Idaho History Jan 6, 2018-3

Stibnite 1949 Radio Script

Part 3
Valley County, Idaho

Stibnite c. 1959-1960

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Radio Script and Photo Collections shared by Sandy McRae courtesy Jim Collord

Stibnite Idaho Radio Series Part 3

Peffer CBS Radio Station KGDM Stockton, California 1140 on Dial

From Mr and Mrs. Edward F. Peffer

This is the third and the concluding story in the Stibnite series compiled and written by Elsie Flower, KGDM script-writer, now on vacation at the lake-shore Summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward F. Peffer on Payette Lakes in Idaho. The Stibnite stories are broadcast especially for Idaho listeners from the Peffer CBS Station KGDM in Stockton, California, Bill Hill, special announcer for Idaho is at the microphone, Sept. 24, 1949.

Stibnite, Idaho, as a community, has no counterpart. Its people are young. More than 95 per cent of the 900 population is under the age of forty years. A high percentage of the adult population, both men and women, hold university degrees. There is no rent to pay. The amount of money invested by each employee in the house in which he and his family live, depends upon the degree of respect he has for property and also on his standard of living. Medical care is no problem in Stibnite. Children in the Stibnite Grade school, read with proficiency at the end of the first year in school. These are the reasons we set Stibnite apart as a community in a class by itself.

There are 130 modern houses in Stibnite, equipped with every convenience. Forty additional houses are classified as `not modern’. All of them are rent free and are available to employees on a seniority basis. Occupants of modern houses pay $12.50 per month into a maintenance fund until a total of $150 is built up. Payments then stop until such time as the maintenance fund is depleted to one-half. It is then again built up to the $150 total. The plan prevails in the occupancy of the unmodern house with $5 monthly payments and a $60 total.

The maintenance fund is used only for interior finish and woodwork, so it may be seen that the more careful a family is of its dwelling the less it pays in upkeep. There is a dollar a month asked for outside painting, but the company maintains roofs and foundations. The cost per month to the average employee is approximately $5, providing his family is careful and uses the house lightly. On termination of residence, the balance in the fund is returned.

Water is free. From November until the end of April, 400 kilowatts of electricity may be consumed free of charge, thus providing for the normal lighting of a house. Power used in excess is one cent per kilowatt hour. During the balance of the year 250 kilowatts may be consumed free to take care of the difference between daylight and darkness.

Dr. J. D. Mortensen is in charge of the Stibnite Clinic and Hospital. This is a modern one-story building with six private rooms and two wards of five beds each. It has a completely equipped modern surgery, X-ray department, laboratory, consultation rooms, maternity department and pharmacy. Dr. Mortensen, who is a native of Arizona, is a young man with three years active Army service and one year of practice in Boise Idaho. He has been in charge of the Stibnite Clinic and hospital for the past seventeen months. Hospital record show that in that time, 2143 persons have been treated or have availed themselves of the services of the hospital, such as free physical checkups.

In 1948, the birth total at the hospital was 46. The Bradley Mining Company sees to it that medical and hospital care is no problem to the employee and his family. Dr. Mortensen told us that bills sent out from the hospital are made out in two columns. One column gives the cost of such treatment if given in the outside world. The second column is headed ‘COST TO YOU’. This amount is one-half the charge prevalent in other places. If that one-half charge is over $25 it is again cut in half by funds from the Employees’ Voluntary Contribution and Benefit Plan. By this method, the employee or his dependents is given a bill which is one-fourth of the usual doctor and hospital bill.

Dr. Mortensen said that, in the past year, the company had made possible routine physical examinations, X-rays, and uri-analysis, free of charge in the interest of tuberculosis and cancer prevention. One hundred one fifty persons, who considered themselves well were improved in health, efficiency and comfort through the check-up. The company, we were told, has invested approximately $150,000 in the hospital and equipment, and spends $50,000 a year in operation. A staff of three registered and three practical nursed is headed by Registered Nurse Juanita Justus.

During our brief excursion into Stibnite we made it a point to talk to two of the teachers in the Stibnite Grade School. They were Mrs. Opal Sargent, principal, and Mrs. Grace McRae, teacher of the 4th and 5th grades. Mrs. Sargent is the wife of Harry Sargent, junior metallurgist under McRae, and now smelter foreman, who is credited with having done a lot of research on the million and a half dollar smelter. Opal Sargent, young, pretty and blonde, has been editor of the village newspaper The Stibnite Miner; she has been a nurse; and she taught in the Stibnite School when it was a one-roomed building. Mrs. Grace McRae is the wife of Idaho’s pioneer of the Thunder Mountain District, Daniel McRae, and the mother of Robert McRae, our personal guide on the Stibnite Tour.

The Stibnite school enrolls 137 pupils from the first through the 8th grades. Each of the four rooms of the school has from two to three grades under one teacher, averaging around 30 to 39 pupils per teacher. Mrs. Sargent and Mrs. McRae told us that the Stibnite School accents reading from the very beginning of a child’s education. All activities in art and mental periods are related to reading. At the end of the first grade, a child of six years can read. He also has some experience in number work, such as counting, learning to recognize amounts, and the meaning of numbers, By the time he is promoted from the first grade, he knows how to handle easy combinations of numbers in addition and subtraction. By the time he has progressed through the second and third grades, he is proficient in reading,

In California we had encountered eight-year-old children, who had reached the third grade, and were unable to read an ice-cream parlor billboard posted with the names of such flavors as orange, lemon and vanilla. It, therefore, seemed quite remarkable to us that the children of Stibnite are taught to read as the first and the essential step in their education.

We were told that the Three R’s are stressed in Stibnite and ‘Work’ is the motto of teachers and the keynote for children. School keeps five-days a week from 9A.M. until 4P.M. Primary children are dismissed earlier in the afternoon.

The nearest approach to California’s activity program in education, is what Stibnite calls ‘socialized recitations’. In these recitations the child dramatizes the lessen to be learned. For instance, Mrs. McRae’s fifth grade dramatized a history lesson with each child representing a Colony of the first thirteen; they formed a Continental Congress, made motions and seconded them and delivered speeches.

The school, however, sticks to the formal type of training and stresses the foundation of ‘reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, although it does give the child the advantages of music, art gymnasium and square dancing. There are always the annual Christmas entertainment, the school picnic, and the Junior Ski meet.

The recreation Hall provides motion pictures, and auditorium and stage and a bowling alley. Stibnite’s winter climate is rugged and severe. The ground is under snow almost five months a year. The floating type of employee does not go to Stibnite, as a rule, by reason of the isolation and the climate. Mr. McRae told us, that while the Company has done everything possible to make living conditions pleasant and reasonable in cost, the fact remains that only those employees who are interested in the operation and like the locations, are permanent. Their love of their work and of the environment, makes for a high class of steady employee and rather an intense community spirit and interest among the residents.

We said ‘Good Bye’ to Stibnite and the charming people we met there, and were flown to McCall in a two-place, 85 Horse Power motored, aluminum Luscom plane. It was piloted by Harry Sargent who is one of the Stibnite Villagers who owns and flies his own plane. Airplane travel and transportation form an important part of Bradley Mining Company activity in Idaho.

In December of 1946, Bradley Field at Boise was dedicated to the memory of Frederick W. Bradley, one of the pioneers in air transportation. The three Bradley brothers, their mother and the Bradley Mining company invested a half million dollars in the Bradley Field installation which includes a complete repair shop, training facilities for pilots; a restaurant and a Sky-Tel for aircraft travelers. Beautiful grounds surround the buildings and in Summer, meals are served in the patio of the Sky-Tel.

The Aircraft Service which operates out of Bradley Field, has twenty planes with Glenn Higby as chief pilot; J. I. Mayes, manager, and Les Randolph, assistant manager. Much of the service is between Boise and Stibnite. Bradley Field and Air Craft Service won the Haire award this year – a bronze plaque given in recognition of the country’s finest private airfield serving air travelers.

John D. Bradley, recalling the memory of his Father’s first travel by air into Alaska and the Yukon in the late twenties, says that he’ll always remember how thrilled his father was at the saving of time – the journey by land that consumed weeks was only a few hours by air.

In the year 1946 and ’47 the people of Stibnite published a booklet of information about their village. We quote a paragraph from the foreword: `To Mr. F. W. Bradley, his sons, John, Worthen, and James, the Yellow Pine Mine Staff and the Yellow Pine Mine employees, all of whom played a part in making Stibnite the outstanding operation and community it is today, this book is dedicated. Some time, someone will write a book telling far more completely the story of Stibnite.’ (end quote)

This broadcast concludes the Stibnite Story, compiled and written by Elsie Flower, who was flown into Stibnite as the guest of the Bradley Mining Company, and conducted on a tour of the Yellow Pine Mine’s Mill and smelter by Superintendent Robert J. McRae, to whom she is indebted for much of the material used in this story. This special broadcast for Idaho listeners comes to you through the courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Edward F. Peffer of Payette Lakes, Idaho and the Peffer C. B. S. Radio Station KGDM in Stockton, California, Bill Hill, special announcer for the Idaho broadcasts, at the microphone.

source: J Collord and S McRae (personal correspondence.)
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Stibnite Photos c. 1959-1960

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photo collection shared by Sandy McRae courtesy Jim Collord
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1949 Stibnite Idaho Radio Series Part 1

1949 Stibnite Idaho Radio Series Part 2
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page updated Sept 9, 2020