Tuesday, May 26, 2015

View From The Bridge 5/27/15

VIEW from the BRIDGE
By Muncie

I do not even know how to begin with the coming and going of the Conference. I just know that I have changed my mind again. My first love was to be a nurse and I changed that a couple of weeks ago to be a BLM River Ranger. Now after the Conference I want to be a Camel driver, an assistant to road design, or a Mullen Road builder.

The “Mullenites” as they call themselves, attended from all parts of the country. It all began on Friday evening with a reception in conjunction with the Ag/MUM Museums, and Old Fort openings for the season. The reception was held in the Old Fort Courtyard and open to the public at 7:00 p.m.

My son Randy teased me about writing in the River Press last week that it was a great opportunity to visit the Museums for FREE which was not the case. I told him that he could take the monies from my wages as a volunteer at the Research Center. I asked now many people showed up for free and he said the whole town. I am now deeply in debt and will have to put in more volunteer hours. Oh well!

The entertainment included music by Molly and Peter from Highwood and the greatest talk about Fort Benton that I have ever heard by Dave Parchen. I could have listened to him all evening. I know that every organization would like him to speak on that subject. I learned so much about Fort Benton that was behind the scenes stories. Come back soon Dave.

On Saturday we began at 8:00 in the morning and I returned home after 9:00 p.m. The day included breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The morning muffins were baked by Ken’s wife, Michelle, with special wheat. They were so delicious and she can bake for us any time she pleases. Lunch and dinner were catered by our well known caterer Chandee. She also made our bag lunches for our Sunday field trip along the Mullen Trail as far as we could go. We again were not able to cover all locations because of the rain Saturday evening. The same thing happened 5 years ago when the conference was held here.
The speakers were outstanding and I wish I could clone all of their knowledge. I enjoyed every minute of that day. Last year’s conference was in Missoula and next year it will be in Helena.

On Sunday we assembled at the Ag Center at 8:00 a.m. and we had Longhorn busses waiting to leave on the Mullen Trail. It was very comfortable and our bus had Ken Robison, who was the organizer of the Conference, as our tour guide. Randy handled the other bus. Another fantastic history lesson was in store for us as we rolled along to Great Falls, to Vaughn, to Fort Show, and St. Peter’s Mission.

St. Peters Mission
I have traveled in the Shonkins, the Highwoods, the Big and Little Belts, and the Sweetgrass Hills but I have never see the desolation between Fort Show and St. Peter’s.  We traveled mile after mile of mostly flat prairie, foothills or grazing country. The question asked was, “Why did the Jesuits and the Ursulines choose that spot?” I could never find my way to or back from there.

The guide at St. Peter’s told stories about the hardships that were endured by those who settled the mission. We then headed back to Fort Benton and arrived about 4:00 p.m.  It was awesome and now ranks as #1 in my list of Fort Benton experiences.

Most of the participants of the Conference said that it was the very best one that they had ever attended. They all love Fort Benton and we showed off our very best.

The weather turned out, just as the planners of the Wreath off  the Old Bride program and the dedication of the Monument for the 1943 plane crash resulting in the deaths of 10 men in a B-29, had hoped for. Diane Jones did great planning of the Wreath program as she arranged a loud speaker and a singer of the National Anthem.

We then proceeded to the Riverside Cemetery where there were also readings and God Bless America was sung. There was a good turnout.

At 11:30 a.m. we gathered at the Memorial for the airmen where chairs were set up for the speakers and guests. A crowd of over 100 people were there with quite a few locals.

There was a front page article on the dedication on Monday morning in the Great Falls Tribune. I spoke with the woman sitting next to me and she had just read the paper that morning and she and several friends drove to Fort Benton in time for the ceremony.  Brigadier General Rex Tanberg, retired commander of the Montana Air National Guard, from Great Falls, also read the paper and decided to drive up. Diane Jones put him on the speaker list immediately. He was most welcome.

Marshal Fischer was honored by telling of the story that he planned the memorial years ago and paid for it out of his own pocket. A few years ago the monument was sinking into the ground and Ron Saville repaired it. Marshal passed away, not too long ago, and it was said that he was smiling down at us because the Airmen were finally honored after 72 years.

Hank Armstrong, one of the historians at the Research Center, worked tirelessly on this project. The propeller of the B-29 has been in the Museum for years but Hank knew that there were other artifacts in the O’Hara’s field. A group volunteered and they did a dig.  The results were 175 more pieces of the plane and many of them were several inches underground.

There were many words of appreciation for Hank, Diane, relatives, speakers, VFW, American Legion, and those who made the effort to attend. It was really a Memorial Day to be remembered.

The Native American’s named it the Strawberry Moon. In Europe it was the Rose Moon.  (Take your pick…I like Strawberry best.) The full moon will be on June 2nd and that is why I am reminding you this week.

Oops!  Did I roll my eyes out loud!

I spoke with several people this week and asked if they had a “change” that they favored. I did not get a response but I have another of my own.

4. “All women should keep their maiden name as their middle name when they marry”
(I mentioned this when I was with a group of women and my reasoning was because, for instance old classmates, could be found. One of them said, “Maybe they do not want to be found.”