Hazel shares about Dear Mad’m at Picnic Luncheon


Hazel Davis Gendron shares a portrait she made of Stella W. Patterson. Hazel is probably the most noted historical authority of Happy Camp and spent many years writing about the little town on the Klamath River. She also has contributed to four issues of the Siskiyou Pioneer put out by the Siskiyou County Historical Society each year for their members. The last issue for which she wrote was Gold Rush and the Mixing of Cultures in Western Siskiyou County (The Siskiyou Pioneer, Vol. 9, No. 8) by Various, Hazel Davis Gendron and Cheryl M. Beck (2009).


Hazel also wrote about Stella W. Patterson at the following site: http://www.cagenweb.com/shasta/bios/dearmadm.html




Thanks to Barbara Brown of Naturegraph Publishers

Barbara Brown of Naturegraph and James Buchner of Klamath River Resort Inn at Happy Camp Chamber office

Barbara Brown of Naturegraph and James Buchner of Klamath River Resort Inn at Happy Camp Chamber office

Life on the Klamath goes on, much the way it was in the days of ‘Dear Mad’m”, plus a little new technology. We are all so grateful for Barbara Brown of Naturegraph Publishers who has kept her story available to all her new fans and also published, Dear Mad’m Who Was She? by Pete and Liz Lismer!


Rod Diradon, Sr. to speak at Dear Mad’m Picnic


The Committee to Celebrate Dear Mad’m Day is honored and delighted to have Rod Diridon, Sr. come and speak to us for this occassion.

Rod said in his reply, “I’d be glad to share thoughts about Stella, the Clear Creek Claim and our even earlier times at the Classic Hill placer mine about 12 miles up Indian Creek near the state line.

“Grandfather John Covert filed three mining claims at Clear Creek with Fred Crook around 1910 and Fred, an authentic mountain man, stayed there to do the annual “claim improvements” to hold title. Grandpa wandered off to earn and lose a couple of fortunes. Seems he was a brilliant builder, but imbibed a bit too much.

“After quite a time in set design and construction in Hollywood, Grandpa helped to build the Hurst’s Wintoon “Castle” from the mid 1930s to the late 1940s.

“After an altercation with a couple of loggers in a Dunsmuir bar, Grandpa resettled (was resettled) on the Classic Hill Mine that was purchased by Grandma Allie’s Redding-based logging family (Middleton, Cocherine, and Notley) for timber rights. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Grandpa worked the claim illegally in the winter when the streams were muddy so his tailings weren’t discernible. It was a massive old systems with miles of ditches and high flums, hydroulic “giants” and piping, a small town (blacksmith shop, stables, hay shed, machine repair shop, large orchard, etc.) at the main HQ bunk house and superintendents home dating to the late 1800s….

( After )”Grandma Allie moved to the Classic Hill and they then moved to the Clear Creek claims with Fred. Grandpa built a very nice home, later cut in two and moved to Happy Camp after Caltrans condemned and bought the the claim in the early 1960s to straighten and widen the road…..”

Rod Diridon, Sr. the son of an immigrant Italian railroad brakeman, is called the “father” of modern transit service in California’s Silicon Valley. Raised in Dunsmuir, California, he worked his way through college as a railroad brakeman and fireman receiving a BS in accounting in 1961 and MSBA in statistics in 1963 from San Jose State University. Rod served four years as a naval officer with two Vietnam combat tours.

He is especially proud of son Rod, Jr. (a two-term Santa Clara City Council member and vice mayor recently reelected city clerk/auditor) and daughter Mary Margaret (director of counseling for the Silicon Valley YWCAs). His wife, Dr. Gloria Duffy, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense directing nuclear disarmament negotiations, is now the president/CEO of the Commonwealth Club of California,

Dr. Gloria Duffys article on the first annual Dear Mad’m Day may be seen at http://www.commonwealthclub.org/sites/default/files/insightoctnov2011.pdf


Ken Phelps – Dear Sir Award Winner – 2011


Tribute by Linda Jo Martin

by Linda Jo Martin

I met Ken Phelps several years ago thanks to my best friend and partner who met him first. Ken was camped for the summer downriver on a mining claim. He’s been here every summer to live next to the Klamath. As I understand it, during the winters he moves south.

Since Ken is one of my partner’s favorite friends in this area I asked him (Bob) what I should say about Ken. Here were his suggestions.

1.     Ken is a friend to all who live on the river – both humans and animals.

2.     He is a true lover of nature.

3.     He is soft spoken and humble.

4.     He is always willing to show people how to prospect.

5.     He is a master crevice hunter!

Also, he mentioned that Ken has been so dedicated to prospecting over the years that it is possible he lost much of his hearing due to working with a vac-pac.  If you take time to talk with him (and I hope you will) you’ll find a man who has lived close to the earth, who has down to earth values, and who has a heart of gold.

We went to see him a couple days ago to invite him to this picnic and he was busy picking blackberries for someone. And they were the biggest, juiciest blackberries we’d ever seen.

Not long after I met Ken he took my partner and me to a nearby creek. Most people rush by it on Highway 96 and have no idea how idyllic and peaceful it is there. He offered it to us as a source of good drinking water and as a place where one can sit in the water on a hot day as if in a hot tub. Of course, it would be cold! There are several levels of natural tubs there just up from the Klamath River.

What really impressed me was that he told us he’d climbed up and down the creek removing sticks and debris from the water to make it a more beautiful place to be. And it was. . . absolutely beautiful! He also invited the many rafting groups that camped across the river to swim in the clean, clear water of the creek.

You would think a man who loves to prospect wouldn’t worry about the land being torn apart, but he honors nature and the environment and insisted that one particularly beautiful section of the claim not be prospected to preserve the natural scenery. He did this especially for the rafting groups that camped across the river on the beach.

Two summers ago Ken visited us several times bearing natural gifts – flowers and herbs to plant in our garden. We had some to trade.

Most of all, when I think of Ken Phelps I think of a return to a simpler way of living. He is happy to live in a humble way, serving other people, living on the mining claims. He is 85 this year! Older than Stella was when she lived on her claim. He is doing pretty much the same thing she did.

For all these reasons, I nominated Ken to receive a Dear Sir award this year.


Ken Phelps with Linda Martin in his garden.