Sherrie Lidderdale has lived in Black Forest about 20 years, and has been a member of the Black Forest Community Club for 18 or so of those years, although she said she is not a “real club type person.”
In fact, she said her husband, Cal, "Kind of grabbed me kicking and screaming" to get her to go in the first place. But as it turned out, she said, "It was a really, really good way to get to know people in Black Forest."
The club was chartered in 1929 as a social organization for families in Black Forest. It celebrated its 90th anniversary this summer, with Lidderdale and Dawn Sciarrotta contributing a handmade quilt for a raffle.
The quilt, Lidderdale is quick to say, "Was Dawn's idea. She was the driving force and paid for most of the fabric. I was just kind of a helper."
The nonprofit club sponsors Boy Scout Troop 70 and Cub Scout Pack 70. With growth an issue in the area, the club has a standing committee, the Black Forest Land Use Committee.
"We're just concerned about the growth out here, and we're kind of powerless to do much about it, because the county commissioners ignore the preservation plan," Lidderdale said. "As a group, the club has been interested in preserving as much of Black Forest as we can, but the growth is just unbelievable."
She worries that growth will disrupt the peaceful nature of Black Forest.
"It's quiet," she said of the forest. "At night, you can see stars. When the weather is like this, everything is green and lush and pretty. I grew up a suburban kid, so your neighbor was a handshake away. Here it's just so much more isolated and private."
Lidderdale is a native Californian. "I was a corporate brat; and my dad moved around all over the place, mostly up and down the coast of California." But she went to high school in Montana, where she met Cal.
Her traveling ways continued after she married her first husband, who worked for a company that moved them all over the Midwest. They ended up stuck in Texas when the company went under.
"I hated Texas," she said. And when her marriage crumbled, "I thought it was a really good time to just start over again. So I kind of ran away from home and came here. I loved the mountains, I loved the climate, everything about it."
And the area had one other thing: Cal — the Montana native and high school classmate had been living in Black Forest since the mid-1980s.
“It's funny," Lidderdale said. "You get curious about people; and, with the internet now, it's easy to connect. We met up on Classmates.com." A simple "hi, how are you doing?" led her to visit Cal — and a romance blossomed that resulted in her second marriage.
Lidderdale worked as a graphic designer after moving to Colorado; now 74, she retired a decade ago.
"The downside of being retired is now I have the ‘mañana syndrome,’ where nothing gets done,” she said. “It’s always 'I'll do it tomorrow,' so I really have to force myself to be as productive as I want. I belong to two book clubs; I love to read, I taught myself quilting, so I do a lot of that. I get together with friends for lunch and all of that kind of stuff. We have three rescue dogs, and they keep us busy."
Their home was spared in the Black Forest fire, but it was a close call; the fire stopped on the ground across the street. But it didn't reach their trees, nor was there any smoke damage in the house. When they returned home after evacuating, they were mystified to hear voices inside; it was their TV, which they had neglected to turn off in their rush to flee.
"It was a crazy experience, probably the most profound one I've ever been through," Lidderdale said of the fire. Her husband continues to listen to the fire scanner, but she doesn’t like it. "It gives me flashbacks."
After all that moving around in her younger years, Lidderdale admitted to getting restless sometimes. "Every once in a while, I get itchy feet."
However, she said it is too much work to move. And besides, she added, ”It’s a really great community."
Sherrie Lidderdale enjoys life in Black Forest with her husband, Cal, and three rescue dogs. Photo by Bill Radford