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Heritage Court Ladies Look Back on Wagon Days Past
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Larraine Davis, Mary Ann Flattery, Nancy Kennette and Betty Grant are the 2022 inductees into the Blaine County Heritage Court. Inductees must be over 70, have lived in the valley for 30-plus years and contributed to its fabric in some way.
   
Saturday, September 3, 2022
 

Heritage Court Ladies Look Back on Wagon Days Past

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Betty Grant used to sell buttons for a dollar to support the Wagon Days parade in its early days.

Mary Ann Flaherty recalls watching her daughter Donna ride her horse in the parade dressed in Indian garb. And Wendy Collins has ridden in many a Big Hitch parade dressed as Miss Lamb Chop.

 
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The ladies helped themselves to a buffet catered by Silver Fox Catering.
 

These ladies of the Blaine County Heritage Court all count Ketchum’s Wagon Days celebration among their cherished memories. And four of them will add another memory—that of riding in a restored 1870s livery wagon in the parade—to their memory scrapbook today.

The Blaine County Historical Museum, which oversees the Heritage Court feted this year’s Heritage Court and past honorees Thursday afternoon at a lovely tea set under tents in the yard of an 1880 home in Bellevue.

John Marsh recounted how he and his wife had restored it and the home next door and offered the ladies a tour of the home, which features a window between the kitchen pantry and dining room through which food could be passed.

Marsh told the women that the home, built in 1880, had housed the office of Bellevue’s Dr. Allen on the second floor. And, when mining disasters happened, it was turned into a temporary hospital.

 
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The tea party host John Marsh said he was touched by the stories of the children the women had raised and the programs they started: “The community is better for it.”
 

“The Heritage Court is about the past and the future. We care about the past and future and want to be part of it,” he said, recounting how as a youngster he loved visiting his grandmother’s Victorian boarding house and listening to the stories of veterans from the Spanish-American War.

David Fox of Silver Fox Catering served the women chicken stuffed with two types of cheese and fresh herbs, along with pasta, watermelon and other salads, while Karen Bliss and others kept the women hydrated with lemonade and tea.

While they kept them plied with liquid refreshment, they fought a losing battle trying to keep ice in glasses since the ice melted almost instantly in the 90-degree heat. But they enjoyed blue skies, missing the orange-tinged smoke that would later float over the valley from the two-week old Ross Fork Fire as it blew up southwest of Alturas Lake.

Betty Grant used a walker to cross the lawn, making some of her first strides since getting a hip replacement two weeks earlier. She would trust others, she said, to figure out how to get her up in the livery wagon for the Wagon Days and Bellevue Labor Day parades.

 
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The buffet table featured a ravioli rolling pin that had been brought from Italy in the early 1900s that was donated to the Blaine County Historical Museum by Lady Alba Arndt.
 

Mary Ann Flaherty recalled taking her children to the early Wagon Days parade, which took a different route through Ketchum than it does today.

“The Big Hitch was coming around the Golden Rule, which I think is the Sun Valley Culinary Institute today. And the streets were very narrow then, and the mules were getting tangled up,” she said. “I’m backing up thinking they were going to trample me. Everyone was grabbing their children.”

Flaherty’s daughter Donna Scifres recalled riding in the parade as a child.

“It was a small-town event then, and I dressed up as an Indian girl and rode my horse in it. You didn’t even need to sign up in those days,” she said.

 
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The always-enthusiastic Sue Rowland cut a dance move at a Western hoedown organized by Syringa Mountain School several years ago.
 

Afterwards, Scifres said the she and her friends tied their horses to the hitching post of the drugstore, which was in the building Windermere Realty occupies now, and they’d treat themselves to a cherry Coke.

“We rode our horses everywhere,” she recounted. “And you could go into the drugstore barefoot in those days!”  

Once they’d treated themselves, she added, they took the hard rolls her father--a baker for Sun Valley Resort—had gathered and fed the ducks on the pond outside Sun Valley Inn.

“We were the original duck feeders,” she said.

Nancy Kennette, who will be riding in he parade today, said she found Wagon Days a thrilling event  when she moved to the valley a few decades ago.

“I always look at those wagons and think: What would it have been like driving those up and down the old Galena Toll Road?” she said.

Gay Bennett Hurst noted how her father Jack Bennett used to make the trip from Ketchum to Carey and Richfield every summer to arrange draft horses and other horses to pull the wagons.

“It was a big deal to get those horses together and train them,” she said.

Wendy Collins agreed: “I don’t think people realize how much time people put into those wagons and the other details to make it happen. I love it, though--I love the gathering of people from all over Idaho coming to share with us. And I love it because of the authenticity and beauty of the wagons.”

REMEMBERING MISS SUE

Sadly, one of the Blaine County Heritage Court ladies will not be here to celebrate the 2022 Wagon Days parade.

Sue Rowland passed away last week, after she was unable to shake off an illness she caught a month earlier.

“Miss Sue,” as she was known by the hundreds of preschool children she taught, was inducted into the Blaine County Heritage Court in 2017 and became a fervent supporter, fussing over the ladies at teas and luncheons and making sure everyone got where they were supposed to be.

A Salt Lake City native, she once recounted for Eye on Sun Valley how her mother made her a ski outfit from her dad’s ski parka in the days before there was such a thing as children’s ski clothing and equipment.

Her father, a shop foreman for a freightliner company, often brought his family to Sun Valley to ski. And Miss Sue and her brother would sit outside on a wooden bench with a wooden cowboy while their parents played slots inside the casino.

She met her husband Frank at the University of Utah where Sue competed on the university ski team. And they moved to the Wood River Valley in 1972 as Frank became a ranger for the then-new Sawtooth Recreation Area.

 Rowland said she and her children could sit on the porch outside their home in Hailey and wave at the train conductor as he dove the Ketchum-bound train up the track a stone’s throw from their house.

“You knew what day it was because the church bells rang on Sunday, the fire bell rang on Wednesday and the paper came out on Thursdays,” she said of life in early Hailey.  “No matter where you went, you knew everybody, and it’s still that way.”

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