Life in Missoula - #3


While we were living on Cherry Street an elderly man on a bicycle stopped at our house. He introduced himself as Rev. Bennett of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He had seen me playing in the street and knew we were new residents so wanted to enroll me in his Church School. My parents took me the following Sunday and from then on I attended that church, later becoming a member and singing in the choir.

As in all churches at that time, there was a program and Christmas tree at Christmas. We even had Santa Claus there to deliver gifts. He was a very real person to me and not until I found some of his costume did I realize that it had been Dad all along.

When I was in high school I taught a class of girls and loved it and them. Once a month we had a party and in the spring and summer often went on hikes on the weekends. In 1928, shortly before I was married, I visited Missoula on my vacation and the girls who were still there entertained me.

I also sang in the choir. One Sunday while walking to church a grasshopper got inside my white organdy dress but I didn't know it until I felt it crawling on my back after church had started. Nothing could make me get up in front of the congregation and leave so I leaned back against the seat as hard as I could and squashed it. That was one day I thought church would never end.

As in all churches, we had chicken dinners, not fried, but chicken and noodles. Even now I dislike the odor of chicken stewing. My best friend and I thought we were very daring by eating dill pickles with our ice cream at these dinners.

One Sunday night the church was packed waiting for the minister to demonstrate his radio. We were going to hear a sermon broadcast from another state. However, all we heard was static -squeaks and squawks

Rev. Lacklin was very well liked. Back then I thought ministers and teachers were very superior human beings. How shocked I was when Rev. Lacklin said, "Damn" when a tire blew out on the way from Glacier Park! I can remember that, but not any of his sermons.

The Sunday School Superintendent, Tom Layfield, was our meatman and his wife, Eileen, the teacher of the H.S. girls, a class of twenty-five or thirty. 'Whenever I went to the market to buy meat he would always hand me a wiener. Years later I visited this couple when they moved to Yakima and she and I walked to his meat market there. As he did when I was a little girl he handed me a wiener.

In 1923 or 1924 we had movies at the church on Sunday night. Herbert Inch, a boy whom I had known all my life, and I took turns playing for the films. One of the films was "The Courtship of Miles Standish", and after I married Wilbur I found out that the star was married to his aunt. After I left Missoula I next heard of Herbert Inch when he composed a piece for the Montana Centennial. A friend wrote me that he was living in La Jolla and gave me his address when she knew I would be visiting Wilbur's relatives there. I had no intention of visiting him but one day we were parked at the beach and as I looked at the street sign it rang a bell. I found that Herbert lived just across the street from where we parked. So I called on him. Imagine my embarrassment when he had no recollection of me at all!

When I was old enough, probably in high school, I joined the youth group called the Epworth League. At one time I was vice-president in charge of hospital visiting and taking magazines to the jail. One young man I visited, Ernest Johnson, had his leg crushed when he fell off the train he was riding and had to have it amputated. He was from Black Diamond, Washington, a place I had never heard of nor ever expected to see. This summer (1988) I thought of him when I was having dinner in Black Diamond and wondered what became of him.

Looking back I think I must have made a pest of myself collecting magazines and urging my friends to make calls so I could report them to the state organization. Our group was first in the number of calls for the state.

1988/89 Life Story Class
Life in MissoulaCont.txt Page 2 of 2 01/18/01 11:44 PM