.  The McKinney Mt School had, in some years during the 20’s, up to forty students.  Their fathers were employed at the  Fender  Mill.  The Fender Mill went belly up in about 1937, the school enrollment depleted and the school was abandoned.

In 1937 the school board and the county arranged to have the Lost River Road, then called Goat Creek Road, plowed consistently  during the winter up to Robinson Creek.  Buck Therriault had the plowing contract.  The school district committed to running a school bus to pick up the 12 students along the road or, conversely, if a minimum of 12 students wanted to attend the Mazama School the board would keep the school open and provide a teacher. The parents of  five children decided that they would prefer to have their children bused to Winthrop leaving only six/seven children enrolled in Mazama.  So the school was closed.

Perhaps the belief of the parents that their children would get a better education in Winthrop was justified.  Below is a photo of the Mazama student body circa 1924.  Sixteen students grades one through 8 with a single teacher.  (Having been a teacher I can imagine the challenge that represented.) That same year, the grade 1-8 teacher at the Rockview School who had 40 grade one-eight students in one room had a nervous breakdown and had to be replaced.

I am currently researching what happened to the building after 1937.  I am now working with a  delightful guy,  Barry George at the Okanogan Museum.  More to come in next year's Potluck History Report.

A bit of a post script…In 1981 according to then MCC Secretary Loren Karro, the biggest community event of the year following the Annual Mazama Potluck Dinner and the Annual Pancake Breakfast, was the annual Mazama barn dance…perhaps something we should re-institute.

Above and below are two scans of Dale Dibble's book on "Mazama". 
Doug Devin's book states that in November of 1937 a special meeting of the school board decided not to open the Mazama school for the winter due to projected attendance of only six students.  It appears that by 1939 the Sunday school classes were using the building.

Mazama Potluck History Lesson for November 17, Louise Stevens

At last year’s potluck I shared history of our building up to 1937 when the district closed the school when Mazama families could not come up with 12 students to justify hiring a teacher.  By then the roads were good enough that a bus could transport children to Winthrop where the children would have one teacher per 2 grades rather than one teacher for 12 kids in numerous grades.

According to county records school district originally bought the school property from Angus McLeod for $25.00.  Then in 1943 after the school closed, the Mazama Community Club bought the building from the school district for $300. Then in 1998, the Community Club bought an adjoining piece of property from the school district  for $2,250.

Judging from articles in the various valley papers, the building was a pretty active place even though there was no plumbing.  Members used the outhouse and relied on a hand pump in the yard for water for cooking.

A local ladies social club met here regularly starting in the 1940’s.  In the 50’s the group was “adopted” by the county extension office and called the “How to do Club” and the ladies were instructed on homemaking skills like canning and cleaning. In the 1970’s the ladies had evidently had enough home economics instruction and they voted to go back to being the more social Mazama Ladies Club. They played pinochle.

I found a 1979 Mazama ladies cookbook at the Twisp used book sale.  The cover is a picture painted by Bill Karro showing the outhouse and pump. Does anyone know when we added indoor plumbing?  I personally think someone should adopt the currently falling apart outhouse and restore it to it’s former glory…does it have a moon on the door now?

You may recognize some of the names of recipe donors:

Donna Burkhart, Bess Karro, Agnes Boesel, Mary Rea, Martha Stewart, Mabel Wehmeyer, Mary Ann Sitts, Betsy Devin  and Elinore Drake = submitting a Rhubarb Crumb Cake recipe.  And we have Elinore here with us this eveningshe might share the recipe. Eleanor grew up living in the little red house with the very large old barn on the right, halfway between here and the Weeman bridge

The ladies group must have learned some tricks from their Extension Service years.  Advice in the cookbook includes:

1 - To whiten fine laces, wash them in sour milk.

2 - Try waxing your ashtrays, Ashes won’t cling and odors won’t linger.

3 - Marigolds prevent rodents.

4 - If a cracked dish is boiled for 45 minutes in milk the crack will be so welded together        that it will not be visible.

5 - And even an article on how to prepare “Road Kill”.

The tradition continued…Gloria Spiwak shared with me a more recent 1990 version of the Mazama Ladies cook book with cover design not by Bill Karro, but by Bob Cram.

Beyond the Ladies Club, the Community Club in the 40's-50's was a happening place.

Based on our valley’s access to dark skies, there was a major sky-watch project in conjunction with the forest service in 1952 .  It involved 38 local people monitoring local skies.

And here are some more excerpts from local columns regarding activities at our building.

1942The ladies of the Mazama Community Club are planning an all day meeting at the schoolhouse to complete the quota of Red Cross sewing they were requested to do.  Everyone is urgently requested to attend and anyone who can do so is asked to bring a sewing machine.  Potluck dinner will be served.

January 1955...The community club members turned out on Saturday and finished the painting of the Community building.  It was also a general clean up day with a big potluck at noon.

January 1955...Friends of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Patterson gathered Friday at the community building for a surprise 25th anniversary party for them with a potluck supper and social evening.  Three pieces of silverware were presented to them.  

So we are certainly maintaining a solid Mazama tradition with our sumptuous Potluck dinner tonight.

Speaking of Mazama Traditions…In 1981 according to then MCC Secretary, Loren Karro, the Community Club traditionally sponsored three annual events:

the Annual Pancake Breakfast, the Annual Fall Potluck, and the Annual Mazama Barn Dance

Some of us thought the barn dance should be reinstated so, thanks to Dee Christensen, we will be reviving the Mazama Barn Dance complete with caller and fiddle player on  Saturday February 10.  Mark your calendars and get out your crinoline skirts and your bolo ties and be ready for some fun.  Some members of the planning committee are concerned that there will be a shortage of men available to do do-se-dos but I am sure that the men assembled here will prove them wrong.

Before retreating to my dessert I would like to acknowledge my sources:

     Gloria and Bob Spiwak

     Doug Devin

     Elinore Drake

     Barry George-Okanogan Historical Society

Mazama Potluck History Lesson for November 10, 2018...MAZAMA STORE HISTORY...SO Louise Stevens

First I want to give credit to my enthusiastic sources of information about the Mazama Store way back when…. Bob Spiwak, Doug Devin, Jay Lucus, Mary Sharman, Mary Milka, Sharon Sumpter of the Shafer Museum and Barry George of the Okanogan Historical Society.

The history of the store is a bit entangled with the history of the Mazama Post Office. The original Mazama Post office was opened in June 1900 in Josh Cassal’s boarding house and it was run by a woman, Minnie Tingley. The post office initially served miners working at the Hart’s Pass and the Barron mines but in 1900 many of these miners were leaving for the promising Alaska gold fields. 

A couple years later, Minnie Tingley and her second husband, Jack Stewart, took over the post office in their home. Minnie and her sister-inlaw Martha Stewart ran the post office. Mail would come twice a week from Winthrop, by hack and horse in the summer and by sleigh in the winter. Minnie would tie each customer”s mail into a bundle so that in the winter when someone from the neighborhood came in on snowshoes they would be able to take mail to others in their area. Minnie always had a bowl of hot soup to offer to her mail delivery volunteers. 

Then 1918-1928 Angus McCloud ran the Post Office for a time in his combination hotel, bar and boarding house for miners. In the late 1920’s Homer and Lucille Peters opened a provisions store at the Mazama junction and assumed responsibility for the Mazama post office. 

Then in about 1930, a woman named ”Mrs Brawn” bought the store. At that time it was located across the road from the current store. This original store structure was evidently moved and repurposed several times. For a while it was a bunkhouse for the Mazama Ranch house, then it was the Burnt Finger BarB-Q. This original store building is now Merril Kirkley’s bike shop. 

In 1939, “Wink Byram told Mrs Brawn that he would buy the store if he could pass the Post Office exam so he could keep the post office there with the additional postal service income it would bring. He passed the exam and sold his cherished Chevy Coupe so that he could buy the store and its provisions for $1,200. 

I got this information from Wink’s book Down to the Harness Section”. Anybody know the derivation of this book title? 

Gretchen and Wink Byram owned the store from about 1935-1944. They lived in a room behind the store. During the WAR Wink found it difficult to get adequate supplies for the store and he was offered a well paying job at the Wagner Mill so in 1944 he sold the store and moved to Twisp. According to the records, he sold to brothers, Alan and Bob Stookey who lived in what is now the Mazama Ranch House. But evidently the brothers only owned it for a year or so. 

The next notable owners were Bill and Vi Pederson who built a new store across the street from the original structure. They ran the Post Office with 10 mail boxes. The current Mazama Country Store still calls this location home. Bill and Vi lived in a trailer near the store and kept the Mazama Post Office in working order and expanded the size of the store as the volume of business increased. One local fondly recalls the cash box and pastries they used to leave on the porch by the front door when the store was closed. “That's the way we used to do it ..take what you need and leave your payment!” 

Then in 1977 Mary Milka and her husband, Steve, bought the store from the Pederson’s and named it The Mazama Trading Post. (See photo of the Trading Post on the wall) At first they lived in a turquoise trailer left by the Pedersons. Eventually they moved into the building next door that is currently the Goat’s Beard sports shop. When the Milka’s sold, Jay Lucas, Jim Fisher and several other investors bought the store and owned it for a few of years. Next, in 1987 Kathy Grimmett, a nurse and a single mom, owned the store but business was so bad she had to take a job outside the valley to support the store and her young son. 

Then in 1990, Jeff Sandine, of Ballard Computer, bought the store. By the way, did you know that the Ballard district in Seattle is named after the brother of Charles and Hazard Ballard, developers of the Azurite and Barron mines? Tess Hoke and Bob Spiwak worked at the store during the Sandine years…..and Jen, daughter of the Nancy and Dick Gode was Sandine’s accountant for the store. It was during this time that Mary Sharman created the store’s famous goat logo. 

Jeff Sandine tore down the then existing store building and hired Doug Potter to construct a new building. He decided not to maintain the post office…concluding that it was not worth the red tape and regulations! Maybe some local was pissed that he closed the post office because on the day Sandine celebrated the store grand reopening someone put a huge load of horse shit into his new flush toilets. 

Next Jen Gode and Scooter Rogers bought the store from Jeff Sandine. Remember friendly Fred and Patti worked there? People started to hang out at the store. According to Bob Spiwak, it was at about this time that the S.L.I.M.E. group evolved. Who can tell me what SLIME stands for? 

In 2007 Rick and Missy LeDuc bought the store. In 2010 they doubled the retail space and added a commercial kitchen. The store now employs 30 people in the summer…and sells famous imported…from Seattle’s Husky Deli,..Husky Ice Cream. Recently Rick added a commemorative SLIME sign on the back porch and began the local’s Friday biscuits and gravy tradition. And now the store patio in the shade of the artistic imported tree snag serves as a gathering and celebration place for locals.…and their dogs. Thank you Rick and Missy…and family