Hap Summers, centennial man
Throughout the 2011 year, Price City has spent the better part of the spring and summer celebrating the town's centennial birthday, adding a festive flair to county events all year long.
In East Carbon, local resident Harold "Hap" Leroy Summers and those close to him have had their own centennial to celebrate, as the life long coal miner and motorcycle enthusiast reached his 100th birthday on July 24.
"My father was always known as a very happy guy," explained Hap's son Danny via telephone Tuesday night. "I guess that where his nickname came from, it started when he was young and it stuck. Just about everybody in this whole town knows my dad as Hap."
Leroy Summers was born on a ranch near Hotchkiss, Colo., where from a very young age, he learned to work the land with his father.
The family soon moved to Carbon County where they found homes in Springfield, Price and eventually Columbia.
A young Hap who had already lost his mother by this time was running a team of horses with his father.
"Columbia was a great place for my father," explained Danny. "Even though they lived in some fairly Spartan conditions which included a tent with wood floor and a tare paper shack. At that time, my dad was educated at the Columbia Schoolhouse and played ball for several different teams in the small city."
It was during this period, that Hap's reputation as a kid who liked fast cars began to grow. And just as he loved the up and coming machines, he enjoy the speed they provided even more.
"To tell the story for those that don't know, Hap was racing another hotrod down the Dug Way, which is a steep hill here in Dragerton," said East Carbon's Bo Huff, via his Facebook page. "He ran into a heard of sheep, killing two or three. He said they must have been the best sheep around because the guy charged his dad four or five dollars for each sheep way back then (1925). I asked him how fast the car was and his son said "It must have been faster than sheep."
Danny reported that when Hap's father died at the age of 16, he was taken in by Pete Jones and the McCourt Family working the railroad to make a living.
"Something most people don't know about my father is the fact that he played a mean six string guitar," said Summers. "He loved to play music and truth be told he was pretty good at it. The last time I saw him with his band they were all decked out, wash tub player and all."
While Summers was a good picker, most locals have found it hard to make a living playing music in the Castle Valley. With that in mind, Hap found his life's calling in 1932, when he began working for Geneva Steel at their Columbia, Somerset, Colo., and Horse Canyon Mines.
"My dad was one of the first local men to join the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)," said Danny Summers with pride. "That fact was something that has always been close to my father's heart.
In addition to fast automobiles, Hap also enjoyed motorcycles and according to Danny, his father owned two of the first Indian and Harley Davidson Motorcycles in the area.
According to Danny, Hap spent most of his career with Geneva as a mechanic, one who preferred to be above ground working on support equipment than underground.
"Most everybody preferred the top," laughed Danny. " It's a little easier to make it to 100-years-old when you're not underground all of the time."
Hap was a good father by all accounts and took custody of his young children when he and his wife divorced when Danny was only 8-years-old.
"I was my father's only child and he took great care of me as far as I'm concerned," said Danny. "He was always a very health conscious man who loved tea and apricots, hell maybe that's why his still so healthy.
Hap was honored at this year's Community Daze celebration for his centennial achievement and overall contribution to the city.
Any local you ask about the city's elder statesmen will tell you he a great person to be around, someone who can illicit a laugh from anyone, a trait not found in many.
"My father has been a joy to be around, he sleeps at his place and eats at mine, heck they way he's going, he might outlive us all," concluded Summers.
Harold "Hap" Leroy Summers is the proud father of one son, Danny, 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.