Column: One determined queen
A special feature of the 62nd annual Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival Grand Parade on July 2 was the appearance of Ella Lindquist, Buena Vista Logging Queen.
Ella, 96, said she has served as Logging Queen for 30 years and has ridden in parades many times. However, the Logging Days folks didn't enter a float this year. So, Ella was a last-minute entry, even though she said she "hasn't missed one in forever."
And she didn't miss this year, either, thanks to the combined good will of several Bemidji people.
Without a formal registration for the parade, Ella took a taxi from her home to the center of the parade lineup. Supporting herself on her walker, she regally bade a young woman, "Find me a float."
Michael Meuers was set up to drive a shiny convertible in the parade to lead marchers who were supporting political candidates. Beltrami Deputy Brian Ball asked Meuers, "Will you give her a ride?"
"I'd be honored," Meuers said.
"You can't imagine how happy I was because he told everyone I was the Logging Queen," Ella said in a telephone interview.
Parade watchers along the route cheered her, calling out "Ella! Ella!"
"I was so fortunate I was able to attend everything. I was even able to sit at home and watch the fireworks," Ella said.
Ella, who said she used to be 5 feet tall and is now 4 feet tall, could barely see over the top of the door. She waved occasionally to her well-wishers, but often became too tired.
Meuers said Ella gave him some advice: "Live one day at a time, and if you reach my age, live an hour at a time."
Ella also told him how much she enjoyed being with him. "An experience I share," he said.
Ella acknowledged that she has become frail and her eyesight has failed. "I thank the Lord I've still got a brain," she said. "I'm happy to be as much as I am being 96 years old. I've done everything you can think of."
The Logging Queen said she was once also the Irish Queen, greeting Irish visitors to Union Station.
She was born on June 27, 1910, in Saum and graduated when she was 15 years old from the Saum School. She said her father and other parents built that school because they wanted their children to go to a school where they could graduate from high school. The month after she graduated she turned 16 and went to work at a general store in Kelliher.
Meuers quoted the Latin proverb "Sic transit gloria mundi -- Thus passes away the glory of the world" -- in his musings about Ella's unexpected appearance in the parade.
If we're trading Latin mottos, I think the one that personifies Ella's attitude is the challenge adopted by General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell in World War II -- "Illegitimi non carborundum." Ella is thankful for each hour and for the abilities she has. None of her disabilities or anything else will grind her down.
Let's hear it for Logging Queen Ella Lindquist. "Gaudiamus igitur -- Let us rejoice."