Monday, June 22, 2009

View From The Bridge

"VIEW from the BRIDGE”
by Muncie Morger

On Saturday evening, open to the public (for a fee,) will be the Meagher Dedication Dinner at the Ag Center. There will be a no host cocktail hour from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and dinner will begin at 6:00 p.m. The buffet style dinner includes Guinness Beef Stew, salad, and Irish soda bread. The Master of Ceremonies is Paul Wylie, author of The Irish General. The speaker is our own Montana State Lieutenant Governor John Bollinger.

Entertainment for the evening will include Jack Kelly singing the Irish National Anthem and other Irish songs, The Helena Community Irish Dancers, the Ashling Dancers from Anaconda, and the Shamrockers from Poulson. Tickets are available at the V.F.W. Club House or at the door. Come join in some Irish fun.

Some new events for the Kids are the t-shirts (for a fee) they can color with fabric magic markers. Also, watch for the three Mediocre Magic Ventriloquy shows on Saturday afternoon either in the Old Fort Park or somewhere on Front St. Check with the information booth for the locations as at this time they have not been set. Compare it to a treasure hunt.

I received by first fan letter, in ten years, this past week. It was addressed to Mrs. Muncie Morger “View of the Bridge Editor.” (Watch out Tim, I gaining on you.) Not only was I flattered but the fact that it was hand written in this day of word processors and computers brought back memories of the days we all hand wrote letters. I just cannot imagine hand written letters because of the time involved. The letter was from Gertrude Weinhaar (sister of Betty Postal) and was verifying a story that I wrote about the Army Air Corps, Squadron No. 331st, who were in Fort Benton during WWII. I had said that those “protectors of our country” stayed at the Fair Grounds. That statement was disputed (cannot remember who disputed it) saying that the Squadron stayed at the baseball field. Gertrude said that she wanted to write at that time, but didn’t, as she remembered that they did stay at the Fairgrounds. She said that the population of Fort Benton doubled, the Culbertson House was filled to capacity, and many couples stayed in private homes. An officer and his wife stayed with her neighbors, Mabel and Alvin Jones ( uncle of John Jones, Fort Benton school teacher who has passed.)

Gertrude lives in Fairfield but has always subscribed to the River Press. She had always wanted to visit me when she came to Fort Benton to visit her sister, but did not have the opportunity to do that. She finally decided to write the letter (which will be one of my treasures filed with my copies of the “View.”) Her final motivation to write was my mention of “There’s a Star Spangled Banner Waving Some Where.” It was a favorite of her brother’s and he especially liked the line, “A mountain boy like me could help to bring the axis down a peg.” On the internet last evening, after an hour and a half search (my computer hates me,) I found the lyrics. Before Gertrude reads this weeks “View,” she will have received in the mail the story of how the song was written and the lyrics. Your letter was so special Gertrude.

Over the years as the Old Bridge was extended, the lighting was not. Now one of our fairly new Fort Bentonites ( born in Great Falls and raised in Fort Benton) is driven with a desire to finishthe job. In fact, he would like it done historically with the lights put on the upper beams so the light would project downward instead of upward. He made me aware (as I walked the Bridge today) of the many conduits and wires for the present lighting. This would all be eliminated with the new design. Two of the original lights still can be seen on the crossbeams. So look for Randy Morger’s table at the Summer Celebration Art on the Levee in Old Fort Park. Stop to say hello to Randy who has been in Fort Benton for about two years (if you have not yet met him.) You can also make your contribution to the new lighting. Randy will in turn give you a raffle ticket and the person whose name is picked will be the one to push the switch to light up the Old Bridge for the first time. There is an Old Bridge Lighting Ceremony in the making but probably not until next year. This project is just in the beginning stages and that means, “get the money first.”

This past week the accumulated order of courtyard bricks were placed around the Shep bronze. Gail Stensland is the devoted caretaker of the courtyard bricks and installed about a dozen of them. This is a tremendous job and I would like to see someone who is a Shep devotee, step forward and take over the caretaker job. Gail, of course, would take that person on as an apprentice as there are a few little details involved with ordering, picking up, and installing of the bricks. Please come forward a.s.a.p. as a clean slate is now in order and you could begin from scratch (so to speak.)

An avid reader of my stuff is my oldest son, Johnny. Not to be outdone with my comment about “you heard it here first,” he had to send the following to me with the statement “you heard the real reasons here second.”

Association with firefighters…Particularly in the United States, the use of Dalmatians as carriage dogs was transferred to horse drawn fire engines, although it is unclear why this link was not made in other countries. Today the Dalmatian serves as a firehouse mascot but back in the days of horse-drawn fire carts, they provided a valuable service. Dalmatians and horses are very compatible, so the dogs were easily trained in front of carriages to help clear a path and quickly guide the horses and firefighters to the fire. The dogs were sometimes also used a rescue dogs to locate victims in burning structures. Dalmatians are often considered to make good watchdogs and it is believed that Dalmatians have been useful to fire brigades as guard dogs used to protect the firehouse and its equipment. The horses have long gone but the Dalmatians by tradition have stayed. As a result, in the United States, Dalmatians are commonly known as firedogs. Dalmatians are still chosen by many firefighters as pets, in honor of their heroism in the past. Now you have heard the second real reasons here first. The end.

Remember the excitement of a few years ago when Perry Stupey was building a boat on the riverfront to travel down stream to St. Louis because his father had done it many years before. During Perry’s stay, he managed in his spare time to steal the heart of the beautiful widow, Juanita. They sailed away together, did not quite finish the trip, and return to Fort Benton every summer after being Snow Birds in the winter. They are back in Fort Benton for the summer and had a wonderful story about a trip they made recently. I do not have any more space this week but will relate it next week. Welcome back!

What an exciting and full week we had and hope that you had the same. Father’s Day celebrations were awesome. The rain was so welcome and don’t you love the smell in the air after the rain. I wish I could bottle it. Actually, at Jack Smith’s gift shop in Valier, I found and bought a bottle of Montana Air. On the label it said, “Pure Montana Air…Out Of Staters, Please Administer Only Small Whiffs As Montana Air May Cause Extreme Euphoria. Free Refills In Original Container. No Refills Allowed Out of State.” No place but in Montana.

Just wanted to know…are you putting on your seat belts in town? I am getting used to it and it is not so bad. It only takes a second. Are you doing one good deed a day? I cannot believe how it comes back a hundred fold. Enjoy this weekend to the fullest.