Join us at noon on Tuesday 2/6 at The Josephy Center!
It’s hard to think that it’s been almost eight years since Pam Royes published Temperance Creek: A Memoir, and harder yet to think that it’s been near fifty years since she rode into Hells Canyon with a restless Vietnam vet from Eastern Oregon named Skip, and they set off on their life adventure.
This January’s exhibit at the Josephy Center is The Livestock Art Show. We needed a book that celebrated livestock—and livestock handlers—to read along with the art show. We’ll leave it to the artists to render the livestock visually, but this book reminds us that it is farmers, ranchers, cowboys, cowgirls, sheepherders, camp cooks, and good neighbors spread across some of the most spectacular country in North America that we are privileged to call home that tell their stories—and ours.
When I first read Pam’s book, I was sent back to my own early entry into Wallowa County, to grange potlucks, the county fair, Bill Wolfe’s Hereford bull sales and my own simple attempts to raise a few sheep. I was also sent back to that time in our country when we were struggling our way out of a horrible war in Vietnam, and looking for ways to heal conflicts between fathers and sons, urban and rural, black and white.
This time I’ll be measuring the book differently. I’ll think about Grace Jordan’s Home Below Hells Canyon, another journey into some of the same wild country taken in the troubled times of the Great Depression. I’ll be thinking about my first boss in the County, Chuck Gavin, the Wyoming cowboy and WW II vet who fought off that war’s wounds and the “John Barleycorn” he met in hospitals to become a respected Extension Agent. (And first took me to a Wolfe bull sale and taught me to keep my arm down during the auction.)
Along with being a love story and a story of ridiculous landscape and adventure, Temperance Creek is a story of two people, their critters, workmates, and their children, as they settle into a life with livestock in Wallowa County.
At noon on February 6 we will gather at the Josephy Center with Pam—and Skip if we can catch him—and think together about the last fifty years of agriculture and culture in Wallowa County. Bring your dog-eared copy of the book and your old reflections and new questions about it. If you have missed it all, there is still time to catch up. Copies are for sale at the Bookloft in Enterprise and the Josephy Center in Joseph. Mention the book club and get a 20% discount!
Hope to see you there,