Historic Gems of Mantorville Willis and Gladys Carlson
Photo from My Mantorville,
By Marlene Glaus
DCI file photo
From the music stage on Saturday night before the Miss Mantorville pageant, Karl Huppler of the Mantorville Economic Development Authority (EDA) announced the Mantoville Gems of the past. The EDA has been recognizing people from the town's history and those in the present that have made or are making a significant positive impact on Mantorville.
"For our Historic Gem, this year, the EDA selected Willis Carlson. In researching for this presentation, I found that you really can't separate Willis and Gladys Carlson, so I've made this year's Gem a joint award for the two of them. The Carlsons ran businesses together spanning five decades in Mantorville - first with a produce store in the '40s followed by many, many years as proprietors of Carlson's 57 Café - located on the property that is currently well used by the event room of the Hubbell House's Stage Coach Saloon. Theirs was a business focused on local traffic - a place to gather to learn of the day's happenings, solve the world's problems, and enjoy comfort food and company - much like Mantorville's Old School Cafe and County Seat Coffeehouse restaurants, today.
"Their volunteer work also focused on the community. Willis was a long-time member of the volunteer fire department and served as Fire Chief for a number of years. His contributions were so appreciated that when he passed away in 1997, the fire truck that we think of as our "antique" now, but which was acquired during Willis' tenure, was outfitted to serve as his Hearse.
"Gladys focused her attentions on the historic treasure that is Mantorville. She was among the four original organizers of the Mantorville Restoration Association and one of the nine charter trustees of the MRA when it was formally created in 1963 - fifty years ago.
"Gladys and Willis continued to work hard on behalf of Mantorville, both with the MRA and as founding members of the Mantorville Senior Citizen Center. I think we all recognize that, without the MRA's five decades of devotion to our historic community, Mantorville would not be the wonderful town that it is. It is appropriate that, on this 50th anniversary year of the MRA, we recognize two of its early active participants - Gladys and Willis Carlson."