Many know Helen Louise Kerr Even Hedlund Even today, by her remarkable display of crocheted goods greeting folks when they come to Beulah’s annual Fall Craft Show, where she has had a table every year for the events' 27 year history. Howver, most will fondly remember her as the Beulah School secretary, who empathized with youthful woes, called mothers and fathers on their behalf, or issued lunch or milk tickets to the ravenous, surviving the chaos for 26 years. Aside from her sweet demeanor, what sets Louise apart in this little mountain town, is the fact that she has lived her entire life – 86 years and going strong – in the Beulah Valley! Her husband Herbert said, “You couldn’t drag Louise away from Beulah with 1,000 horses.”
Born on July 14, 1932 to Roscoe ‘Bud’ Clayton Kerr and Helen E. Klipfel Kerr, Louise lived the pioneer life upon coming home from the hospital to live on Northcreek cut-off, right next to Middle Creek. Her mother would brush snow off her baby blanket, as a very cold winter found its way through the minute cracks in the homes’s thin walls. Her sister Donna Patricia is 18 months younger, eventually followed by sister, Wanda Rae, 15 years her junior.
By age 6, the Kerr family moved a mile down the road to a 365-acre ranch on Northcreek Road, at the junction of Northcreek cutoff. “My family raised chickens, donkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits, pigs, milk cows, beef cows and a few horses. They raised barley, corn, alfalfa hay, wheat and pinto beans.” Life on a working farm/ranch was not easy, she will never forget shucking corn each night with her sister, Donna. While it was her job to bring the milk cows in each evening, her mother was adamant that she never milk a cow... and she never did. Louise’s parents preferred she pursue her education, and follow different pursuits in her life than the tough life of dairying and farming. The girls did homework by kerosene lamps and attended the old Northcreek School. Her teacher was Mrs. Rogene Donley, a total of three children attended the one-room school, which used to stand just across the dirt road from the Red Mountain Youth Camp.
The family’s home was heated with a wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen. Newborn ranch animals would occasionally find renewed life in the same warmth. Louise recalls with great fondness her mother’s homemade cooking – biscuits, cinnamon rolls, fried potatoes and onions; noting that her fried chicken was the best, and her Angel food cake... well, heavenly! As a child, Thursdays were a particular treat as she and neighbor kids would come over after school and enjoy her mother’s cream puffs, made from the cream skimmed from their cow’s milk.
Louise’s mother, Helen (daughter of Charles and Faye Klipfel who had eight children, including Herman, Beverly, Wesley “Dutch”, Emmet, Helen, Hugh Lee, twins, Faye and Fern), played the piano and her father played the sax for dances in Beulah. Her parents met through their love of music. Once old enough, Louise went to the Beulah dances held at the GayWay, and enjoyed Gussy Morgan’s Band. “We would dance until 2am and then I always went to work at 9am. My mother made all our dresses from chicken grain sacks and from donated clothes from wealthy families in Denver. We always wore our best to the dances.” The family participated in an annual Chuck Wagon Picnic held in the Songbird parking lot that saluted the pioneers. “My mother prepared us that the ‘picnic’ probably would be just beans, she didn’t want to hear any fussing.”
A strong man, her father Bud was a hard worker, and aside from the unending labors on the ranch, he worked several other jobs, including a hand at the Beulah Fox Farm, and a ‘hod carrier’, which is remarkable, given that he lost an eye due to a childhood accident, and had no depth perception. (Wikepedia notes a brick hod is a three-sided box for carrying bricks or other building materials, often mortar. It bears a long handle and is carried over the shoulder.) As well, Bud would cut blocks of ice for summer-use for his family and families around the Beulah Valley. The ice was packed in sawdust in different sheds around Beulah, and would last all summer-long. Ice was retrieved and utilized in the family’s outdoor ice chest, where they stored food. Louise noted the best locations for ice were the Youngren’s pond (across Hwy. 78 from the Siloam Road turn), and various Mountain Park lakes, the locations were kept secret.
Transportation for Louise’s family was courtesy of old Ford Model T.
She vividly recalled dreading trips outside of the Valley, up Beulah Hill – no guardrails, the road was rocky, curving, steep, and it came very close to the rock wall on the north side of the road. “Sometimes we could make it on the first try, other times, Daddy would have to go up the second half in reverse,” a well-known way to implement front-wheel drive.
As a young child in the depression years, Louise explains a simple, yet wholesome life. “I helped my mother can vegetables and fruit, and each fall we would fill the cellar. We dried our clothes on a clothesline. We bathed in a steel tub with water from one of two wells on the ranch.” The family’s outhouse was “a long way from the house. I remember coyotes howling. Oh, how I hated the trips at night!” There was a salt man, who had large bags of salt tied to both sides of a donkey carried from a mine on 12 Mile, the location he never divulged. There was a candy store in the 30’s that is just a stones’ throw from where she lives now on South Pine Drive, just after the first (unofficial) entrance to the Mountain Park.
Weather observations in her 86 years as a Beulah resident include impressive snowstorms, with snows so high that the shoveled paths to the barns went over her father’s head. “The creeks always ran and never were dry, although flooding was fairly common in Spring.”
Childhood games like ‘Kick the can’, ‘Fox and Geese’, ‘Hide and seek’, building ‘bug houses’ out of sticks and mud were how she, her sister and friends had fun. She rode an ‘old horse, named Pet, who carried four kids at a time”! One very hard Christmas during the depression, Santa brought a special dresser made from orange crates and old drapery material put together with love; while another year she and her sister awoke to an entire wooden bucket of candy.
Louise recollects that she must have been about 4 years old, when her parents brought her to a ‘celebration’. She now thinks it might have been a public event to advertise all the features of the Apache Girls Camp. In particular, she stood in rapt attention, as she watched girls jumping over what was likely a bull snake, and the ‘Snake Dancer’ inviting the crowd to jump over the snake, too! Recoiling in disgust, Louise motioned that her answer was an easy ‘No’.
The dawn of World War II, and the fear it brought did not miss Beulah. Louise can still picture her family (mom, dad, Uncle Emmet, Donna and Louise) listening to Roosevelt’s speech on the radio. “Even though I was a child, I still remember the horror I felt, because of their reactions from the speech.” She remembers blackout curtains in her home, and those of her neighbors. Gasoline and sugar rationing became common. The local ‘Mehring boys’ would give Louise’s mother Helen their sugar ration in exchange for her baking fresh cinnamon rolls for them. They enjoyed them so much, they also removed snow from the family’s driveway. At the time, Louise worked at the Pine Drive Store for Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, and while the sugar was rationed to local customers who had coupons, non-patronizing customers were told the store was out of sugar. Louise admits it made her very uncomfortable to lie, and she felt guilty about doing it. She worked at the Pine Drive Store from 8th grade through high school answering phones at the switchboard, pumping gas and selling various dried goods. She was paid $1.00/day.
There was (and still is) always something going on in Beulah. Louise described competitive horse races, complete with ‘friendly betting’, that started at Emmet Klipfels (corner of Grand and Central, and would end up at the GayWay. The finish area was also the site for Quadrilles (each of four groups of horse riders taking part in a tournament or carousel, distinguished by a special costume or colors) were memorable.
One fourth of July, circa 1936, Louise witnessed what might be Beulah’s very first melodrama, although she didn’t know it, and unbeknownst to Louise, the ‘men of the town’ (I remember a ‘Donley boy’ being involved) staged a show. The crowd gathered where the ‘Stompin Grounds’ stands today for a mock hanging of a horse thief! The boys hung a rope from a tree, and the crowd was very excited. “I remembered the horses were running, chasing the thief, guns were firing and a posse was organized for the horrific climax.” She expected the worst and couldn’t understand why her parents were laughing. “The posse caught the thief and brought him to the tree and then they simply laughed and went home. I was left with my nightmares!”
Louise’s parents made a huge financial sacrifice by paying for Louise to attend Central High School in Pueblo. She didn’t want to leave her dear classmates, but she knew it was her destiny, and she graduated in 1950.
Louise first met Edward R. Even in 1945 when she was 13 years old, eventually they would marry in 1951. Philip Ray was born on April 17,1955.
In 1958, when Louise was pregnant with her second child, tragedy struck. Edward, who was a flagger for the crop dusting planes, was sprayed with DDT and passed away eight days later.
Cynthia Louise was born later that year on December 2, 1958.
Louise married Lyle Hedlund in 1961, and son, Gregory Lyle was born on May 26, 1962. They were married for 30 years, when he passed away in 1991.
She married Herbert Even, brother of Edward, July 29, 1995, and they were married 22 years prior to his recent passing in November 2017.
Helen Louise Kerr was born into a pioneer life, where she knew great love from her family, witnessed remarkable life events, and survived unimaginable loss. She rallied for her children, choosing love and her faith at every pivotal corner with her gentle ways, and tenacious spirit! v
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