Payette Lakes Progressive Club
In 1947, the Payette Lakes Progressive Club, a women’s organization in McCall, Idaho, solicited Idaho authors for letters in return describing “Who are all of you and what made you into authors and poets? And what has Idaho to do with it?” The project organizer, Mrs. William Reitmeir, described the club as “a handful of women in a community civic club” who were “making an effort to acquaint ourselves with this, our state of Idaho.”
Responses from 19 authors were placed in a 72-page scrapbook, most of which was filled with typewritten copies of poems by them (and other Idaho poets) and scenic photographs of the Payette Lakes region. The scrapbook is entitled “Idaho’s Heritage in Literature.” The scrapbook was preserved over the years by Frances Elizabeth (“Jackie”) Brooks, who at the time lived in McCall and operated Brooks Hardware with her husband, Orville P. Brooks. They subsequently moved to Baker, Oregon, and then Caldwell, Idaho, where Brooks taught school. Jackie Brooks died in January 2004 at the age of 95, and her daughters, Cynthia Webster and Mary K. Ballard, presented the scrapbook to Boise State University.
The letters from authors range from very brief and businesslike, offering only a listing of their works (such as Vardis Fisher’s postcard), to more detailed and reflective. Among the letters in the latter category are ones from Ruth Gipson Plowhead, Sister M. Alfreda Elsensohn, Irene Puckett McEwen, and Horatio Hamilton Miller. A full list of letters, and the page of the scrapbook on which they appear, is appended. Mrs. William Reitmeier appears to have coordinated the project, as many of the letters from authors are addressed to her.
Among the other projects of the Payette Lakes Progressive Club was stocking a shelf of books by Idaho authors in the McCall library, and publication of a cook book (1948). Boise State University has little more information about the club.
A photo of Jackie Brooks and her friend Lela McCreight with fishing gear (1930s?) was copied from Cynthia Webster’s personal collection and added to this manuscript collection.
July 29, 2004
Authors represented by Letters or postcards, and the page number in the Scrapbook
Note: There are also typewritten copies of poems by many of these authors, and others, as well.
The sources for those poems are not indicated.
Bird, Annie Laurie. 65
Darrow, Laura Edith. Loose
Elsensohn, M. Alfreda, Sister. 37
Fisher, Amy Woodward. 63
Fisher, Vardis. 33
Gibby, George E. 39
Grissom, Irene Welch.. 71
Hall, Carrie A. 31
Hays, Arthur Homer. 32
Ingalls, Meta Louise. 67
Martin, Julia M. 53
Martin, Orianne. 59
McEwen, Inez Puckett. 43
Miller, H.H. 61
Plowhead, Ruth Gipson. 41
Reid, Agnes Just. 45
Smith, Bess Foster. 47
Snell, George. 60
Talkington, H.L. 35
N.B.: A piece of printed sheet music, “My Home in Idaho,” by Bobby Garry Bailey, which was inserted into the scrapbook, was removed and cataloged separately for Special Collections.