Supplemental character material on members of the Alton Krause family
to accompany “Gold in the Hills”
Sister Cindy Ruth Krause Leonhardt (b. 1959 Salmon, ID)
Cindy, an avid and methodical genealogist, is the one who started all of this family history and story telling. For years, she’s done interviews, conducted research, and recorded even the smallest details of the Krause and other of her families. Although she doesn’t leave her Riverton, Wyoming, paradise often to come East, she writes letters and e-mails and makes phone calls like there’s no tomorrow. And perhaps that’s her inspiration, because as an in-law and fellow genealogist, I believe that we do these things to preserve the precious vitals and accounts of our kin. Well, now it’s Cindy’s turn to be written about.
In some brief notes forwarded about her sister, called “Things Cindy did when she was little” and particularly in their Salmon, ID, home, Becky writes: “Squeezed all the toothpaste out of the tube and started crying because she couldn’t get it back. Asked me to ‘Put it back in.’ Washed her hair in the toilet because she couldn’t reach the sink. Cindy’s best friends were Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound. I once set a cup of tea on the coffee table and she screamed. I almost spilled my tea. Seems I had put it down on top of Huckleberry Hound and had to move it right now. That went on and on. One time I drove Mother to the grocery store and Cindy was standing on the seat in the middle (pre-seat belt and pre-common sense). Cindy kept edging closer and closer to me until I was having trouble steering. I said, ‘Cindy, get over.’ Cindy said, ‘I can’t. My friends are standing there.’ I said, ‘Tell your friends to get in the back seat right now or they can’t come anymore! Zoom, Cindy moved over.”
In a short poem by sister Sandy’s husband Jay, he muses:
Cindy of the ponytails and bangs of other days
Happy go lucky but intense in some ways
Fishing and camping and hiking over hills and dales
A lot of youthful energy — almost running up the trails
Changes brought on by age and the times
From a little girl to womanhood in these few lines
But we wouldn’t trade you for any amount
You’re still our Cindy and that’s what counts
Cindy’s husband is Laurin, and he compliments every aspect of her rich life. She writes these impressions of her soulmate: “Laurin loves hats of all kinds. He’s a perfectionist. He has drawn caricatures since he was very young. Laurin loves to help people. He doesn’t love to travel, but his wife puts him in the Blazer and drives him across the border. He is very good at a lot of different things. His aunt taught him to knit when he was a child. Laurin fixes Cindy’s computer whenever she messes something up! He hates sawdust, but likes to work with metal. Worked at the sulfuric acid plant for almost 38 years. He grew up on a dairy farm north of Riverton. He had a pet coyote when he was a teenager. He says he has yet to meet any of my family that he doesn’t like. Is better visiting with a couple or a few people, rather than a big group. Has a large and wonderful family. Has a son, a daughter, and six grandchildren.”
Cindy’s Laurin talks about her and her family this way: “Cindy is a tenderhearted rescuer of feral cats and stray dogs. I first met her when she came to work at the sulfuric acid plant in 1992. I had separated from my first wife, my father and my aunt died a week apart, and I was an emotional wreck. Cindy, being Cindy, took me in as one of her strays. It wasn’t long before we discovered that we were a matched pair. If I was hungry, she was hungry. If I was tired, she was tired. If we wanted to go out to eat, I could pick a restaurant and she would go there without me telling her which one I was thinking of. Our life together has been wonderful and easy. Cindy is kind and forgiving. She doesn’t stay mad or bring up every faux pas I ever made or when I make another one. My kids love her, my grandkids love her, my whole family loves her. I think they may prefer her over me, but that’s OK. I do, too. She took me out to meet her mother. Genevieve was a little, round lady with the kindest of hearts. She would to say to me, ‘I used to have a neck.’ She decorated for holidays and invited the whole family for meals. She would cook and we would do the dishes. She painted her own greeting cards and those lucky enough to receive them never threw them away. They were treasured. If she had one that didn’t quite turn out right, she’d say, ‘That one’s for my brother-in-law, Ralph.’
As for the others in the family, Laurin says, “I only met Cindy’s oldest sister Deb when she came to take care of their mother Genevieve during her last days. Before that, I remember Genevieve would go to the mailbox every day hoping to hear from Deb. But when it came to caring for her mother, she took charge and handled it all well. I never saw her again, but she used to call Cindy once in awhile. Deb would say anything and took great pleasure in ‘getting your goat,’ as they used to say.
When Cindy invited her sister Becky in to meet me, I was taken immediately. She was lively and pretty and reminded me a little of my favorite aunt. She is strong-minded and lives life her way, but she is also kind and cares about her family. I met sister Sandy and her husband Jay at mother Genevieve’s. Sandy was quiet and reserved and Jay wouldn’t talk to me for a few months. Once he thawed out, we found we knew a lot of the same people and places and visited at length. We usually go there for Christmas Eve. Sandy puts on a good meal and makes her special peanut butter fudge. It’s a comforting place to be.
Cindy’s brother Butch came to Colorado Springs when Genevieve was in the hospital and then a short time later while she was fading away at home. He visited a couple of other times over the years. He had a dry sense of humor and a serious delivery. Me, being slow-witted, would bite like the fish he caught. He suffered from migraines like Cindy, which made it hard to know when to call him on the phone.
What does Cindy say about herself? Here’s what she writes: “Loves to do genealogy, read, and go on long drives with Laurin. Majored in history in college—love Egyptian, Civil War, Western. Used to be timid and polite and now I’m over it. It took years. I loved to fish, hike, camp and rock hunt when I was skinnier & stronger. I wish I was fierce and had an inner Warrior—like Xena—and nothing ever scared me. Worrier I was a sleep walker, used a night light and had imaginary friends. I love figure skating, chocolate, and Star Trek. I LOVE Christmas. I love wildlife and bird watching. The dogs I’ve had were named Bobo, Hobo, Pom, Pokey, Buddy, Dandy, Teddy, and Spook, and Chub the Cat. I don’t love grasshoppers, mosquitoes, lima beans, peas, flying, or traffic.”
As you can read, Cindy has a great gift of communicating through the written word. Most of this project was inspired by a collection of family memorabilia she produced for a lost member of the family, Bart Nelson, whom she only recently found through DNA testing. Like Cindy, I hope these written memories will survive among future generations and be expanded upon. We hope to post additional stories here, so come back from time to time. For now, the original account of how the Alton Krause family spent their summers searching for gold in the Idaho mountains awaits you.
Last revised: 3/1/17