When Curt was young boy he witnessed a fire get out of hand and knew immediately that he had a calling. For 41 years he’s been answering that call.
Born and raised in Onida, his mother and little sister are still there.
“Rawstern spelled like this is not a common name” said Curt, “so if you run into it, they are related.”
Growing up with a dad who raced stock cars and worked at Lamb Chevrolet, Curt found joy in cars. His first vehicle was a green ‘34 Chevy pick-up truck that he wishes he still had. It took him a few weeks to fix it up and he eventually traded it for a ’54 model.
After high school, Curt pursued his interest in mechanics with further schooling at the Votech in Mitchell. In 1977 a job placement through the school landed him employment as a mechanic for the Akaska Coop. He’s been in this area ever since.
A year after moving to Akaska a mutual friend introduced him to Diane. They dated for about a year before they were married in December of 1979. They have three children, Brian 36, Jacque 34 and Michael 24.
A lot of Curt’s cooking finesse can be attributed to Diane’ grandmother, a cook for the Good Sam for years and someone with a good sense of humor. Curt laughs as he recalls her special recipe for pop-corn chicken.
“For a long time I didn’t have a choice, I had to cook, I was a bachelor until I was 25.” Curt said, “and college was a lot of trial and error.”
He recalls in college every Sunday after church someone would cook Sunday dinner.
“If I had any questions, I’d call home and ask mom for a recipe and that’s what I’d get and throw it together,” he said.
Thus they were ensured at least an occasional hot meal.
Now Curt often grills.
“I do like my steak” he said.
He also mentioned that a favorite standby is potatoes grilled a in way that his dad showed him, in a grill bag.
“My family fights over it,” he said. “If there’s not crunchies in the bottom of the bag, they’re mad at me.”
By crunchies, he means the pan-fried-esque over cooked bits. Curt said the hardest part is finding the bags, but it’s worth it.
Curt started in the Akaska Fire Department shortly after he arrived in 1977. He became Fire Chief in 1980. The Akaska Coop closed and in December of 1994 he went to work for John Deere as a service tech and is still there. He took over as fire chief in Selby in 1996.
In mid-1980s Curt became involved with the State Fire Fighters Board as the Northwest District Director and served an area from Eureka to Harding County and down to U.S. Highway 212. The State Fire Fighters Board is responsible for setting up the state fire school and writing legislation beneficial to the cause. Curt was active in getting the Blue Light Law passed which allows volunteers responding to an emergency to run a blue light on their personal vehicle. The blue light alerts civilian traffic to the need of the vehicle to access the right of way. Curt served for 14 years until he said, “Politics got hot and heavy and I got out of it.”
He’s also an advocate for the pull over law.
“If you ride in the front of the rig some time you’ll see how many people don’t pull over.” It’s dangerous for the drivers and for responders and it’s a state law.
The scariest moment Curt ever had on the fire crew was in 2006 or 2008.
“We burned up a truck,” said Curt. “The fire is beating on your back and you turn around and run. Brian was with me, we could have had a double funeral that day real easy.”
Curt Rawstern’s Recipes
5-7 medium potatoes washed and sliced-peeled if desired
1 medium to large onions sliced or quartered
1 red or green bell pepper sliced
1 stick of butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
Throw all of the ingredients into the grill bag and grill on the top rack for about an hour.
2 lbs. hamburger
2 packets taco seasoning
4 cups noodles
2 cups milk
2 cans mushroom soup
2 chopped onions
2 packets white cheese
2 cans chili beans
Mix together noodles, milk, mushroom soup, cheese, and chili beans. Bake for 25 min at 350. Meanwhile brown hamburger and taco mix in skillet. Drain. Return to pan with chopped onions; stir until onions are soft. Add hamburger to noodle mixture and simmer for 10 minutes.
1 lb. of hamburger
1 bag of poultry stuffing, crunched in the bag
Seasonings to taste
Mix first three ingredients in a large bowl until evenly blended. Form meat into a loaf shape and place in a baking dish. Pour some tomato sauce over the top and cover loosely with foil. Bake at 350 for an hour. Remove foil and pour a little more tomato sauce over the top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese with 15 minutes remaining. Enjoy.
Dressing for Pop-corn Chicken
2 cups dressing cubes
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups unpopped popcorn
1/2 lb. oleo
1/2 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic
Combine all ingredients. Stuff chicken and roast at 350. Chicken is done when the popcorn pops and blows the back end out of the chicken.