Crater Lake National Park Centennial Oral Histories
Sue Sears Shroy, 1972-1973
When my family drove me up for my first year working at Crater Lake (June of 1972), I thought I was being left in the middle of nowhere. There were 12′ snow banks, it was snowing, and since they hadn’t cut out the viewing hole in the bank yet by the cafeteria, you couldn’t even see the Lake. I was feeling rather lonely but quickly met some very nice girls. Having gone to a community college, working at Crater Lake was my introduction to dorm life. Most of the employees at that time were boarded on the top floor of the lodge. I lived with 5 nice roommates, who were always trying to rearrange the 3 bunk beds and all our stuff, to get more space in the 10×12 room. As a maid/laundry worker, I met Art Garfunkel when some of the staff went up to change the sheets & towels in his room. He wasn’t very impressed with us. I remember the excitement when the boathouse on Wizard Island caught on fire along with part of the island. It really showed up at night! The fire was hard to fight because it was burning under the rocks. You could see the smoke for a couple of days. I overheard a tourist telling another one that the smoke was because Wizard Island was an active volcano. We enjoyed the show of a helicopter airlifting in the new boats. Like the other girls I worked 39 hrs & was paid minimum wage with room & board deducted. Some of the girls were very vocal in their complaints & rightfully so. You see at that time, if you were a guy (even if you were doing the same job as a girl), you worked 7 days a week, got paid overtime, and made quite a bit more money.
In the second season there was no snow at all when I started work in 1973. Instead we got about 12″ 2 weeks after opening the Lodge. I was the supervisor of the laundry. I was the only one who returned who knew how to run the machines & knew the routine. I worked on salary & was told that when I had my staff of 3 trained, I could take some time off. That season I trained 16 people for the laundry. Just when I’d get the staff trained & working well, they were grabbed for other work, mostly for gift shop clerks. I didn’t get many days off in 73. The staff turn over did have one advantage. I was able to get my 16 yr old sister, (Nancy Lynn Sears) a job there & she returned for 3 more seasons after that. Because of all the protesting the pervious year, instead of letting the girls also work 7 days a week & get overtime, everyone was only allowed to work 39 hrs. In 73, we saw a couple of girls working in the once male only jobs, at the gas station & the boat crew. My picture of the 1973 housekeeping/laundry crew is too small to see the people well, so I’ll just mention the names: Jim Huffsmith, Liz Nunley, Mary Vasquez, Jim (Kimo) Kimokeo, Luci Kirschbaum, Debbie Purtle, Lynn Sears, Caroline Berry, Jennifer Smith, Jan Kinersly, Patti Hoopingarner, Jane Clark, Janey Paulson, Sue Sears, and Allen Boge.
For fun on your time off, if you had use of a car, you could go to Diamond Lake, Klamath Falls, Medford, or go to dinner at Union Creek’s Becky’s Caféé (loved that huckleberry pie). If you were without transportation, you could get a ride in the limo (when there was room) and spend part of the day in Klamath Falls, or you could take the boat ride on the Lake (if there was room) or hike the multiple trails. Employees were encouraged to entertain the Lodge guests after dinner. I don’t remember his name but I always his enjoyed his presentation of “Nike Danger, 3rd Eye” from Firesign Theater. There was an occasional movie to see, I enjoyed the W.C. Field’s series. They also had dances for the employees a couple of times a season. At the first dance in 1972, I got a lifetime souvenir from Crater Lake. I was dancing with a guy named Dennis. Bryan Shroy (who worked in the camera shop) was dancing with a girl named Pam. Before I could blink, Pam had cut in & took off with Dennis and I found myself dancing with Bryan. Bryan and I were together for the rest of the season. In fact, we just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary.
Crater Lake would get people from all over the country. At that time, the car license plates all had slogans (remember Oregon’s Pacific Wonderland?) and I learned the slogans for all 50 states. I also enjoyed meeting people from different places and especially remember a group of tourists from Japan that were teaching people how to do Origami. To finish, I enjoyed the 2 seasons I worked at Crater Lake, enjoyed the fellow employees and I never tired of looking at the Lake because it never looked exactly the same.