Remembering Olney’s Ida Hunnewell

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For many years, Ida Hunnewell had a by line in the Whitefish Pilot called the Olney Briefs. It was a charming, folksy commentary on life in a community which began as a pioneer, logging camp written by a tiny woman who lived in a tiny house that looked like it had been borrowed from a fairy tale book. She parlayed her third-grade education to international recognition and an invitation to the David Letterman Show. Clearly, she was Olney’s most famous resident!

Imagine the delight in finding that an overgrown flower bed was a memorial to her. Trying to find who owned the garden was discovery of a community’s love for a little lady many knew as Grama. School children from the Olney-Bissell School started the memorial when they planted flowers on a “pile of dirt” near the Fire Hall. They left a sign explaining their purpose. Some neighbors, inspired by the kids, added a paving stone border. Each year someone cleaned the garden and added more flowers. Later, a young couple, added a garden statute appropriate for Grama Ida’s era and more flowers. The goal become to have it beautiful for the annual Fire Department’s Mother’s Day Breakfast. This year life got in the way, including the memorial of another inspiring longtime Olney resident, Richard Ottwell.

Then the Memorial Day magic happened. A crew of relatives, neighbors and friends gathered to weed the bed and discovered the lovely comradery of shared vision that Ida’s Olney Briefs always mentioned. Ida Hunnewell was Olney’s most famous resident; but there are more.

Donna Maddux, Olney

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