Harriet Reece is the winner! She sent in the correct answer Tuesday night.
Don Ponozzo is the answer to our 16th week of "Orofino History Trivia", a feature to celebrate Orofino's 100th birthday and the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery trek through Clearwater County.
Don Ponozzo moved to Clearwater County with his family from Iron River, MI in 1947. While in Iron River, he and his brother, Lester, had been partners in a gas station. The years just before the move were hard for the family. Don and his wife, Ingrid, had one daughter, Beverly (now Wilson). When Bev was just nine months old, Ingrid contracted tuberculosis and had to spend five years in a sanitarium while she recovered. Bev lived with her mom's parents. They were Swedish immigrants who farmed and from there she gained a love of animals. Don visited Bev, but that was a challenge during World War II when he was in the service. When Bev was five-years-old Ingrid was able to rejoin the family.
According to Bev Wilson, the family came to this area to log and first lived in Weippe. Don's father, Louis Ponozzo, had a logging company in Michigan. Louis, Don and Lester saw an ad in a newspaper about the timber in North Central Idaho and came to check it out. They decided to try the enterprise and moved their families here.
They traveled in a caravan of their families, Tony, Vern and May Ehlinger and some single men. It took a week to make the journey with log trucks, Jeeps and vans all driving together. They got to Lewiston and stayed overnight in a motel to rest before showing the women where they were going. Bev said the road to Weippe was not paved at that time, just gravel and dirt. There was not enough housing in Weippe, so Don and his family, stayed with the Ehlingers in a farmhouse. The single men stayed in the bunkhouse on the property. She said the house had no running water, no indoor plumbing and no electricity. They did have a gas powered wringer washer. She remembers being poor enough that she did not think they would have survived except for being able to charge groceries at Durants' Store. They did have the treat of going out for ice cream once in a while.
Ehlingers built a mill and the Ponozzos cut and transported logs there. The family's financial fortunes improved with the progress of their logging business. After Weippe, Don and his family later moved to a house in Pierce and then to one next to Weippe Elementary that Bev remembers as being the only one in town with indoor plumbing.
Don and his brother were avid baseball players and the families traveled each Sunday during the season to watch them play in various towns. Don also coached a women's softball team in Weippe for a couple of years. It was a time when a lot of people were moving to this area from Michigan to log. Bev remembers her parents and their friends getting together to play Canasta and Monopoly.
When Bev was in fourth grade, the family moved to the duplexes behind the courthouse in Orofino while a new home was built for them in Orofino. Don and Lester were partners in logging company out of Orofino and their shop was just off Michigan.
During those times, Don was also involved with other enterprises. Don, Lester and three other men were involved in building Hidden Village Mobile Home Park west of Orofino. Don and Cecil Andrus were partners in the Sunshine Laundromat and Don and Lester owned an apartment building on Brown near the Catholic Church.
After Lester's death in the early 1970s, Don got out the logging business and worked as a manager for Carney Pole for several years.
Don was very involved in the community and such organizations as Orofino Celebrations, Inc. He was president of the organization one year. He was also on the city council and later a county commissioner.
Bev said her father was an avid golfer and liked to bowl. When Frensdorfs had an outdoor movie theater on the ground where Kings now sits, she does not think he missed a movie. The family also liked to go to Beaver Dam swimming before Dworshak Dam was built.
Bev recounted her funniest memory of her father. As when they lived in Weippe, Bev's parents liked to get together and socialize with friends. One time for a Halloween party, Don dressed up as a woman and fooled everyone until he took off his disguise. Some guy at the party even tried to "hit on him".
Many people may remember seeing Don with his little dog, Sandy. She went everywhere with him, even football games, Bev said. Sandy would let people pet her for a minute, but then moved on to follow Don as he walked up and down the sidelines.
There are many more memories that we could include about Don, especially the public and official things he participated in, but these will help you know little more about how his family remembers him.
Photo: Ponozzo Logging shop with the following from left, Mike Leonard, Lawrence Ponozzo, Lester Ponozzo, Don Ponozzo and an employee.
Monday: He and his brother once owned a gas station not in Orofino.
Tuesday: He and a friend owned an Orofino laundramat.
|Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544