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MEEKER I Perhaps the greatest quality of the people who homesteaded the White River valley in the early 1900s to make a life for themselves was perseverance. The second greatest quality was their innovative methods for earning money.
The tough folks knew the growing season was short and the winters were long, but they learned that from late spring through hunting season they had something people were willing to travel far and pay well for: hunting and fishing.
Those who came to take advantage of the hunting hot spot included doctors, lawyers, oil tycoons and politicians. The hunting and fishing industry created opportunities for families to not only survive, but even to flourish during the peak tourist times.
One resort that did just that was the Sizemore Resort, owned and operated originally by Oscar and Lola (Dade) Sizemore.
Oscar moved upriver and ran the mail route to Marvine with his father-in-law before starting the resort in 1928. He was known for his work ethic and ability to do anything needed to keep the resort operating. He even helped pack camps to the lake house, which could house up to 20 guests. The only way to get the stove, refrigerator and other supplies to the cabin was via pack horses.
One horse, “Grand,” was part draft horse and was absolutely priceless for his ability to lead the two-horse team rigged to pack these heavy loads, not side by side, but in line with log poles on either side of the horse with the weight between the two animals. The poles were not flexible, so the lead horse had to walk sideways or “sidepass” in certain areas to get the load around a bend or bear all the weight going up a hill.
It was truly a feat to simply get the conveniences that the guests were accustomed to up to the lake house.
The Sizemores not only took guests to their lake house via horse, but they had 12 guest cabins across the river from the current Fritzlan’s Lodge and Sizemore Ranch.
Lola often cooked for the guests, and people remember her being a phenomenal cook. She and Oscar worked extremely hard during the tourist season, and the ranch could host more then 50 people at one time.
The people they met and friends they made were a highly rewarding aspect of their work. Business ebbed and flowed with the national economy, staying very busy in the 1920s but decreasing throughout the 1930s and the Great Depression.
By the late 1940s, business began to pick back up and the resort once again stayed busy during the peak seasons. Oscar’s son, Roy, joined the business in 1956, and he continued to run the resort until it sold in 1971.
The Sizemores stayed through the winters when they could, but that was not always an option. Winters were as bad as summers were good. When the children were all school age, they moved to town during the school year. Oscar and Lola had four children.
Roscoe married Avis Peavy, whose family was also native to the North Fork area. Roy married Sally Sheridan, and they lived on the Sizemore ranch in the home now occupied by third generation Michael Roy Sizemore, who uses the shop next door as a small engine repair shop. Roy’s younger sister, Hazel, married Elton Edwards and they had six children — Linda, Elton Jr., Phil, Ellen, Patty and Paul. Daughter Thelma married Donald Moore and they had Joyce, Andrea and Kendall.
Recently, a fifth-generation Sizemore “outdoorswoman,” Sara Rose Welle rode a small snowmobile fixed by grandpa Mike.
Roy and Sally Sizemore had four children: Suzanne (Halandras, Jones), Charlotte (Mobley), Francelle (Robinson) and Michael.
The Sizemore Resort is an example of a family that endeavored to persevere, and family members were among the few who not only survived, but flourished, in an environment not suited for the faint of heart.