Friday, June 17, 2005

Court salutes Bellevue belle

Shoemaker continues family tradition

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Express Staff Writer

Lula Shoemaker Photo by Chris Pilaro

For Lula Shoemaker, royalty runs in the family.

Appointed by the Blaine County Historical Museum, the longtime Bellevue resident follows her sister as a member of the Blaine County Heritage Court.

"I think it's great to think that my sister and I were honored together," Shoemaker, 87, of Bellevue, said.

Last year the committee honored Shoemaker's sister, Lillian Wright, as the heritage honoree from Bellevue.

This year Shoemaker continues the family's legacy as Bellevue's inductee to the Blaine County Heritage Court—a tribute to Wood River Valley women who have played a substantial role in sustaining a connection to Idaho's heritage.

The list of Heritage Court Ladies for this year includes Shoemaker; Anita Gray, of Ketchum/Sun Valley; Orpha Smith Mecham, of Carey; and Gladys McAtee, of Hailey.

The four valley women are representing their respective towns at a number of events this summer. The events began with a Heritage Court Tea Sunday, June 12, with the 2005 honorees united with the last year's court.

The Bellevue sisters sipped tea alongside other honored ladies.

The events continue this summer with the Blaine County Heritage Court ceremony June 26 at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey. A coronation and pageant will honor the women's contributions.

The four ladies will also ride in a vintage carriage in Hailey's Days of the Old West Fourth of July Parade, Carey's Pioneer Days Parade, Ketchum's Big Hitch Wagon Days Parade and Bellevue's Labor Day Parade.

The flurry of activity contrasts Shoemaker's memories of calmer days in the valley.

"Bellevue was a nice, friendly little area," Shoemaker said.

Born in 1917, on a farm between Bellevue and Gannett, Shoemaker has remained a lifelong Blaine County resident.

During her childhood, her family farmed in Muldoon Canyon and on a farm on Baseline Road near the town of Gannett. Shoemaker recalls many days spent milking cows and feeding pigs.

"If we hadn't had the farm we probably wouldn't have lived. It was during the Depression. We had all the food we could eat," Shoemaker said.

The family survived the Depression with food from the farm and clothes donated from friends in California.

Shoemaker went on to graduate from Gannett High School. After graduation she enrolled in a beauty-school course.

"(Beauty school) wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be," she said.

Instead of becoming a beautician, Shoemaker opted to marry George Shoemaker, who worked as a farm hand on her family's farm.

The couple married in 1939 and moved to Bellevue. Her husband worked as a miner at the Triumph Mine and at the Silver Queen Mine in Owyhee County.

"It seemed like everyone worked in the mine when it was running," she said.

Shoemaker herself once ventured into a mine.

"I wouldn't want to go down there and work. It was too dark and dreary, but they made a good living," she said.

Shoemaker remained above ground and raised her three children in Bellevue, all of whom call the Wood River Valley home.

Shoemaker contributed to the community as a mother and as a member of the Miner's Auxiliary and the Bellevue Civic Club. She continues to stay active listening to Western books on tape and visiting with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren while remaining humble about her contributions.

"I just lived an ordinary life in Bellevue," Shoemaker said.

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