Stories From Glacier National Park Employees: 1960s

My father, being a poor school teacher, looked at some sort of summer work to supplement the feeding of a family of 5.

A fellow teacher suggested the National Park System and as luck would have it, Glacier National Park was the only park that offered a position – as camptender at Many Glacier Campground.

This was in 1960, when I was 10 years old.

When I was 16, I was the youngest person hired at Lake McDonald Lodge (1966) and finished the summer as dishwasher at the Coffee Shop. Only Donna Hummel was younger and her father was President!

Asked back after getting that coveted “Christmas Card” from Glacier Park Inc the next summer, I was a busboy/waiter in the dining room. Could only work the last third of the summer of 1968, again in the dining room.

The Summer of 69 found me as head waiter in the Coffee shop for one of the greatest summers of my life.

Hiking, swimming, West Glacier’s 19th Hole and Frieda’s, it was just the best experience.

I’m still in touch with my dorm roommate Larry White and dorm-mate George Gallagher. Friendships that last.

I would encourage any college student to take at least one summer to explore this heaven on earth and make friendships that will last a lifetime.

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Working at Lake McDonald Lodge in 1962
Michael Holcomb

I worked at Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier Park the summer of ’62.

My wife of over forty years is weary of hearing about “the best summer I ever had.”…so I’ll employ your site to explain why it was true.

I had finished two years of college with no break, having also taken courses in the summer. This was at Bemidji State College in Minnesota.

I applied in the spring of ’62 to work at Lake McDonald Lodge as a dishwasher and my father drove me from Crookston MN to Grand Forks, ND, to board the train.

I met some gals on the train who were also going to various hotels, etc. in the Park and watched as some disembarked at East Glacier.

Then it was on to Belton where I and the others on the train were going to work at various jobs at Lake McDonald. We were welcomed by Mr. Erickson and soon we were off in his van and were immediately introduced to the beauty of the Park

We drove along the road as it hugged the shoreline of Lake McDonald on our left, while magnificent forests were on our right…and mountains in every direction.

This was when the old original hotel was the male dorm and I worked in the Grill, which was many years later to become the workers rec room.

My room mates were: Keith Paetznick, who attended St. Cloud State in Minnesota, Joe Dooley, attending Marian Military Institute, and my fellow dishwasher, Curt Rossow, who attended the University of Indiana.

I was very happy to find Jill Janecky was working at the grill as a waitress. I had met her in high school in Crookston, MN, the single year I attended school there.

She was the kind of person that bouyed everyone’s spirits.

Another lovely woman I also met there was Julia Chatterton from Grinnell College, whose beauty and brains enchanted me that entire summer and beyond.

I’m sure everyone that’s worked in Glacier National Park can understand my fascination with the park and why it was the best summer of my life.

Comment from Greg Beaumont

Hi, Fellow Enchanter,

I worked there as a busboy in ’63. Wife and I were Numa Ridge lookouts in ’66. Wrote a natural history handbook for the NPS in ’74, published in ’78 as The Life of Glacier National Park (now out of print). You are correct in believing that this Park is akin to a religious conversion.

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Worked in Swiftcurrent Inn – 1966 Glacier National Park
PORTER COOPER

I worked at Glacier National Park’s Swiftcurrent Inn in 1966 as a houseman. Never really knew what that was, so I did a little of everything.

While working in God’s country, I called home and told my parents I was never leaving. Being from Memphis, I could not believe this place. Gorgeous.

Stayd in Cabin A-6 with Mike McClarty from Texas. We once walked up behind a sow griz and 2 cubs. Got as close as 3 feet! Backed away and never looked back. Boy, were we lucky!

No employee cars then, but anyone would give you a ride. We would go to the Liquor store in Babb for supplies.

Went back in 2000 and so l ittle had changed. We stayed at Many Glacier. Wish it was not such a long trip, or I’d go back more often. Still keep up with a couple of people I worked with.

Worst mistake I made was not getting everyones address before I left, but I got draft notice and had to go. Was offered a job to stay thru the winter to do maintenance and stay with the couple that lived by the waterfall on road going to hotel.

Some of the best days of my life were when I worked in Glacier National Park.

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The best summer of my life – Working in Glacier National Park
Rick Seward

In December of 1968, I was a student at the University of Montana at Missoula. I read in the student newspaper that someone from Glacier National Park would be accepting applications for summer employment and conducting interviews at the school a few days later. I decided to apply and went in for an interview and by January of 1969, I was hired a seasonal Ranger-Naturalist for the coming summer.

I remember that when I arrived at West Glacier by bus (I had no car at the time), I must have been a real site. I had all of my possessions in a fully loaded backpack with my brand new flat brimmed hat tied onto the top of the pack and I walked the distance from the front entrance of the park to the park headquarters to check in.

I was assigned to work at St. Mary, which was on the east side of the park. Without a car, that was a problem until I found a ride to St. Mary with someone else headed that way.

The summer went way too fast and I loved every minute of it, as I did the typical naturalist duties of conducting nature hikes over Siyeh pass, Otokomi Lake and Granite Park Chalet. Other duties included campfire talks at Rising Sun campground, tour boats on St. Mary lake and of course the visitor center duties.

There were so many wonderful memories of that summer that it is hard to have a favorite one…

But I do have good memories of hiking out to Granite Park Chalet. In those days, in the summer, the Chalet had a full staff of young people like myself employed as waiters and waitresses at the Chalet. At night when everything was closed down, I can remember that we would climb on the roof of the Chalet and talk and laugh and sing and just watch Heavens Peak and the Valley in the moonlight.

It was truly a great way for a young person to spend his summer and get paid for it too!

I would not trade that summer of my life for all the money in the world and I still have very vivid memories of that time.

~ Rick Seward

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Music on the Mountain
Lowell Kenney

I worked at Many Glacier Hotel for Rocky Mountain Outfitters in the summers of 66 & 67.

Of all my memories, the best was an evening I had to go look for several mules that had gotten out of the Lake Sherman pasture.

It had been a stormy and rainy afternoon spent shoeing horses and mules, so I was glad to hit the saddle and to go look. The rains had stopped and the evening was crystal clear and fresh with the sunset pushing the clouds away. The trail that I followed took me high above the valley floor along the South East ridge between Swift Current Lake and Cracker Flats.

I had a good dappled grey gelding that I enjoyed riding and as the sun slipped under the remaining clouds it lit the Swiftcurrent Valley like a spotlight.

Then through the evening sounds a trumpet started playing. He was above and ahead of me and playing trumpet solos, flight of the bumble bee, etc. He was very good, as were most of the talent that worked at Many Glacier Lodge those years.

As I rode closer I began to catch a glimpse of the player standing on the very edge of a ledge and playing his heart out. The music was great and the scenery made it surreal.

When my horse blew his nose the fellow nearly jumped off the cliff. I apologized for startling him but had to ask why.

He told me that he had often suffered from stage fright if he had to play to a large auditorium, sometimes the vast space overwhelmed him.

He had found this overlook while hiking and decided that if he could play to the Swiftcurrent Valley no stage would ever scare him again.

My horse and I backed out of there and spent the rest of the evening looking for mules–but really we were just puttering through the trees so we could stay in earshot of this very fine trumpet player.

It is one of my favorite memories of all times.

I hope that he has been very successful and that his horn has brought him fame and fortune.

The memory has warmed my soul many times over the years.

Lowell Kenney
Guide/Packer
Rocky Mountain Outfitters
Many Glacier
Glacier National Park
1966 and 1967

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Comments

  1. Bobby Craig says:

    In 1969, I worked as a cook at the Rising Sun Motor Lodge. I had the time of my life. We use to sneak out 6 packs of beer in empty french fry boxes. No one knew… Grin.

  2. Jean Scribner says:

    Our family first went to Glacier Park to bring my father home to Wisconsin at the end of his first year working as the camp ground caretaker at Swiftcurrent campground in 1956. He then worked in three different locations on the East side of the park as a ranger until 1989. My first job in the park was one month at Rising Sun Motor Lodge in 1962 to fill in for a college student who had to leave to return to school. I was then a rising senior in high school. It was the summer of the World’s Fair in Seattle and many busses passed through on the way to and from the fair. I worked as a soda jerk & clerk in the camp store and stayed in a cabin with three college girls who were a real eye opener to me as a young naïve high school kid.
    Then in 1964, the year of the big flood, I went to the park to work at Many Glacier Hotel, having gotten into college as a music major and music majors were congregated there to provide musical entertainment throughout the summer. That year we did “Carousel”. But when we arrived at the park we were unable to get into Many Glacier Valley due to the roads being flooded out, so we spent our first week at East Glacier Lodge. I had a high school friend who also went out that summer to work at Swiftcurrent Lodge and I remember walking with her every evening up the highway toward the river to see the damage where the road was washed away. I was hired to be a waitress but found that unmanageable and traded places with my roommate Marie (can’t remember her last name but she went to St Mary’s College in Minneapolis). She was a maid and that suited me just fine. The next summer I was scheduled to return as a maid and had an emergency surgery in May when I almost died and was restricted from carrying anything heavy that summer so had to give up my position.
    I never worked in the park after that but was there almost every summer for some time to visit and hike with my father, Charlie Scribner in all of the East side locations. He spent the last 10 years there at Two Medicine Lake which became our family vacation spot.
    I would love to come to the reunion in 2015 if I can get a reservation and the time off of work.

  3. Richard George says:

    I worked at Lake McDonald in the dining room 1960 as a busboy, 1962 as a busboy, waiter in the grill
    in 1963 and 1964 (flood year). I remember all the people Michael Holcomb mentioned, especially Joe
    Dooley with his false Arkansas driver license scribbled in pencil! And it usually worked! Anyone who
    worked at McD in those years I’d love to hear from.

  4. glen Mascho says:

    Hi I worked at the pass in 1968 west side helping put the garden wall in and it was a great time, I have never thought much about it before but it was something that know it means a lot to me, and what a great place for all to see

  5. I remember Greg Beaumont! I worked there for two summers – probably 1962 and 1963. Waitress in the main lodge. An awesome experience for someone who had never been away from Minnesota before!! Wish more people would respond on this as I am not very good at last names any more – but remember some of the good friends I made there – and the pounds gained from eating about 6 meals a day – employee’s meals and then eating what the lodge visitors didn’t eat. That food was awesome. Of course getting back to college I lost it pretty fast eating macaroni and cheese! Have not been back since then but am thinking about putting it on my bucket list!!

    • Richard George says:

      Kaysie (sp) Kent: I worked in the dining room as a busboy with you in 1962. I remember you were
      A really good looking girl, tall, tan with blue eyes. I used to date Carol Wilkes that summer. I think you went with either a jammer or trail crew guy. I live in Eugene, Oregon. Would love to hear from you!

  6. Seems a lot of these posts are from some old,,,er folks.
    How about the summer of 84. I’m in Collage, my Dad just died, and I want out of the city. Somehow, I found Glacier Park Inc. I applied for a Jammer position, Got it, on May 15th I got done with school, got on a Grey dog for $ 99.00 and headed west. Ian Tippet met me in Typical English formality, Pip Pip and all that. And I went to see the busses. I’m to big. I can’t clutch because my legs are to long. So I got the best job in the system. I got the west side delivery truck. Laundry, food payroll to Lake McD and the village in. Ok here’s the 2nd best part of my summer. The cooks at Lake MCD were the personal chefs for King Hussein. These guys could cook some food. They didn’t give a hoot about their bonus. The best part of the summer is this.
    On my 5th day there, I walk into the cafeteria, It’s packed with people. I notice this girl with a French braid and an Aqua blue sweater. Whatever, But she noticed me too. So later, I’m waxing the gift shop floor, And old Tom Marty The patriarch of all Jammers, comes up to me and says, Hey, there’s a girl who wants to meet you. Oh? Don’t tell me, she thinks I’m cute, Story of my life.4.5 years at Marquette U and I never had a date… You want me to set it up? Sure I say . Anyway, so I decide to go get my ID photo taken. I go down stairs, to Shultz’s office area Where the photographer is. Who comes walking thru the door, Yup, the girl from Alabama. with the French braid. We spent every minute together from that point on I worked 1st shift, she worked 3rd shift as the night auditor at East. I’d go to her dorm room window, She was in the “old ladies dorm” because it was quiet. I’d throw a little pebble at her screen, and we’d hang out, go to dinner, then go to the Thimbleberry for fry bread and some huckleberry pie. I finished Collage, she went back to Alabama, And We got married the next summer. 30 years we’ve been hanging out, raised 3 Great kids, And this summer, we’re going to Glacier with no kids, to do er again. How’s that for a love story. It’s a magical place ya’ll. Go there, work there, foods lousy, pay is too, but I tell what, you’ll meet friends for life, you’ll never forget that place. God himself resides there in the high places. You can catch a glimpse of his work in a sunset, at the loop, or in a soft breeze coming off of Lake McDonald. Or maybe, If your lucky, in the glow of that girls eyes, when she looks at you… How cool is that. So look for a couple of Old,,,er people on a Teal colored Goldwing, 2nd week in July 2015. And then you’ll get to see What a cool place this is, and what it can do to two people. Might even buy you a Huckleberry shake. What say you…

  7. LOVED managing THE LAKE McDONALD LODGE in 1958 – 1959 – 1960 – and in 1960 we handled all of the Main Events FOR THE WOMEN – National Governor’s Conference – Many Glacier Hotel. Ian B. Tippet GPCO / GPINC 1950 – 2014 Location Manager – Vice President – Consultant and etc etc etc (HANDS ON – ALL THE WAY THROUGH …..)

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