MOUNTAIN VIEW — On Nov. 12, 1917, a baby was born in Milburne, a small ranching community in Wyoming. The baby was named Leslie L. Hysell, known as Les to his family and friends. Sunday, Nov. 12, Les will mark his 100th birthday.
When asked what all he remembers about those 100 years he stated, “I’ve had a great life, a wonderful family. But I can’t remember everything, it’s too much.”
And yet….he remembers much, and then some.
His first best pastime was riding his stick horse. They rode many a mile together. He remembers his baby sister, Martha, and living on the ranch.
He remembers living in Sublet, north of Kemmerer, when his dad worked in the coal mine there. It was there he made lots of friends, learned how to swear, learned how to fight and learned where the best places were to go for homemade treats. He started school there. He remembers the day in 1924 when the mine exploded as “the worst day of my life.” It was a school day, first grade.
He was walking home for lunch when he saw the black smoke pouring from the mine. He ran, found his mother crying, and he remembers telling her, “Don’t worry Mama, you’ll find another man.” He just didn’t want his mama to cry. It was a long day and at the end of it, his dad and two uncles came out of the mine, a mile away from the main shaft — 12 men survived, 39 others perished. The mine closed, the family moved back to Bridger Valley, to Robertson, where his brother Robert “Bob” was born.
Les remembers school in Robertson, where he finished the eighth grade, then started high school in Mountain View. It was the Great Depression. He remembers having to leave the ranch and move to Mountain View. A dog that didn’t move with them turned up at their house in town later, having tracked them that far.
He has memories of meeting his future wife, Mary Eleanor Widdop. Oh yes, he remembers that, and how they got married on a rainy day in October 1939, in Coalville, Utah. He remembers working for the railroad, and odd jobs on ranches. One rancher, an uncle of Mary’s, paid him a dollar a day to work on his ranch, unless the month had 31 days, and then he paid him $30 dollars a month.
And, he remembers the times with his family — four kids, a boy and three girls; fishing, Father’s Days; Christmases; hauling poles for Bridger Valley Electric; cutting and hauling mine props to the rail cars in Carter; working in the timber, living in the mountains, building a house in Mountain View and making a home; working for the school district, driving the activity bus; riding motorcycles and snowmobiles with his friends; delivering the mail to Lonetree; retiring, taking road trips with his wife and friends and family; grandchildren; great-grandchildren; great-great-grandchildren.
Kathy Porter is the daughter of Les Hysell.