By Robert Lucke
For whole generations of Havre residents who have thought that the Havre song was either "We're loyal to you, Havre High", or "Beer, Beer for Old Havre High", it will come as a pleasant surprise to know that, actually, Havre has two official songs, one old and one new.
First the old. Havre resident Tom Welch knows most about that song, although he admits that what he knows is not much. He obtained a copy of the song in a roundabout way.
"I received the sheet music from my sister Kellee Ramsay, who lives at Rock Springs, Wyoming," said Welch.
The music for this anthem-like song was written in 1916 by Oliver P. Thayer and the words were by Nettie E. Thayer. The cover of the music brags up Havre with such things as a population of 5,500 in 1916 and the motto, "Watch us Grow". It advertises the third largest gas well in the United States producing 15,000,000 cubic feet of gas per day. There is a picture of the oil well derrick as well as a picture of a fellow on a bucking bronc advertising the Northern Montana Stampede, held July 4 to 8, 1916. Welch picks up the story once again.
"The man riding that horse was my sister's husband's grandfather. The horse picture was taken at Pinedale, Wyoming in 1915. The horse picture was considered for the Wyoming license plate," said Welch.
There is no information available about either of the Thayers. Perhaps they just went from town to town writing town songs or perhaps they were residents here for a time and now all but forgotten. The words of the song go this way.
"Away up in Montana, the state that has the banner. There's a beautiful place, which is first in the race, it is known for miles in this grand old region for it's friends far and near, in their hearts hold it dear, and the name is very pretty. It is the old city, you'll find anywhere you may look, I don't care, and it's honest boosters they all are legion singing it's praise all day."
Chorus: "Havre, the city of sunshine, Havre you're right on the main line. Your rivers and your fountains, your valleys and your mountains, your gas wells, oh how fine."
And the second verse. "Of all the railroads thrifty, in state or town or city, And for safety and speed, To supply every need, The Great Northern Railroad has them all beaten. For it's trains are on time, and the bells how they chime, when they're bringing in the strangers, And all the mountain rangers, from near and from far in their cozy car, they shout loud praise for days and for days, oh Havre the place for me."
And if that is not enough, Havre resident Mavis Filler reports that her singing trio, The Timely Trio, has been singing their own Havre song since 1986.
That song was written by trio member Kim Callahan. "It is a nice song about Havre," said Filler. "Whenever we sing it, it is very popular. It is heart warming and has things to say about the community that make you glad you live here."
"I sing the song to my ten year old grandson," Filler continued, "and ask him what it means. He says, It makes me realize how much I like this town.'"
"I would like to see the song used during Festival Days and the song played on the radio to remind people that Havre is a good place to like," added Filler. "The friends you make here. These people on the street and in the stores, they are your friends. That is what the Havre song says, that you aren't here long at all without making friends and those friends will be with you forever."
The words to the ballad-like "Havre Song".
"It's a golden wheatfield and a clear blue sky./It's a long straight railway with the cattle strolling by./It's Fresno Dam where the muddy Milk River flows./It's the greatest little town the Hi-Line knows."
Chorus "Havre, you may have been born there. Havre, you might just belong there. But there's one thing, you never stay long there. Without a friend. Without making a friend."
"To the north lies Canada, our sister and our friend/To the south the Bear Paw Mountains stretch to the wide Missouri bend/ To the west the Rocky Mountains, to the east the prairies roam./ It's the heart of North Montana, it's my home."
"And it's late in the evening on a late summer's night/And the wind has stopped blowing, and the feeling is just right./You can almost hear the gardens grow and the Northern Lights set the sky aglow./And this town holds a place in my heart, I know."
"Where students, doctors, and businessmen,/ Farmers and ranchers and railroad men/Planted seeds of friendship and the lovely thing that grows/It's the sweetest little town Montana knows."
So, whether your choice is the soothing ballad that Mavis Filler, Kim Callahan and Dena Tippets sing, or the old fashioned anthem-like qualities of that first Havre song, one thing hasn't changed all these years: Havre, it's the people! And the friendships!