Be like Ruth, follow your dreams
Published: Thursday, May 29th, 2014
I hate to admit it now, but when I first started working at Crazy Horse Memorial I didn’t know much about the Ziolkowski family or even why a monument was being dedicated to the Native Americans. Fast forward six years, I now know the family, the reason behind the monument and their future hopes and goals. And in my four full summers of working at Crazy Horse, I learned about the importance, dedication and hard work of following your dreams, all from Mrs. Z.
I first met Mrs. Z, which is what all of us employees call her, in May 2008. I had just finished my first year at South Dakota State University and applied to work in Laughing Water Restaurant. Apart from babysitting in high school, this was my first job, so I was pretty nervous. After meeting some people in the restaurant, I was taken to a small office so I could clock in. As I walked to leave the restaurant, an older woman came in the door. She smiled to me and said hello, asking my name since she had never seen me before.
“I'm Carrie. This is my first job. I just moved to Custer. I go to SDSU,” I rambled. Did I mention I was nervous?
She just gave her signature smile. “That's wonderful. We're very glad to have you here.” Then she took my hand into hers and gave it a squeeze. “I look forward to talking with you this summer.”
As I left, I looked over to the person walking me out and gave him a quizzical look. “Who was that?”
I don't remember who walked me to clock in, but I remember the look he gave me: pure shock. “That's Mrs. Z. Ruth? Her husband started the carving!”
That was my first lesson on Mrs. Z. My second came later that week. As I was clocking out one night, she came out of her office to put some paperwork in another person’s box. She gave me a smile, addressed me by name and asked about my first week. I took the opportunity to tell her that my great-grandmother and mom traveled out here in the ’70s and could remember when the roads were all dirt and Mrs. Z was working in the gift shop.
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