Upper images are courtesy of the Northwest Room. The image to the left is courtesy of Eugene Kiver. The image above is courtesy of the Nostalgia Magazine Collection.
Westerners Speakers Team
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Westerners Spokane Corral
By Cindy Hval
For 65 years, a group of dedicated history buffs has met monthly to share its passion for the American West.
Established in 1955, the Westerners Spokane Corral is one of 60 clubs worldwide, and the only one in the Pacific Northwest. The international group, founded in Chicago in 1944, features clubs in countries including Sweden, Denmark and Japan.
The goal of the group is bringing together those who have a common interest and zeal for discovering and disseminating knowledge of the American West, especially the history and lore of the frontier period.
The Rev. Ted Bradley, 94, has been a fixture at the Spokane Corral for 60 years.
“My family had a great interest in history,” he said.
That interest sparked his own, and for more than 30 years he taught history at area Catholic high schools, including Gonzaga Prep and Marycliff.
“Teaching boys was easier. If they got out of hand you could paddle ’em,” Bradley recalled. “But when I scolded the girls, they’d cry.”
Bradley noted that for many years the club was limited to men.
“Jerry Peltier and Tom Teakle founded it, and Teakle hated women,” he said. “He wouldn’t even let wives or girlfriends come to the Christmas party.”
The first attempt to include women at the local level went down in defeat in 1991. The motion needed a two-thirds majority to pass, and the vote was tied at 23.
Westerner club presidents are called sheriffs, and in 1994 author and historian Tony Bamonte held the title. He waited until many of the older members went south for the winter, then held a vote. The measure passed, and women were finally admitted to the club.
Bradley vividly remembers a presentation by the club’s first woman sheriff, Jean Oton.
Oton gave a talk about the bordellos in Wallace and showed up in full Madame Ruby Ridge costume.
“Women saved the club,” Bradley said.
Longtime member Lynn Wells joined the Spokane Corral because she was doing research into local history. She served as the club’s second female sheriff.
“I grew up close to the Spokane House Interpretive site,” she said. “I thought I’d found everything written about Spokane House, but I called Jerry Peltier, and he invited me to become a member.”
Likewise, Susan Walker was involved with a historical project; the Spokane Law Enforcement Museum. She met Tony and Suzanne Bamonte, who invited her to join.
“I fell I love with history,” she said. “I enjoy this club because it brings history alive. You get to know our area and our community, and mingle with others who have similar interests.”
Current sheriff Dick Jensen joined the group in 1998, and organizes the group’s summer day trips to regional historical sites.
“When you visit a site where history took place, it comes alive,” he said. “I really enjoy sharing what I’ve learned.”
He pointed to the Westerners’ logo, a buffalo head, on his name badge.
“This is Old Joe, based on the art of Charlie Russell,” he said. “Meetings used to start with greeting the logo on the wall, ‘Hello Joe, you old buffalo.’ ” And they used to end by saying, ‘Adios Joe, you old buffalo.’ ”
The monthly meetings feature guest speakers who present a wide array of topics, including Fairchild Air Force Base through the years, the history of Millwood, and haunted Hillyard.
Fun and fellowship aren’t the only hallmarks of the organization. Twice a year, the group publishes the Pacific Northwesterner. Each publication covers a subject dealing with the Pacific Northwest, highlighting people and historical events. Past titles include “The Two Mrs. Fassetts: Controversy, Scandal and Social Change in Early Urban Spokane,” and “Baxter General Hospital: ‘City of Mercy,’ 1942-1945.”
These publications are distributed to 35 museums, libraries and universities, including Princeton and Yale.
The Spokane Corral has about 75 general members. The public is welcome to attend its monthly meetings, which for now are conducted via Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Jensen said history has much to teach us about how to respond to pandemics.
“We learned about social distancing during the 1917/1918 flu,” he said. “We can learn new ways of looking at old things. History fits the big jigsaw puzzle of life together.”
This Zoom Presentation is open to all:
Eugene Kiver, EWU Professor Emeritus of Geology, will give our December 10 Zoom presentation, “How Science Discovered the Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington.”
Understanding of the unique ravaged topography of eastern Washington known as the Channeled Scabland required the proper use of the scientific method and the ability of one man to “think outside of the box” to solve this geologic mystery. Geological science was not allowed to flourish for hundreds of years because of political and religious interference. The Nineteenth Century saw great advances as modern geological science took root with an understanding of geologic time and the application of rigorous evidence-based conclusions. The work of two geologists, J Harlen Bretz and Joseph Pardee in the 1900s, demonstrated that only a catastrophic flood could account for the chaotic topography of the Channeled Scabland.
Gene Kiver graduated from Case-Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and later from the University of Wyoming in Laramie where he received his Doctorate in Geology. He taught Geology for 34 years at Eastern Washington University in Cheney and conducted an active research career that emphasized landforms and surface processes. Glacial geology of the western United States, geothermal ice caves on Mts. Rainier and Baker, national park geology, speleology, and the Missoula Floods are his main professional interests. Research and volunteer activity with the Ice Age Floods Institute continues today. He has co-authored two recent books, “On the Trail of The Ice Age Floods” and “Washington Rocks!” “Washington Rocks!” is written for the non-geologist interested in learning about some of the amazing geologic sites in the State of Washington.Gene currently volunteers for public and other presentation and teaches for the Anacortes and the Bellingham Senior Colleges. Gene also hikes with the Skagit Audubon Chapter and has hiked over 3000 miles on organized hikes with the Chapter.
How Science Discovered the Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington