The Cameron brothers, Les and Ed, have been named grand marshals for the 2013 Bellevue Labor Day Parade. They will ride in an honored position on Monday, Sept. 2, along Main Street, along with their wives, Thelma and Marge Cameron.
“Labor Day was at one time a community picnic,” Les said. “There was a barbecue down the hill. Someone would donate beef, another a lamb or two and someone a pig. We would then go down there with deserts and have a potluck. The last time we did that, back in the late 1970s, we fed 3,000 people.”
These days, Bellevue Labor Day events are centered around Memorial Park in the old town center.
Les Cameron said the town has changed quite a bit since he was kid.
“People eventually realized Bellevue is Bellevue,
and it needs to retain its character.”
“First the streets were gravel, then they were paved. Then a sewer system went in. There have been many improvements. The Fire Department has grown from a horse-pulled hose cart to a full- scale fire station that is fully staffed.
“There used to be one marshal that made sure the drunks got home at night, wrote a few speeding tickets and tried to find out who belonged to lost dogs, all for about $100 a month.”
Les and Ed Cameron are the owners and operators of Wood River Welding on Main Street, founded in 1945 by their father, Orville Cameron. The shop was founded as a blacksmith shop, but also provided sharpening for plowshares for farmers and ranchers.
“When we were kids, our dad worked alone a lot in winter,” Les said. “Since he didn’t have a lot to do, he made tools, like presses that he could use for later, some of which we still use today.”
The Camerons’ shop opens directly onto Main Street, next to a yard full of heavy equipment, scrap iron and assorted implements waiting for repair or recycling.
“Wood River Welding has long been a vital and productive business in Bellevue,” Mayor Chris Koch said. “They have served the city of Bellevue and Blaine County for over 68 years, building, repairing, fabricating and performing miracles for the commercial and agricultural industries, tourists and right on down to the everyday household needs of everyday residents.”
Since 1973, the company has been expanded by the junior Camerons to suit evolving industries. They now repair machinery for excavation and contracting companies, and take care of more obscure projects for a host of other clients.
“I suppose we would be called millwrights,” Les said. “We work on a lot of different stuff. We do some welding, some machine work and some mechanicing, as well as some on-the-spot engineering. It’s gotten pretty strange at times. We scratch our heads and figure out how to make things work.”
Ed graduated from Bellevue High School and served five years in the Navy. He and Marge are blessed with three children and four grandchildren.
Les graduated from Hailey High School and served for many years on the Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission. Les and Thelma are blessed with four children and two grandchildren. Both Ed and Les have been active in the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and the Calvary Bible Church. Both families live on Glendale Road across from Poverty Flats.
Les reflected with a Mountain Express reporter a few years ago about the changes he has seen over the years in his hometown. He was named grand marshal in 2007.
“It’s nice to be thought of this way, but this year we got the whole family,” he said.
He said Bellevue is still a small town with community residents.
“The people that live here are year-round residents, not like up north [in Ketchum and Sun Valley]. “For a while, Bellevue was trying to be more like Hailey and Ketchum, trying to be more scenic. It wasn’t very friendly from a business perspective. Bellevue never quite fit the scenic-corridor plan the county had in mind. People eventually realized Bellevue is Bellevue and it needs to retain its character.”
Les said he’s not sure which vehicle to ride in for Monday’s parade.
“We have my dad’s old 1968 pickup truck. Maybe we’ll shine that up and take everyone for a ride, or at least as many in our family as are around that day.”
Tony Evans: firstname.lastname@example.org