By Barb Hauge
My parents believed that travel, no matter how limited broadens one and stimulates the mind, so even though times were tough, we Baird kids saw a lot of Montana and beyond in our early years. Dad had worked for Ford Motor Company in the paint department and despite the fact he had quit due to lead poisoning, Dad was hooked on Fords. Since his first Ford in 1916 we always had a Ford that ran. It ran us to a whole lot of places. We never missed a Fourth of July rodeo or a Blaine County Fair.
Especially we enjoyed Havres Spring Music Festival where we parked on a hill with all the bands massed below and the music was awesome. Bands came from all over and I was impressed by the Canadian Scottish Band with their kilts and bagpipes.
My parents loved dancing so our Ford took us to most dances held within a hundred miles including skips across the border to Canada. Dances were held in a country school house and lasted until dawn. Little ones were put down to sleep among the coats and we danced as soon as we walked.
We visited Fort Peck Dam. While it was under construction my older brother, Allan, worked at Snake Butte where they blasted rock for use at the dam. Summers we really enjoyed Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs or The Plunge as it was called. On a hot summer day we could hardly wait to get out of our Ford and into the pool which, at that time, was open-air with no roof. Indians and early settlers had splashed in those hot pools long before Roosevelts WPA built Sleeping Buffalo Resort. WPA built Zurich Park too, where we enjoyed picnics and dances.
In 1933, our family took a longer trip to Baird Family Reunion in Wisconsin. I remember the wonderful food smells in Grandmas kitchen and Grandpas long beard and playing with all the cousins.
When our neighbor, Bessie Slonaker, developed a goiter our family took her (and later all of us started going) to the Ortman rub doctors in Canistota, S.D., for treatments. Without surgery doctors said Bessie would die, but treatments only cost $9 after which her goiter disappeared. She raised her eight children and lived to be over 100.
One year when it was too dry to seed crops, my dad got a really good idea. He decided we would not stay on the ranch and watch everything shrivel up and bake, so he talked the neighbors into drowning or smoking out dens of coyotes. We used the bounty money to buy gas and go on a vacation to Glacier Park. Like the Oakies and the Arkies (who came to Montana during the Dust Bowl; made famous in Grapes of Wrath) we formed a caravan of old cars and farm trucks and headed for Two Medicine Lake the first night. Wed stay at each campground as long as theyd let us and catch and eat a lot of rainbow trout and revel in the beauty of pine trees and in all of that wonderful water.
We had never seen such an abundance of water. It spilled over the mountains in huge waterfalls, foamed in the rapids and roared down the valleys. We loved it and being there probably kept us from going a little bit crazy. Man does not live on bread alone; we need beauty for our souls and we need water.
To me Glacier Park will always be a heaven on Earth, where our community escaped poverty and the Depression.