Tales from the Tread: To Marjorie Perry, from Carl Howelsen
February 6, 2018
Marjorie Perry was the sister of Charlotte Perry, co-founder of Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp. Among her many contributions to the culture and fabric of Steamboat Springs, Marjorie Perry is credited for being the one to invite Norwegian stone mason and ski jumping extraordinaire, Carl Howelsen, to Steamboat Springs in 1914 after she saw him jumping at an exhibition in Hot Sulphur Springs.
Howelsen went on to found the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and Winter Carnival, built the first ski jumps, became the town's first ski and ski jumping coach and ignited a passion for ski sports and competition that thrives to this day.
Below are letters from Howelsen, while he was in Northwest Colorado, to Perry when she spent her winters in Denver. The final letter is from Howelsen once he returned to Norway to care for his aging parents. The letters, carefully housed in the Tread of Pioneers Museum archive, tell the story of a friendship full of adventures and chronicles the early development of skiing and Steamboat's Winter Carnival, now in its 105th year.
Saturday, Feb. 26, 1916
Dear Miss Perry:
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Steamboat's carnival was a success this year, and was quite ahead of the previous.
It was established a new record at Steamboat this carnival, and I feel proud of the boy who did it even though I was not able to do it myself. We had a fine trip to the hot springs this carnival also, rather better and easier than our last one, on account of drove within half a mile of the hot springs.
I wished you could have been there with us, had moving pictures taken and we had a real good time.
This moving picture will be shown at the Paris Theater on Curtis Street (in Denver) Sunday and Monday, Feb. 27-28. And these moving pictures consist of thousands of feet of films and of different views along the Moffat Road and the ski carnival.
We may perhaps meet there and enjoy the pictures together.
Craig, Colo. Jan. 14 1917
Dear Miss Perry:
The skisport is getting more popular every winter, in the east and so in the west. And by hearing of this long jump, which can be made here in Steamboat, and far beyond any other places, we will have more people and better carnival every winter.
We have to have this jumping contest in order to attract people, although this is just a fraction of the skisport. In general, skisport is for everyone and will be enjoyed in years to come.
Jan. 8, 1918
Dear Miss Perry:
…You are asking about the tournament and what dates. At the last meeting we decided to have it a little earlier than last year, thinking that we wouldn't have snow enough if it were put off later…
I can't think we will have so many outside riders as last year, account there are quite a few of the jumpers who have joined the Army…
I want to thank you so many times for the card you sent me. When sending me a winter scenery I thought of our trips together.
March 29, 1924
Dear Miss Perry:
Yes, Miss Perry, it is strange when thinking I am here in Norway and have been here on the third year already and married two years and not that alone but have a boy, too. It seems (odd) sometimes to one how and what can happen in just a short time, we might call it. It does not seem long since we were together on skis, and I do not forget that ski trip, the last one, Leadville to Dillon. When looking at the pictures off and on from that fine trip that we had it does not seem long since that time…
You know that at the time I left I was just going to go on a short visit, and mostly for my old folks sake, but this was no short one. My mother and father are still living and in pretty fair condition when I consider the age of eighty-one year. They have begged me to stay with them and I have promised to do so. If I only had known that my visit should have taken this long, I would have been much better off to have sold my ranch. But at the time I left I was then almost sure to be back the following spring. I wonder Miss Perry if you would know of someone who wanted to buy my ranch…
Times here in Norway is not much to brag of, pretty dull in everything. It might take a while but that I shall return again. I am hoping so.
The last page in this collection of letters includes a poem, written in a woman's hand.
There is a mystic borderful that lies
Just past the limits of our work-day world,
A land peopled with friends we met
And loved a year, a month, a week or day
And parted from with aching hearts,
Yet knew that through the distance
We must loose the hold
Of hand with hand and only grasp
The thread of memory.
But still so close we feel this land,
So sure are we that these same hearts are true,
That when in waking dreams there comes a call,
That sets the thread of memory a glow.
We know that just by stretching out the hand,
In written word of love or book or flower,
The waiting hand will clasp our own once more,
Across the distance, in the same old way.
Candice Bannister is the executive director for the Tread of Pioneers Museum.