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Doing the Bio Gig and More Old Treasures

Doing the Bio Gig and More Old Treasures

I have essentially finished the bio words and most of the pix, now Larry O’Toole is spearheading all the real work of finding a printer, getting his gang to layout the book, proofing…all the things that you, the reader, will seldom know about. During it all, I keep adding quips to the words, and soon enough all that must have a stop. But, I have just prayed that I can hang on long enough to get this book through to you. 
During these past three years, I have unearthed words and photos and letters and related stuff that I had long since  forgotten in the cobwebs of time. Which has served to remind me yet again just how useful a running journal of my times would be at such a time. And which serves me to remind you just how useful your own personal journal would be. So, let’s start at the beginning. Organize and make notes on all your available photographs.
On the photo backs, in pencil, jot down names and dates and locations. These bits of information, alone, will readily tell your own history, and while you may think your life uninteresting, your progeny will hold it as a great and intriguing history of their own march through time. 
Yes, such a diary can be a burdensome thing on paper, but with the advent of modern technology it should be no more than a whisper during each day. In my case, I could even have recorded the words of long lost sounds, and how precious they would have been for you, the reader. Consider, how would you like to have listened in as I chatted with Ed Winfield, or an earlier Garlits, or even been an eavesdropper when major decisions regarding hot rodding were made?
And, with the ease of digital cameras you can surely begin to copy those crumbling old shoebox Brownie images that, too soon, will fade as fast as your memories.
It has been fascinating to unearth old pictures, or even some as recent as the last decade, and try to recall who is who, and why the photo exists. In my bio, I often recall the event, but not why a photo is extant. I know that Wally Parks always had some kind of small camera tucked in a jacket pocket, and through the years he would pull out a file photo that somehow involved the two of us and with his good memory (and the help of Barbara’s extraordinary memory) we could muddle through the time and the event.
Now, through the gathering cobwebs I find that my own children suddenly have an interest in our family, which for them includes the history of street rodding, and at least a part of drag racing. Growing up, they had little of no interest in my car activities. But if I remind them of an event at the hotel in Minneapolis, they recall that their swimming pool mates were always around. And they are amazed to learn that these same friends have now become hot rodding legends in their own right.
Another wonder of the age is the electronic copiers that cost practically nothing and can reproduce with outstanding clarity old photos and documents that will otherwise disintergrate with time. Time which does not sleep. 
Now, lest I forget, here is another Treasure for your “Someday” hunt. If you look on a map of Montana, hunt up Livingston there just north of Yellowstone Park. Note that highway 89 comes north from the Park, jogs slightly right at Livingston, and then continues north toward Great Falls in the far distance. This would be directly through Pegge Hamilton country.
Find the tiny dot that represents Wilsall, and note that there is a fork in the road at the north edge of the village, heading northeast. Right in that fork used to be a small lumber mill, and laying forlorn in that near vacant field was a reasonably good l938 Ford woodie. It is long gone, but some old metal parts may still exist. 
At what passes for the center of town, going north, to your left will be a low  bluff, and skirting that bluff in a westerly direction is an old dirt road. That entire bluff was an area dump for cars. Really early things, nearly all chain driven. But not a single ’32 Ford amongst the lot. Someone local told me that the county bulldozed dirt over the lot a couple of decades back. Of course, at the highway cut just south of town there are remains of old cars on a tiny hillock, and it was just south of there where an old Elgin touring was hauled from a loafing shed burial and left to the elements until someone literally pulled into the field and stole the roller. The owner thought I had taken it, until I assured him not so.
You take the right hand fork in the road up the Shields River and drive about l5 miles up the old Buffalo Trail. Soon enough the pavement turns to dirt, and you follow this as the elevation increases. Keep a watch on the left (north) for a change in the lodgepole pines, and mark that there appears to have been a road off the hillside at some time.  Indeed there was. Pegge’s father grew up riding this country horseback, so back about l970 he remembered that there used to be an old one-room log cabin on that road, down beside the creek. We went up there, because he remembered that there was an old car near the cabin, and an old Sharps rifle leaning against an outside wall.
About a half-hour walk down the disused roadway that was filling with young pines and there was the place. Except the creek had cutaway at the bank right up against the cabin edge. Right where the Sharps would have been. Just a step or two back up the hillside was an decent condition l923 or so T touring. With a great windshield frame and posts, which I broke from the cowl top, and kept in my garage for years. I may still have that thing.  Back up at that dirt road, you follow it until it disappears in alpine meadows, and you will find an old log cabin ruins. Jim said that it was a rustler’s line stop as they would steal cattle over in the Bozeman area and move them east to Two Dot country. Or vice versa. 
Back down to Wilsall,  do not take that Shield’s River road, but continue due north of 89. In about three miles you will start having some low lying hills move in from the west. Now I will leave the sleuthing to you. Up the highway not too far, if you can get directions from a local (and permission to cross their land) you will see old wagon ruts going across a field and up into those hills. You pick the right tracks and you will find an old homestead, which is where a some-time-ago well known one-legged local boy turned university teacher and folk musician grew up. Now this place cannot be seen from the lonely old highway, but the place (last time I was there) had a dozen or more Twenties and early Thirties era cars. No Deuce roadsters, but an interesting Dodge sedan convert of about l930 vintage.
Of course, I never told anyone about the old Jones place, which was out behind my uncles spread. Remember that back in the early Fifties I had moved to Bozeman and became the flagman for local stock car races? One of those racers was a loner who had a scrabble place and he hauled in a dozen or so likely Ford stockers. He scrounged and hoarded a lot of flathead engines and transmissions, but I liked the really good condition ’36 Ford three-window still on wires. That might remain, your job would be to learn where that place was, and I ain’t fessing up.
I will tell you that if you turn off highway 89 back down by the grange hall south of Clyde Park, and go east into the grazing hills, the road (which was a county maintained unit) dropped into a shallow ravine, crossed a creek, and climbed a left-right switchback out the east side. At the base of that switchback as a small garage that did have something I registered as mildly interesting. Inside was a faded red sedan (black fenders) that obviously had not been registered for years. It was a 1932 Ford.  My wife’s fathers said we would go back when the owner would be around…we never did.
Anyway, that’s just a bit of what was out there not too many years past.