Guest Post by Kelly Thatcher Farley

Hey, everybody!

Today, I have a special treat for all of you who love SMALL TOWNS.  I asked good friend and faithful reader, Kelly Thatcher Farley, to pen a blog post about our tiny hometown – Carey, Idaho.  This community is located not far from Sun Valley, Idaho where my new novel series is set. It’s a town where everyone knows everyone else, where you can walk the cemetery and recognize the names on every headstone, where the entire town attends the football games and cheers for their beloved Panthers!  I hope you enjoy Kelly’s walk down memory lane . . . especially those of you from Carey. So, here’s Kelly’s post!

 

CAREY REVISITED – by Kelly Thatcher Farley

Not too long ago, I went for a walk with my girlfriend, Thora Ann, over at the high school track in Layton, Utah.  It was a lovely spring morning and I was so enjoying the spring sunshine.  As we rounded the corner, a breeze wafted the air and I caught the delicious smell of burning dead grass.   I breathed in deep and slow and I felt myself being pulled backward into the confines of my childhood memory……

A five year old living in Carey, Idaho was as carefree as the  Southern Idaho winds that dance across the fields after they have been plowed……

…..In essence, I was a whirlwind.

I would run down the dirt road behind my house.  I would climb up on a fence post and sit there and jabber away while Gail Parke would fix the fence to prevent any livestock from escaping down the road…

Or, I would sneak across State Highway 93 to Chet Kelly’s garage.  I would sit on an oil drum and talk Chet’s ear off, swinging my legs and happy as can be.

I would also sneak over to Bolly Pyrah’s and visit him just as he was making breakfast. ….

…Bolly Pyrah could make the best omelets….

I was the “social butterfly” of my family;  running over to Barney and Elda Sparks’ house so I could listen to Elda sing and yodel…..

She loved “Chime Bells”……

If I was a good girl and didn’t leave the yard, I would get to go with Mom to the grocery store…..

The Carey Merc was a grocery store and dry goods store all in one building.   My Mom would push the cart down each aisle and If I didn’t “beg” for anything or embarrass her in the store, there would be a little sack of penny candy for a reward.

When we would get to the meat case, Bud Cameron would hand me a raw Falls Brand weener……

……THE BEST!

Once Mom got what she needed, we would go to the front where Ione Sparks would check us out…….

……And hand me a Hershey’s mini candy…..

Sometimes, we would go to what I called the “Pink” store or Don’s frozen foods.  That is where Mom kept all our frozen stuff like peas, corn, venison, trout, berries or peaches….I loved to go with her and stand in the cold room and watch my breath as it hit the freezing cold…..

My mother left me one time at the “Pink” store.  I was 3 years old.  When I realized she was not in the store, I walked up to Fern Patterson (Don and Fern owned the “Pink” Store),  and said,

“Hey, my Mama left me!”

Fern walked me over to the post office where my Dad worked.  She walked me through the door.  I could smell the wonderful scent of stamps, stamp pads, letters, and, best of all, my Dad’s leather crafting stuff.  There was always a package of cookies on the front counter by the customer window.  I loved going there….

In about ten minutes, Mom showed up fit to be tied; frantic to find me.   She drove me back home; no worse for wear, but happy and grateful for the little adventure.

When I was older, I got to go to the movies in the Carey Ward Theater (the chapel in the church house doubled as a theater….Charlie Haskell would take your thirty-five cents and Mrs. Haskell would take your ticket at the door).  I saw “How the West Was Won” there; and “Cinderella”, and “Sword in the Stone”.   We would go to the Sport Shop and pick up some candy before the movie and then sit in the front row; watching and making ourselves sick eating Chico Stix and Pay Days and Hersheys…..

The Sport Shop….Now, that’s another place I LOVED to go….We would walk in the front door…the smell of old wood, cigarette smoke and coffee wafting the air…..

The candy counter to the right……The comic books and magazines to the left…..Beautiful wood showcases filled with rifles and, shot guns……the soda counter across the way….the old Coca Cola pop case filled with bottles of everything from Coke to Nesbitts Orange…..But, the SODA FOUNTAIN….this was “Mecca” to many of us high school kids……Louie Arrien….Owner and Proprietor, was a genius to most of us kids….He was short, and dark complected….He wore a small moustache….Donned in a freshly starched white, long sleeved shirt, buttoned at the wrist and throat…..The man was a master behind the counter….He could make the BEST Cherry Cokes EVER!  Not only that, but he could scoop an ice cream cone slick as a whistle….

The Sport Shop was a “Man’s Man” meeting place….Coffee and Beer at the counter, a pool table in the middle of the floor…..and Poker in the back room….Louie finally had to put a partition up to keep the law happy so that the kids could still go in, buy candy, read the comics and buy a fishing license or two…I always felt awesome when I went in there….It was a friendly place….where good people went to have a cup and a good conversation…….

The Sport Shop would be packed on the 24th of July……Carey Pioneer Celebration….The most amazing event of the year would start with a morning parade down the only main street in town….Every club and church auxiliary would enter a float and fight for the prize; deeming them the best in Crepe paper and hay wagon decoration…I know this battle….it was well documented in my family home…..

Mom was in the Primary presidency..……Dad in the Sunday School.  The battle of the best float had begun.  Mom and the primary decided to present an old fashioned bowery; right out of the 1900’s….They would have children hand out pink lemonade and goodies to those watching on the sidelines……It was a unique idea…..Mom had kept silent all through the weeks before….Making sure that Dad didn’t catch on to what the Primary was doing…..….WELL….

The morning of the parade, Dad came along with the Sunday School’ float,  “A Night on the Planes…”   A float that had dirt on the bottom, sage brush, rocks, a backdrop of a beautiful night sky….a real camp fire and…….

DUTCH OVEN BREAKFAST; which was handed out to those watching the parade…..Oh,  Mom was soooooo MAD!  Dad had found out and just twisted the idea a “little bit”…… and so it would go every 24th of July until Dad was too sick to participate.  But while he was able….He made the day magical for us kids…..

After the parade there would be a luncheon at the church…..This was provided by the Carey Relief Society…..Salads and baked beans…..chicken and ham…..Pies, cookies, cakes made by loving hands…..I could just taste it now!  But the fun didn’t stop there……Because then there would be…..the RACES!!

Dad took tickets for the horse races in the afternoon…..This was a magical time because, not only would there be the races, but usually the Carnival would come and set up in the fairgrounds….There would be the swings, sometimes a merry-go-round… and the baseball throw and cotton candy and candy apples…..

When the races would start, the concession stand would open.  This was run usually by the PTA.  The smell of hamburgers and hot coffee would fill the air and continue through the night…..I loved going to get an Orange Crush and a hamburger; swiping a couple of the sugar cubes that were placed out for those who drank coffee….

My favorite race was the “Novelty Race”…..The riders had to walk their horses to the bend in the track where a cowboy would drop his hat and they had to break into a trot…..they would go to another cowboy that would drop his hat and the riders would break into a gallop……When the last cowboy dropped his hat, the riders would open up the reins and let their horse go as fast as they could to the finish line……It seemed to me that Lee Peterson would always win that race, except for the year that Clint Peterson won on his pony with his Dad proudly coming in second…..

What a grand day the 24th of July was!

Of course, the very best was the last…..

“WELCOME TO THE CAREY 24TH OF JULY RODEO!!  I’M RHONDA HUNT, YOUR ANNOUNCER……”

It would echo across Carey Valley as if the Pied Piper was calling each and every person within earshot to gather at the Rodeo Grounds….The ladies of the Carey Riding Club would present the colors…..Mildred Barton…..Beverly Whitby…..Tammy Strodes…..Lorraine Davis…..many others that I can’t name…..would come out with the colors and in formation would present the flag and the National Anthem would play…..Every cowboy in the grandstands would have their hats over their hearts……every person there would be standing; giving tribute and respect to our country…..When the last chord was played, the ladies would round the arena once, form the spear-head and then, from the east side of the arena, would let their horses go, their manes flying and their American Flags waving wild and proud as they rode across the arena and out the west gate…..

There would be calf roping…..Bull Doggin’ (I refuse to call it steer wrestling), The queen contest….Saddle Bronc…..Bare Back…..and then……

THE BULLS……MY FAVORITE!!

The cowboys would cheat death by staying on for 8 seconds to win the purse, or to be thrown off to be rescued by the clowns and the pick up riders…..and there would be the same old familiar Rhonda Hunt…..

“AND ALL THAT COWBOYS GONNA GET IS WHAT YOU’RE GONNA GIVE HIM!!”

I would get sleepy…..and we would start to go home…the magical day was over until next year….. I would get such a pain in my heart when I would hear…

“AND ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END….SO DOES THE CAREY RODEO….”

I drove into town with a pang of bittersweet memories swirling around in my brain….My first stop was the big white house that we lived in and grew up in…..

All the iris that my father was so proud of were gone….so were the gooseberries, the red currant bushes, the rhubarb plants, and……

…..My mother’s sacred raspberry patch that she so lovingly pruned and tended…..

My favorite tree in the backyard was gone….the garage was gone….the chicken coop where I cut my ankle wide open on was gone…..the little pine tree in the front yard that grew so tall was now dead…..The back road was gone……Replaced by asphalt…..  I had to breathe deeply to keep from sobbing……

I drove up the road…..Rhonda’s gas station was gone…..Ruby Green’s house……well….I just can’t talk about Ruby Green’s house…..

The yards were in ill repair…..Mrs. Billingsly’s lilacs were gone…..There was a Sport Shop, but Louie was gone…..it was now a bar…..no place inside for kids to read comics….no candy case….no ice cream cones…..

….No Cherry Cokes.

Adamson’s store was closed.   Coates Motel was gone…..Patterson’s Motel was gone….the Pink store was gone……What hurt the most was…..

The cottonwood trees were gone…Those incredible, tall, beautiful Cottonwoods that gently blew cotton all over the town…..were dead…….I drove up to the school….My high school days were spent in the little house on the corner….The big cottonwood tree in the orchard was dead…..all the apple trees were gone…..The State building was gone….I walked to the playground where I played as a child…..The “giants” were gone…..the merry-go-round was gone….The big pine tree was still there…..I stood by the old pine tree as if it were a welcomed friend.  I stood  where everyone parked their bikes, and I closed my eyes……and as I stood as still as I could, I breathed slowly and began to hear the laughter of children;  swinging high in the air….the giants clanging on the massive pole….children flying in the air as they went round and round…..shoes scuffed and worn from bringing everyone to a stop……blistered hands and Mecurochrome….Orange-pink and stinging as I blew on it to make it stop…..

High school kids…..muscle cars parked out front….Pickups parked with doors unlocked and a gun rack placed over the rear window……..Mr. Day….Mr. Stewart….Mr. Peck…..Mrs. Mecham….Mrs. Murdock….Mrs. Sparks….Mrs Leezenby….

….All, all gone…

I walked around to the back of the old school…..Out by the AG shop….I could hear the crowds cheering at the football games….the band playing “Onward, Carey”…..the concessions in the Ag shop……The lunch room wafting the wonderful smell of Jackie Rudd’s fried chicken and cinnamon rolls…..The Camas Huskies…..the Richfield Tigers…..both deadly rivals of the football field and the basketball court…..Starting school after Labor Day…..going to school with frost on the ground and coming home hot….sweaty as the weather changed…..Basketball games…..the smell of popcorn….the rattle of the lockers…..the cake raffle….Ross Peck (he always won a cake)….the close games when we were all yelling….and cheering and hot and red in the face as the game took a frantic change for the best…..or the worst…..…..the squeek of sneakers…..The Halloween carnival……Pep rallies…..the Homecoming BonFire…….the Snake Dance down the middle of town…..Proms….and Senior Balls….School Plays……Mr. Bennett…..Mr. Tingey……Mr. Jolley……Mr. Reay….

I drove down the back road….No longer called “Dog Alley”……The lake where we used to skate in the winter was now a canal……

….Gone…long, long gone….

When I  got to the top of Carey Hill, I pulled my car over to the side of the road.  I stood looking at the valley…..The Carey Valley where I once lived, played, mourned; Laughed and cried;  Where the people were good…They worked hard……..They’d give you the sweat off their brow and the shirts off their backs when the chips were down…..helping hands were there when needed…..  It was gone….….

…Or was it?

The Carey Valley I knew would always stay fresh in my mind…..in my heart…It was the same Carey Valley that I gazed upon….

It had rolled on with the changes of life…..Change is inevitable….but suffering was optional….I gazed to the east….Carey Lake…..Fish Creek……I gazed to the north…White Rock…..Wood River…..Dry Creek to the west……My beloved town……and the sun going down behind Queen’s Crown…..

I took it all in…..the old, I keep in my heart….the new….I open my mind…..My Carey Valley……

“Kelly, you haven’t heard a word I’ve said…..”

My throat was tight……a dull ache radiating into my chest…..I started walking around the track again; tears threatening to fall…..

“Not now, Thora Ann,”  I whispered in a cracking voice…..

“Dad’s burning the ditch bank….”

********

Well, I hope you enjoyed Kelly’s walk down memory lane and a bit about life in our hometown back when we were growing up. I also hope you’ll check out my new SUN VALLEY SERIES set in the famous ski resort town just north of Carey. It’s the READING VACATION you’ve been waiting for!

(Click here to purchase)

 

Sisters by Kellie Coates Gilbert        Otherwise Engaged by Kellie Coates Gilbert