Be it the smell of pines, the grit of the soil or the jagged sunsets, those who are lucky enough to be imprinted with the Methow as their childhood landscape will carry it with them.
Place is powerful force. When people leave their childhood world to embark upon new territory, their frame of reference is hinged on intimate memories of a place, so sacred and personal, those memories become like whispers in the dark. The land is always calling, a constant beckoning. That call was strong and fierce in the nomadic heart of Deborah Lord, who recently returned to the valley after nearly 50 years of detours.
In 1952 her father, Stanley Lord, was hired at Allen Elementary School, bought 100 acres from the Estes homestead up Twisp River and brought his wife, Loretta, his young daughters Diane and 2-week old baby girl, Deborah, to Twisp to a start life as a dairyman and teacher.
A dairyman by blood from Snohomish, after his tour of duty as a U.S. Navy signalman in the Pacific Theatre at Guadalcanal in WWII, Lord finished his degree at Whitman College and moved to Twisp, where he taught for 23 years and was a long-time football coach. Loretta was the bookkeeper at the Twisp Mercantile, and the family was active in the Methodist Church.
According to Deborah, unknown to many, Stanley also played honkytonk piano. Lord was a charismatic personality, loved physical work, and cherished his students, whom he often brought to the farm to work. Every morning before school, Stanley would milk at least 15 cows, place the milk in the cream separator, and in the winter he’d plow his way to school. Sometimes, during heavy snows, he’d come home at lunch hour to plow again. In the early years, he used a horse and blade; later he bought a tractor.
Deborah recalls her daily dairy route with her mother when they would load up their station wagon with gallon jugs and deliver to their regular customers, socializing and sometimes getting home-cooked meals. After the route, Loretta would go to work at the Mercantile. Loretta, an adventurer at heart, claimed a piece of history when she stowed away on a B-29 test flight when she worked the runway at Boeing during the war.
Life on the farm included lots of animals, and after years the herd grew to include pigs, cows and horses aplenty. The rugged upbringing of Deborah’s childhood led to a life of with horses as a cook and hand on wilderness mule trains, packing, and world travels. She brought home with her a lifelong passion for collecting unique antiques, vintage collectables, art and second-hand items to sell and trade at her newly opened boutique — Bella Luna: a Nostalgic Journey. Located in the former Poppie Jo Galleria space on West Second Avenue, Bella Luna contains a world of wonders. Some items are personal collections, but Deborah has been in the trade business for decades.
After several years of life in the Okanogan valley and the Navajo Reservation working with artists and traders, Deborah answered the call home after her mother’s passing. Her homecoming has been met with old friends who’ve come knocking, welcoming her back, reconnecting, and inquiring of her mother and father. She’s been touched by all old familiar names and faces. Her father died at the young age of 67 in 1989, after a noble battle with cancer, and Loretta passed away at the fair age of 95 in 2017.
The Lords’ dairy is now land owned by Maggie Coon and Mark Wolfe-Armstrong. Incidentally, when Maggie and Mark tore down the old Estes-Lord farmhouse to rebuild, they invited people to come and take away scrap materials. Guess who came home with the shower fixture to build an outdoor shower? Yours truly. Deborah got a kick out of that, since when they first moved into the house, they had an outhouse and no indoor plumbing. Well now their once-modern indoor plumbing is outdoor plumbing!
Deborah’s spirit and homecoming have also brought some spontaneity and unplanned energy to the storefront. A casual invitation to play drums has spurred a regular event. Friday evenings in the front of Bella Luna, an organically derived drum circle has emerged. The now-regular gathering has enlivened the evening airways as the word has spread, and the numbers are growing each week. Drummers of all styles are welcome to join the beat.
Oh, and if you stop into Bella Luna for a trip down memory lane, be sure to check out the Lord dairy cream separator that Deborah has it in the shop — it’s not for sale, but full of memories.