wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Thank you, Montana

It’s been a great trip. Emma is worn out from working (read “playing”) so hard. Now she’s reminiscing as she inhales the delicious (to her) aromas of the Captain’s Filson bird vest. It’s a good life.

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On the floor below her, Ruby snores and twitches as she dreams of birds she is chasing.

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It has been fun and good exercise. I’m happy that we didn’t run into any rattlesnakes, coyotes, porcupines, old farm equipment cuts, or serious barbed wire snags. We’ve been welcomed by the wonderful people of Montana and are looking forward to coming back next year.

Thank you, Montana.


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The Prairie Cinema

“It is Tuesday, isn’t it?” I ask.

The local theater in this small Midwestern town looks shabby, dark, and uninviting. The October air is too chilly for waiting by the door, and yet Gary and I don’t want to give up so easily.  We sit in the truck to watch for other movie goers. Showtime is 7:00 p.m. Supposedly! About five to seven, a car parks in front of us and a young man gets out.

Gary jumps out to talk to the new arrival. “Do you know if the theater is open today?”

“Yes,” the young man says, “I’m just going to open it.”

It turns out he is the projectionist, ticket seller, ticket taker, usher, popcorn salesman … everything.

We expect worn wooden chairs, planked floors, and clapboard walls to match the exterior of the building. To our surprise, we are shown into a modern theatre with a red carpet and plush velour-covered seats.

“You can go on in and sit down,” the projectionist says. “I’ll turn the heat up a bit for you.” We exchange smiles.

It feels odd being the only patrons, but we shrug and settle down to watch the trivia entertainment until the previews come on. At this point, the sound becomes garbled.

“This isn’t good. Can’t he tell there’s something wrong with the sound?”

“I’ll go tell him,” Gary offers. When he comes back the sound problem is fixed. “Our young man was out in the lobby chatting with someone and hadn’t noticed.”

Three other people show up about 7:30, just as the main feature begins. Locals know how it works.

But with such a small turnout, how can the theater stay in business? I do some quick figuring.  At $5.50 each, the total take for the evening, not counting candy and popcorn, is $27.50.

And how ironic, that in this tiny hick town with only one bank, tonight’s movie is “Wall Street.”

After the movie, as we wait for the truck to warm up, we have a good look at the outside of the building.

“Look at the long-ago facelifts these outside walls have had,” I say. “And all from different time periods. Brick facing, vinyl siding, old dark brown wood shingles. Doesn’t seem to go with the new red carpet and plush seats inside.”

Gary points to the side of the building. “And look at these lights. The projectionist must have turned them on while we were inside.”

Last year’s flashing Christmas bulbs light up the sign welcoming patrons to the Prairie Cinema. They may not have been quite ready to open the theater for this evening, but they are definitely ready for Christmas.


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The Old and the New

Near Wolf Point, Montana.

In February 1926, two young men, James and Rolla Cusker, perished while driving home after a basketball game. With no ferry service during the winter, travelers crossed the Missouri River on the ice. The boys had crossed on the ice earlier, and followed the ruts they had made on the frozen river on their way home that evening. But the river had warmed and they drove into an air hole in the ice. Their bodies were not found for several days. [Paraphrased from http://ci.wolf-point.mt.us/destinations/]

This led to a demand for a bridge over the Missouri and four years later the longest Pennsylvania through truss bridge was built, at Wolf Point, Montana.

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The 1930 bridge was 1074 feet long with a span of 400 feet, the longest in the state of Montana.

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Below the bridge and beyond it, you can see the new bridge that was built in 1997. It’s more modern but not as impressive.

Here they are side by side.

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The historical society of the Wolf Point area is taking the responsibility for maintaining the old bridge, not for vehicular use, but  for historical purposes.