Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Grandpa Mattson around 1920.

Walter Albert Mattson (born 1912). Click to Enlarge

From the Fortress of Solitude
Overlooking the Valley of the Pleasant Grove

Dear Clan,
Tonight we see Grandpa Mattson when he was a young man. His full name was Walter Albert Mattson. I'm guessing he is about 8 years old in this picture. The picture was taken by Peterson and Wilson Photographers in Lead South Dakota. Walter was father to Luella, John, Linda and Marvin.

His father, Albert John Mattson (his real name was John Albert Mattson but he thought there were too many Johns in the world so he switched his first two names around), worked in the Homestake Mine. His mother was Ida Josephine Mattson. Walter was their only child. Mother says that Ida wanted a girl but was satisfied with Walter. In addition to mining, Albert and Ida owned five rental homes in the Lead area.

They lived in Lead's Swedish neighborhood. When Walter was around 10 or 11 (1922) the family bought a homestead in Montana, sold their homes in Lead and moved. This was the same ranch Luella, John, Linda and Marvin grew up on (at least until they moved to Spearfish around 1954 when mother was a junior in high school).

Some of Walter's classmates labeled him a bully, yet they still liked him. In Montana he attended a one room school house in Pinele. Pinele was quite the town. It had a hotel, a grocery store, a saloon and a one room school (the teacher lived at the school). The town died away when Highway 212 by passed it.

As Walter grew up his mother would open her home to the local young ladies. They moved to the ranch so Ida could prepare them for High School in Lead. She taught them deportment, cooking, sewing, how to set a proper table etc. It was Ida's Finishing School. From Ida's finishing school the girls would go to Lead for High School. I'm guessing Walter was always surrounded by pretty girls living on the ranch and I'm sure he was the center of their attention as well.

Walter was sent back to Lead, South Dakota to attend High School. Walter was confirmed into the Lutheran Church while living in Lead. Mother remembers he was also Freemason, reaching the 32nd level of Masonry.

Walter was a hard worker, being the only child and only son. Can you imagine life on that ranch? Now imagine a small family - a mom, dad and son working it all alone, at least until Alec Wenger, their hired hand, joined the family. Alec was an orphan who ran away from the orphanage when he was 13.

One interesting thing to note. While the family was moving to the ranch from Lead they got stuck in the mud (they moved to the ranch in a wagon pulled by horses!). They had to leave many pieces of Ida's fine furniture along the grass road. The wagon wheels kept getting stuck in the 'gumbo' (the thick clay of the prairie). The furniture was gone when they went back to pick it up.


A Comment from Aunt Pam:
I have seen that picture before, my gosh I loved that man. I met them when I worked at the Tasty Freeze in the summer of 1962. He would torment me every day, but I still loved him. I remember one New Years Eve, he hated being alone, so he and I went out for Dinner at Margie's Fine Dining.... My gosh, I loved that guy. I was fortunate to go to California while he was so ill. So Marv and I both got to say our good bye's.

Walter had a few flaws, like we all do. His was "story telling", not the bedtime type. Even though I knew that about him, I adored him.
Thanks for the memories Vic...

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