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Blackfoot Valley Dispatch
Lincoln , Montana
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July 28, 2016     Blackfoot Valley Dispatch
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PAGE 6 BLACKFOOT VALLEY DISPATCH JULY 28, 2016 Ellen, A~on and Hope Brown sit together on a couch before an event sometime in the 1950s. Ellen's portrait featured on the administration page of the 1953 Lincoln School yearbook. Hope Quay BVD Contributing Writer In the course of a long and colorful life, Ellen Mulcare has filled many roles. Throughout her 87 years on this earth she has been, amongst other things, a daughter, mother, wife, teacher, proprietress, book- keeper, adventurer, out doorswoman and historian. Of those 87 eventful years, j/ bar and gave my dad inter- est in it." Charlie Russell was a fre- quent patron of that saloon, and it was he who told Len Lambkin about the Lincoln area. After making a visit, Len purchased a large sec- tion of property that includ- ed a store, post.office, and log hotel with an adjoin- ing section of rooms, and moved his wife and infant mom to Silver City - the train came through Silver. He put her on the train. Her parents lived in Great Falls. She stayed there until it was time for me to be born and come home. I think he prob- ably had to take the horse and sleigh and go over the hill to pick us up. The roads weren't kept open in the winter." Growing up in Lincoln in the 30s and 40s wasn't easy; Ellen remembered. Though the Lambkins were constantly working to improve their business and grow their assets they, like many others, suffered eco- nomicaily during the great depression. This was fol- lowed by personal tragedy when Ellen's only brother, Leonard, was killed in World War II. Later, the Lambldns Bar and Restaurant was lost to a fire. "The one that burned was my dad's bar and restau- rant," she said. man by the name of Heinie Opp built and operated it. He began to lose ideas about it, so he sold it to my dad, and Dad rebuilt it...and the dance hall he turned into a big restaurant. Lovely, lovely roughly 80 oftheni were son_to Lino in 1919. : .... pl e. It was December .... spent right here in! qo , The':Lamb leased eo!dnight, arid my Montana. the store and post office to uncle-he tended bar and Ellen was bom into one their cousins Paul and Elsie " hest yed there at night- of Lincoln's oldest and most recognizable families, the Lambkins. Her mother, Mary Preputin Lambkin, was from a family of Penn- sylvania coal miners who had come west in search of mining work and settled near Great Falls. Her fa- ther, Leonard Lambkin, was an English immigrant with aspirations of Western grandeur. "Dad came here to the states...in London he was working for the paper mills, and they sent him to Ontar- io Canada. He stayed there for a while and he really didn't like it...He became aware that Elsie Didrickson, who was a first cousin, and her family lived in Great Falls. So he rode the train there. Elsie's father owned a Didricksen, aixd took Up residence in th@ hotel oper- ating a boarding house style establishment out of it while building additional guest cabins. Once the cabins were finished, the old hotel's adjoining section was torn down in 1928 and construc- tion was started on a new log hotel. Now registered on the National Register of Historic Places, that log hotel still stands as Lincoln's heart today. As they grew their busi- ness, the Lambkins were also growing their family. They had four children, of whom Ellen, born in 1929, was the youngest. "It seemed just about all of us kids were born in the winter," Ellen said of her birth. "So, Dad took my he wgke:up and smelled smoke. He opened his ....... bedroom door and the place was full of smoke. So he called the hotel, got us up, said the bar was on fire. It was so cold., .they did have pumps in the ground all over, but it was so cold theY couldn't pump the water. It froze in the hoses - froze in the ground. So they couldn't do anything about it." Lost in that fire were twelve original Charlie Rus- sell pencil sketches. "Charlie Russell used to come to my Dad's to have a little drink now and then - toddy- but he never had any money. So Dad just put it on the tab. One day, Char- lie came in with his arms full of pencil sketches. Dad had them mounted, and he had just moved them ing there they had remod- from the old bar [in the old eled the one little room and Hotel] into the new one built aroom on each end. I that burned. Those pictures taught the first four grades." burned with it." .......... "I did teach about five Ellen remembered the years, and I loved it - espe- winters as particularly dif- cially with the little people. ficult during her childhood. There were 24 students, a small girl it was : four grades, and that kept dang tough," she said. "Our me hopping. At night I'd go old hotel...was built in the home and stay at the hotel late 1860s - a log building : and help my mother, and I - and when we had a bad always had papers to correct northeastern you'd get upuntil midnight. But I loved in the morning and there it, it was a good life." was a snowdrift on the During this time, Ellen floor. The snow came right received a letter from the in...between the logs. The same friend, inviting her winters were terribly hard. to visit her in Alaska, at the To go to school, you put on Army air base in Big Delta everything you could and - now called Fairbanks. In walked...times were tough. June 1953 Ellen decided to The winters were so long." make the trip with Afton Ellen was educated Brown, the mother of a through the eighth grade in friend. They drove over- Lincoln's one room schoolland on the Alcan Highway, house. She then attended which was little more than a high school in Helena, dirt road at the time. where students from Lin- "She said 'I think you'd coin would board with love this country,' so I drove relatives, family friends arid up," Ellen remembered. sometimes even strangers."Going up there, the road "Whenever I'd get a was nothing but mud. It chance to go home, I had rained hard- real hard. would," she recalled of There'd be motor homes boarding in Helena. "But,down in the ditch, rolled. Mother said 'unless you I made it, except...I had a have a ride to Lincoln and hole in the gas tank. Some- a ride so you're back in body said 'Ellen, put some Helena Sunday night, don't gum on it.' That lasted for a you come home. She didn'twhile. 'Put some soap 9n it' want me missing any classes was another suggestion. I Monday morning." put some soap on it. I made After graduating from it back as far as the air base, Helena High School in 1947 and there they took my gas she attended Holy Names tank off and welded it, and Catholic College in Spokane, I had them put inner tubes Wash., for one year. (I'd had some blowouts) "I missed Lincoln," she underneath." said of her time in Spokane. "We were going to stay "Oh, God, I loved Lincoln." just two weeks. But when While in Spokane, El- it was time to turn around len received a letter from and come back they'd had a friend who was also herso much heavy rain we got former teacher, maybe twenty miles the "She said 'Ellen, I have first day. The bridge was been made aware that Mon-washed out...the second tana is hiring teachers on a day we tried it, the road was special permit. You have to completely washed out. I have one year of college and said 'enough of that,' and I so many education credits.' stopped the car." So, I talked to the Sisters ' ffton says 'Ellen, what and...that's just what hap- are you stopping for, do we pened." have a fiat or are we out Ellen returned to her be-of gas,' she remembered, t loved Lincoln to teach, said, 'no, Alton, I've always "When I started teach- wanted to come to Alaska.