May 16, 2015
The people sharing their stories with us become more interesting every day, at least to me. Before I arrived, Sharon met and interviewed some of the folks and has excitedly told me how wonderful these homesteaders are. On the main road to Powell lives 94 year-old Forrest Allen, who lives on the original homestead plot his family settled. He lived in a former barracks, but it burned down one day before the county got a fire truck. Neighbors tried to put out the fire with water from the irrigation ditches, to no avail. Forrest has three more half barracks on his land, all used for storage or workshops. They have corrugated steel siding over the exterior, but all have the original rough wood interiors and open ceilings. Cane in hand, he walked us around the various structures, a light rain turning into a brief downpour. Forrest took refuge in a three-sided structure that was once a barrack until the rain stopped. After an hour of hearing Forrest’s stories and photographing him, we had to leave for another appointment. I told Sharon we could make the whole book out of what I shot this morning.
And that was before we tasted Evaleen George’s bread. The spry 91 year-old still lives in the barrack her family got as homesteaders in 1947. She went into detail about the original dimensions of the building, where the interior walls were built as they turned it into their home and the additions they made. Many mementoes line her walls including an ink drawing by a daughter of Heart Mountain, dishes and stained glass of her beloved birds and large photographs of extremely large George family reunions involving hundreds of people. As I was photographing her by a set of pictures on a wall, a buzzer went off occasionaly. After a while, she got up and went into the kitchen and began taking loaves of baked bread from the oven. Seven loaves in all emerged. She cut two slices off one loaf, buttered them and offered us the pieces. Amazing. Evaleen said she can’t eat the bread from stores, so she makes bread about every six weeks and freezes the loaves.
In the afternoon we were interviewed by Ilene Olson at the Powell Tribune newspaper for an article about the project. Even the weather was interesting. On the way home we drove through a heavy thunderstorm, then heavy hail. A stretch of Highway 14A had so much hail/slush on the road that cars slowed down. It looked like an inch or two of snow.