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wild montana memories

August 31, 2010

Here are some excerpts from a reunion speech given by my great uncle Harold, age 90. His sister Alma, age 93, thinks that he is full of wild stories, so let’s not take them too seriously! I edited for length and added the tiniest bit of punctuation.

Our parents homesteaded in Montana, rather a wild country, wild horses, wild bear, antelope, rabbits, sage hens, anyway, that’s the way they raised their offspring—WILD! We needed a guardian angel! I have a couple of stories to tell you about my life in Montana.


It was free range. I remember milking cows. After morning milking we chased the cows north. Then it came time for evening milking. Mother boarded the horse and went looking for the cows. (This is one of my long ago secrets) I was hoping and praying she wouldn’t find them. It got late and I started smiling. No milking tonight! Then low and behold, I saw dust in the south and my smile quickly faded. My mother had found the cows.


One morning I got up and Mother said they are going to town. Wow! Eight years old and my first trip to town! Why she picked me over the other offspring I’ll never know. The town was Mile City, even the name sounded big! Away we went 50 miles, no blacktop. When we got there Mother and I walked down the street. All of a sudden she came to an abrupt halt. She was looking in a large window so I looked in too. Low and behold there sat two girls…. We started walking again and I heard Mother say, “That’s aweful, why are the painting their lips with that red barn paint!” I thought they looked beautiful. That was the high light of my trip to the big city.


When we were kids we had to walk to the country school…. One day one of us kids had a problem. It seemed Miss Oarlock had not explained things very good to him so helpful me raised my hand. “What do you want Harold?” I told her “my dad said that you should do a better job explaining things.” I knew immediately that I should NOT have raised my hand. Miss Oarlock jumped straight in the air, leaped over  two rows of desks and got me by the ear! You might notice that my left ear is a little longer than my right. Where was my guardian angel? She must of thought I had it coming.


…I heard my folks talking. They said we have to leave Montana our offspring are just getting too wild. So one day my dad took off and ended up in McIntosh…. He came home and told us he had bought a ranch. What a ranch it turned out to be. What little grass there was the horses and cattle had to share with a million prairie dogs…. We never did go hungry—pretty close a few times. One day Mother said there was nothing to eat for supper could you see if you could shoot a rabbit. So away I went guardian angel at my side. It wasn’t long and there was my rabbit. I shot him and drug him home. We had rabbit fir supper and it was delicious. The best meal I ever ate.


One day Mother was just played out taking care of her wild offspring. So Alma took over…. She said “I will take you kids for a ride.” Wow, what a treat. So we all piled in the car…. Well us kids in the back started acting up. We must have gotten on Alma’s nerves, she picked up something from the floor a club or a tire wrench and let go of the steering wheel, stood up and hit me right on my head. My hair has not been manageable since.

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