David was the founder and organizer of The Lemati Gang, Inc. In that capacity he worked with the BMD organizers from 1968 to 1974 and promoted the annual summer celebration through the activities and promotions of The Lemati Gang. As part of the 50th Golden Anniversary Party in 2009, David provided the following background information on The Lemati Gang's history.
David says the primary reason for forming this theatrical group, with the assistance of the Cottage Grove Riding Club, was to provide entertainment for the free train rides provided by Georgia Pacific during Bohemia Mining Days on the Oregon Pacific & Eastern Railroad, which originated on South 10th Street in Cottage Grove and took passengers to a turnaround in Culp Creek.
Following the 1968 season of entertaining the train patrons The Gang expanded its overall operation to include "Old West" theatrical skits in the main "Bohemia City" core area. We built a portable 'jail' that also served as a 'bank' and our general meeting and storage place for props and gear. Later, the organization expanded its operation to include a variety of false storefronts similar to movie sets adding realism to the shows to further entertain the BMD audiences.
"The Gang's success throughout Oregon was the direct result of a group of talented amateur and most effective local thespians dedicated to entertaining visitors to our city," David said. "Each player adopted a role and then honed and molded their own persona into a believable character around which various skits were designed and performed. The skits involved humor, never used vulgar or off-color scenarios or profanity and the 'characters' always played to the audience."
David added that The Gang's success opened a prime opportunity for the organization to further expand its operation to include traveling to other Oregon cities and towns participating in their annual celebrations and promoting Bohemia Mining Days. Several of those celebrations were: Canyonville's Pioneer Days; The Springfield Broiler Festival; Phil Sheridan Days; The Sister's Rodeo; and the Pendelton Roundup as a Main Street Show attraction.
When asked what his favorite BMD memory was he said, "Holding up the OP&E train rides during BMD. Once word got out about the train 'robberies' the already popular weekend rides became THE big event during BMD -- along with the Prospectors & Golddiggers' Miner's Breakfast at Bohemia Saddle's Ray Nelson Park in the Bohemia Mining District."
Photograph courtesy of Cindy Weeldreyer