By Jill Richardson
Melba Historical Society held their inaugural meeting on Feb 26 at City Hall with a great turnout of nearly 20 people. After years of dreaming and planning, it appears that those dreams are coming true.
“I always wanted to preserve Melba history. My house is kind of like a museum,” said 86 year old unofficial official historian of Melba, Madge Wylie. “If anyone wants anything I probably have it. I just think we need to have something to preserve these things.”
“What is interesting about the people that lived here long time ago is that they come home for things like our centennial celebration and Fourth of July and they don’t see the fallen down buildings, they just remember how it was when they were kids and when they lived here and how much fun they had. It’s just the way it is. We can fix that so everyone can enjoy those memories.”
Several people shared many stories of the old days in Melba. Ann Pettijohn Tomlinson “I grew up here in Melba. My dad owned the 40 acre property with the blue water tower on it. He was city clerk for 30 years and took minutes in this very building.”
Tomlinson shared a story of her childhood memories with the group. “There used to be old water tower made of wood. My neighbor Dicky Webb and I decided to climb that water tower one bright sunny day. If our parents would have known we would have been in deep trouble. He started climbing up the ladder and the higher I got the more frightened I got. But I couldn’t chicken out and let a kid younger than me climb it and me not. So we got to the top and could see all the way around the valley all the way to the Owyhee’s. One time my brother took a little Box Brownie camera up there and took panoramic pictures of the views. I don’t know what ever happened to those pictures but I would give my eye teeth to have them back.”
Scout leader Reese Leavitt brought several Boy Scouts to the meeting and presented plans to involve the scouts in preparing the building for the museum. Currently the board is looking at the old brick Agenbroad house that sits in the center of town. The board plans to address City Council about acquiring that property.
Each of the Boy Scouts was given the opportunity to ask any question of the panel of people present.
Sam Kaelin asked why no one uses the big old high school anymore. The short answer was that there was asbestos in the building. That led to the story from Melba resident Bob Miller of the cow on the roof of the high school.
“My dad told me the story about Halloween night, years ago,” said Miller. “Someone went across the street over by the Pettijohn’s place and “borrowed” a milk cow. They heisted it up through the ceiling in the theatre area of the high school and through the trap door. They put that cow on the roof of the school. The next morning there was some “mooing” going on and people kept trying to figure out where this cow was. Then they suddenly realized it was up there. My dad knows who put that cow up there and some of your fathers were involved in it.” Bob said as he pointed to a few people at the table.
After all the years of Madge Wylie being the unofficial official historian of Melba, at the close of the meeting she was elected as official Historian of Melba Historical Society, finally.
Elections established the board and officers with Ann Tomlinson as President and Curator, Bob Miller as Vice President, Jane Zeyer as Treasurer, Reese Leavitt as Building/Grounds Chairman, and I as publicity Chairman.
Membership to the Society is offered for $20 for individual, $30 for family, $5 for students under 17, lifetime membership will be given to any person over age 85 and who pays $100 or more. Organizations, businesses or associations are also encouraged to join. Membership dues are to go toward the startup, operation and construction of the museum. Contact Jane Zeyer for more information 495-2241.
The next meeting is scheduled for March 26 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.