Summit Old-Timer: Linda Polhemus |

Summit Old-Timer: Linda Polhemus

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Frisco resident Linda Polhemus is a true Colorado native with her family lineage going back generations in Summit and Eagle counties.

“Dad’s family was loggers before Vail was thought of,” said Polhemus from her Frisco home Friday morning. “Grandfather and dad’s brothers were loggers. They logged the first trails for Vail.”

Polhemus’ great grandfather came from Switzerland, and after being on the East Coast, migrated West in pursuit of gold. Her great grandmother originally came from Sweden, first as a nanny in the Great Lakes region, then came West to Dillon with a girlfriend because they heard there was good opportunity around the mining boom.

Her great grandfather, who was a trained veterinarian, opened a blacksmith shop in Frisco for a year, then moved it to Dillon to be closer to the train.

The family’s roots have been in Summit and Eagle counties ever since.

Polhemus was born on September 14, 1952 to Anna and Charles Gilmer in Eagle County. Her father was working as a logger and she was born at the New Jersey Zinc Mine, where the Gilman townsite sat on the hill going to Redcliffe, and she said a doctor out of Camp Hale came down and delivered her.

She grew up in Eagle County and went to grade school in Minturn, then moved to Summit County where she started in seventh grade and graduated from Summit High in 1971.

Ironically, she said, her mother and her oldest daughter all graduated from Summit High on May 25, all 20 years apart.

Polhemus’ mother graduated from school May 25, 1951 ” a graduating class of seven; Polhemus graduated May 25, 1971 ” a graduating class of 53; and her daughter, Camille, graduated May 25, 1991 ” a graduating class of 130.

When Polhemus moved from Minturn to Summit County, she said her father was still working in the lumber industry and the family lived in the old town of Tiger (near where Good Times is located on Tiger Run Road).

“We lived in some neat old cabins,” she said. “No running water. No plumbing. They had old woodburning stoves and outhouses out back.”

She said the town eventually burnt them down when “hippies” took them over, and town officials “didn’t think people should live like that.”

Her father eventually got a job with the Breckenridge ski area, and he moved the family to Breckenridge.

“We lived in three or four places,” she said. “But I’m not sure if those houses are even there anymore. They were right in town.”

She said of her childhood and teenage years growing up in the mountains: “Best place in the world to grow up. Us kids had a lot of freedom. We could be gone all day and your mom wouldn’t worry. If you did get trouble, you knew your parents would find out. It was a very small community back then. Everyone knew everyone. Everyone was family.”

She said that back then, since her father worked for the ski area, he could get a family ski pass for $10 per year. Tickets back then were $5 per day.

“Today it (skiing) is not the same experience,” she said. “Before we would just come down the mountain and went right back up. There were no lines.”

She added that with the ski industry building all these new areas in Summit County, school district officials thought it sad that no Olympic ski champions were coming from Summit, so the school district decided to give students one day a week to go ski.

Summit School District still offers a winter activities program to its students.

On November 25, 1970, Polhemus married John Polhemus, whom she had met at school.

His stepfather graduated with Polhmus’ mom in that graduating class of seven, then moved away to Colorado Springs where he worked construction and eventually met John Polhemus’ mom. He moved back to Summit County to help build the dam.

After graduating, Polhemus worked as a maid for years at different hotels and her husband worked at Pirate Petes, a drugstore his mother managed.

He later signed on with Summit County Road and Bridge in October, 1973 and now is the director.

The couple had two children: Camille (now Winston), who is a realtor and lives in Dillon Valley with her husband and two children; and Sarah, who is a preschool teacher in Littleton.

“She is the only one who wanted the city life,” said Polhemus. “I guess she figures if she wants to visit the mountains, she has places to stay.”

She said, “Whenever I hear old-timers at the lunchtime lectures (a program offered by the Frisco Historic Society in the summers), they always reminisce of what a unique experience it was to grow up in Summit County. I think that speaks volumes about a place.”

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