Tuesday, July 28, 2009

View From The Bridge 7/29/09

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
By Muncie Morger

Lewis and Clark Canoe Expeditions owner, Jim Cummings, thought it a great idea to name his boat with a contest. The winner would get a grand prize of an evening cruise on the river for two. The contest will be handled in this manner. An independent would be called and the name for the boat and the callers name would be recorded. For the judging, only the entrant’s number and boat name would be given to a panel of judges. I will be one of judges and am telling my family, friends or any other persons I speak with, not to tell me what name you have entered. Therefore, there would be no way for me to know who entered what names. I will not accept any bribes (as have already been offered.) I will make sure that the other judges are honest (we are considering the four mayoral candidates.) This should be a fun event so please participate. Well, the best-laid plans…It is Monday 2:00 p.m. and I have to get this article in a.s.a.p. I have made half dozen phone calls to involve an independent person to take the phone calls but cannot reach anyone at home. Therefore, I am declining the judge position and I will take the phone calls at 899-1380.

I received a phone call from Beverly Grass who was doing her shift at the Visitors Information Center. She said that a couple was there and that she knew I would like to talk with them. Shoni (love that name) and her husband Ron Maulding were to embark on a canoe trip the next morning. The fascinating part about this trip is the canoe that they owned. Ron was Hobby Director for six years at the new Deer Lodge Prison. The canoe was built there, made from cedar strips by prisoners in his Hobby Class. One of the prisoners was an artist and he painted a logo on both sides of the canoe. The logo is two feathers with Shoni’s name detailed on it. They did not have any pictures available and said that upon their return, on August 3rd, they would send photos. Beverly and her husband, Lionel, had the foresight to go to the Chouteau County Campground to see the canoe and logo. They said it was so beautiful and like nothing, they had ever seen before. I do remember seeing a canoe at the Chouteau County Fair last summer. It too was beautiful to behold and I took a picture of it. I am eager to get the pictures from the Maulding’s so you out there in computer land can see them.

Shoni and Ron are also artists. Ron does handcrafted sterling silver and Shoni does hitched horsehair items. If you want to see some unusual pieces of art go to http://www.hitchedhorsehair.com/ I am happy that they chose Fort Benton to visit and left a little of themselves behind in their story.

What a Yippee-Aye-O time the town of Fort Benton had Friday and Saturday evening. The picnic in the Old Fort Park on Friday had a turnout of about one hundred people. Steve and Leslie Ide and Steve Johnson are the greatest musicians in the west. They stick strictly to the old, old cowboy music and their repertoire is outstanding (how can they remember all those song lyrics.) They seem tireless as young people usually are. Then again, on Saturday evening, they performed on the Grand Union patio. Their program was different from Friday night and equally enjoyable. Both evenings the weather was very warm but tolerable. Saturday evening became overcast, then a few dark clouds, and some lightening in the distance but it did not make us scurry for cover at all.

The Old West Trio has been in existence for sixteen years and Steve Johnson joined them six years ago. It was a “by-chance” involvement as Steve was at an engagement of the Trio and played with them for fun. The third member decided to leave and Steve was in. I loved their story about their guitars. Their instruments are hand carved and crafted in China. There was a man in Beijing who was interested in making the perfect guitar although he knew that the U.S. market was saturated. He came to the U.S., studied the craft, and returned to China to begin his company. The Ides’ cannot remember his name and he has since passed away. His company now competes with Gibson (the previous best guitar one could purchase…in our opinion.) The Old West Trio chose to come to Fort Benton because they read about the Grand Union in a magazine. They came last year to spend a couple of days and made an agreement with the Gagnon’s to play on the patio. They have an offering jar and that is all they ask. They do have their CD’s which they said helps them purchase gas to CA if we wanted them out of MT. The audience agreed that they return every summer.

Two new residents have come to live in our town in the last three weeks. Katie Nelson was born and raised in Geraldine and graduated in “57. After 25 years in MT, she moved to California and was there for 25 years. She is now retired and has moved to Fort Benton as she has her good friend Sandy Bramlette since age 12 here. As young girls they barrel raced, and they trained horses together. Katie also trained horses in CA and is a “Jill of all trades.” She told me the neatest story about a cattle drive from the Shonkins, which would be the last drive to be delivered to the train depot. The conversation started with my question if she knew what happened to the Woman’s Club bench (no, she does not know.) The cattle drive was involved because Jim Stillman drove the long horned wild cattle right down the middle of Main St. Some of the cattle scattered and ended up in Club Park where the Woman’s Clubhouse stood in the middle. The women were having a meeting and could not leave because of the wild steers around, snorting and bellowing. Can’t you just picture it? That was a great story Katie. I do not think anything that exciting will happen in Fort Benton but as you already know, our town offers many good times. Welcome!

Our next new resident is Diane Jones whose family moved to F.B. from Texas when she was in the 2nd grade. Her uncle, Dick Cassutt, offered her father employment. She graduated from the high school in ’76 and Shane Morger was one of her classmates. She has been one of those, “I’ve Been Everywhere Man, I’ve Been Everywhere” people. She was in the Air Force for four years and she managed a drug store and gift shop in Spokane for eight years. Her brother acquired a bar in Martin City, MT in ‘87 and asked that she help him out which she did for three years. She then acquired a position in the Court House in Kalispell as a clerk and that is what brought her back to Fort Benton. She would like to run for the Clerk and Recorder position when our darling, JoAnn Johnson, retires next year. I just hope that Diane bakes lemon bars as well as JoAnn.

There were comments traveling around town about why wasn’t “The Bear”paraded down Front St. when captured? Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Great Falls were able to see him and take pictures. The other comment was that there are grants and fund raisers being started to do a bronze of the Bear. That would be a wonderful addition to our Levee, don’t you think? Comments welcome.

F.M., S.I.T.P., & T.O.C.C.
In alphabetical order in order, to not show preference, the Farmer’s Market will take place in the Old Fort Park (instead of the Levee) a week from this Thursday, on August 6th. Shakespeare in the Park will also be that evening as well as Taste of Chouteau County. So get yourselves to the Old Fort Park that evening for another exciting event in Fort Benton. Put it on your calendar right now and call your friends and neighbors to remind them.

Theresa Barrett, owner of the Benton RV Park, had a visitor last weekend. It was her father, Ed, who lives in Kalispell. He had a stand set up near the highway and was selling huckleberries, donut peaches, tomatoes, and cherries. He will be back again Friday and Saturday. He would like those who want huckleberries to call Theresa at 622-5015 with orders. Huckleberries do not keep that well so orders would help. Did you ask, what are donut peaches? They are the best peaches we have ever eaten and they look like a donut. Give them a try.

The fourth line reads, “If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. Be honest and frank anyway.” GOD BLESS AMERICA, MONTANA AND FORT BENTON