Supplemental character material on members of the Alton Krause family
to accompany “Gold in the Hills”
Daughter Sandra Lee “Sandy” Krause Cristler (b. 1945 Corpus Christi, TX)
Alton and Genevieve’s fourth child Sandy writes about herself as follows: “I married Jay Cristler in 1967. I’m an avid bowler. I started in 1967 and bowled until both bowling alleys in Riverton (Wyoming) shut down. I was league secretary, secretary of the 200 club, and a member of the National 600 Club. I was a fair bowler. At one time the Association had about 1,000 to 1,500 members. I was in the top ten averages, but my husband Jay would always beat me, even if he had to strike out. He and I raised sheep and later cows. I loved the sheep, and still have a soft spot in my heart or head for the little lambs. I liked to watch them running along the ditch banks, running as fast as they could go, then stop and turn and run back. A lamb would be standing still, all of a sudden it would jump straight up in the air. I still miss them. I like to garden. My sister Cindy says I can grow anything. Little does she know how many things I can kill without even trying. I just can’t grow carrots worth beans! I always have a garden to raise, and love to freeze our veggies for the winter. I like the camping and fishing trips we made, even though I did more walking and trying to keep up with Jay than I did fishing. I especially enjoyed our road trips around the county – seeing lots of birds (including bald eagles) and other wildlife. We took trips to Dubois, where we saw the big horn sheep and lots of deer. Up on Copper Mountain we saw lots of baby antelope.”
Sandy’s sister Becky nick-named her “Little Fairy Foot” and writes this: “Sandy was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, when we lived in the upstairs apartment near the dairy where Dad worked. Mother was pretty sick while pregnant. She had troubles carrying Butch (number three) too, and according to her doctor, she wasn’t supposed to have any more kids. What a dumb doctor, considering the times. Because Mother was sick, Grandmother O (Overdorff) came to help. I didn’t like her. She was strict and not like Mother. I’d hide my head under the sheet at night so I wouldn’t have to see her and she’d tell me about a little girl who smothered to death putting her head under the sheet. That scared me for years, but I’m sure Mother was glad she was there. Later, when Sandy wasn’t so new anymore, we were allowed to hold her on our laps, with supervision. And for some reason we started calling her ‘Little Fairy Foot.’
“Fast forward to Leesburg, Idaho, in 1954. Sandy must have been just out of second grade or thereabouts. All us kids were messing around as usual and we decided to explore the old Leesburg dump. Imagine our happy surprise when we found a pair of rubber wading boots that didn’t have any holes in them. So naturally that meant we had to go down to Napias Creek and try them out. Oh joy, they didn’t even leak! So we took turns wearing them and wading in the shallows. Then we decided to go home, taking a shortcut by crossing Napias Creek and getting up on the road leading back into Leesburg. The creek there was too deep to wade. So sister Deb jumped the creek. Then I jumped the creek. Then brother Butch jumped the creek. Sandy, who was no longer ‘Little Fairy Foot’ but did have little feet and short legs, was hampered by the huge boots and so hung back. We stood on the other side yelling, ‘Jump, jump!’ So she did. The water was pretty high as it was still spring and Sandy started to float away. Debby had to jump in and haul her out. The boots just kept going. I’ve thought back that if she really were a ‘Fairy Foot’ she could have flown over. Maybe fairies lose that ability when their feet grow. So there we were with a soggy little sister, and we had to take her home before she froze, though we probably had thoughts of keeping her in the sun until she dried and thereby keeping us out of trouble. But we did take her home, and I don’t remember if we were in trouble or not, but I would expect, yes. Later, we asked her why she jumped, ignoring, of course, the memories of us standing on the other side yelling, ‘Jump! Jump!’ She answered that we kept telling her to jump, and knowing she couldn’t make it, she just jumped as far as she could. What’s that old fashioned word? ‘Pluck?’ It means a brave little person. For years we used that phrase whenever we couldn’t quite do something ‘I jumped as far as I could.’ We probably tried to get rid of her in other ways through the years but I can’t remember any more right now.
“One day we went down Napias Creek to an old cabin. It was across the creek. Max, our boxer, chased a chipmunk in the door of the cabin, up the stairs and right out the second story window. Bet he was surprised before he came to light. The fall didn’t seem to hurt him – dumb dog. One evening Debbie and Max were out for a walk and ran into a bear. That was up by our cabin. I’m surprised that any of us survived the mountain. It was a four mile trip from Leesburg to where our cabin was, off a typical mountain road.
“We had a 1950 Ford car. Well, when Dad couldn’t get up the hill, he ran a rope through the back windows. Butch, Debbie, and Becky got on the trunk and held on to the rope. The old Ford apparently needed that extra weight to get up the hill. I must have thought it was nice to be the youngest. Grandmother and Granddad Overdorff came to visit while we were in Leesburg. We would all pile into the car and go to town. They would buy us chocolate milkshakes. I remember when our friends Chick and Kelly Hess would talk me into picking wild strawberries for them. It took more than I could ever pick to make a pie, but they were always happy with what I picked. One time they gave me a pair of plastic binoculars. They didn’t help me see better, but I told them they did. Another time they gave me a box of Hershey chocolate bars. I think they came six to a box. Of course, it was like our birthdays back in Texas. We would get six candy bars and six comic books – to be shared, of course.
“When I was a freshman in high school, Becky would take me and Pernie (Kay Pern – Becky’s friend) to the movies. Of course it was the age of Sci-Fi movies. Scary – yes. One night after the movie we were walking home past the dark, empty lot across from our house. Becky says to me, ‘Let’s dog trot.’ Well, I never caught up with her until I got home. Butch mentioned five parakeets we took from Texas to Idaho. One of them was a blue parakeet that Uncle Ralph had given me for my birthday one year. That reminds me of some phrases Butch used to say: ‘Hark a lark in the park eating bark. Hark a thrush in the brush eating mush’ or, ‘Antlers in the tree tops by who goosed the moose.’ Debbie was the only one of us to get a bicycle, besides Cindy. Dad kept after her about not parking it in the driveway. Well, yes, it got backed over. Afterwards, Debbie and Becky made a unicycle out of what was left. There were pictures of Becky and maybe Debbie riding it by sitting on the seat and hanging on to a limb of the mesquite tree growing in the back yard.”
Cindy says this about her older sister Sandy: “She is a very hard worker who often hoes her garden to relax. She can grow anything. She likes to do jigsaw puzzles, play cribbage and scrabble. She’s a rock hunter and wildlife and bird watcher and a very good bowler. Sandy sews very well and made me a lot of clothes for both myself and my Barbie dolls. She learned to work in leather and tooled a lot of different things. I have a purse and a belt she made me when I was a kid. She’s very artistic. Sandy was called ‘Little Fairy Foot’ by her older siblings. We all love her wonderful chicken-in-noodles and peanut butter fudge. Sandy and her husband Jay have been inseparable for 49 years.”
Sister Becky says this about Sandy: “She painted, mostly watercolors. I don’t know if she continued with it or not. Also a thing that amazed me is that she was so petite in high school that she could only find clothes that fit in the children’s section, so she made all her own clothes – skirts, dresses, etc. And she sewed them all by hand as we had no machine! I would have worn blue jeans everyday rather than do that. Maybe she couldn’t get blue jeans either.”
Sandy’s husband Jay offers this about their lives together: “In the early 70’s we had lots of sheep. We raised them until it was no longer profitable. It cost more to have them sheared than the wool was worth. In 1991 we lost a lot of sheep to the neighbor’s dogs, up on the mountain. Four years later, the remaining sheep were sold. We had cows in the early 70’s also. The first two calves we had, we got from my best friend in high school, who had a dairy out on Buckhorn Flats. They were two bucket calves for Sandy to feed. I hauled them home in the back seat of my 1966 Buick Wildcat. Another job for Sandy – to clean out the car. In 1988 Sandy and I bought Copper Mountain. It is beautiful, but hard on a person. Sandy says we didn’t buy a ‘piece of the rock,’ we bought the whole thing. Many fences to mend. Seven miles of fence on the mountain, plus the fences at home. Fences on the mountain are up and down, in canyon, on slopes, in sagebrush, rock, you name it.”
Cindy has this to say about Sandy’s husband Jay: “He’s very musical – plays guitar, like his father did, and a very good bowler. He had to drive us into all the camping places we like to go to because the roads were so bad and no one else would attempt them. Jay’s a walking encyclopedia, especially on the knowledge of Wyoming. He had spent part of his growing up years in a sheep wagon on Powder River. He loves horses, fishing, and camping. Can you believe he writes poetry? He’s a rock hunter and wildlife and bird watcher. He takes a long time to tell a story, but it’s worth the wait. We say that he can catch a fish in a mud puddle.”
In a short poem he wrote in 1993, titled “Wishing and Fishing,” Sandy’s husband Jay reminisces:
When I think of my life and all the things I have wished,
The places I remember are the places I have fished.
I’ve fished in lakes and rivers, cricks and ponds and streams,
Any place there are fish and sometimes not it seems.
From the Amazon Basin where the vicious Piranha play,
To the lower Pecos Valley where the largemouth bass lay,
To the Sweetwater River, the upper Powder and Big Wind,
The places I have fished are the places I have been.
When I leave this world, I’ll take along my fishing pole.
If there’s no fish in heaven, then I’m going down below.
‘Cause you know I’m always lookin’ for another fishing hole,
And you know I’m ‘gonna’ find one; so I’ll need my fishing pole.
What terrific memories! We’ll add to them in the future, I’m sure, so check back. For now, though, we hope you’ll return to our original narrative.
Last revised: 3/1/17