When Isobel Kameros was a child growing up in New York, her whole world took place in and around her parents’ apartment in the Amalgamated neighborhood of the Bronx. Her maternal grandparents and great aunt also lived in the cooperative housing complex, which was founded in 1927 by Abraham Kazan in order to provide quality housing and a strong sense of community for the mostly immigrant garment workers. The Amalgamated Housing Cooperative exists today as a nonprofit cooperative that offers affordable housing — much like the Methow Housing Trust here in our communities.
Among Isobel’s favorite memories are outings with her father such as walking 2 miles to Van Cortlandt Park Lake in the winter to ice skate with him. “I wore a beautiful wool ice skating sweater with snowflakes that my mother had knitted for me,” she recalls. “My dad would buy me a hot chocolate after we were too cold to skate anymore. We walked the two miles home in the freezing cold with numb feet and up a long icy staircase.”
Isobel attributes her love of the outdoors as a gift from her parents as they were interested in hiking, botany and bird watching and took her on many excursions to nature preserves, parks and beaches. Isobel’s dream was to one day have a house in the middle of the woods.
Fast forward: Isobel and her husband, Doug Oliver, looked at their retirement future after his career as a long-haul truck driver and hers as a Boeing analyst and, with Doug’s big rig skills and both of their love of outdoor adventure, decided upon a traveling life in a motor home. They sold their Whidbey Island home that was being tormented with the noise of Navy Growler jets and set out in their new home — a spacious mobile coach.
After a few years of the traveling life, one of their favorite places to enjoy the outdoors called to them — the Methow. Isobel finally realized her dream when they purchased property in Mazama and built her cabin in the woods. The mobility of the motor home and the stability of the cabin provided them the best of both worlds.
This year, however, they found themselves returning to Mazama after too many snowstorms had dumped several feet of snow and putting the motor home to bed at the cabin was going to be challenging because the snow-covered, icy Ulrich Lane between Highway 20 and the pole barn. Sure enough, the coach slid into the barrow pit (that’s what we called them in Montana — the ditch along a roadway to provide drainage) on the edge of the lane.
Calls for help brought neighbors with tractors and shovels, but the coach wasn’t moving with this toy equipment. In fact, one tractor was also now stuck and it was apparent that bigger troops needed to be called in. A big tow truck from Okanogan made its way to the increasingly bigger morass and added to it when it became stuck, too. A second tow truck finally pulled out the first tow truck in the dark of night. Snow removal equipment arrived in the night to clear the lane up to the stuck behemoth and also became stuck in the unforgiving snow. A second machine was needed to pull the first one out.
Doug and Isobel spent the night in their listing home with one side down in the ditch and the other on the roadway.
Who will save the day since all neighbors on the lane were now essentially trapped with no way out to the highway? Jerry Palm to save the day! A go-to Methow big equipment guy, Jerry arrived the next morning to assess the situation. “I’ve got this,” he reassured, and returned a couple of hours later with reinforcements — his gigantic front loader. Neighbors came out to gawk and help, if needed. Jerry on the front loader and another piece of plow equipment went about widening the lane and drive to the pole barn and then returned to pull the big guy out! Voila!
Twenty-four hours later, the ordeal was over. It was definitely a show of neighbors helping neighbors for which Doug and Isobel were infinitely appreciative.