Hello, May 27, 2004
My name is Don Tolen. I stayed for a few days at the Gustavus Inn
(ed: Salmon River Lodge
) during the early summer of 1962 when I was working on a survey crew for the Federal Aviation Agency. We were doing some survey work at the airport and the Gustavus Inn was, at the time, the only place in Gustavus to stay. That was before Glacier Bay became developed for tourists.
I remember the Calbick family
was the owner at the time. Mr. Calbick, I remembered had lost one arm in an accident much earlier. His wife and daughter helped run the Inn and prepared the best halibut meals. They also had several boys but they were scattered and only one lived in the building behind the Inn. The daughter, Barbara, had to spend the winters in Kalispell, Montana attending high school. Mr. Calbick was at the time on the school board and even offered me a job as a teacher when I finished college. That was my teaching plan until I met my wife and discovered that she does not like cold weather. The school
was a small building on the way to the airport.
One day after work I was riding in the back of a pickup on our return to the Inn. I spotted a morel mushroom growing along the side of the road. I spent about an hour picking several large morels and had to take off my shirt to use as a bag. When I returned by foot to the Inn everyone thought I was "crazy." I washed the morels and announced that they would be cooked later that night. Then everyone really thought I had lost my mind. I was told that the nearest hospital was far away and that I would surly die if I ate the mushrooms. I asked if anyone knew of the mushrooms being eaten by residents of Gustavus before. I was told that they considered all mushrooms poisonous. Later that night I fried up a skillet of breaded morels, placed them on the table in the dining room and started eating. After eating nearly all of the morels a couple of people decided to taste them. They liked what they tasted and so I fried up another skillet of morels which were eaten very quickly by almost everyone. I have always been courious whether people today in the Gustavus area hunt and eat morels and if anyone still remembers the story about the "crazy red headed" guy who introduced the Calbick family to the taste of morel mushrooms. Our season for picking and eating morels here in Illinois is over this year but I still hunt morels every year. We eat all that we can and I freeze the rest for the winter.
I only stayed a few days in Gustavus but that time is one of my best memories.
I also remember an elderly woman who would travel to Gustavus each summer and live on a small boat. She even gave me the nickname "Dashing Don" in reference to my energy and red hair.
Next to the Inn was a small building less than ten feet on each side which was the post office
My wife and I have passed by Gustavus twice on cruise ships on the way to Glacier Bay. Both times a couple of young Park Rangers came onboard to give information on the area. I asked the Rangers if they knew of the Calbick family but they did not. I have always wondered what happened to the family and how the Inn was transferred to your operation.
If you are interested, I have a few slides of the Inn and the area. I would be happy to scan the slides and send the pictures to you in a couple of E-mails. Just let me know by a response to this letter and I can have them to you in a very short time.
Thanks for your time,
933 Somerset St.
New Lenox, Illinois 60451