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56 CHAPTER 7 Moving into My Mountains I’m sure to some sophisticates the scene, freeze-framed from behind , would have looked like an Edward Hopper or Norman Rockwell painting: a boy silhouetted in the door frame and an Olympia beer sign blinking in the window, while lights from the jukebox cast an eerie blue into the night and human forms milled about in shadows. Perhaps a darting figure would also have been seen within: working behind the bar was a woman, the manager and soul of the place then and for years to come. Freda Otsby was the patron saint of the Glacier Park trail crew until her death some forty years later, even though she would go on to be an outstanding public school teacher. I spotted her and went up to the bar to get directions to the park headquarters. I must have said that I was on the trail crew, because she shouted out, “Bruce and Doug, he’s one of yours!” Out of the mass of humanity appeared two young men, Bruce Murphy and Doug Medley, who instantly took me under their wings. After introductions, they got me a beer. I was too young to buy, by a couple of months—it was June 1961 and I wasn’t yet twenty-one—although it didn’t seem to matter. In turn they introduced me to others who would be working on trails, blister rust control, and construction. Little did I know then that my budding friendship with Bruce and Doug would grow to span over half a century. After an hour or so we left for park headquarters and our bunkhouse, but only to drop off my bags. It was imperative that we drive up the road to Lake McDonald Lodge to scope out the arriving females who would be working in the park at the hotels, motels, and other guest facilities. Although I can’t recall now exactly where I saw them—in the lodge or outside at a campfire gathering—it doesn’t matter. Young women were there, seemed hundreds of them, and some of the most beautiful and flirtatious ones said that they were going to work at the Many Glacier Lodge and Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge. By Moving into My Mountains 57 then, through Bruce or Doug, I knew that this was where we were headed. After a few get-acquainted beers, we drove back to headquarters and went to sleep. The next morning I arose at near-dawn and went outside. It was icy, at least by my Texas standards, and clear. Pine boughs and needles were rustling in the breeze, casting off a delicious scent. The night before I had begun to sense something special place about this place, but it was this early-morning moment when I really felt it strongly. The significance to me of my relationship to this place, Glacier Park, would grow with every passing experience there—and continues to grow even to this day. For the next day or two we had orientation. We learned about trail work and our tools. We discussed rescue and firefighting, but only in classroom abstract. We would learn both by experience later. On our own we carefully studied the bars along what was known as “The Trap-Line.” From West Glacier back to the Blue Moon near Whitefish were bars that were only a step or two this side of those in western movies—and most, on any given night, were just as rowdy. They were peopled by lumberjacks, park personnel , truckers, and a scattering of women. The “trap-line challenge” was, if accepted, to have a boilermaker at each bar—a whiskey shot chased with beer. I recall there were seven or eight saloons. The bigger challenge, assuming one made it to the end of the line, was getting home, as most everyone, including drivers, partook. Thank God for icy cold mornings, for hot roast beef sandwiches and coffee at the Highland Café near the entrance to West Glacier, and for watching over us. After our preliminary training sessions we broke up into groups and pulled out for our assigned work places. I already knew that mine was the Many Glacier area. Exactly where that was situated I could not have said. For the first ten or twelve miles we drove along Lake McDonald, a deep-blue wonder of glacial action and effect. Glacier National Park was named not only for its remaining glaciers...


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MARC Record
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