By Marcy Stamper
“I don’t know if people are making a fuss, although I have seen more people than in a long time,” said Enid Shaw, just over a week shy of her 100th birthday. “It’s a lot of attention — that’s all I can tell you.”
Enid Pauline Gobat was born in Pateros on Sept. 16, 1916, and grew up there, literally among horses and buggies. This week, she was visiting with her granddaughter Amber at her home in Carlton, sharing memories about a century of change.
Shaw moved to the Methow Valley when she was in her early 20s, after studying typing and commercial subjects in Spokane. She married Roy Richard Shaw (known as “Dick”) in 1937.
They raised their five children in a rudimentary two-room cottage that had once served as a teacher’s residence at the old Beaver Creek schoolhouse. They used to carry water up from the creek in 10-gallon cream cans. “It was a hill to climb, but not bad,” said Shaw. Dick also hauled water from town when he went to work.
When she was growing up, Enid’s family relied on a horse and buggy and didn’t get their first car until she entered high school.
“I had a good childhood,” she said. “I couldn’t have found a better place. I enjoyed every day of my childhood — even into high school.”
She recalled a leisurely two-and-a-half-day family outing from Pateros to Twin Lakes in a horse-drawn wooden carriage. “It was something — there was no umbrella or anything on top, but the horses were fast enough that it created a breeze,” she said. They spent nights at workers’ cabins en route. “They were little buildings for hired help, since they had manpower — no machine power — then,” she recalled.
Her family raised all their own food. They always had a dairy cows and lots of chickens, which were a regular feature of Sunday dinner. “We canned a heck of a lot of everything — we sure made a lot of pickles. On our table, we always had a relish or a pickle.”
On Beaver Creek they also had dairy cows — and later a goat — for milk. “Cream was our extra-special income to live on,” said Shaw.
After Shaw and her husband settled in the Methow in the 1930s, she worked “a little bit of everywhere, up and down the valley.” One of her most satisfying jobs was helping elementary-school students with reading, math and other subjects. “It was rewarding — you could see the difference and get them started the right way,” she said. “They just bloomed when you worked with them.”
Shaw is hard of hearing and lost much of her vision a long time ago, although she can still make out shadows and outlines, so she can identify people and objects.
She has never had serious health issues, so she was surprised to land in the hospital a few months ago after a weak spell. “Everything happened so quick. One night I was just fine — the next morning I wasn’t,” she said.
Although she broke some fingers years ago, she hadn’t been in a hospital except during childbirth. “I fell and broke my hand, but that didn’t stop me from getting my work done — I was just slower,” she said.
Lots of changes
Watching a century pass can be both a privilege and a shock. Shaw has been struck by changes in the types of jobs people do, by seeing generations of cars eclipse the horse and buggy, and by the steady pile-up of conveniences in life.
Shaw also said it seems to her that fewer people are settling in the Methow Valley, which has left many homes empty, she said.
“But the biggest change is when they came in here and made laws about what people could do and could grow, and where. It made people slow down,” she said.
The native land changed, too, she said, referring to the destructive Carlton Complex Fire two years ago. “It really burned a lot of land and houses. I had never seen anything like that before,” Shaw said.
Shaw’s youngest daughter died when her daughter’s three children were still young, so Enid raised Amber and her two siblings.
Today, Shaw lives with her dog, Lady, and is cared for by her daughter and two grandchildren, who live on the same property in Carlton.
Amber comes regularly from Spokane to visit. “She gives up her weekends and comes and stays with me — I couldn’t think of a better reward than having her come,” said Shaw.