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I just remember how good it felt to come back here after being gone six years and walk down the street and see any number of people I knew say hello, and make those connections.

Mary Sue

I was born in Missoula, Montana, but I also lived in Pocatello and Nampa, Idaho, and then three years in Portland, before we moved to Ontario when I was in eighth grade. I first came to Baker in January, 1975, as the result of a search for a place to set up a pottery studio. And in October of that year I met my future husband, Bill Laird, who had moved here six months before I got here to work for the Soil Conservation Service. We left a couple times, once for two years (Micronesia and Honolulu) and later for six years (three in Enterprise, OR and three in Hilo, HI). I realized this was really home after we moved back to Baker from Hilo. I remember that first week back and just walking down the street, and feeling so comfortable. I just felt like, well, this is where I have put down roots.

As I was growing up we had moved a lot, and now Baker’s the place I’ve spent the largest part of my life. I guess I didn’t feel as connected in some of the other places I lived as an adult because we weren’t there long enough to make many close friends. It seemed like everybody already had their little groups. My husband and daughter were there and in Enterprise I got to know some other artists a little bit, but it seemed like it took more than three years to fit in – for my personality anyway. I don’t just jump in, I sort of stand back and wait for people to come to me. I guess I’m a bit of an introvert. But I just remember how good it felt to come back here after being gone six years and walk down the street and see any number of people I knew say hello, and make those connections. I really like it here. I especially like being part of the great art community here.

Really there is no ‘worst thing’ about living in Baker, but because Baker is small and a little bit isolated, I do like to get away from time to time. I traveled a lot before the pandemic (I was on my way to visit Japanese friends in Mexico City when it hit last March and canceled the last leg of the trip, returning to Portland). I’ve spent about 5 years in Japan in all, beginning with my junior year in college back in the ’60’s and most recently for 5 weeks in 2019. Japan is one of the other places I feel really comfortable and it has become a big influence in my life and work. My daughter and her family live in Portland and I visit them at least four times a year. I’ve been a widow for almost 16 years so they are very precious to me.