By Alkali Springs Correspondent
This week and next mark the time of the year when our national independence is celebrated throughout Montana and the rest of the nation.
As a rule, it is a time marked by parades, orations, rodeos, picnics and campouts. Around here, since the Fourth comes in the middle of the week and many folks don't have the opportunity of taking a longer trip, that day should make for a full Beaver Creek Park if the weather is at all cooperative.
And it goes without saying that as full as Beaver Creek Park might get, if you really want to see people, just venture on that day to Glacier or Flathead Lake. It is their single most busy day of the year as well, and as much as the people over there don't bother us, over the Fourth of July, there are just too many people there for us.
We expect around here these days, the Fourth of July is much more quiet than it used to be than when that day was celebrated by a rodeo and dance at Warrick. Wow! Those were some rodeos. Marked by two-fisted drinking and fighting, along with some spectacular rodeoing, we were always nothing but amazed when we headed over there.
Those were the days when we were almost a permanent Clear Creek cabin resident in July and usually on the Fourth, someone would suggest at some time of the day that we drive over to Warrick just to see what was happening. It was always worth the trip for folks at Warrick on that day were bent on only one thing, that being to make this year's rodeo more memorable than last years. And oh, how they succeeded! We all came back early the next day to Clear Creek with stories that would be told and retold month after month until at least the first fall frost out on the prairie.
And to this day, there is not a time we drive through Warrick that we don't think about the ghosts of those rodeos past and some of the characters, like beaver skinner Happy Helmbrecht that we met at the rodeo.
Helmbrecht was staying that summer in the White House on Clear Creek, cleaning out beaver dams of their beaver. After the Warrick rodeo he became a fixture in all our lives that year because our cabin was right across the road from the White House, and whenever some new pilgrim came out, he would come over and eventually bet the new person $5 or $10 dollars that he could skin a beaver in 10 minutes or less. He always won and he always had takers.
And then in those early years, there was Henry Moses who lived in Greenough Coulee and took care of Francis and Laened Black's lawn and flowers. He would never venture to Warrick, but he always wanted to know who did what to whom and why as soon as anyone got back from the rodeo. We had the feeling that he had been to Warrick dozens of times before we were even born.
Henry was an amazing thin, old cowpoke who could stand with one leg twirled around the other sort of sitting when he was standing.
And often there was Bill and Amelia Reis who would always want to go to Warrick but never drive. And as nice as they were to others, they would fight with each other all the way over and back.
Always there were Bee Lucke and C.L. Stuart, but they are a story for another column. For now, enough to say that they actually seemed to enjoy fishing rather than journeying to Warrick. But a trip to Cleveland? That was another story.
So most of those people and that time is but distant memories and Warrick is more populated with ghosts than cowboys. So is Clear Creek.
But the memories are grand and all that is left is to wish you and yours the best Fourth of July ever. Have one that you'll remember for a long, long time!