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Tom and Fae Graves -49ers royalty

Tom Graves swore he wouldn’t consider being the Grand Marshall of Winthrop’s annual ’49er Days parade until he was 85 years old, “which isn’t for two more years.” His wife, Fae, said she’d “never” be Grand Lady because she didn’t want the attention and others deserved it more.

photoFae and Tom Graves are the senior royalty for the 2013 49er Days celebration in Winthrop. Fae, daughter of legendary packer Clyde "Ole" Scott, loves to travel the world. Tom loves to travel the local hills.

The Graves changed their minds, thanks to a bit of firm outside persuasion. They are the senior royalty for this weekend’s 67th annual ’49er Days celebration. “I didn’t have any choice,” Tom told Grist in mock complaint. “She came home one night and said we were doing it.”

Fae said she changed her mind because “They’re remembering the old packers” this year. Her dad, Clyde “Ole” Scott, was one of the best. His picture, along with Tom and Fae’s and the Junior Royalty, graces this year’s ’49er Days poster. There’s a whole lot of valley history behind those faces. “It really is an honor to represent the ’49ers,” she conceded.

The only decision left is whether the Graves will be on horseback or in a buggy and that depends on how a troublesome knee is treating Fae. If she can ride, they will ride.

Post-parade, you’ll find the couple in the Winthrop Park with family and friends and greeting visitors. Their entire blended family is coming to Winthrop along with Fae’s sister from Oregon. (Theirs is a second marriage of 36 years and counting.) Fae had three grown children and Tom four when they tied the knot on Christmas Eve in 1977.

Reflecting on changes in the Methow Valley since they were growing up, Fae said she laments the passing of “a kinder, gentler time” when “everything was settled with a handshake.” You didn’t have these “mine, mine, mine, no hunting, no trespassing” attitudes.

photoTom Graves, center, poses with his daughter, Kathy Brown, and son, Dave Graves, at a recent Winthrop Chamber of Commerce meeting. All three have participated in ’49er Days for many years—this year Tom and his wife, Fae, are Grand Marshall and Grand Lady. Kathy will help judge parade entrants. Dave is active with the mountain man group that will be in the parade and have a display camp in the Winthrop Park all weekend.

“Basically, there was no such thing as trespassing,” added Tom. “You could ride from here [the east Chewuch] to Mazama cross-country. If you came to a gate and it was open, you left it open. If it was closed you left it closed.”

And people don’t “neighbor” like they once did, Fae added. “Nobody ever left Emma’s [Tom’s mother’s] house without a meal. Emma Graves was known for putting a meal on the table anytime day or night and she insisted that anyone who dropped by stay and eat, she said. “I think we’ve lost some of that kindness.”


Tom Graves’ family took up homesteads in the Methow Valley in the late 1890s at the south end of Pearrygin Lake. That would be granddad Charles Graves and two of his brothers-in-law. Tom said both he and his dad were born in the house that stood on the place until it burned down a few years ago. The land is now part of the state park. (The 100-year-old barn was dismantled last year and the wood recycled for the new barn at Winthrop’s Shafer Museum.)

Tom’s granddad hauled freight, sheared sheep, worked in the mines and did some bar tending at the old Duck Brand Saloon in Winthrop, according to Dale Dibble’s book, Methow Valley Pioneers.

His dad, Charles “Josh” Graves, was once named “Farmer of the Year” for his good range management and dry land hay production. The family milked cows and later raised some beef, Tom told Grist. “Everybody worked; worked and starved.” His dad also packed hunters into the hills and worked in the apples in the fall. “I packed hunters when I was in high school,” Tom added.

Packing into the hills and the cowboy life got into Tom Graves’ blood early. “I started guiding dudes at age 14,” he said in an earlier interview. He packed again in the 1950s, and while working for the Forest Service, where he also built and cleared trail as an employee, and later as a contractor. He’s been a smokejumper, too. And he’s still working building fence and plowing snow. He owns five trucks, including a fire truck.

Tom is a founding member of the Washington Outfitters and Guides Association and a founder of the Methow Valley Rodeo, which is held on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. Except for the two years he was in the Army, he hasn’t missed participating in a ’49er Days parade.

Fae Graves’ paternal grandparents, Arch and Cora Scott, came to Twisp in a covered wagon in 1913 with the first three of seven children and homesteaded up the Twisp River. Her dad, Clyde “Ole” Scott was the first of the Scott kids to be born in the Methow Valley, and apparently he loved horses and everything to do with them from the time he was a little tyke. He grew up to be one of the valley’s legendary packers and rodeo bronc riders.

Tom Graves idolized Ole and considered him his hero. “He was a damn good cowboy,” he said. Tom was a wrangler for Ole for many years.

In a story Diana Hottell wrote about Ole Scott for the Methow Valley News some years back, he said, “I don’t even know how many horses I’ve broken over the years. Hundreds of them. I sometimes broke twenty in a summer.” He also loved to sing, Fae said of her dad. He wrote a few songs and he played the violin, harmonica and guitar.

Her mother, Jessie McLean, was born in Bridgeport. Her family came to the Methow from the Big Bend country, where they had hundreds of acres of wheat land. “They came here because grandpa was allergic to the wheat chaff for awhile,” she said.

Fae’s folks met while her mother was attending the Winthrop School and married shortly after she graduated. They later divorced, but not before giving their two daughters plenty of good things to remember. Fae said she has wonderful memories of the Scott family camping trips to the hills. “My favorite was always Surprise Lake,” she said.

Tom, who still gets into the hills as often as he can, said his favorite spots now are in the Pasayten. He especially likes the scenery on the way to the old Pasayten Airport northwest of Harts Pass.

Fae spent her first 20 years with Tom as the Twisp office of a home health care agency. Now she puts her nursing and organizational skills to work at the Methow Valley Senior Center, where she is a core volunteer. Among other things she maintains the closet of medical equipment the center loans out.

She loves to travel the world and is married to a man who loves to roam the hills on horseback. “Tom goes to the hills. I go to Hawaii and it works out just fine,” she said.


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