Tuesday, May 4, 2010

View From The Bridge 5/5/2010

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
by Muncie

In spite of the winter storm that hit much of Montana, Fort Benton was spared a snowstorm and welcomed a great rainfall. The Missouri waters are almost covering the piers and the trees are budding out. The green is such a beautiful sight as one drives up or down the streets in town. On Friday evening April 30th, I received an e-mail saying that a bouquet of lilacs was picked that afternoon from their tree. I scurried out with a flashlight to check ours but they will not be in full bloom for a few days yet.

I also failed to report a couple of weeks ago that the Jaden Good and his dad, Charles, sighted a humming bird. The bird must have been on its migration path. The Good’s have no flowers in their yard, as yet, so the bird could not be looking for a snack. Good spotting Jaden.

This Conference is another exciting event that will bring many historians and other visitors to our town. It is the 150th Anniversary Mullan Road Conference to be held May 20th, 21st, and 22nd. It is time to register for the three-day event and they should be in their hands of the River and Plains Society by Monday, May 17th. For registration, forms call 622-5316 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, or visit the conference web site.

A schedule reads like this: Registration from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 20th at the Museum of the Upper Missouri (known in town as the MUM.) From 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., there will be a tour of Old Fort Benton in Old Fort Park. From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., there will be a reception at Old Fort Benton.

On May 21st there will be Conference Presentations starting after registration from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. There will be a luncheon, several breaks during the day, and will end at 4:00 p.m. There will be an hour break and begin again at 5:00 p.m. with a book signing and a reception. Dinner will be served at 6:00 and our own Burnt Spoon (Bruce Druliner) will be the speaker. Evening will end at 8:30 p.m.

On Saturday, May 22, the day will begin at 8:00 a.m. with a speaker. At 9:00 a.m., buses will depart Fort Benton to follow part of the Mullan Trail. You will visit Sun River Crossing; St. Peter’s Mission and have a box lunch at Bird Tail Stage Stop. At 1:00 p.m., you will be off again for Birdtail Divide, Dearborn Crossing, and Fort Shaw. You will return to Fort Benton at 4:00 p.m.

I know that there are many history buffs in Fort Benton. Take advantage of this conference that may take you to places you have never been before. Sometimes you can have something in your own town (or in your own backyard as the saying goes,) and you have not taken advantage of it. Old Fort Benton is a good example. Have you ever been on a Fort Tour? It is the best history lesson you could have about Fort Benton. The interpretation is phenomenal and the stories that Burnt Spoon tells are like something out of a true storybook.

If you belong to the Civic Improvement Association or donate to the Agricultural Center, you can tour the facilities at no expense. The reaction from visitors at the Visitor’s Information Center is that it is almost unbelievable what Fort Benton has to offer, and they never dreamed it was such a well-done program for a small town. Make it a priority this summer to spend a day visiting the Museum of the Upper Missouri, The Old Fort Benton Tour, The Ag Center Museum that includes the Hornaday Buffalo display room, The Village and the B.L.M. Visitors Center. It comes in a package and so well worth your time.

In a couple of weeks on Friday, May 21st, 22nd and 23rd, there will be held the Spring Classic Fishing Derby in Fort Benton. It should go on your calendar now. There are Adult and Children categories with multiple categories for game and non-game fish. There are many prizes…$500 in cash prizes, 12 mountain bikes, a gas barbecue, a 12-gauge shotgun, 50 rod and reel combos, and t-shirts. If you need to know, more now…go to www.fortbenton.com/derby for registration forms and rules. What a fun time for the youngsters and a great time to get them started fishing if they have not yet done so. Tom Willson is the organizer of this Derby and it was a great time for me, to talk to him about it. His enthusiasm is catching and catching is the name of the game. Make every effort to find the time in those three days to get out to that river and win some of those fabulous prizes.

The Friends have their long awaited day arriving on Wednesday, May 12th, when Jamie Ford will be in Fort Benton as a guest at our last meeting of the season. He is the author of the 2009 Montana Book Award for his first book titled, “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.” The Friends, almost unanimously, said they enjoyed the book immensely and are anxious to meet the author. They have many questions to ask.

Our last meeting is a potluck and if you wish to join us give a jingle to Cindy at the Library to ask what you may contribute. Friends of the Library is one of my favorite organizations for several reasons. It is something for my self-enjoyment… reading and I enjoy all of the Friends because we all enjoy the same thing…reading. We have the best Library in Montana, and that is not just my opinion. You may not have visited the Museums and Fort but surely, there is not anyone in Fort Benton who has not been to the Library. Hope to see you next Wednesday.

The work that the participants did for Longhorn Days was the best. I am able to tell you here how much I, and the Senior Citizens you helped, appreciate what you did. The few things that I asked about were taken care of even though I called in late. I asked that the leaves inside and outside the fence at Paddlewheel Park be cleared and the fence around the Village at the Ag Center. It was accomplished in a prudent manner.

I know there were many more Senior Citizens that called for help this year. You youngsters will not know for many, many years how much you did for them. It is so difficult to get on the knees when you are old and gray, to pull weeds, and even harder to get up. The old backs just do not work as well. You young people can bounce up and down like yo-yos and use those arms without effort. We just do not work like that any more. We need all the help we can get and you delivered.

Show me a person where a cry for help brings split-second dispatch, and, I’ll show you a volunteer.

Did you have a nice May Day? It cannot be May yet, can it? So much to do and so little time. Please enjoy every minute of every day. God bless America.