FOREVER VALENTINES: Hallard and Lutie Bailey found love in the shadow of Mt. Hood
When I landed the job as editor of the Sandy Post back in 1974, one of the unforgettable blessings of that responsibility included the opportunity to interview local residents for human interest stories.
Back then this newspaper's Sandy/Boring/Mount Hood coverage area included many true "pioneers" who had been born in the 1800s and turn of the 20th Century. Their stories always amazed and enlightened me. Their strong connection and love for this land was obvious — as well as inspirational.
Hallard and Lutie
Of the eight or nine longtime — now departed — pioneering personalities who lived up in the shadow of the mountain whom I had the honor of meeting almost 50 years ago, two exceptional people stand out to me today: Hallard and Lutie (Welch) Bailey.
In 1911, when Hallard was 12, his family moved from Portland to the mountain in a horse-drawn wagon. That overland journey took them three days. They homesteaded on 20 acres of timbered earth in the Zigzag area near today's namesake Bailey Road.
That was back when no more than 30 families lived fulltime on the mountain from Brightwood up to Government Camp.
"I'm just a country-minded person who wants things to remain in their beautiful setting," Hallard once explained to me. His visionary father, Fred Bailey, with help from his young hard-working sons — Hallard and his older brother, Truman — fell trees and built a handsome log house for their family. They then handcrafted four more log homes, all nestled inside their wild Cascadian forest. These additional structures became "Bailey's Mountain Log Cabins," available for vacationers to rent.
Besides being a skilled woodsman, builder, and savvy entrepreneur, Fred Bailey was also adept at advertising. The special brochure he circulated informed: "Bailey's Mountain Log Cabins were built with the idea of providing accommodations for an ideal vacation in the Oregon woods. A vacation made enjoyable by the comforts of real log cabins, with spacious stone fireplaces, soft beds, and crystal clear spring water, but at the same time, a vacation not marred by the conventionalities and hampered freedom of the typical summer resort."
Raised on bearskin rug
As Hallard was growing up on the north side of the Sandy River's rapids, a young lass was doing the same over on the waterway's south side, just a coyote's call away.
In 1842, Samuel Welch and his son, Billy, homesteaded the family's ranch beside the Salmon River in what would become known as Welches Valley. Billy's wife, Mamie (Kopper) Welch, died just one year after giving birth to their daughter Lutie in 1902. (Billy would later marry Jennie (Faubion) Welch, who would become Lutie's stepmother.)
During my first visit to Hallard and Lutie's Welches area home, Lutie explained, "I was an only child. I ruled the roost. I was a little mountain goat." Sitting beside her in front of their fireplace's glowing crackle, Hallard smiled and teased, "she was raised with a bottle on a bearskin rug."
Lutie Welch was the first student to graduate from Welches School, class of 1917. "There were only two of us who reached that point that year, Felix Crutcher and me," she once informed. Then, with one of her good-hearted grins, Lutie added: "And he didn't make it."
This Mount Hood native cherished her education in that one-room Welches schoolhouse, located at the western corner of Welches Road and Highway 26. (It is no longer there.) "We had two students at each grade level squeezed into that little one-room school with its potbellied stove," Lutie remembered. "We had a total of 26 books in our school library. They were dog-eared and worn and sat on a shelf in the back of the room. Taxes collected for schools in those days were rather scanty."
Lutie told me how back in that early era, students either walked or rode their horses to school. This mountain girl started riding horses at age 4. "And if there was a heavy snow," she said, "we had a sleigh that would take us to school."
One of the many gems that this delightful, personable woman relayed to me was how, as a young girl, she kept warm during the mountain's cold winter nights.
"We would put river rocks in the fire, take them out, let them cool a bit, then wrap them in newspaper and put them under our covers. Sometimes, the rocks would be too hot and scorch the covers — or even explode."
Skiing across hayfields
As teenagers, young Hallard and Lutie's hearts found each other and they started down the path of their lifelong courtship.
There was a special memory that this couple shared with me more than once. On full moon winter nights, these two teenagers coveted cross-country skiing together across Lutie's father's wintertime hayfields — now the front nine on today's 18-hole golf course.
Hallard and Lutie were married in 1923. She was 20; he was 23. They would welcome six children into the world. Five daughters came first. Their youngest daughter, Fredrica, once confided to me with a good-natured grin, "I think I was supposed to be 'Frederick.'" Alas, that baby brother, Hallard "Bud" Bailey Jr., would finally arrive next, becoming the last of the Bailey's clan.
Today, Fredrica (Freddi) who lives in Morton, Wash., and Bud, of Chiloquin, Ore., are the last surviving children of Hallard and Lutie. In addition, a flock of 86 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren also bless the memory of this precious couple.
Hallard always referred to Lutie as "My Dear Wife." Likewise, with an undercurrent of affection, Lutie called Hallard "Pa."
In 1983, when they celebrated 60 years of matrimony, I asked these two to share their secret on connubial longevity.
"You should take a good hard look at the other person before marrying," Lutie assured. "A marriage requires a lot of give and take. The main thing a woman wants from a husband is sensitivity. She shouldn't have to fight for everything she needs in life."
Hallard added, "It takes a lot to overcome ego and self. People need to come down off their perch and get together, get rid of selfishness. Get back to the common ground of understanding."
These two sweethearts would be married for another seven years, until Hallard passed away in 1990. We would lose Lutie in 1996.
Serve you well
In 1948, the Baileys moved to Klamath Falls when Hallard joined the administration at Oregon Technical Institute (today's Oregon Institute of Technology) where he became the college's curriculum director. When Hallard retired 16 years later, they returned to their Mount Hood homeland.
Ten years later, the young Sandy Post editor with his questions of how it used to be, would come knocking on their door.
That's when Hallard and Lutie would obligingly reminisce about those days when an abundance of wild salmon could be pulled from the Sandy River with pitchforks and stuffed into gunnysacks. When herds of elk would winter in the nearby meadows surrounding Lutie's childhood home. When young Hallard and his brother would spot a cougar following them as they went for water at their family's springhouse.
It was a yesteryear era when a close existence with nature was celebrated hereabouts every day.
Just as Hallard's father's "Bailey's Mountain Log Cabins" brochure once so eloquently affirmed: "Come to Bailey's this year — during any season. Summer and Winter, Spring and Fall, all have their particular charms and from each you will draw health, energy and enthusiasm that will serve you well."
Longtime mountain resident and former Sandy Post editor Paul Keller pens his "Beneath Wy'east" column once a month here on the Post's editorial pages.
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