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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Newman

Clayton 4th of July 2022 Info

Clayton 4th of July parade at 1:00. Music, floats and fun. Picnic in the park at 3:00.

The 2022 Clayton 4th of July Committee is happy to announce this year’s Parade Grand Marshall, Mrs. Charlotte Wilcox Miller.

Charlotte Gay Wilcox was born on October 28, 1945 to George and Dorothy Wilcox in Hailey. Her folks brought her home to Clayton, to her very first home, which is the first log house on the right as you come into Clayton.

Most of Charlotte’s years were spent at the Clayton Hotel that her grandparents (Helen & Charlie Wilcox) built. They purchased the old hotel in 1927, but had to move as the highway was going through Clayton, so they moved it over and rebuilt and opened the new “Room, Stew, and Stuff Clayton Hotel” in 1934. She learned at an early age all the ins and outs of running a business and the work it entailed. She kept busy doing laundry, cleaning rooms and chamber pots, doing dishes, waiting tables, and she also learning the bookkeeping end of the business as well.

Not only did Charlottes grandparents (Granny & Pappy she called them) have the hotel property, but they also had 2 cabins above the hotel. They had 4 apartment/cabins across the highway and behind them were the outbuildings for the 3 cows, many chickens, hogs, and turkeys that they also raised. The 3 cows were very gentle and all had names (Judy, Bossy & Rosie).

Her Dad and Pappy also had a bar which was just below Leuzinger’s old store (now the museum). When she was 5 years old, the Bar burned to the ground.

Charlotte’s “Granny” (Helen Wilcox) was also the postmaster of Clayton from 1932 to 1965. At 8 years old, Charlotte received permission in a written letter from the postal department to help her grandmother in the Post Office. Charlotte still has that letter today. She helped her grandmother throughout the years, sorting mail, cleaning, waiting on customers, etc for free until she turned 16 and then was eligible to receive a small check from the postal department for her work. Charlotte assisted her grandmother in the post office until she left Clayton.

In between postal work, hotel work, and play, Charlotte also used to go down by the river in the trees in the summer and fill up little cans with salmon and trout flies. She would sell them for 10 cents a can to the fishermen. She also earned money by trapping mice and rats in the basement and received a penny for a mouse and a nickel for a rat. She thought she was rich in those days with her pennies!

Charlotte attending school (grades 1 – 6) at the Clayton School up Kinnikinic. Grades 1st through 3rd were in one room and Grades 4th through 6th were in another room. Her teacher lived in the back part of the school and served hot lunches to those who wanted them. Her teachers consisted of: 1st grade - Gladys Smith; 2nd & 3rd grades - Tillie Slane (Tillie was a sister to Toad Bruno); 4th & 5th grades - Virginia Domsick; and 6th grade - Ruth Myers. She remembers the school always being well attended – normally having 25-35 students each year. There were 8 students in her class.

In 1959, her Granny had a very serious heart attack which left her in the hospital for 3 months. She could no longer manage the hotel, and Charlotte’s parents purchased the hotel from her grandparents. At that time, they also sold the log house to Owen and Toad Bruno. Charlotte’s Granny & Pappy moved to the rock house, which they had purchased from Jack & Emma Riley. They also built a small building at the edge of the rock house for the Post Office. Around that time, Charlotte’s farther George, dug out and put a bar under the one end of the hotel.

On February 15, 1961, Charlotte’s life changed forever. Her mother, on her way home from Challis, lost control on the icy roads, and went into the river near the big rock on Highway 75 (then 93). She was killed immediately. Charlotte and her grandmother ran the hotel that summer, but they could see, that her grandmother would not be able to continue such hard work, and Charlotte was still going to high school, and couldn’t devote full time to helping at the hotel. Her farther also worked away most of the time in construction. They had no option, but to sell. It was a hard choice, as Charlotte’s grandparents had committed their whole life to the hotel and café. They sold the place in July 1961, but had to take it back in the spring of 1965. Granny and Charlotte cleaned the place up, as it had gone downhill quite a bit. They kept the place going a couple months, until Bill and Marie Sullivan purchased it.

Many, many people purchased and/or had the hotel after that for many years. Charlotte said that people used to call it the “Tiltin Hiltin”. It used to really bother her to see the place so run down, and she cried almost every time she went through Clayton. She tells me she has since gotten over that because it is just a material thing and she came to realize that things change throughout our lives.

Her Granny & Pappy built their new home above the hotel, where the back cabins used to be, and Charlotte finished her high school years living in Clayton with them.

On September 13, 1963, Charlotte married John Miller and moved to Challis. They lived on a ranch for 3 years, and then in the Fall of 1966, they purchased the property where they live now, and lived in a trailer. John left ranch life, and worked for Bob’s Sand and Gravel until 1969. In 1969, he went to work for the Forest Service and retired from the Forest Service on December 31, 1999. In 1970, John and Charlotte started building a home on their property beside the trailer they were living in. They moved into their home on July 7, 1977.

Along with raising their children, Charlotte worked add jobs to help provide income for the family, including working in potato cellars in the spring and fall, cleaning rooms for a local hotel, and took on sewing and mending jobs for people. Charlotte also served as a 4-H leader teaching cooking, sewing, and knitting from 1966 - 1986. Their 4-H club was called the “Talented Teddy Bears”. She kept the club going year around and she found a lot of enjoyment watching the young children learn how to to cook, sew and knit.

In December of 1979, Charlotte started working for Salmon River Electric and retired from that job on April 30, 2008.

John and Charlotte have raised 4 children (Mary, Robert, Helen & Jim), all of whom have their own families now. They have provided John and Charlotte with 16 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

We hope you will join us in Clayton on Monday, July 4th at 1:00 pm as Charlotte Wilcox Miller and her family lead the parade down HWY 75 as our 2022 Clayton Parade Grand Marshal!

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