Okay, it’s tourist season. At least as far as tourism goes here in Wilbur County. Don’t get me wrong, it can be quite a big thing when the folks up north have a conference or some other kind of shindig. But usually, sleepy Wilbur is just that.
But Dad asked me to visit the Walkingsticks out at Charlebois Springs to find out how the resort is going. I was actually happy to do this. Willie is a interesting guy, and the history of the springs—well, that’s interesting, too. Not to mention that six-year-old Century June is cute as a bug’s ear, to boot.
Since it’s summer, and Shaherazade has been hanging around nearly every day, I asked her to accompany me. She was excited. June and her little sister, Ruth were in the same first grade class, and when she first met Century June, Shaherazade had immediately fallen in love with her. “She’s smart as a firecracker, Ms Applegate. She’s even smarter than me.”
I almost fell over laughing. I’m always telling Shaherazade how smart she is, and I worry it might be going to her head.
I don’t know if Dad had other motives for wanting me to talk to the Walkingsticks, such as Willie’s campaign for Mayor, for instance. But I know Dad, and Dad reads me like a book. He knows I couldn’t avoid the subject of politics if it was lumbering away like a drunk mule. So yeah, I’m certain there was an ulterior motive.
Willie is a really sweet guy when you catch him out of the limelight. Only to be outdone by his wife, Marissa. The old Charlebois house is not the original, built by Luke Charlebois in 1850. That house was soon too small for a growing Catholic family, and it was rebuilt in 1862 by his oldest son, Luke Anthony.
There are two springs, cold water at the homestead. and hot water, about a mile-and-a-half north, where Luke Charlebois build a cabin and a large bath house to take advantage of the hotsprings soothing mineral water. Over the years, the hotsprings were expanded with extra rooms for visitors.
The tiny village of Charlebois Springs has a population of 15, including Willie’s dad, Frank Walkingstick and his wife, Charlotte, who run the little store at Charlebois Corners. It’s one of those country stores that sells essentials, plus snacks, beer and worms for the fisher folks on their way up to Lake Germaine. There is a tiny café attached where you can sit with a cup of coffee and read the paper or have a breakfast burrito.
Willie says his sister, Karma, will be moving out in August with her daughter, Spirit, who is fourteen. Spirit will be entering Old Paiute High School in the fall. Mother and daughter will help run the café, which is becoming more than Charlotte can manage now that Willie has become a politician and Frank has to help keep up the resort in the offseason.
In addition to the store, there is a local mechanic, Argie McClintlock and his wife, Lu Ann, and their three children. Argie specializes in repairing large farm equipment, construction equipment, and repairs road equipment for the County. You can rent tractors and back hoes from him.
One of the county’s two veteranarians also lives in the village. He limits his practice to large farm animals.
Marissa Charlebois-LaPlante loves running the resort, which was passed down to her from her mother, Lucy — who, readers know, is the librarian in town. That is an interesting story which Marissa promises to tell when we settle down for the interview.