Grandma worked at Big V and Grandpa played Santa. I’ve been posting their Christmas picture every year…
The top hat that belonged to my great great great grandfather, S.B. McCord, is in the Heritage Museum along with his photograph. He was the first mayor of Baker City and owned a blacksmith shop and then McCord Grocery on Resort Street where Sweet Wife Baking used to be.
But my story really starts with my grandparents, Ken and Lee McCord. They owned the Needmore Ranch out on Lindley Road where they raised sheep and hay. Their property included the Lemon Yard. It was full of old cars, washing machines, refrigerators and everything you could think of. My brother and I used to spend weeks at a time there in the summer and we’d go out and hunt through the glove boxes of the old cars to see what we could find. I hear from lots of people that my grandparents would give the shirt off their backs to anybody. Some people worked on the ranch in order to buy parts from the Lemon Yard. That was grandpa’s main goal. If you needed something and they had it, he would find a way for you to pay. I don’t even think the gates were ever locked on the property, either.
One memory I have of their house is that there was never ever an empty spot on the wall. They were always filled with photos and stuff. And lots of boxes! My grandparents were big collectors. When we were moving them out of the ranch and into town, we were all upstairs in the ranch house, and my brother was cleaning up in my great grandfather’s room and he had found this old wind up toy. It was a bartender. You wound him up and he mixed a drink and dumped it and then steam poured out and he turned rosy red. In the box was a note that was written by my great grandfather way before my dad was even old enough to get married and have kids, and the note said he was saving it for my dad’s son. It still gives me a little bit of goosebumps when I talk about it.
My grandma worked at Big V (now D&B Supply) and volunteered at the Heritage Museum. In the 70s and 80s my dad played Santa for Big V and then my grandpa took over and he was Santa until they closed down. I’ve been posting their Christmas picture every year for the last two or three years. This year, because of the pandemic and everybody being home, I got a lot more of a response. The reason I wanted to share this story was because there are a lot of people that don’t know the McCord history in Baker. There are so many new people in Baker now.
My dad was born and raised in Baker. He remembers swimming in the Natatorium before it switched and became the Heritage Museum. There was a kid who jumped off the balcony into the swimming pool and got seriously injured. My dad worked for Petra Lane for years and he traveled a lot. I was born in Chelan, Washington and then raised in Union. I was living in La Grande when I met my husband and we got married in Baker City. We moved to Boise for four years and then we came back to Baker. My dad never in his wildest dreams thought any of his kids would come back to live and raise their family in Baker! But my husband and I like raising our kids here and having lots of relatives and family friends close by.