What a Day!
Centennial Saturday — May 25, 1996 — attracted a huge crowd to our sleepy ghost town. Officials estimate that at least 2,500 people enjoyed the old-fashioned, country day. That’s perhaps more people in Buncom on one day than ever before in the Town’s history, even in the heyday of gold mining!
Many highlights produced lasting memories for those who joined in the fun of the day, which started at 10 a.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony re-opening the Post Office. Jacksonville Postmaster Nick Moon, his wife, Lorrea, and postal employees Patty, Lisa and Martha, all of whom volunteered their time, worked non-stop all day collecting and stamping the hundreds and hundreds of special cards and letters with the commemorative Buncom cancellation.
There was barely room to turn around in the Post Office as the unexpectedly huge crowd also packed in to purchase postcards, envelopes, posters, T-shirts, mugs and other souvenirs of the Centennial. Society members who might have thought they were coming just to enjoy the day were pressed into service helping with merchandise and food booths, the silent auction, parking and even with trash!
Country music sounded a soft backdrop and started some toes tapping among both the young and the young-in-heart. The group Good Comp’ny sang most of the day, spelled during breaks by Mark Nelson and members of the Rogue River Roundup, including Ashland Police Chief Gary Brown, who added variety with his Cowboy Poetry.
The arrival of the Valley of the Rogue Bank stagecoach was greeted with applause and a scrambling of children lining up to be among the first riders. For nearly five hours, driver Lorraine Rawls and draft horses Waylon and Willie from the Box R Ranch in the Greensprings travelled up and down Little Applegate Road providing a uniquely Western experience for hundreds of riders.
A FEW WORDS
A bit after noon, Buncom Historical Society President Reeve Hennion took the microphone to welcome the crowd, tell a little about Buncom, and introduce the Grand Marshal, Harley Hall. Harley’s few words were just that — about eight total — as he told everyone how glad he was to see them honoring Buncom’s history.
Jackson County was represented by Commissioners Jack Walker and Sue Kupillas, who read a proclamation declaring May 25, 1996, “Buncom Centennial Day” in the County. Lyn Hennion, one of the founding directors of the Society, read excerpts from congratulatory letters sent to Buncom by:
President Bill Clinton: “Your efforts to maintain the symbols of Buncom’s past will benefit generations to come, and, as you celebrate your region’s lasting cultural heritage, I encourage all of you to take advantage of the exciting events highlighting the preservation efforts of the Buncom Historical Society.”
Governor John Kitzhaber: “History is not simply what happened; it is the way what happened is remembered.”
Senator Mark Hatfield: “I am hopeful that for generations to come, the Buncom Post Office will continue to exemplify the importance of remembering one’s past in order to appreciate the present and future.”
PARADE ON “BUNCOM TIME”
The Buncom Centennial Parade, scheduled for 1 p.m., came into view of the Town closer to 1:30 as patient visitors learned the meaning of “Buncom Time.” Several tractors, including the ones reported to be the oldest and the newest in the Little Applegate Valley, paraded down Sterling Creek Road along with antique cars, a donkey, children on bicycles, horses with riders and others pulling carts. When the parade reached Little Applegate Road, it turned and marched back up Sterling Creek, giving everyone a double dose of entertainment.
Chicken and mushrooms barbecued over red oak coals by the Applegate River Ranch House were “so good, I didn’t mind the hour in line,” said one of the satisfied diners. The wait in line in the shade of the tall pines also provided an opportunity to make new friends and visit with neighbors.
FROM “BUNCOM BLEND” TO BAKE SALE
The “bake sale” table was another popular spot, with new additions this year of lemonade, Mellelo Coffee Roaster’s Cafe Buncom Blend (“better than Starbucks”) and Rising Sun Farm’s Centennial Tortas, delicious combinations of cheeses, spices, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, and more. Also, a special booth offered Valley View wines, especially labelled for the Centennial, for at-home enjoyment.
Visitors and participants who arrived in costume — from Postmaster Moon to the Gold Hill Historical Society and the Applegate Trail Wagon Train — added considerable color to the day and to the many photographs that were taken throughout the event. An Applegate Trail Wagon, with Linda Beauchamp and Jack Gundlach aboard, made a surprise appearance and offered rides, anticipating this fall’s wagon train along the path of the Applegate Trail on its 150th anniversary.
SO MUCH GOING ON!
As always on Buncom Day, the Chicken Splat contest, the door prize drawings, the petting zoo and llamas drew crowds as did the Country Store and plant sales, including a large selection from the horticulture class from McLaughlin Middle School. The booths of artists and craftspeople had a steady stream of browsers and buyers, who found unique treasures to enjoy. Face-painting, gold-panning, and demonstrations of canoe-building, wool spinning and horseshoeing were among the popular activities this year.
In the midst of the afternoon activities, a “Western Desperado” attempted to rob the Post Office, but fortunately was chased and caught by the “Sheriff.” No innocent bystanders were wounded in the shoot-out, staged by the Dalton Gang actors, and it may have been fortunate that Jackson County Sheriff Bob Kennedy, who had been at Buncom earlier in the day, brought with him badges to deputize a posse.
The mood was festive, casual and fun. Even the weather cooperated by producing a perfect sunny-but-not-hot day. Among hundreds of “best parts” of the day, most people there commented that it was just a great “country social” that was wholesome, old-fashioned family fun. As one woman said to her daughter, “I haven’t seen your dad smile this much in one day since I can’t remember when.”
“A GOOD TIRED”
Society member Vernice Hall summed up the feelings of many of the committee members when she said, “I was as tired as I’ve ever been at the end of the day, but it was a “good tired.”