Debra Gwartney books
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Emulating Hazel

When I came across this photo of my great-grandmother Hazel Maud Long Gwartney some weeks ago–a photo that features her astonishingly thick, abundant hair–I thought I would try to recreate the photo with my own daughters who each have a head of thick, abundant hair (though blonde to her nearly black). I believe the Hazel photo was taken in Salmon, Idaho, shortly after she moved there with her new husband and my great-grandfather, Leslie Nugent Gwartney.

Here’s how he explains their first home as a married couple in his book, My First Eighty Years: 

“On the second day of May, 1917, we arrived at Salmon, Lemhi County, Idaho. . .I asked a businessman in Salmon if there were any ranch jobs available and he pointed to a small man walking down the street and said, ‘That’s Pete McKinney and he is superintendent of a lot of ranches and hires a lot of men.’ I caught up with him and asked him about a job. He wanted to know what I could do and I told him I could do anything to be done on a ranch. How wrong I was. He wanted to know about my wife and wanted to meet her. We went up to the hotel and I introduced him to Mrs. Gwartney. He wanted to know if she could cook and she said she had never cooked for a crew of men, but had done some home cooking. ‘OK, there will be a man and wife drive into the livery barn today about noon in a buckboard. You load up your trunks and drive up the Lemhi nine miles and you will come to a place with a lot of cottonwood trees. Go in and tell the Sweed foreman that I hired you.’

We got out to the ranch about five o’clock, introduced ourselves to the foreman, who pointed out the kitchen to Mrs. Gwartney and said there will be fourteen for supper. Wow! I had been around working men and ranch crews and had some knowledge of cooking for ranch hands. We found a quarter of a beef in the cooler, a sack of potatoes and there was plenty of bread, so I started cutting beef, Mrs. Gwartney peeling spuds. There was cucumbers and onions. We had steak, fried potatoes, beefsteak gravey and cucumbers with sliced onions in vinegar. No one went away hungry. So much for the first meal. ”

I believe her photo, a rare one with her hair down, was taken out at this ranch, where they stayed (and worked) for some years. 






And here are the daughters–these photos taken (thank you, Pete H for the help) at Finn Rock, Oregon, in Hazel-like poses:















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