Tuesday, July 12, 2011

View From The Bridge 7/13/2011

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
By Muncie

The next undertaking that the FBI, (Fort Benton Idealists) are working on is to replace the planter in front of the Old Bridge.

It has been 25 or 30 years ago since the present planter was built and it needs to be replaced as it is rotting out. The junipers are overgrown and out of control. There were a few choices to be made about just how to do the replacement and what to replace with. The first step would be to remove the present planter. We could use telephone poles such as are there now. A second choice would be to use adobe bricks that are leftovers from the Old Fort. Another suggestion was to use large boulders and the final choice was to use granite stone from Square Butte.

Phyllis Tanner Dickson was gracious enough to say that we could have any granite that we wanted. Hank Armstrong, who is as expert as one can get on the quarry, will be our guide and mentor on picking the granite to use. Hank has written a book, “Set in Stone” about the quarry and knows the area like the back of his hand.

Our committee went to the Chouteau County Commissioners and they said that they would be responsible to bring the granite into town. We went to the City Council meeting and they consented to handle the granite once it reached town. The City work crew (Skip accommodates my requests without complaint,) will also tear down the old planter. (I always refer to myself as a thorn in Skip’s side as I am always giving him a lot of work to do.)

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Fort Benton has also given us generous funds that will incur any costs. Those costs will cover the natural plants and grasses that will fill the planter. Don Hazen took time from his busy schedule to sketch the four choices for the planter and the plantings.

Now to the reason that this was not completed before Summer Celebration and the Lighting of the Bridge. I know that you have already figured it out. There was no way that a truck could traverse the three miles on the road from the highway to the quarry. The road is not gravel but dirt and no one couold get in or out. It was just this past week that Phyllis Tanner Dickson was able to get the road graded (That is another story titled “Visitors to the Tanner Ranch” below.)

Look for the work to begin and the completed project made of quarried rock that matches so many other monuments in town. The Fort Benton Centennial in Old Fort Park in 1946 was made of Square Butte granite. The Lewis and Clark Memorial Statue in 1976, the Shep Statue in 1992, and the Governor Meagher Memorial a few years ago, are all placed on Square Butte granite bases.

I just reread Hank’s book, “Set in Stone” and it is so worth a reread. The history of the Quarry would make quite a movie.

On Friday the 15th, the grandchildren of Edward and Christopher Wilson, will visit the Tanner Ranch. (I took the following information from Hank Armstrong’s book, “Set in Stone.” The Wilson’s were the original purchasers and settlers on the land that later became the quarry. Their ranch was known as Lone Tree, a Post Office, and Stage Stop, an important location on the Fort Benton-Lewistown route during the late q890s until 1914 when the Milwaukee Railroad built through establishing the nearby town of Geraldine and Square Butte.

There were a series of quarry business owners from 1914 on and the last being the Harrington Brothers. According to an interview with Mary Tanner, who at that time lived nearby and was to later move to the Lone Tree property on which the quarries were located, the Harrington’s left abruptly and under unusual circumstances. Mary said they departed suddenly leaving dinner dishes still on the table. The Tanners later purchased the land and the house sold to Joe Wystrach and moved to Square Butte.)

The Wilson descendants who will be visiting the Tanner Ranch are touring Montana. The high point of their trip will be visiting their ancestor’s property. You can get the story in the July 20th edition of the River Press as Editor Tim will be covering it. I wish I could be there to hear Hank Armstrong’s tour of the ranch. It should be an exciting day for all involved. I want to know more about where the visitors are from, how many there are, and how they have kept up with information about their history. I’ll have to wait for Tim’s article just like the rest of you.

This request is a personal one; however, Tim said that I could put it into the View. I think it is geared to seniors but perhaps all of you readers like Hallmark movies. It’s all about Hallmark.

I have a Bresnan satellite, I get a Hallmark channel, but I do not get the Hallmark movie channel. (Please do not tell me to dump cable. I have had Bresnan since I moved to Fort Benton because the other satellite company did not have the local stations.)

What has happened in the last few months is that Bresnan was bought out by Optimum. I was switched over to Optimum, took are of the transactions, and immediately asked for the Hallmark movie station. I had a long record of requests with Bresnan but because of the new company, the request had to be made again. The problem is that my little one request is not going to shake the v.i.p.’s policies. They would require many requests. So, if you would take a minute to call Bresnan who will give you the Optimum number, you would be on the list of patrons who want the Hallmark movie channel. I will keep you posted about how many calls they receive and if little-ole Fort Benton will receive the channel. Perhaps I should explain why we do not receive it. There is some complicated thing called frequencies and every small town around Great Falls gets difference frequencies. How they will manage to do that, is way beyond me, and all that I can wish for is that the Hallmark frequency comes my way. I appreciate all that you can do to hasten the process.

Today the 10th of July, the river level is the lowest it has been in a long while. It was 7.42 according to the chart on the inter-net. I can hardly wait to go rock hunting as the height the river reached on the banks and the fast currant should have brought a completely new supply of rocks to the river shoreline. In the meanwhile, perhaps I can get to tumbling the supply of rocks we already have. They are so beautiful when they are tumbled especially jasper, which is my favorite.

Last night on the Backroads program on PBS, there was a story about a woman in Sweetgrass that writes for the local newspaper. She said that people always tell her that they read her column first. I had so many comments about that very thing during Summer Celebration and I want those of you who do read the “View” first, that I appreciate your kind remarks.

A funny thing happened on the way home Friday night of Summer Celebration from the potluck supper, pie auction, and reception at the Old Fort. We were given name tags at the Fort and did not remove them from our Summer Celebration shirts. Wally was riding his cart and I was hanging on to the seat as I walked. When we reached the corner of 14th St. and Front St., we passed two couples going in the other direction. The last women looked at Wally’s nametag and then at mine. She began shouting to her husband to come back because this woman was Muncie who writes the View from the Bridge. They said they always read the View and the other couple said they also received the River Press. I do not know where they lived and I hope that if they read this column, they will let me know who they are. My e-mail is muncie1929@itstriangle.com so let me hear from you.

We saw a program on TV this evening about homeless veterans. It is heartbreaking to see these young, old men, and women (14% of the military are women,) who have fought for their country and are now homeless. They come out of the service where they were provided with everything they needed including food and clothing. Then they find they have no family, no friends, no job, and no bed to put their head on at night. Out of 900 plus men and women, only 60 were chosen to qualify for help. I wonder if our present troops ever think that perhaps they will end up homeless. What can we do to help? Our government (actually that is us,) is spending a billion dollars this year to help them but even that is not enough. GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS AND GOD BLESS AMERICA.

We keep waiting for the storm that the weathermen keep predicting but it does not materialize. We upped our sprinkler system to water the garden every night because between the hot weather and the wind, it dries out very quickly. It is growing though and perhaps we will get a few tomatoes and zucchini. How does your garden grow?

July will be almost half over by the time you read this column. It seems that it is always full moon time. Wish we could save some of this hot weather for January and February, don’t you?

How are your good deeds coming along? We have had so many provided for us the last few months that it would be impossible to “pay back” as we would like to do. We are so grateful to have such wonderful family and friends. You lift us up.