By: Hazel Wood, Rosalie Averett, Winnie Smith
Some of the characters of Bates were old John Bealan and Little Mike Ogran, George Smaulic, and Jack Kearny. Winnie knew Jack Kearny in Idaho before moving to Bates. Jack was born on Valentine's Day. Rosalie says, they used to take John and Mike into Baker with them on the weekends when her son Tommy was small in 1951 in the fall of the year, because they liked to celebrate. On the way to Baker, John and Mike would eat their garlic and crab cocktails and get the car to smelling pretty ripe. Jack Kearny was well loved by all the people of Bates, especially the kids. We all called him the "Major" of Bates.
Henry Rockenbrandt was another old timer that loved the kids. He would put on a dinner each year for the kids, and he had Tom Averett take the Cat (Caterpillar) down to Vinegar Creek to dig a big swimming hole in the creek for the kids to swim in during the summer. He donated a jukebox to the town for the kids to use at the Hall and all of the kids loved it. Henry was Twila Comb's father.
Murrdie Knighten, a sister of Shirley Thompson's, worked at a logging camp down the river with Ray Averett, who was Bull Cook down the river by the old Cat Shop. Murddie was helping Ray and she would wait until he went to the toilet and then yell that someone needed something, and he would have to come in and take care of that person's needs.
Black Hanns used to come through Bates and Austin with his sheep every year and the kids and dogs would follow him up behind Austin. He was from the Monument area and he summered his flock of sheep around the Greenhorn area.
Glenn Pierce told Rosalie this story. Cy Pierce and Ed Frazier went to Mt. Vernon after some hogs. They took the seat out of the old Model A car and put the hogs in the back seat. They stopped at Prairie City and proceeded to have too much to drink. By the time they got home to Bates, the car stunk horribly and Grace (Cy's wife) was ready to take the butcher knife to him.
On the fourth of July vacation, Hazel, Grace, their sister Zona and their families were camped at Summit Prairie. Cy and Grace were fishing. Cy decided to move he and Grace's camp a little closer to Hazel and Zona's camp, which was a little above theirs. Grace was still out fishing, and Cy didn't think about Grace. When she came back from fishing, there was nothing at all left of their camp. He'd run off and moved the camp without Grace knowing it. Finally Cy went back to the old campsite and there was Grace sitting on this rock crying, thinking he had left her out there totally by herself.
One time a person, we shall not name due to the content of this story, had shot a deer out of season. He had it wrapped and hid under his bed. One morning as he and his wife were eating breakfast, the Game Warden arrived. The Game Warden looked around, but found no meat. The man offered him a cup of coffee, feeling so proud that the meat wasn't found. As the coffee was being drank, here came the dog dragging the deer from under the bed.
A woman (who will remain unnamed) was being visited by the Game Warden because he knew they had illegal deer and elk meat. She threw the frozen meat in the bed and got in bed with it, and covered herself up. The Game Warden couldn't come in the bedroom with her in bed. She almost froze to death with the meat, but couldn't get up until the Game Warden left. Needless to say he didn't find any illegal meat.
Before 1951, when Rosalie moved to Bates, the mill whistle was blown any time a cop showed up in town and the men would run home and hide their illegal meat before the cops could find any. One lady told Winnie that her son was almost twenty years old before he realized that you were supposed to go hunting without a flashlight. Must have been a lot of poachers lived around the area.
Oma Averett was getting bath water ready to bath her oldest son. She turned around with the hot water in the pan to look out the door, and there stood an Indian in the doorway. She was scared of Indians and she threw up her hands and the hot water went on the Indian. They were living at the Ruby Creek Logging Camp at the time.
In the early days there were several logging camps in the hills around Bates. The loggers lived in shacks, tents, old railroad cars, etc. Their families were out there also. Sometimes they were too far away from the school at Austin to be able to walk to school in the winter so they missed school for that winter. At one time Hazel's parents lived at Phipps Meadows at a logging camp and walked the three miles to school at Austin. When the snow got too deep, their father broke trail for them with a horse so that they could walk to school. Hazel's father was a horse logger that had big work horses that he used to log with. They were always out in the woods living in one place or another. They lived in a tent and moved from camp to camp, summer and winter. It was a different life than we live today.
The women of Bates, after they had sent their kids to school, would congregate at someone's house, in their bathrobes, and drink coffee until almost time for the first graders to come home.
When Rosalie first moved to Bates in June of 1951, she had to take Tom to work one morning and she was flabbergasted as here was this woman going down the sidewalk with her Thunder Mug in one hand and her cup of coffee in the other, in her nightgown. What a shocker for a new person to the area.
There were a lot of characters that lived in Bates over the years, but if something happened, they all hung together and helped each other. Even today the Bates people that live in Prairie City now, turn out to help each other in times of need.
Carl Leishman owned the store in Bates. He had a beer hall at the back of the store, where a lot of the men met after work every day and solved all of the problems of the world and created a few for themselves. Carl was like a banker in town. Everyone charged their groceries at his store and he was pretty lenient with people having financial problems, until they could get back on their feet. If you had just moved to town he would let you charge your groceries until you got your first pay check.
The Post Office was in the back of the store in a separate room, next to the beer hall. The first mail boxes at the Post Office had a little window in the box, but didn't open. Everyone would line up at mail time and wait their turn for the Post Mistress to give them their mail. You had a box number but couldn't open it.
One time Rosalie's dog Smokey got locked in the Post Office over night and chewed the door jams up. One day Smokey was waiting outside the store's back door, and the meat truck came in. The driver saw the dog laying there and thought he'd better shut the doors on the truck. When he shut one door, a ham bounced out on the ground and Smokey grabbed it, and ran to the log deck. Everyone searched all over for the ham, but never found it. I imagine he was a real happy dog about that time.
There were some people that lived in an old house by the bridge. There was no water to the house. The man was a log cutter. They had three girls, and every wash day the man would get really mad because his wife would hang her wash out, and their bloomers were made out of Pickett Flour sacks, and across the butt of them it said, Pickett Flour, all over them and she had these all up and down the clothesline. The guys would get a good laugh out of this every wash day.
One time the men left their lunch buckets and thermoses in the work bus until lunch time out in the woods. In the meantime a cinnamon bear got into the bus and was eating their lunches when they arrived for lunch. They climbed in the bus and there was the bear and talk about some scared guys. The bear bit Rod Frazier's thermos almost in half. Needless to say the men vacated the bus. It seems that the men had been feeding parts of their lunch to the bear prior to this, and the bear got so tame that he became a problem. They finally had to get the Game Commission to come in and transport the bear to another area.
A the "Y" Inn at the time Junior and Evelyn Saunders owned it, there was a deer called Bambi that hung around and was a pet for several years. One year she had twin fawns, and people would bring food out from the restaurant to feed Bambi. She got kind of aggressive, and once a little kid came out with a sack of potato chips or candy, she pawed him with her feet until he gave her the chips or candy. Someone - ever though she had a red ribbon on her - shot her and both of her babies one hunting season. Needless to say there was a whole town of very upset people. She had been their pet for years. The Boy Scouts of Bates would go around to raise money to buy Bambi hay for the winter. Bambi would walk into the sawmill. Bambi would just walk right in the house if the doors were not closed.