Lora Steere, Pearl Clark and the Early Days

January 18, 2011 at 6:28 pm 1 comment

From: Sydney Cosselman, Krone Museum Director

I hope everyone had a nice vacation…those of us who remained on campus enjoyed all of the benefits of a snowy holiday. The weather here made me think about Idyllwild during earlier times. I could not imagine the many challenges that people were faced with when attempting to visit “the Hill” until I received a little insight from Lora and Pearl…

Lora Steere and the Early Days
Some of you may have seen Paris Deesing’s film “When Art Met Idyllwild; A Tribute to Lora Steer” this past week. For those of you who do not know; Lora was here from the very beginning. She taught the first class outdoors, before the school officially opened; and she financed the first building in 1949, her ceramics studio. Lora was loved by all of her students and made an impression on everyone who met her. Lora was not a newcomer to Idyllwild; she and her husband climbed the mountain in a buggy during their honeymoon in 1914.

Honeymoon at Dark Canyon 1914          Courtesy of Charles Russell and Evan Mills

At the request of Lora Steere’s son Jim, the Krone Museum hosted a Lora Steere Retrospective, celebrating Lora’s life and accomplishments on August 7, 2010. The event began as a family gathering, but quickly turned into a community “experience.” To add to the museum collection; Lora’s family and friends brought their own sculptures and memorabilia. As an added request from Jim, the LA84 Foundation loaned the museum a 1932 Olympic statue created by Lora. Three special guests attending were Bob and Sue Krone and Irv Kershner. It was a lovely day thanks to the efforts of Lora’s family and friends. Maria and Cyrus Paydar, filmed and photographed the Retrospect and generously presented the museum with copies. Paris has promised us a copy of her film, as well.

Lora Steere Retrospective exhibit                  Photo Courtesy of Vance Blaettler

Irv Kershner, Paris Deesing,and Cyrus Paydar  in Krone Library
Photo Courtesy of Maria Paydar

Pearl Clark and the Early, Early Days
While archiving materials the other day I ran across an interesting “written memory” by Pearl Clark. The story was in the1972 ISOMATA REVIEW, a publication of the USC-ISOMATA Creative Writing Workshop directed by Norman Corwin and Davis Dutton. Between the covers lay stories and poems with titles like “Only Pretty”, and “Sleep #6.” They all sounded intriguing; but being a lover of history, Pearl’s “Idyllwild Revisited” caught my eye. After reading it, I promptly emailed Bob Smith from the Idyllwild Area Historical Society (IAHS) to find out if he had any photographs that fit Pearl’s vivid description of the “narrow road which clung to the mountain side like a limp fire hose.” Bob graciously sent three; but the one I have included seemed perfect.

Control Road # 1   Photo Courtesy of IAHS

This was not too many years after Lora Steere and her husband traversed the mountain by horse and buggy. Now for Pearl’s story…

Idyllwild Revisited
By Pearl Clark
Some forty years ago, I drove my protesting roadster up a narrow road which clung to the mountain side like a limp fire hose. I was going to investigate a place called Idyllwild. Fortunately, there were not many other explorers that winter, for when two cars met, the drivers had to get out to decide who should pull off and hang over the edge.

The few cabins in the frosty woods oozed peace and serenity not found in more popular places. The weekend was an idyllic one to be sure.

Fortunately that road was later improved. The next time I saw it I had come over the mountains with the Sierra Club. The bumpy road had shaken my lights loose, but there was no help at the small station at what is now Mountain Center. There was no place to stay the night. Help was only Hemet at the foot of the grade. So a Sierra Club Samaritan, with lights on, hugged my unlighted car as it crawled down the grade. Needless to say, from Hemet we went home more suitably and safely lighted.

Came endless school work and the war, and no more mountain trips. Then a friend and I came up some twenty-five years ago for a weekend. We had decided a realtor’s car would be an inexpensive means of sightseeing. But a charming, tastefully furnished cabin said “I am yours.” And it was, for over a year.

It was a year of reading Indian legends about Taquitz and the maidens imprisoned in the rock; of getting acquainted with the squirrels, said to be a fairly unusual breed; of watching cabin lights come on in the neighboring woods; of walks past the white rhododendron by Strawberry Creek; of being active in the Chamber of Commerce; of helping organize a Community Church; and of being glad when the summer folks left.

There were minor excitements too. A kangaroo rat filled the tube of my vacuum cleaner with a pint of popcorn. Then my cat killed the furry-tailed beastie, and I was sad! Storms changed the sky and the woods.

But such idylls come to an end and Idyllwild became just a place to bring friends to for lunch; to chaperone biology classes hunting for specimens; to sleep on the hard ground. Being a person who acts on impulse, I picked up an ISOMATA folder this spring and signed up for a course.

In spite of the many new buildings, Idyllwild has not changed. Taquitz rock and the pines are still here. Hummingbirds have been added to the squirrels. ISOMATA has added opportunities for music and art. But the town is dormant except on weekends. The villagers now are not only glad to see the summer folks go, but probably celebrate the departure of the longhairs from the campus. As in many other places, some residents here equate appearance with morality and do not see, beneath appearance, a youthful desire for good.

Am I enjoying Idyllwild today, or living in the past? A little of both probably.

Entry filed under: campus culture, museum. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. katie  |  January 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Interesting! Thanks, Sydney.


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January 2011


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