Tell me more about your little town.
There were no paved streets. There were no stoplights, no sidewalks. One of residents was named Mr. Dowell. He had a cow but no pasture. He would walk through town and tie her up to people’s fence posts so she would eat the grass along the streets. He’d stake his cow to a fence, and then the next day he’d move her down to the next fence pole and let her eat the next neighbor’s grass. People didn’t mind, he was just another acquaintance in town.
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What about washing clothes?
Our washing machine was run by a gasoline engine. It was on the porch because Montana has a wicked climate. We had no electricity. They would heat the water for the washing machine on the stove in a great big heavy copper container called a boiler. It was oval in shape, with two big handles.
And then you’d hang everything on the line?
Oh absolutely. Nobody had heard of a dryer, for heaven’s sake. We didn't have electricity. We just had a wood stove.
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Did you have telephones?
When we moved here, there were only 10 telephones in the whole valley. They were all crank phones. The forest service had one because they were hooked up to lookout towers, a couple stores had them. Nobody had telephones in their homes. If we had to make a phone call, we had to go somewhere. It was pretty primitive, but for the time, hell it worked.
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How did you learn to drive?
This was very interesting. We had an old red pickup. On a Saturday, it was in the driveway. I was 15. A student could be licensed at 15 during WWII because they needed young people to drive. My mother wanted that pickup moved and she must have decided it was time for me to learn to drive. She leaned out the bedroom window and asked if I would move it.
I didn’t know how to drive the stick shift truck. I’d never driven anything. She explained through the bedroom window, described it all. The truck jerked quite a bit, because I didn’t know the technique of doing it smoothly. She wanted me to back it out that day. I have no idea what was in her mind, and why she decided that day to get me to move the truck. I finally got the thing running, and backed it out. I drove it around the block and back and did ok. That was my first driving experience.
It wasn’t very long until I got my driver’s license. It was $0.75. There was no test.
Probably no class either?
No. Oh no, no class. I just figured it out, and started driving.
How would you describe a perfect day?
Get up, have breakfast, and go fishing! That’s obvious.
Where would you go?
I aint going to tell you that, that’s a secret. You don’t tell your best fishing hole or your best huckleberry patch. You don’t tell anybody!