Excerpted from Mildred’s letters and interviews I had with her between 1977-1990. My additions to her letters are in brackets and I have edited her letters to clarify family names and to put events into chronological order.
I was born at noon on September 25, 1908 in Cebolla, CO. I arrived a half hour before the doctor did. I think my mother was angry at me all of her life for that…
Someone loved me though, because Edith Seeley’s mother wanted her first grandchild’s picture taken in a dress that was hand embroidered net, made for her first baby (Vern) who died when he was four months old. Edith still had the dress but it was short, since her mom had tried to make a blouse out of it. [I have not pieced together the Seeley side of the family yet, but believe they would have been Mildred’s great-grandparents].
My parents [Harry Freemont Carpenter and Velma Eastman] lived in a sportsman’s village in Cebolla when they got married. It was a train stop. The train left a mail bag there at noon and again at 4 PM when the train returned. There was also a wagon road leading west to Sapinero and east to Gunnison, though most travel was by train. It was a place where people could vacation, fish and hunt. In the fall the Carpenter boys would take hunting parties into the hills to hunt deer, elk and mountain sheep.
Dad built a four room house about a quarter mile from Granddad’s hotel [the Sportsman’s Lodge built by J.J. Carpenter] and we lived there for awhile, before moving near Fowler, CO, where Dad found a job.
I remember walking into my mother’s bedroom one morning and there was a baby sister, whom Mom had named Nella [born June 4, 1911 in either Fowler or Boone, CO] That was such a surprise.
We lived near Fowler for 3-4 years before moving to Steamboat Springs. My dad worked in many places – on ranches, and road construction, and any other job that came along. He must have been doing road construction when we lived here, because he left each day with a team and wagon.
During the move to Steamboat Springs, I stayed with my Grandparent Eastmans [John Eastman, Carrie Proper]. Grandpa Eastman was very ill with heart trouble. One day he asked me for a drink of water, and when I gave him the glass, he drank, then leaned back and died. It was my first experience with death.
There were a lot of springs at one end of Steamboat Springs. Mamma and some lady used to fix picnic lunch and go down to the springs. One of them made the best lemonade. One of the springs was full of sulfur and smelled like rotten eggs.
During the winter we would go to the ski jump and watch the skiers sail through the air. it was quite thrilling. I started school there, and one year in the early spring, I took a shortcut home and fell through crusted snow and into the water. Soon afterward I developed double pneumonia, and spent several days in bed with big poultices of ‘Denver Mud’ on my chest to try to draw out the infection.