Influenza Epidemic in Minnesota, 1918

“I had a little bird, its name was Enza. I opened the window, and In-Flu-Enza!” Children innocently sang this rhyme while playing and skipping rope during the 1918 influenza pandemic that caused an estimated fifty million deaths worldwide. 675,000 of these were in the United States; over 10,000 were in Minnesota.

“Tony Passes,” 1931.

“Tony Passes,” 1931.

Originally published in 1931, “Tony Passes” was published by multiple newspapers following Peterson’s death from complications of tuberculosis a year later. Moe, Lawrence. “The Poetry of Colorado Pete.” Shevlin, MN: Clearwater County Historical Society, 2008.

Arthur Peterson

Arthur Peterson

Arthur Peterson weaving with a peg loom during one of his convalescent periods, ca. early 1930s. Moe, Lawrence. “The Poetry of Colorado Pete.” Shevlin, MN: Clearwater County Historical Society, 2008.

“Nothing Will Matter,” 1930.

“Nothing Will Matter,” 1930.

Originally published in March of 1930, “Nothing Will Matter” displays Peterson’s frequent themes of lost love and melancholy. Moe, Lawrence. “The Poetry of Colorado Pete.” Shevlin, MN: Clearwater County Historical Society, 2008.

“Mother’s Memory Quilt,” 1929

“Mother’s Memory Quilt,” 1929

Peterson wrote this poem from a hospital in Arizona for his mother while she was gravely ill in Minnesota in hopes that she would see it in the Chicago Tribune. She didn’t live to see “Memory Quilt;” it was coincidentally published on the day of her funeral. Moe, Lawrence. “The Poetry of Colorado Pete.” Shevlin, MN: Clearwater County Historical Society, 2008.

“The Mesa Wind Blows Soft,” 1926

“The Mesa Wind Blows Soft,” 1926

Originally published December 8, 1926. Moe, Lawrence. “The Poetry of Colorado Pete.” Shevlin, MN: Clearwater County Historical Society, 2008.

“I am a Weaver,” 1925

“I am a Weaver,” 1925

Moe, Lawrence. “The Poetry of Colorado Pete.” Shevlin, MN: Clearwater County Historical Society, 2008.

“I Want a Pal,” 1924

“I Want a Pal,” 1924

One of Peterson’s most popular poems with readers, “I Want a Pal” displayed the western motifs inspired by his stay at a Colorado sanitarium which became his signature style. His sentimental style earned him hundreds of fan letters from women around the Midwest. Moe, Lawrence. “The Poetry of Colorado Pete.” Shevlin, MN: Clearwater County Historical Society, 2008.

Arthur Peterson and Andrew Peterson

Arthur Peterson and Andrew Peterson

Arthur Peterson (right) with his brother Andrew, 1919.

Peterson, Arthur O. “Colorado Pete” (1896‒1932)

Though his life was tragically short, Colorado Pete made his mark on the history of Clearwater County, Minnesota, through both his civic activities and his poetry.

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