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West End News May 20

Frank remembers Clara Sivertson, who worked to preserve the story of Cook County's commercial fishing families
Frank remembers Clara Sivertson, who worked to preserve the story of Cook County's commercial fishing families

Finalcut_WestEnd_20100521.mp33.61 MB

A couple of weeks ago my child bride, Mary Alice, took a tumble and ended up with a cracked femur. That was disrupting to our regular routine. Lots of things were put on hold, including this column and broadcast.

I can't say that we are back to normal, but life is continuing with a lot of help from our friends and family. Mary Alice is doing well, so there is enough breathing room to write a column.

Let me tell you to never call 911 unless you mean it. Within five minutes of our call we had a deputy sheriff, first responders, EMTs, and an ambulance on duty here at our house. Everyone in the crew obviously knew what to do and how to do it.

Years ago I was a qualified EMT, so I really appreciated the obvious level of training and concern shown by the folks who helped us. Thanks to them, one and all.

I don't know what would be a proper title for Clara Sivertson, who left us recently. Words like "matriarch" and "commercial fishing royalty" come to mind. Clara and Stanley lived near Schroeder when they were first married. They lived what might be called a nomadic lifestyle, moving to Washington Island to fish as soon as the ice went out in the spring and then returning to the mainland at the last possible moment sometime in November.

Clara and Stanley, along with Ted Tofte, had the dream of a commercial fishing museum that would tell the story of commercial fishing and the fishermen and their families. They and a few others were the folks who got the fishing museum on the road, or maybe on the boat.

I remember the impassioned speech that Stanley gave at the ground breaking for the fishing museum at Tofte. He left no doubt in his audience about the contribution of the fisher families to the area. He also left no doubt about the difficulties that the fisher people had in dealing with the governmental agencies.

Clara and Stanley continued to support the museum. Stanley had passed before the opening of the museum; but Clara attended and was given the respect and attention that she so deserved. I noticed in her obituary that her family requests that her memory be honored by donations to the commercial fishing museum. I am sure that pleases Clara.

It is the custom at the museum to honor fishing pioneers with a net cork with an engraved brass plate on the cork. I am sure that Clara will be so honored. No one is more deserving.

It has been just about a year since Priscilla Revier retired from the position of postmaster at the Tofte post office. Priscilla worked for the post office for 34 years. She followed Joyce Krueger into the position of postmaster. These two ladies got the Tofte community absolutely spoiled with the level of service that they provided. They went way beyond the bare duties of the job. The many big and little favors provided by them were just part of the job in their eyes. Besides that, the post office was a community center and, to use fancy language that is now very popular, provided a networking facility for the community.

Even after a year no permanent replacement has been appointed. The community is hoping that Paul Hansen, who is doing the job now, will get the nod. It would be nice to continue the line of locals filling the postmaster position. Local acquaintance and knowledge is a big plus for the community. Keep your fingers crossed.