– Mary May Larmoyeux– One of the highlights of last summer was meeting Nick Clifford. When Nick was a young man, he never imagined that one day he’d write a book. That people from around the world, like our grandchildren, would ask for his autograph and stand in line to have their pictures taken with him at Mount Rushmore.
Now, you’ve probably heard of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota with the likenesses of four our nation’s leaders chiseled into its side: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. But you may not have heard of Nick. He is the last living person who helped build what we know as Mount Rushmore.
It all began back in 1923 when South Dakota’s state historian Dorane Robinson suggested carving giant statues into South Dakota’s Black Hills to draw tourists to the area. But it was sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s idea to ultimately choose the subjects for the memorial. He said that he wanted it to be “in commemoration of the foundation, preservation, and continental expansion of the United States.”
When Nick began his work on the mountain back in 1938, he probably thought of himself as an inconsequential. Just one of many young men in the day who badly needed a job. And so he began the grueling task of blasting stone and removing rock.
If I had been him back then, I probably would have wondered when I looked at my sweat-drenched shirt and calloused hands, “Are my efforts worth it?” And truthfully, had I been Nick, I might have even quit, thinking the task too hard and calling it impossible.
President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the memorial we know as Mount Rushmore back in 1927; commencing 14 long years of work. As my family and I stood in front of the great monument and snapped pictures I was awed by the immenseness of it all … and felt wonder that one had even dared to dream such a task could ever be done.
But nothing quite matched my feeling as I stood in front of a white-haired man crouched over a small rectangular table with short stacks of books in front of him and to one side. The table was covered with a bright blue cloth. It was the color of the sky. Above him was a sign: Original Mount Rushmore Driller: Nick Clifford.
Mount Rushmore is a towering reminder of some men who made this nation great: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt … and Nick Clifford.
Have you ever been to Mount Rushmore?
Post and picture © 2015, 2016 Mary May Larmoyeux. All rights reserved.
The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect With Your Grandchild’s Heart by Nancy Downing and Mary May Larmoyeux: This handy book helps generations learn from one another. Organized by month, it’s filled with 365 creative ideas that include getting-to-know-you activities, fun ways to teach Bible verses, easy-to-make games (paper and electronic), creative suggestions for making lasting memories, and much more.