Tuesday, May 26, 2009

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
by Muncie Morger

Stories from newly arrived members of the community always fascinated me. This past week I met three newcomers. At the Volunteers Training Session held in the conference room of the Ag Center offices on Tuesday the 19th, Donna Brinkerhoff was introduced by Bob Doerk. She moved to Fort Benton from Kalispell six weeks ago. She had visited Fort Benton several times before and had only toured the Ag Museum. She is really into history and walked into the Ag offices to apply for a guide position. What a surprise when she found out about the other museum, the Village, the Fort Tour, and the B.L.M. Center. When you visit the Ag, be sure to say hello and welcome.

Two of the three of the newly arrived are husband and wife, Margaret and Joe Lozar. They are permanent RV’ers and are working at the B.L.M. Interpretive Center this summer. They picked Fort Benton from the Internet and are going to be very helpful to the Center. The list of places where they have been is the longest I have ever heard. Remember the song that was sung at the C.C.P.A. event, “I’ve been everywhere man, I’ve been everywhere.” Well, that should certainly be their theme song. Again, when you visit the Center, be sure to say hello and welcome.

At the Joel Overholser Research Center on the same date, MerleAnne McLeish was doing research about her grandparents. She is the granddaughter of Mrs. Dorothy McLeish (first president of Fort Benton Woman’s Club) and someone noted that she looks exactly like her Aunt Antoinette who appears on the Woman’s Club photo hanging in the front stairway wall of the Library. MerleAnne had come to Fort Benton that day to put flowers on the McLeish gravesite. She was also doing research in the Joel Overholser Research Center about the Ragland family to whom she is related. Charles Ragland was married to Ida McLeish who was a sister of her grandfather, Arthur McLeish. MerleAnne works for an advertising agency but what impressed me was that she is the Recording Secretary of the Great Falls Genealogy Society. The Center was happy to accommodate her and any of you readers who want to research your families. Please bring pictures, stories and most coveted, diaries. “A people without a history is like the wind in the buffalo grass.”

Another Informational Workshop for Volunteers was held on Wednesday the 20th at the B.L.M. Interpretive Center. They had invited Alan Leftridge who is a motivational speaker on “How to Meet, Greet and Keep your Visitors Coming to Your Community.” It was a daylong workshop beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 4:00 p.m. The day flew by and for most of the eighteen people there, our thought was that everyone that has anything to do with visitors, should have been there.

There were countless ways suggested to first meet, then greet, and then keep your visitor interested in Fort Benton. For instance, about the meeting of visitors, the volunteer sitting behind the desk would stand to meet the visitor. For the greeting instead of saying, “where are you from?” you would say, “where is your hometown?” Even though the person might be from New York or California, their hometown would be the most important place for them. Keeping the visitor interested would not be difficult in Fort Benton because we have so much to offer but the volunteer would have to draw out of the visitor what would hold their interest the most.
Another very interesting subject was that most people like a story. If the volunteer can work an applicable story into the conversation that would be a plus. One would almost have to read minds because you also have to discern whether the visitor wants to talk or does not want to talk, whether the visitor is in a hurry or has all the time in the world and last but not least or they having a good or bad hair day.

Here is one more lesson that we learned. When you answer the phone, always have a smile on your face. Your voice has everything to do with the attitude you project to the caller.
We wish that we could have Alan with us all the time but he had to move on to his next destination. He told me that he does about fifty (50) workshops a year and that is a lot of moving around. He had not been to Fort Benton before and said that he is coming back soon. Frankly, that is what most of our visitors tell us because we are the best-kept secret in Montana.

Class of 59’
Jo Alice Juedeman sent this report this past week. The Class of ’59 has gotten a wonderful response for their 50th year reunion. They plan to start the event on Friday evening, June 26th with a casual get-together at the Franklin Guest House. It is to be hosted by Denny and June Bough. The class will participate in Saturday’s parade and afterward meet for a B.B.Q. at the home of Jim and Caroleen Willets. On Saturday evening, the class will gather at the Grand Union for a banquet, visiting, and enjoying Summer Celebration activities with classmates, families and friends.
Class of ‘69
I was asked to report “not to be outdone, the Class of ’69 would have details next week.” That will be four weeks and two days before Celebration. (ed.) Better late than never Valerie.
Class of ‘89
Also, have been promised by the Class of ’89 that there would be forthcoming information on their reunion. Kim, I can see, since it isn’t really your reunion, that the work you are doing has added to your already overloaded plate. Perhaps you could just tell me on Friday at the Salon and I will take notes. Just kidding. You still have plenty of time.

The schedules have been completed and I have a copy in my hand. You will be able to pick one up almost anywhere in town or download it off the Internet at http://www.fortbenton.com/sumcel/. It is jam-packed and should be one of the best ever. I think they just keep getting better each year. Invite all your family and friends especially those who have never been to a Celebration before.

There was a good crowd at the Old Bridge on Monday and many of them followed the V.F.W. to the cemetery. My question to several people was, “Why doesn’t Fort Benton have anything going on for this holiday?” Would like to hear from you if you have any ideas like a community picnic, games for the children, a baseball game, and just visiting with friends and neighbors.

Last week I reported that there were 4 million men and women in WWII and there were 1 ½ million living. Wrong. One person only corrected me and that was guess who? I waited all week but did not hear from anyone else. Randy checked the Internet for the correct figures, there were 16.1 million Americans involved with WWII, and there are 2.1 million still living. God bless them all including all wars and God bless America.