About a year ago I kept getting a nagging inspiration that wouldn’t go away. The words, “Dear Mad’m Day” kept popping into my brain. I wonder if I was being inspired by friends in the great beyond.
I shared my idea with Judy Bushy during one of our weekly Happy Camp Writer’s Club meetings at the Frontier Café. At that time, Judy and I were the only ones showing up for the club! She liked the idea and we took it to the Chamber of Commerce.
The idea was to have a celebration of the life of Stella Walthall Patterson – the author of a memoir titled Dear Mad’m. Her memoir tells about her decision at the age of eighty to move to a remote, rugged mining claim in the Klamath River Valley. Brave woman! Great writer! Her book was published in 1952 and has inspired many thousands of people during the last sixty years. Judy wrote about Stella Walthall Patterson at Happy Camp News.
Last year we had the first annual Dear Mad’m Day on August 13, 2011. It was an amazing success and for the 40 people who attended, an incredible fun-filled weekend. Great for anyone who loves Klamath River Valley history and our local literature!
Relatives and friends who remembered Stella attended, and Rod Dirdion Sr. spoke. He and his sister, Claudia, were in the photograph that was used on the back cover of the first edition of the book! They were there visiting their grandfather on his mining claim which was adjacent to Stella’s and could remember visiting her in her cabin.
We were thrilled to meet Rod, Claudia, and their spouses, and we had other VIPs there as well – a niece of Stella’s husband, and the authors of the new book (soon to be published) Dear Mad’m – Who Was She?.
The Dear Mad’m Award was given to Barbara Brown, owner of Naturegraph Publishers – the publisher of Dear Mad’m. Ken Phelps, a local gold prospector, got the Dear Sir Award.
This year should be even better.
We had our first Dear Mad’m Day Committee meeting this morning at the local Chamber of Commerce office. James Buchner, owner of the Klamath River Resort Inn, was there. He is an outstanding event planner! He’s also working on Rockin’ The Klamath. Judy and I also attended today’s meeting. We made some decisions on what will happen, and created an action plan to get us there.
Here are some of the decisions we made:
1. The 2012 Dear Mad’m Day will take place on October 13. Events will take place from Friday evening, October 12, through Sunday afternoon, October 14.
2. On Friday night there will be a reception and book signing for Dear Mad’m – Who Was She?. This will probably include dinner.
3. The Saturday luncheon will start at 11am and will include at least two speakers plus award presentations.
4. We will seek nominations from the public for the “Dear Sir” and “Dear Mad’m” awards.
5. Criteria for the nominees should be (a) a long record of service to the community, and (b) exceptional actions exemplifying pioneering spirit.
6. We chose some potential speakers; I won’t be able to say who… until after they agree to speak.
7. We will ask people to bring potted plants that we can distribute around Happy Camp for town beautification in the springtime.
8. On Saturday night we’ll have a bonfire and song circle.
9. We’re looking for a community group to host the Sunday morning breakfast. Breakfast should be Stella’s menu – of sourdough pancakes with blackberry syrup.
10. Saturday afternoon – a presentation at the Dear Mad’m cabin site.
11. All funds will go toward having Cal-Trans place an official historic marker on Highway 96 at the Dear Mad’m cabin site.
While I was there we worked together on updating the Dear Mad’m Day website.
This is the only event I’ll be helping to plan for the Chamber of Commerce this year. I cut back on my activities because I need more time to spend on my own business. I hope that since this is the only event I’m working on, I’ll be able to focus on it and make it better than ever. That might be hard, because last year’s Dear Mad’m Day was amazing – mainly because of the people who attended. Great memories!
See this website for more information about the annual literary celebration in Happy Camp, CA known as Dear Mad’m Day: Friends of Dear Mad’m.