I wrote last week that before the next River Press issue was published, I would see the second floor of the Benton Pharmacy building. On Monday the 30th I called Chris Halko and asked if I could have a tour of the area where the World Championship Fort Show Indian Girls Basketball Team in 1904 had once played a game. Chris said to come over any time.
Tuesdays are my volunteer time at the Joel Overholser Research Center and most often several of us have lunch at the Golden Age Senior Center. I invited my son Randy and volunteer Marge to walk over to the Pharmacy with me after lunch. When we approached Chris at the back of the store, he said that “Scoop” had already been there earlier and had toured the upstairs.
The meaning of “Scoop’ meant that Tim Burmeister, the editor of the River Press, had read my story when I had turned it in by 3:00 p.m. on Monday and he tried to scoop me. I am sure that you understand what that means but just in case you do not, I will explain. Tim, in newspaper talk, had tried to get the story first. When I visited him later, I told him I wanted double my wages and to stop stealing my stories, or I was going to quit. (Now Folks, this is all in fun and we all got a good laugh out of it.)
Now back to the story of my visit upstairs. Chris had to use a flashlight because there isn’t any lighting up the stairs or when you reach the top floor. We went a few steps to a hallway and at the end of the hall there was light. There are four large windows and you can see them when you are on Front Street.
The room is huge and that answered my question as to how they could play basketball there. It is in very good condition considering that it was built the same year as the Grand Union, 1882. The ceiling was tin at one time but was removed to be put in other historic places. (If you have never seen a tin ceiling, check out the U.S. Bank ceiling. There is a great story there too, but for another time.)
The wood ceiling boards are in very good condition and there are stencils on the wall near the ceiling. I could close my eyes and imagine a basketball game going on. I know that the Fort Shaw girl’s spirits were hanging out there.
It was an awesome experience and hopefully, someday, I can see the room restored and it would be available to everyone.
Back at the Research Center, I excitedly discussed my experience with Ken Robison, our local historian; along with Hank Armstrong know everything there is to know about Fort Benton. He added to the historical story, the fact that the second floor of the Benton Pharmacy building is the only place left in Montana where the Fort Show Girls played a basketball game. That is amazing considering the games were played in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. What a remarkable fact that the Fort Show Team won the world championship.
If your interest is piqued, there is a book written by Peavey and Smith at the library. It is one that you will not be able to put down. There is also a PBS documentary, without commercials, that you will not want to leave the TV screen even for a drink of water.
I called Montana PBS today to inquire if it is on the schedule to be shown soon. It is not scheduled at this time but I will check with them regularly. In the meanwhile, if you are interested, you can get the DVD at the Chouteau County Free Library. It is titled, “Playing for the World.” Enjoy!
Next week is National Library Week from the 13th to the 17th. One event on their schedule will be the annual Tea on Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Our Library has so much to offer. I hope you are taking advantage of it.
I rarely read the View after it appears in the River Press but for some reason, I took the time to check how the story about my visit to the top floor of the Benton Pharmacy building had looked in newspaper print. I am disclaiming the information about Chris Halko telling PBS that they had to clean up after the filming. I knew nothing about that and I must have a mystery writer, (could it be Mr. Scoop?)
The reason I am explaining this is because I called Chris immediately to deny and proclaim my innocence. Chris said it was a good thing that I called because he was going to “rag” me about it and would never let me forget. Another reason is that I know how sensitive Chris is about cleaning up the second floor which he has done countless times. It is a losing battle because of the ceiling missing, dirt coming through the roof, and birds finding refuge in a dry and warm place.
On the other hand, I am going to tell that Chris is a jokester and he makes everything humorous. I am now finished with this subject for a while.
There will be no Pie Day this month or perhaps ever again. A long tradition is going to fall by the wayside. The Pie Eaters were almost non-existent last month limited to my table of five women. This is another good example of what is happening in rural America. Can anyone explain it? Is it the economy? Is $3.00 a person too much once a month? Was it the weather that kept people away? Is Friday a busy day for you? Just not interested? Do you just not want to socialize with your friends and neighbors? I realize that there are many people employed but just guessing I would go out on a limb and say there are 500 people out of 1,500 that stay at home.
The Golden Age Senior Center committee decided to change the time to 11:00 a.m. and have a Bake Sale instead. There may be some pies but as far as the social hour we used to have at 2:00 p.m. will be eliminated. The regulars that eat at the Center every day start showing up at 11:30 a.m. to have their dinner at promptly noon.
I do not know what the schedule will be for next month and May would have been the last Pie Day until September. Perhaps there will be other decisions made after the Bake Sale on Friday.
I am giving you a week notice ahead of time for the Chouteau County Performing Arts program on Thursday April 16th at 7:00 p.m. in the Elementary School Auditorium. The evening entertainment will be Alice Tan Ridley who was on America’s Got Talent. She sang “At Last” and was in the final judging in Hollywood.
If Alice sings “At Last” or any familiar song here in Fort Benton, I will forever be a fan. The last two performances of PC.C.P.A. were well attended because our Kids were involved playing their stringed instruments. Make it a great night out and fill the auditorium. If you have not seen the newly upholstered seats, then you have a treat in store. Enjoy, with your season tickets, a Broadway type show for $5.00 a show. Remember what I have said about attending a play or symphony elsewhere and it would cost you $40.00.
Don’t forget to drop a $1.00 or $2.00 into the donation container on the coffee/tea/cookie table. It will be much appreciated. At today’s prices, you cannot even buy one cookie for a $1.00.
This Senior Moment could apply to anyone. “God grand me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the friends to put up with me when I finally snap.”
GOD BLESS AMERICA, OUR TROOPS and WEAR RED ON FRIDAYS.