Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Reminiscing about Eastern Montana

Craig Sprout does an excellent review of the movie "Class C." I saw the movie on Monday as well, and I am really impressed with it. The movie should be up for an Oscar for best documentary if there is any justice in the world.
What was very impressive was the cinematography of the flatter side of this great State of ours. Watching a train in the distance rolling across the vast empty, or an abandoned schoolhouse watching the tormenting clouds roll along the skyline, it reminds me of my limited time in Dotson, where my grandparents lived until they died.
My grandfather was typical of people in that area of his generation. Part time farmer/blacksmith/mechanic/and anything else that needs to be done. He had the best garage in the world for a kid to play in. Filled to the brim with tools, although we loved the pedal powered grinder the best. Makes me think that if he were to harness such a device to a turbine we could solve most of our electricity problems by having kids jumping on the pedals.
He used to take me to Claypool's General Store where you would present your shopping list to the clerk who would then run around and pull it off the shelf for you. Wasn't a lot of choices, but maybe we don't need all that we have now. After shopping, the clerk would wrap your purchases in brown paper with twine to hold it together, and we would trudge dutifully home, sucking on the penny candy that he always offered.
I will never forget the mosquitoes that were the size of hummingbirds, or the snowdrifts that would pile up on the lee side of buildings, leaving the rest of the ground bare. Nor will I ever forget the most fantastic sunsets, something that we in the mountain regions don't have. I remember riding with him when he would do the RFD mail deliveries and watching the antelope keeping pace with us, and the carcass of one of them that decided to go through the wire instead of over it.
We moved to Deer Lodge when I was seven, and to Hamilton when I was ten. When my grandmother came to visit us in the Bitterroot valley, she always complained of claustrophobia, but when I was older and visited her, I had the feelings of insecurity, especially when it was overcast and you had no idea what direction you were heading.
The movie brought back these and so many other memories, but it is also detailing what we are losing as more and more farms turn to CRP and the farmers move to Arizona and live off the checks for growing grass. The disappearance of people from the highline, from Shelby to Scobey is something that we are going to all miss someday.
And we will all be poorer for the loss.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had the feelings of insecurity, especially when it was overcast and you had no idea what direction you were heading.

Oh, man. This is the truth. The first time I ever went to Scobey, we were headed North on 13, and I knew we were headed North, but it was overcast, and I was without a mountain range or a river or anything, I was totally discombobulated. I've been out there enough now to know that the roads run mostly N-S, E-W.

For a western kid, though, I've damn near gotten to the point where I prefer Miles to Mizoo.