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Child of Steens Mountain

Eileen O'Keeffe McVicker and Barbara J. Scot

Foreword by Richard W. Etulain.

6 × 9 inches. B&W photographs. 160 pages.

2008. ISBN 978-0-87071-297-5. Paperback, $16.95.

For Eileen O'Keeffe McVicker, born in 1927 to an Irish immigrant sheep rancher and a schoolteacher, growing up on a homestead made for "a hard, happy life with layers of riches." In her memoir of a childhood spent on the southern slope of Steens Mountain, McVicker offers an appealing, personal account of eastern Oregon history.

An "outdoor child" who never knew boredom, McVicker recounts the everyday adventures of life on the high desert. Images of Steens country — rugged vistas of startling beauty in every direction — are woven throughout her recollections. While vividly describing ranch life, Child of Steens Mountain also explores universal issues of parenting, making a living, and coming of age. The homesteading life built a child's character and confidence, and as she reaches adulthood, McVicker, raised to be independent and responsible, ultimately defies her parents to follow her own path.

In an afterword, McVicker's friend and neighbor, author Barbara J. Scot, who edited and organized the narration, describes the collaborative process — including a visit to the old homestead site — that led to this book. Historian Richard Etulain, whose own childhood was spent on a sheep ranch in the West, provides an overview of sheep ranching and homesteading in Steens country in his foreword.

Member of AAUP