Dear Steve -
Amazingly, I just found your website today. I was looking up info. on F.T. since it is only down the road from where I now live and is up for sale and I was wondering about one of the original owners, Ed Olvensen. Google brought up your website. After a considerable time later, and many fond memories, I thought I would write and share one of my best memories.
As many people in the area can claim, I too worked for Mr. Bensen for a summer between college semesters. My job was to look like I knew what I was doing over at Roth's Forge. The day I was hired, Mr. Bensen asked me, "Do you have a cowboy hat?" Being from the neighboring town of Ticonderoga, I had no such thing, so he gave me his own to wear for the day and said, "Give this back at the end of the day and we'll get you one at the town store tomorrow." That was Art, always generous and caring about his employees.
Some days later, I got a message at work that Mr. Bensen wanted to see me right after I punched out before I went home. Oh boy! I thought. What have I done now? Maybe he found out I was a couple minutes late to work this morning! A dozen things went through my mind as I walked fearfully up to his residence. Knocking on the door I was greeted by a booming, "Come in." There stood Art with a grin on his face as he said, "Come in, sit down." Here it comes, I thought, and prepared for the worst. "You're a college boy, aren't you?" He began. I was entering my junior year of college and preparing to get married later that summer. "Yes," I replied, "I go to college down in Arkansas". "Good," he said, "I want you to take this manuscript home and look it over. When you're done, I want to know what you think of it". He handed me a ream of hand typed papers all loose and marked up. "I've had an idea to write a book about how Frontier Town was started and now that I have it together, I'd like to have someone's opinion on it".
I took the papers home and began to read. What impressed me first was that it was rather "rough cut" and the grammar was not the best, but as I continued reading, I could see the heart and soul of the man who had poured himself into this park to make a place where families could create memories. Days later as I finished the manuscript, I sighed and thought to myself, "That's why this place is such a success. This man is in this business to give happiness to people, not just for the money".
I brought it back and Mr. Bensen asked,"Well, what did you think?" Well, he was the boss - I wasn't about to mention the grammatical mistakes! "It was very interesting, Mr. Bensen," I replied. "Good, I think I'll get it published one of these days", he said.
Later I thought to myself, "That probably won't happen. Like most manuscripts, it will lie on a table somewhere and collect dust until it gets moved to the attic." It wasn't until some 25 years later and I had moved back to the area that I found out he had indeed published it. I found a copy and read it through once again. Amazing! the grammatical mistakes were gone and the story line really flowed! As I read and reminisced, I was once again taken back to my childhood days and fond memories of stage coach rides and getting held up on the train where a masked bandit growled "Ya got any gold? How about in those teeth?" I chuckled to myself and thought, "Thanks, Art, for the great memories and for a summer's worth of paychecks that helped me and my new wife to get through college!
PS - Please feel free to use my musings in your website. I read back over and realized I should have said I returned back to the area around 30 years ago. Has it been so long?! Living here in N. Hudson, I go by the "A Frame" quite often and think that someone from the town who actually worked there should buy the place and at least run a Frontier Town Restaurant - know anyone with lots of money to invest? LOL