Jerome AZ’s Katie Lee: An Eclectic and Wild-Riding Career

Great news:  Katie wrote a wonderful article on finding/returning a rare artifact called a “chamahia” to the Hopis.  Read about it online at High Country News starting Sat., Sept. 5, 2014:  https://www.hcn.org/articles/katie-lee-and-the-chamahia-the-spirit-in-the-stone/

Katie Lee is venerated as the most flamboyant of knights among a growing legion of pro-wilderness activists. Katie has taken up the torch that conservationists Edward Abbey and David Brower left burning after they died—to sing, write and lecture about the importance of preserving and restoring wilderness refuges; the histories of ancient races embedded in its sinuous sandstone canyons; and the lonesome characters the West still breeds. Today, her unwavering commitment to her principles and feisty eloquence are primarily directed at draining Powell Reservoir and freeing the Colorado River through Glen Canyon.

Katie Lee is venerated as the most flamboyant of knights among a growing legion of pro-wilderness activists. Katie has taken up the torch that conservationists Edward Abbey and David Brower left burning after they died—to sing, write and lecture about the importance of preserving and restoring wilderness refuges; the histories of ancient races embedded in its sinuous sandstone canyons; and the lonesome characters the West still breeds. Today, her unwavering commitment to her principles and feisty eloquence are primarily directed at draining Powell Reservoir and freeing the Colorado River through Glen Canyon. Her career odyssey began in Hollywood and ended in Jerome, AZ where she now lives. She has published five books, including a trilogy about Glen Canyon, recorded fourteen CDs, made two DVDs, and has become much sought-after for appearances in TV shows and documentary films about the Southwest. At 95-years old, Katie is just beginning to glimpse the legacy of her eloquent activism and spreading fame. She is a woman of uncompromising beliefs. She has followed byways she chose, each interesting and richly complex. What a gal! Hollywood Actress A native Arizonan, Katie began her professional career in 1948 as a stage and screen actress. She performed bit parts in motion pictures in Hollywood; had running parts on major NBC radio shows, including The Great Gildersleeve and The Railroad Hour with Gordon McRae; was an actress and folk music director on The Telephone Hour with Helen Parrish in the early 50's. Folk Singer In the mid-fifties, Katie began a new career as a singer in cabarets such as the Gates of Horn in Chicago, The Blue Angel in New York, and The Hungry Eye in San Francisco. She began her recording career in 1956 with Spicy Songs for Cool Nights, a folk album. In the next three years, Katie recorded two albums of psycho-therapy parodies, Songs of Couch and Consultation and Bed of Neuroses. When Katie began exploring the Colorado River and Glen Canyon (before it was dammed), she began singing the songs of the rivers and the canyons and began composing songs of her own. She stopped performing in smoky cabarets and began performing in colleges and other concert venues throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. In 1964, she recorded Folk Songs of the Colorado River for Folkways. Katie re-published it in 1976 as Colorado River Songs. In 1975, Katie recorded Love’s Little Sisters, a collection of folk songs about the early American ‘ladies of the night,’ in Mickey Hart’s (Grateful Dead) studio in Novato, California. Folklorist: Songs of the Cowboys Noel: Highlight the following quote---maybe by putting it flush left??? Actor and singer Burl Ives said: “The best cowboy singer I know is a girl—Katie Lee”—Burl Ives While Katie was touring the country as a folk singer, she interviewed cowboy songwriters and researched the roots of traditional cowboy songs. She wrote what has become a classic: Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle: A History of the American Cowboy in Song, Story and Verse. She recorded many of these songs in a two-album set by the same name in Mickey Hart’s (Grateful Dead) studio in Novato, California. During the nineteen eighties and nineties, Katie was a featured performer at cowboy poetry festivals in such cities as Elko, Nevada, Austin, Texas, and Ruidoso, New Mexico. The festivals revived the West’s great legacy of cowboy songs, which are different from country western songs, which Katie loathes. “Country and Western is neither of either,” Katie once said in an article in folk song magazine Sing Out! “Its lyrics are about tight miserable places like phone booths, dingy bars, and stuffy bedrooms and some poor twit whose wife or girlfriend just dumped him.” In conjunction with her book, Katie made an award-winning television documentary, The Last Wagon, which celebrated the lives of Gail Gardner and Billy Simon, two Arizona cowboy legends. The film won the 1972 Cine Golden Eagle Award. She recorded two CDs of western songs— His Knibbs and the Badger and Fenced—for her own label, Katydid Books and Music. Glen Canyon Ever since Glen Canyon was buried by Reservoir Powell in the nineteen sixties, Katie Lee has sung, stomped, photographed, written about, and fought to restore the magic of Glen Canyon and to let the Colorado River run free. Katie held a knife-edged anger and bitter sadness when Glen Canyon was drowned by Powell Reservoir (which she refers to as ‘Rez Foul’). These were difficult emotions to write from and she didn’t try until the nineteen eighties when she spilled her feelings into a thinly disguised novel. After it was rejected by half a dozen or so publishers, Katie decided to follow the advice of her friend Edward Abbey and write a nonfiction book about her travels in Glen Canyon. Her considerable body of work on Glen Canyon includes the book trilogy Glen Canyon Betrayed, Sandstone Seduction and The Ghosts of Dandy Crossing; her CDs, Colorado River Songs, and Glen Canyon River Journeys; and her DVD, Love Song to Glen Canyon—all paeans to the magic of a canyon that is now lost under the waters of Reservoir Powell. Glen Canyon Betrayed was first published as All My Rivers are Gone: A Journal of Discovery through Glen Canyon (1998) with an introduction by author Terry Tempest Williams. In 2006, the book was re-released with a new title, Glen Canyon Betrayed, and added an index and afterword. In conjunction with the book, Katie published a CD, Glen Canyon River Journeys, readings from Glen Canyon Betrayed, interspersed with songs. In 2004, Sandstone Seduction-Rivers and Lovers, Canyons and Friends was published by Johnson Books. This collection of essays are about events that shaped and inspired her life. Link to store The Ghosts of Dandy Crossing, published in 2014, is one of the few historical documents about Katie’s relationships with people that lived in Dandy Crossing just as the reservoir began to fill, irrevocably changing all their lives. (Dandy Crossing was a ferry crossing on the old Colorado River between Hite village and White Canyon village, about three miles downstream from what is now Hite Marina). Author Diane Sward Rapaport once asked Katie why she is still so attached to Glen Canyon. She replied, “It’s as if my feet are still stuck in the sand at the edge of the river. It’s where I live. This other life I walk around in all day—well, that’s a passing thing. And in many ways it’s my defense against the sadder mechanisms of life around us. And God knows we all need those mechanisms from keeping ourselves from going crazy in this mad world.” Maude, Billy & Mr. D—Western Folk Opera In 1956, Katie read an intriguing Western short story

One of the rare photos of Ed Abbey and Katie together. Abbey was mentor and friend and their lives wove around each other. Photo collection, Katie Lee.

Her career odyssey began in Hollywood and ended in Jerome, AZ where she now lives. She has published five books, including a trilogy about Glen Canyon, recorded fourteen CDs, made two DVDs, and has become much sought-after for appearances in TV shows and documentary films about the Southwest.

At 95-years old, Katie is just beginning to glimpse the legacy of her eloquent activism and spreading fame. She is a woman of uncompromising beliefs. She has followed byways she chose, each interesting and richly complex. What a gal!

Hollywood Actress

Katie Lee with the Great Gildersleeve (Willard Waterman).

Katie Lee with the Great Gildersleeve (Willard Waterman). The story she tells is that she got more fan mail than he did and got fired for it. Photo Collection Katie Lee.

A native Arizonan, Katie began her professional career in 1948 as a stage and screen actress. She performed bit parts in motion pictures in Hollywood; had running parts on major NBC radio shows, including The Great Gildersleeve, Halls of Ivy, and The Railroad Hour with Gordon McRae.

She was an actress and folk music director on The Telephone Hour with Helen Parrish in the early 50’s.

Folk Singer

In the mid-fifties, Katie began a new career as a singer in cabarets such as the Gates of Horn in Chicago, The Blue Angel in New York, and The Hungry Eye in San Francisco. She began her recording career in 1956 with Spicy Songs for Cool Nights, a folk album. In the next three years, Katie recorded two albums of psycho-therapy parodies, Songs of Couch and Consultation and Bed of Neuroses.

Katie Lee in her torch-singing days.

Priceless. Katie Lee as a torch singer, singing among leering cigar-smoking men. Photo Katie Lee collection

When Katie began exploring the Colorado River and Glen Canyon (before it was dammed), she began singing the songs of the rivers and the canyons and began composing songs of her own. She stopped performing in smoky cabarets and began performing in colleges and other concert venues throughout the US, Canada and Mexico.

In 1964, she recorded Folk Songs of the Colorado River for Folkways. Katie re-published it in 1976 as Colorado River Songs.

Katie Lee with the Great Gildersleeve (Willard Waterman).

Katie Lee and Josh White. Photo collection Katie Lee.

In 1975, Katie recorded Love’s Little Sisters, a collection of folk songs about the early American ‘ladies of the night, in Mickey Hart’s (Grateful Dead) studio in Novato, California.

Folklorist: Songs of the Cowboys

Actor and singer Burl Ives said: “The best cowboy singer I know is a girl—Katie Lee”—Burl Ives

While Katie was touring the country as a folk singer, she interviewed cowboy songwriters and researched the roots of traditional cowboy songs. She wrote what has become a classic: Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle: A History of the American Cowboy in Song, Story and Verse. She recorded many of these songs in a two-album set by the same name in Mickey Hart’s (Grateful Dead) studio in Novato, California.

Katie Lee with the Great Gildersleeve (Willard Waterman).

Katie Lee recording her cowboy songs. Photo collection Katie Lee

During the nineteen eighties and nineties, Katie was a featured performer at cowboy poetry festivals in such cities as Elko, Nevada, Austin, Texas, and Ruidoso, New Mexico. The festivals revived the West’s great legacy of cowboy songs, which are different from country western songs, which Katie loathes. “Country and Western is neither of either,” Katie once said in an article in folk song magazine Sing Out! “Its lyrics are about tight miserable places like phone booths, dingy bars, and stuffy bedrooms and some poor twit whose wife or girlfriend just dumped him.”

In conjunction with her book, Katie made an award-winning television documentary, The Last Wagon, which celebrated the lives of Gail Gardner and Billy Simon, two Arizona cowboy legends.  The film won the 1972 Cine Golden Eagle Award.

One of the best histories ever written about cowboys.

“A beautiful job, exact, comprehensive and witty. Should remain a basic history of the subject for many year to come.” – Edward Abbey.

She recorded two CDs of western songs— His Knibbs and the Badger and Fenced—for her own label, Katydid Books and Music.

Glen Canyon

Ever since Glen Canyon was buried by Reservoir Powell in the nineteen sixties, Katie Lee has sung, stomped, photographed, written about, and fought to restore the magic of Glen Canyon and to let the Colorado River run free.

Katie Lee singing to preserve wilderness and let the Colorado river run free. Photo collection Katie Lee.

Katie Lee singing to preserve wilderness and let the Colorado river run free. Photo collection Katie Lee.

Katie held a knife-edged anger and bitter sadness when Glen Canyon was drowned by Powell Reservoir (which she refers to as ‘Rez Foul’). These were difficult emotions to write from and she didn’t try until the nineteen eighties when she spilled her feelings into a thinly disguised novel. After it was rejected by half a dozen or so publishers, Katie decided to follow the advice of her friend Edward Abbey and write a nonfiction book about her travels in Glen Canyon.

Cover illustration by Serena Supplee, renowned artist of the Colorado Plateau. www.serenasupplee.com

Cover illustration by Serena Supplee, renowned artist of the Colorado Plateau. http://www.serenasupplee.com

Her considerable body of work on Glen Canyon includes the book trilogy Glen Canyon Betrayed, Sandstone Seduction and The Ghosts of Dandy Crossing; her CDs, Colorado River Songs, and Glen Canyon River Journeys; and her DVD, Love Song to Glen Canyon—all paeans to the magic of a canyon that is now lost under the waters of Reservoir Powell.

Glen Canyon Betrayed was first published as All My Rivers are Gone: A Journal of Discovery through Glen Canyon (1998) with an introduction by author Terry Tempest Williams. In 2006, the book was re-released with a new title, Glen Canyon Betrayed, and added an index and afterword.

In conjunction with the book, Katie published a CD, Glen Canyon River Journeys, readings from Glen Canyon Betrayed, interspersed with songs.

In 2004, Sandstone Seduction-Rivers and Lovers, Canyons and Friends was published by Johnson Books. This collection of essays are about events that shaped and inspired her life. Link to store

The Ghosts of Dandy Crossing, published in 2014, is one of the few historical documents about Katie’s relationships with people that lived in Dandy Crossing just as the reservoir began to fill, irrevocably changing all their lives. (Dandy Crossing was a ferry crossing on the old Colorado River between Hite village and White Canyon village, about three miles downstream from what is now Hite Marina).

Fort Moqui at Dandy Crossing

Fort Moki, an old Ansazi ruin, at Dandy Crossing, downstream from Hite Marina, and close to the entrance of White and Farley Canyons. Photo by Katie Lee

Author Diane Sward Rapaport once asked Katie why she is still so attached to Glen Canyon. She replied, “It’s as if my feet are still stuck in the sand at the edge of the river. It’s where I live. This other life I walk around in all day—well, that’s a passing thing. And in many ways it’s my defense against the sadder mechanisms of life around us. And God knows we all need those mechanisms from keeping ourselves from going crazy in this mad world.”

Katie Lee in Glen Canyon

“This is a way to truly be in touch with Mother Earth. I swim the pool with tennies, chimney up the crease to the vulva, throw my tennies into the pool and rest here, ten minutes or more—I wedge half way down and jump into the pool—no way out the top. Photo by Martin D. Koehler

Maude, Billy & Mr. D—Western Folk Opera

In 1956, Katie read an intriguing Western short story “The Rider on the Pale Stallion”, by Helen Eustis in the Saturday Evening Post. In 1990, Katie transformed it into lyrics and music and gave it a different title. She considers it her best work; and has performed it many times in concert to a spellbound audience. (Published by Katydid Books and Music, 1990)

Ballad of Gutless Ditch

Katie was always composing when she was on the road, driving in her 1955 classic Thunderbird. One day, the words to this wonderful free-verse Western adventure just fell out of the sky and became a powerful ballad that is full of the magic of love, lust and betrayal. Katie published 500 copies of a special limited edition signed by her and by nationally renowned artist Robin Anderson who illustrated the book with twelve etchings. (Published in 2010 by Katydid Books and Music)

Afterword 

Scholars and journalists can find a considerable archive about Katie Lee at Cline Library, Northern Arizona University, in “Colorado Plateau” special collection. Rare holdings include letters between Barry Goldwater and Katie Lee about the building of the Glen Canyon dam; two 8 mm films taken by Natalie Giganoux that show Natalie, Katie, Leo Walters and Frank Wright on a boat trip through Glen Canyon before it was dammed and so on.

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Environmental Activist and Author Katie Lee and her Triple Tizzy

Katie Lee, now 95 years old, may be seeing the edges of her considerable legacy as one of the Southwest’s most outspoken environmental activists and authors. She just returned from Colorado from a screening of award-winning film DamNation.The Ghosts of Dandy Crossing, Katie Lee’s newest book, has just been published by Ken Sanders’ Dream Garden Press. Hance Editions in Flagstaff has just released a special edition of a dozen black and white classic portraits taken by photographer Martin D. Koehler of a nude Katie at 37 years old in the canyons of Glen Canyon that she so loved. No wonder Katie Lee is in a triple tizzy.

Katie Lee near Dandy Crossing

The cover of Katie Lee’s book published in 2014 by Dream Garden Press (Salt Lake, Utah).

May 17, Katie Lee Reading in Sedona, Arizona

Katie Lee will be reading excerpts from her newest book, The Ghosts of Dandy Crossing Saturday, May 17, at Well Red Coyote, 3190 West Hwy. 89A, Sedona, AZ at 2. p.m.  The book is a triple love story: the affair between Katie and a cowboy/miner; the characters that lived in Dandy Crossing before the river rose to drown it; and, the love of the beauty of Glen Canyon that would soon be drowned. www.katydoodit.com.  She is one of the few writers I know whose words can weave us into the magic spell that the canyons of the southwest have.

Sharing the billing will be Diane Sward Rapaport, reading from her newest book, Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City. www.homesweetjerome.net

Glen Canyon Betrayed: Let the Colorado River Run Free

Katie Lee is a remarkable woman. Ever since Glen Canyon was buried by Reservoir Powell, Katie Lee has sung, stomped, photographed, written about, fought to let the Colorado River run free. She has inspired many to reconsider the issue of dams, particularly the ‘deadbeat’ dams that are have become obsolete, and to consider the considerable environmental damage they have spawned. The words “Dam Dams” is the license plate of her Prius.

Katie Lee's book about Glen Canyon.

Cover of Katie Lee’s book Glen Canyon Betrayed

Katie Lee makes audiences cry when she shows her photographs of the old Glen Canyon and describes what was lost. Her book Glen Canyon Betrayed is a paean to a place perhaps more beautiful than the Grand Canyon.

Naked Katie: Classic Portraits

Anyone who has ever hiked or boated with Katie in the wilderness knows she will shed her clothes as quickly as she possibly can, and not put them on again until she gets close to her car. In her words, [I have been]” hiking freely and in tune with nature for at least half of those years. When I met Glen Canyon it was love at first sight— a place far from the inbred taboos of our society— closer to a dreamland than to reality. I have never posed as a model and am not doing so here…only doing what I always did in Glen Canyon— climbing, dancing, walking, touching, talking to the stone, swimming in the river, lying in the shallows, sliding down the falls, crawling through ruins, inching up crevasses, hanging from tree limbs, covering myself with mud, playing, singing, living with the canyon. I can always tell when a model is photographed in a place she’s never seen or experienced before; it’s in body language that can’t be hidden.”A poster of a nude Katie in Glen Canyon hangs in the offices of Patagonia (outdoor clothing). www.patagonia,com 

Katie Lee in Glen Canyon

This is a way to truly be in touch with Mother Earth. I swim the pool with tennies, chimney up the crease to the vulva, throw my tennies into the pool and rest here, ten minutes or more—then Marty clicks the shutter. I wedge half way down and jump into the pool—no way out the top. Photo by Martin D. Koehler

 

The limited edition of black and white portraits of Katie Lee at 37 years old is now available from Hance Editions, http://katie-lee.hanceeditions.com/about-us.

The Films: “DamNation” and “Wrenched”

In 2014, two films show Katie being interviewed and singing about the loss of Glen Canyon—“Wrenched” and “DamNation.“  Both will be shown at the Mountain Film Festival in Telluride May 24-27. Check the schedule around May 15. http://www.mountainfilm.org/festival/schedule

DamNation

The film “DamNation” is a documentary about the adverse environmental effects of dams

“DamNation” is about America’s lost and endangered rivers and the dams that block them. Producers Travis Rummel and Matt Stoecker dub Katie Lee“The Grand Dame of Dam Busting.” Stoecker recently wrote Katie Lee a letter: “I just wanted … to say how thankful I am to you for all you do and for being the heart and soul of our film. Every time we show it, folks come up after and are just in awe of you and teary eyed about what happened to Glen Canyon. Your description, humor, and pure joy while immersed in that beautify place is inspiring a lot of people to take up the sledgehammer and get ready for battle.” www.damnationfilm.com

Producer ML Lincoln’s film “Wrenched” is a gut-wrenching documentary about the community of activists that were inspired by the work of Edward Abbey, who wrote so eloquently about the lonesome and beautiful places of the Southwest. www.wrenched-themovie.com.

"Wrenched"-the film

Cover of the DVD of ML Lincoln’s film Wrenched.

Abbey fought with his pen to help prevent wilderness desecration from industries that care only for the money they produce. Today, profits from pollution are virtually synonymous with big business.  Katie Lee sings and talks her way right into your heart in that film.

 

 

 

 

Kate Wolf Meets Katie Lee: Fires Burning Bright in Old Jerome.

Jerome Arizona Image Series

Photo by Bob Swanson, Swanson Images.com

After a brief introduction, Kate Wolf walked onto the stage of Jerome’s old Episcopal Church with her Martin acoustic guitar, took a measure of her audience, let them settle into silence, and began her concert. No preliminary chat; no guitar tuning. Dusky melodies floated out and curled into the corners of the room, cloaking 150 people in a cozy warmth. Her delivery was melancholy, almost monochrome, the lyrics clear and haunting. After a few songs, Kate talked a little, then began singing again. She was a quiet enchantress, a charisma that came from an unassuming, direct heart. Her audience was spellbound.

Kate was one of a growing number of artists that chose to record independently of the large record labels. I first met her when I began to interview indie artists in the San Francisco Bay Area. She and other indie artists helped spark the revolution that was written about in my book How to Make and Sell Your Own Recording.

The Episcopal Church had just been restored into a beautiful little theater with stained oak floors; wood paneling on the walls, a large stage flanked by heavy, lined maroon velvet theater curtains. The acoustics were so good that Kate did not need a sound system or microphones.

For almost two decades—before the Jerome Historical Society needed it for offices and archives, there were concerts, plays, lectures and historic symposiums. Perhaps the most well known person to grace its stage was Edward Abbey, the great Southwestern writer and wilderness activist, who introduced his movie Lonely are the Brave, based on his novel, The Brave Cowboy.

After the audience bought some of her vinyl records and thinned out, I introduced her to Kate to Katie Lee. Katie was 64 years old, dressed in a wild combo of orange, turquoise, bright maroon, charisma and feistiness writ large. It was as though a doe-eyed fawn was meeting a peacock.

Katie was in her sixties, the reigning elder of some twenty iconoclastic songwriters and musicians that had moved to Jerome in the late sixties and seventies. Shewas an author and folk singer that wrote and sang about the loss of the real cowboys (not those fake Gene Autrey types), wilderness and the tragic drowning of Glen Canyon, replaced by the Lake Powell reservoir, which Katie calls ‘Rez Foul,’ or ‘Loch Latrine.’ Her car license plate reads ‘Dam dams.’ There’s no mistake about how Katie feels about anything. “Tact is a fucking waste of time,” she once told me.

Katie was sharply blunt. “Kate, you’re a hell of a songwriter, but I couldn’t understand all your lyrics. Sometimes you mumble. You need to learn to enunciate. Lyrics are your most important strength, but if nobody can understand them, you are singing to fresh air. Come by my house tomorrow and I’ll help you as I was helped by some of the top professionals in the industry.”

I was taken aback, as used to Katie’s outspokenness as I was. Kate was unfazed, recognizing a critique given from another professional.

The women became instant friends, a mutual spark between two remarkable artists.
Both were fiercely independent women who shared a love of wild flowing rivers and the importance of finding a sense of rootedness in wilderness places. Both were consummate wordsmiths.

Katie arranged for Kate to stay a few more days at the house of a friend of hers across the street. A few days later, at ten o’clock in the evening, just as Katie was getting ready for bed, she heard a knock on the door. A very excited Kate wanted to play her newest song, “Old Jerome.”

The song captures the eerie stillness of a town still waking up to its new identity and the magic hold that it has on almost anyone who has ever lived there.


OLD JEROME
Words and music by Kate Wolf. Copyright 1983 by Another Sundown Publishing Company (BMI). Lyrics reprinted with permission.

Drinking early morning coffee,
talking with good friends,
and walking the streets of rough cut stone

She was once a miners’ city,
now the ghost of a dying town,
but there’s a fire burning bright in old Jerome.

Some have come for fortune,
some have come for love
and some have come for the things they cannot see

Now the grass is green and growing
where the gardens once had died
and the birds sing in the young Ailanthus trees

And they say that once you live here,
You never really go
‘cause she’ll have a hold on you until you die

With her ground moving crazy,
Her fierce wind blowing free
And her ruins standing proud against the sky

Houses cling to mountains
like miners cling to dreams
they hold on so long and then they just let go

And this mountain she’s your mistress,
you’ll ride her ’til you fall
and wash down to the valley far below.

There are stories that tell on Cleopatra
There are stories that never can be told
The wind and the rain sing their mountain lullaby
The copper shines like Arizona gold

And her walls stand strong and silent,
Starin’ out with empty eyes
like beggars blind and lame that do no harm

With their empty rooms that hold
the old town’s memories
and their doorways that reach out like empty arms

In the streets the children play,
climbing up the crooked stairs,
and lovers touch and turn to go back home

And the sound of hammers echo
in the once forgotten halls
and hope stirs in the heart of old Jerome

The moon shines bright on Cleopatra
Where the mines lie sleeping far below
The wind and the rain sing their mountain lullaby
And the copper shines like Arizona gold

“She strolled the cobblestones and got the pictures in her head,” said Katie. “We yakked until well after midnight.”

Katie loved the song so much she etched one of its verses into fresh concrete outside her writing studio and sent Kate a photo of it. In 1987, Katie persuaded the town of Jerome to adopt it as its official anthem. Katie Lee performed ‘Old Jerome’ on the TV special “Portraits of America.” (You can read more about Katie’s books, music and activism at her website: <a href="http://www.katydoodit.com.)

Kate was already infected with the leukemia that would cause her death in 1986. To her mind, she was infected in 1979 after visiting America’s partial nuclear meltdown in one of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactors in Pennsylvania.

“The Government killed her just like it did my dad,” said Katie. “He was healthiest man in the world, but in the fifties, he was living on the edge of the site near Las Vegas where the atom bomb was tested.” (The people and children that were infected with strange cancers from those tests are called downwinders. As an aside, the great activist and conservationist, Terry Tempest Williams, who wrote the introduction to Katie’s book Glen Canyon Betrayed, wrote about how her mother and sister was similarly infected by those same tests in her book, Refuge: an Unnatural History of Family and Place.)

In the year before she died, Kate Wolf’s career began to skyrocket. She was asked to perform at many of the key folk festivals in the Unites States and Canada. Her records were selling in the tens of thousands.

Kate sings “Old Jerome” on her album “The Wind Blows Wild,” released posthumously. You can hear Kate sing the song on https://myspace.com/katewolfmusic/music/song/old-jerome-live-kpfa-berkeley-ca-29077446

Recognition of the fine quality of Kate Wolf’s songwriting continues to this day. Artists such as Emmy Lou Harris and Nancy Griffith have recorded her songs. Since 1996, a Kate Wolf Memorial music festival is been held each summer in Northern California. More information about Kate, her music, and the festival are found at http://www.katewolf.com/festival.

(This vignette will be included in Diane Sward Rapaport’s new book, Home Sweet Jerome, Rescuing a Town from its Ghosts, forthcoming Spring 2014 from Johnson Books (Big Earth Publishing).