LuAnne Kozma, project fieldworker
Lake and Klamath Counties
The Oregon Folklife Network’s Southern Oregon Folklife Survey got off to a start this past November in Klamath and Lake counties. Arriving in Portland by train from the Midwest, I drove south, crossing the snowy Cascade Mountains to Klamath Falls to begin meeting with people and documenting folk and traditional artists and their celebrations, crafts, occupations, and music. I immediately fell in with the Klamath Country Square and Round Dance club and joined Cece and Sarge Glidewell’s round dance lessons at a local church. Later in the week I returned for a Thursday night square dance where caller Larry Sprout sang out dance calls to popular songs.
Food traditions are alive and well in southern Oregon and a great way to find out more about various cultural groups. Early one morning that same week, I arrived at Laila Griffith’s house to observe the Sons of Norway women’s group making lefse, a traditional Norwegian potato flatbread. Each year, the group gathers to make hundreds of lefse for their annual holiday sale. A few days before, team of University of Oregon graduate students and OFN executive director, Riki Saltzman, joined me at Laila’s for a lefse tasting and cookie baking session, one of several the field experiences we shared [see article below for more on that].
Laila Griffith makes krumkake, one of many kinds of traditional Norwegian Christmas cookies, in her Klamath Falls home.
I was also able to meet Linda Romero, who makes traditional Mexican pan dulce at her La Perla Bakery. Linda shared her knowledge about cake making and pan dulce or sweet breads.
In Lake county, I stopped in at Lakeview Locker to hear about the owners’ weekly barbeques and sausage-making. The annual Methodist Church’s Harvest Dinner provided me with the opportunity to taste more local food as well as to meet folks and get leads for future interviews.
Natural Resources and Leisure Traditions
Southern Oregon is blessed with stunning scenery, fish, and game. Klamath Falls’ natural resources and a vibrant hunting and fishing culture are what drew Mark Kelley and John Kruger to the area. Both shared their wisdom and skill at making tied flies for fly fishing.
Ranching traditions range from foodways to occupational lore. Ranch hand Larry Morgan of Lakeview showed me his exquisite leather braiding skills. Bonanza’s saddle maker, Dave Clowes, talked about the occupational arts of leatherwork and the tools of his trade. Lakeview’s hat artist, Lisa Ackerman, explained how to shape a western hat to fit the wearer; her special community niche is to provide hats and hat shaping services at roundups and other events.
Bootmaker and shoe repairer Mike Purves, who learned shoe making from his father and now teaches the trade to his son and grandchildren, shared his “tricks of the trade” at his Klamath Falls shop.
Another occupational group with their own folk traditions are fire fighters. And crew members of the Klamath Falls fire department were generous in sharing their humor, jokes, and stories—all part of how they cope with on-the-job danger, excitement, and boredom. Fire fighters, like police and soldiers, use such verbal arts to entertain each other during downtime and to pass on skills and knowledge to new workmates.
Quilting traditions are strong here. I met and interviewed a tightknit group of quilting “sisters” in Chiloquin—who call themselves the Chiloquilters—and three people who have carved out occupations in the quilting world—Chiloquin long arm quilter Judi Doud and Merrill’s Tater Patch quilt shop owners Robin King and Diane McKoen.
At the end of the trip I observed the Klamath Tribes’ Annual Veteran’s Day Pow Wow, heard great drum groups, saw wonderful dancers, and talked to local regalia and beadwork makers.
I will return to Klamath and Lake counties this spring to document more folk & traditional artists. Please contact Riki Saltzman ( 541-346-3820 or email@example.com) if you have recommendations for traditions, groups, or individual folk & traditional artists to be documented in Klamath and Lake counties.
OFN’s Southern Oregon Folklife Survey is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Folk & Traditional Arts program.