Tuesday, June 26, 2012

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
By Muncie

The following is my take on Summer Celebration.  If you did not have the best time the three days of the Celebration, it is your own fault. The first order of business is donations.  The first Summer Celebration that Connie Jenkins did had a budget of $800.00.  You all know that in the following 21 years, prices have increased.  I did not have time to research the percentages of costs of living since then but all products must have increased many times more.  Donations to S.C. will be appreciated, as for instance, there was no collection for the Fireworks Show.  (If there is anyone who will volunteer next year to collect for fireworks, please call Connie.)  Send your checks made out to Summer Celebration and mail or drop off to the First Security Bank.  Just do it…now.

There was an event going on every minute.  Starting with the Pig Roast and the entertainment at the First Security Bank to the wrapping up of the Art on the Levee at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, it was non-stop.  The Woman’s Club Pie Auction was especially fun.  Scotty kept us laughing the whole time.  Oh, just a reminder for next year…bring your own chairs as the bleachers filled up quickly and even if they were not, we cannot climb into them.  I sat on the ground next to Wally’s Go-Go, until Gene Potts who said he wanted to stand, offered me his chair.  (I did not believe him but enjoyed sitting in the chair.)

I especially enjoyed the City Band and was amazed at the size of the Band now.  I had a manicure on Thursday, (polish to help my nails grow,) and met Joy, the manicurist, at the Studio Salon.  She lives in Great Falls and plays the flute in the band.  She comes to Fort Benton to practice and play their events. It was great to see her doing her thing.

On Friday, grandson Grayson and I went to the Book Sale at the Library.  The Band was playing there and we sat down to listen and enjoyed lemonade and cookies.  The Lenington family all knows that I love the song “Montana.”

Eric Lenington was the conductor and I was just about to ask him to play it when he struck up with another song.  It was “Montana.”  I stood, clapped, and sang along, as did everyone else in the room. When I was leaving, Cindy told me that her daughter Emily had told her to not let me leave until they played my song.  I really appreciate that wonderful thought and that you always come home to play in the band.  That you bring Cindy’s grandchildren is the second best reason.  Gotcha Cindy!

I also was late to getting to Ann Shaw’s book signing at the Missouri Breaks however, enjoyed sitting outside and listening to her read a short part of the book, (“Roscoe and Tooey Ride the Bootlegger Trail,”) that left you up in the air as to what was going to happen next.  Go Roscoe and Tooey.

I could go on and on about all the events but I am running out of room.  However, I just would like to make one other observation about the Pot Luck.  We were near the end of the line and the food was scarce then.  People came by us a little later and said that they had run out of food.  Next year, more of you please bring a salad or dessert to share.  I realize that the vendors cannot participate very well because they are on the road but they could do chips and dips or trays from the Price Rite.  (Warning…next year we may have just chips and dips.  (Just my little joke.)

The best part of the whole event was seeing and chatting with old (I mean in years of knowing each other…not age,) friends and family. Front Street, the Levee Trail, Grand Union Square, and the Art on the Levee were completely crowded all the time.

This story became the ultimate “Small World Story.”  In last weeks View, I asked if any one wanted to get in touch with the Paine family. I received one request and that was from Gladys Peres.  She called a few days ago and asked if she could meet with the Paines.

Today, I received a phone call from the Paines and they had just returned to Fort Benton from their trip with their three daughters to Wisdom campgrounds and Yellowstone.  They came over this evening (Sunday,) and we had quite a chat.  They were a party of eight including Judy and Jim Paine, their daughter Dawn, daughter Margo with her husband Bill and their son James accompanied by his buddy Austin, and daughter Heather.

We actually met the family having breakfast in a restaurant and we arranged they would visit us later in the afternoon.  I called Gladys when we returned home and said that I would call her when I finished interviewing the daughters.

When they arrived, we proceeded onto the shaded deck and started talking about the girl’s vacation time in Fort Benton.  They all agreed that they actually spent little time in Fort Benton as compared with going camping with their grandparents, Mary Elizabeth and Jim Paine.

Dawn, the oldest daughter, was 11 years old when she first came to visit her grandparents.  She remembers riding her bicycle on Front Street and going to the Lutheran Church while her grandparents went to the Community Bible Church.  She liked watching many deer drinking river water across the river from her grandparent’s home, (remember it was the log house covered with asbestos on River Street.)  She said they did a lot of camping and that the grandparents had a camper.

Margo was 9 years old at her earlier recollection and her riding that Grandpa found and brought home from the “Treasure Cove.”  Old timers should remember where the cove was.  She and her Sister Heather both remembers riding their bikes and checking out the horses in people’s backyards.  She definitely did not like rattlesnakes and did encounter a few.  Her most vivid memory was that Gramma Mary cooked at the Senior Center and she and her sisters helped with serving and dishes.  She remembered Opal Evans Powell (Kenny Evans Mother,) and Gus and Jim Hindle as she tagged along with Gramma who loved to go and visit.  Gramma walked all over town and that is when she would stop and visit her friends.  In 1996, Margo and her son James, (three months old,) came to Fort Benton to move Gramma to the Sunrise Bluffs.  It was a difficult time for all as it was not Mary’s desire to live in the Bluffs.  That is when she would leave each morning and return to the old house that they had lived in since 1963.  From the Bluffs, she eventually went to the Nursing home and she passed on in 2001.

The youngest daughter is Heather and she does not have the memory of first coming to Fort Benton, as she was 1 year old.  She does remember an orange bike, the 7/11 gas station, and the Lewis and Cark dedication ceremonies.  Her vivid memory is of sleeping in Gramma’s bed and Grandpa removing some large china dolls that frightened her.  A walking stick that Grandpa would lovingly poke her with and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches were important memories in her life.

As we chatted afterward, Judy asked if we knew Ruth Willett.  Ruth is married to Wally’s cousin Ernie Good and they live in Great Falls.  We phoned Ruth and the Paine’s will visit her before they leave Montana. They asked about Harry Rowe, (who is a distance cousin of Wally’s,) and Bill Johnston.  We then called Gladys and she came over to renew some old memories.  Jim was happy to find that Gladys had purchased his father’s loom and that she is quite successful in making/selling her rugs.  They had not known what happened to the loom.  Believe me Jim, “It is in good hands.”

Overall, it was a great visit and many “small world stories,” came to life.  The Paine’s will most likely never return to Fort Benton and for them it was a trip back in time to their grandparents lives in a town that they loved.  Have you readers any stories like that?  I think they are wonderful additions to Fort Benton’s history.  This article will go into the Paine vertical file at the Joel Overholser Research Center.