Put away your handkerchiefs, sit up straight in your chairs and most importantly slap a sideways grin on your face for we feel fairly certain this is what the person we are going to tell you about would want you to do. Ready? Good.
Mountain Mama got called home this July 11, 2021. It was a valiant argument with the forces of Nature. True to her nature, Mountain Mama fought until she decided to see what was on the other side of the hill, waved goodbye to her family and friends and was off on another adventure. But we digress so let us go back to the beginning.
On March 1, 1951, in Kalamazoo, MI, a baby girl was born to the world. She was born to Scotty and Mary George and her family would include her sisters, Lynn and Robin. It must have been a star-filled night for one of the shiniest of stars joined those walking this plain. This baby girl brought with her what would become one of the most infectious laughs many of us would ever hear.
From an early age, Kathy showed natural curiosity of what was going on around her. No matter how hard the question, she would ask it, committing the answer to an ironclad memory. Move forward all of these years and friends could rely on her to remember situations and, more importantly, people’s names.
Kathy had a natural fondness of social situations which she would seek out or create whenever the opportunity arose. One such opportunity was her father’s job putting on light shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Should you ever wonder what the music scene was like during those days all you needed to do was ask Kathy. You might wonder if that was during “The Summer of Love.” Indeed it was. The music, the societal changes, “The Age of Aquarius,” free speech, protests, women’s rights — all of it. The freedom that that magical summer allowed lit Kathy’s heart. During that time Kathy married and in December 1971 gave birth to the love of her life, a son, Christiaan. Ah, childbirth. Enter the “Momma Bear.” When she realized she was going to raise her son as a single person, she retreated to a place where she felt she could best do just that. Thus the beginning of the journey that would land her in Trinity County and fine tune the woman who would affectionately become known as a “hillbilly hippy.”
Having worked in customer and food service in the Bay Area and being something of a “foodie,” it was not that much of a stretch for Kathy to come up with a unique approach to starting her life in Weaverville. “The Cheese Shop” was located behind the New York Saloon on Center Street in Weaverville. Seems there was a need for a partner/assistant. Kathy fit the bill. Kathy and Christiaan took up residence above the shop and settled in to start their new life in Trinity County.
It was this venture that would catapult Kathy into meeting folks who would become lifelong friends. Developing new and lasting friendships seems to have been a trait that was just part of her genetic make-up. This was not, by any stretch, going to be the last place Kathy would be able to apply her growing knowledge of food preparation and sterling customer service skills.
In order to augment her single-parent household income, Kathy undertook 12- to 16-hour days working in several different restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations at one time or another. Her work at the Gables, The Cavern, Cox Bar School, The Outpost, The Fish Tail and Tops Market garnered her many friendships. You may not vividly remember the food but guaranteed you remember the service and overall hospitality you received when Kathy was there.
Several dear friends of Kathy’s have reached out to us to relate some of their personal “Kathy” stories. The following is an example. While working at the Gables in 1982, Kathy decided it would be a good idea to wear roller skates while providing food service. Evidently the customers approved and the tips for that night totaled over $80 (an almost unheard of amount for a tip at a small town restaurant 39 years ago).
There was one restaurant that may spark your memory of how good the food was. Mountain Mama’s Café. Kathy partnered with Al Grepo and the two of them hit upon the perfect balance of good food and hometown hospitality. Burgers that were nothing short of amazing in size and shape, covered with a coating of cheese. Signature breakfasts with pancakes that could be covered in strawberry syrup (with actual chunks of strawberries). And for dinner? Different entrees on different nights. Enchiladas, roast beef and, of course, lasagna. Where else could you get a bowl of peanuts at the table and be encouraged to throw the shells on the floor? A candle lit on the table covered with a cheese grater to diffract the light? Yep. All of those “touches” allowed Kathy to express herself. She was indeed “Mountain Mama” and loved living up to that persona.
On Valentine’s Day in 1980, Kathy had a “special” date planned. Seems she had met someone who made her laugh, had a genuine good heart and was a tad beyond handsome. Someone who was willing to tell her she could “be herself.” That’s right, enter Paul Adams. The second “love of her life.” (Son Christiaan of course remained the first.) Since CBs were a main mode of communications during that time, she chose the “handle” for them to use. Paul became “Grizzly Adams” and Kathy “Thunder Thighs.” If you close your eyes for a moment, you can hear her laughter recounting those times.
They set up housekeeping in Junction City in 1982 and decided to get married. June 12, 1982, must have been a lovely day in many ways. Friends and family gathered in Ripstein Meadow up Canyon Creek. Somehow a piano had been brought to the meadow and local pianist, Billy King, provided the music. Tie-dye sheets had been placed around as canopies to shade the 200 some-odd guests. Perfect setting for our “hillbilly-hippy.” Kathy would recount she cried upon seeing all assembled to be part of their special day. After she and Paul exchanged their vows, there was a collective cheering and applause. Christiaan got his Pa and Kathy got her Grizzly Adams.
While Kathy and Paul set about making Junction City their home, they joined with like-minded folks who were integral in cultivating the “community” many of us enjoy today. Both were active members in the North Fork Grange and the time and effort they put into that organization cannot be overlooked. Kathy could be relied on to head up just about anything that required the use of a kitchen. Her “can do” spirit made her first in and last out at almost every event. If you ever had an opportunity to work with her in the Grange kitchen, you knew she was in charge. The Grange Scholarship Dinners fast became the place to be. Her lasagna was “the bomb” and the Grange benefited. The Father’s Day Breakfasts were also a big hit. Kathy had a way of finding the right folks to help. She would actually entice folks with “Pamela’s making her rolls.” Who could refuse?
When the discussions turned to the possibility of a park in Junction City, she and Paul were right there with the “what can we do to help?” — jumping in and helping make the JC Park a reality. If there was a call out for volunteers to help serve lunches at the Golden Age Center, Kathy was there. When there was a need for a point person for food distribution in JC, Kathy was there. If there was a need that she could not meet, she knew who to call or what resource to tap.
Kathy was a big-hearted person who always had room for one more friend. However, all that knew her understood most of the real estate in her heart was reserved for her son and his wife, Angela; her husband, Paul; her granddaughter, Kassandra Kelley and husband Tim; and her four great-grandchildren, Ella (13), Jocelyn (8), Sky (5) with the soon-to-be-born Jayce arriving in the fall.
It was a vibrant life. A life lived with zest. A life in which every snack or meal was a feast, every visit a celebration and every trip an adventure.
Kathy’s family is requesting that in lieu of flowers a donation be made to the Adams’ Family Scholarship c/o North Fork Grange, P.O. Box 5, Junction City, CA 96048. Questions specific to the Scholarship Fund or the Grange can be directed to Duncan McIntosh at 707-599-0002.
Kathy’s family is planning “Kathy’s BIG Party” for Sept. 3. Location will be the North Fork Grange on Dutch Creek Road in Junction City. Doors open at 5 p.m., starts at 6 p.m.
As the authors of this we will reserve the last word to/for/about our friend Kathy. Respect.