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Horseradish Association manager retires

-- Another of America’s "greatest generation" is honored.

By Jacqui Krizo
Klamath Courier Reporter
April 13, 2005 edition, Vol. 3 No. 15

Very few people will ever know what it is like to manage a horseradish association. "It was an interesting twenty years," says Wendell Schey, looking back with mostly fond memories.

On April 2, the horseradish growers met at Captain Jack’s Stronghold restaurant to honor Schey and his wife, Lee, for his years of service. They presented Schey with a watch. Current members are Gaylord DuVal, Gertrude Christy, James DeShon, and Helen Newkirk Hunt -- all World War II veteran homesteaders in the Tulelake Basin. Sam and JoAnn Reid, shed foremen, joined in the celebration. JoAnn became the new manager.

One of Schey’s least-fond memories was the sleepless nights 12 years ago, when over 24 tons of horseradish didn’t have a buyer. Fortunately a customer called last minute needing 24 tons. Marketing crops and balancing supply and demand is a tricky business. However the travel and rapport with the processors made the job normally enjoyable, explained Schey.

Wendell and Lee lived in Idaho, both growing up on farms. So they were used to hard work and the years ahead proved to be challenging. Schey worked on boilermakers on steam engines for Union Pacific, then later served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II.

Lee’s mother heard about the Tulelake homestead drawing from a friend who entered. The friend did not win, but Wendell did.

Reminiscing, Lee recalled homesteading in 1948. "Homesteading was fun. We were young and dumb." They lived in a tent, even when there was six-inches of snow. "We had no power or water or electricity."

They had a big truck, so homesteaders traded work because each person began with very little farm equipment. They were Cub Scout leaders, 4-H leaders, and did whatever it took to create opportunities for their children in this new community.

Schey’s have five children: Karen Thornton, Richard Schey, William Schey, Christine Friend, and Michael Schey; and 12 grandchildren.

In the 60s Schey’s moved to Bakersfield and Idaho, but moved back "home" in the 70s. Wendell managed the Newell Grain Hannchen elevator for 12 years before becoming the horseradish association manager. They enjoy travel and will now be able to visit their family more often.

Of all the years of homesteading, which included killer frosts, $90 for a 100-pound box of spuds in 1953, living in a tent, and having no water and power, the worst year for Scheys was the 2001 water shut-off.

"We lost a crop year. The value of our property went down. It was the worst year for the whole basin. And they used the wrong science to cut our water off," said Schey.

This couple served their country in defending freedom, then spent much of their lives settling the land, creating organizations to school children and growing food to feed American.





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