JULY 29, 2010

Catherine Carlson is Pierce 1860 Days Grand Marshal

Catherine Carlson with her dog, Dexter. Catherine is wearing one of this yearís 1860 Days T-shirts.   This is an autobiography Catherine Carlson, the 2010 Pierce 1860 Days Grand Marshal, wrote for this yearís Pierce 1860 Days program. Pierce 1860 Days is Aug. 6-8

   Wow! What beautiful views! But this winding road? Are we there yet? We (my husband and our four children) had traveled Highway 12, but had never before ventured across the Clearwater River at Greer. This time-April, 1968-in our í62 Ford station wagon, we were checking out Pierce and the availability of housing.

   My husband, Vernon (PeeWee) Carlson, had been hired as a mechanic by J.E. Wall Logging. His employment began immediately. The children and I moved from Montana in mid-August, 1968, to a house in the Whispering Pines where I still live. The house had been occupied briefly, but no lawn had been planted, and the bank at the rear of the lot, newly excavated, barren of vegetation and rich in mud, was a source of joy to our young sons. Muddy, orange clay and what seemed like two weeks of constant rain didnít delight their mother!

   Soon the beauty of autumn followed by snow-laden evergreens, seemed a bit of paradise. The sheer amount of snow was sometimes overwhelming, but the relatively small amount of wind, compared to that which I had experienced growing up in western North Dakota and my husband and I both experienced while living in north central Montana more than made up for dealing with so much snow.

   Sharing the above, I think, picks up something akin to the experiences of those who hadnít grown up here, but moved to the area from various locations.

   Itís neither the weather nor the beauty of nature that is most important, but the character and spirit of the people that make a community as special as Pierce.

   When we moved to Pierce, our children were entering 2nd, 4th 6th and 7th grades. They finished their elementary years in the old school on the hill, and all graduated from Timberline High School. Carol, Mary Jo, and John survive. Their brother, Monte, died suddenly in 1985 at age 28 from a heart attack. There are 14 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Vernon Carlson was diagnosed with cancer in January, 1973 and passed away in June of the same year, at age 45. He had begun working as a heavy duty mechanic at Potlatch Headquarters unit in 1970.

   I graduated from North Dakota State University, Fargo, in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science degree-Secondary Education (Science and Home Economics), teaching for a few years in North Dakota and Montana before our children started arriving. After Vernonís death, I worked at Jaype from July, 1973 through 1975. In 1976, I returned to college to earn the credits needed to re-certify, this time at the elementary level. From September, 1976, I was employed at various grade levels in Pierce and Weippe until retiring in December, 1993. In 1995, I returned to Weippe Elementary as a part-time aide through June, 2001.

   At the community level, Iíve usually been a participant rather than a leader, trying to be available when called upon to help with various projects and activities. I certified as an EMT in 1987 and was active for a few years. An activity which has been the source of lots of fun is the Hilltop Theater Group - the Haw Hee usually in early December and a melodrama during the Camas Festival in Weippe on Memorial Day weekend in May.

   An annual project, which Iíve been part of for many years is the Pierce Community Calendar, sponsored by the Pierce Altar Society. Proceeds from this project go back into the community in the form of contributions to needs and emergency situations. 

   A recent activity is the newly formed Historic Pierce Cemetery Friends. I have been an active member of Our Lady of Woodland Catholic Church ever since moving to Pierce.

   The enthusiasm of relative newcomers to our community, and their willingness to work, as well as the very important continued support of the Ďnativesí is edifying. You are wonderful, amazing and appreciated.