April 27, 2020
The following email exchange may be of interest to those who are searching in the north. It reminded me of some events I had almost forgotten. f
NOTE: The photos were not part of the exchange they are here simply as visual aids.
I was talking with my grandpa about the chase and learned he also lived in West Yellowstone for a time. He sent me the following story:
The summer of 1938 we lived in a small cabin in West Yellowstone while my dad ran a small meat market in town next to Eagle’s store (still there). My brother Bob and I helped him take garbage out to the dump, where we would always see grizzly bears feeding. We also helped him get ice for meat storage from the “ice house”, an old building where blocks of ice were stored covered in sawdust; they remained frozen all summer. Across the street from Dad’s place, there was a Skaggs market, the supermarket of the day, where we were strictly forbidden to enter.
We sold the Butte Daily Post newspaper weekdays and Saturdays on the streets, taking care to frequent sidewalks near several taverns where we could always count on good tips from the drinkers as they left. As I remember, we paid the Post half the cost of the paper and kept the other half, so we did well with the extra money from tips. Our paper was not as big a seller as the Salt Lake Tribune, which also had a big Sunday Edition. An older boy was the Tribune seller. One Sunday he had to be gone and asked Bob and me to carry the Tribune for him. The best place for selling was the long line of cars waiting to enter Yellowstone Park. We walked between the lines of cars and soon were sold out. When the regular carrier returned the next day and we had to give him half the proceeds to pay off the Tribune, we were told that the price of the Sunday Edition was three times what we had been collecting. So we ended up with a net loss for our first experience of the business world.
We used to fish the Madison River just below Hebgen Dam and once I caught a big grayling. I don’t suppose they are still there?
I don’t remember that Sterm name but I remember the Scaggs market because both Skippy and I worked there part of one summer. It was owned by a man named Con Peterson who was killed in a car wreck down near Ennis. Across the street north was another grocery store where our friend Ellert Kosky worked. One day we stood on the loading dock and threw heads of lettuce at Ellert, trying to hit him, and he threw them back at us. We got caught and our pay was docked for the loss.
In 1938 I was 8 years old so it was in the 40s that I worked in the market. Onetime, Wallace Beery came in. He was a famous movie star who I recognized, and the uncle of Noah Beery Jr., who was more famous in the movies. Wallace wanted to buy some 22 caliber bullets, which were rationed during the war. I wouldn’t sell them to him because he didn’t have any coupons. That made him really mad and I thought he was going to hit me. Skippy saw there was trouble and he came running over with a broomstick in his hands. Mr Berry cooled off some. I guess he didn’t like the odds or the choice of weapons.
Those were the good old days.
Our cabin was just 100’ from the ice house and we liked to play in it. The ice came from Hebgen Lake and was sawed in cubes of about 2’. The ice house had double walls and sawdust was packed in between them for insulation. We were always careful to cover the ice with sawdust and close the doors when we left.
We also watched the grizzlies at the dump at night, sitting in our car with the lights on. Sometimes there were as many as 20 grizzlies scavenging at one time and black bears would not dare come around. It was one of my mother’s favorite pastimes.
Onetime Skippy and I (mostly Skippy) made a bear trap out of 2” dead pine logs, and baited it with road-kill meat. The next day we went to check it out and found only tree debris and scattered wood fragments. Guess some big griz didn’t like being caged, and the road-kill was gone.
Ask your grandpa if he remembers what I remember. f
Just south of Skaggs and across from Dad’s meat market there was a store which provided gear and information for fishermen or fisherpeople. I remember it because there was a case in front where a sort-of “catch of the day” on ice was viewable, and my Dad provided the ice. Once there was a very large supposed rainbow which Dad insisted was a lake trout and not a rainbow.
In our frequenting of taverns for selling newspapers, there was one on the northwest side of town where an itinerant preacher often held sway. We were really awed by his big booming voice as he inveighed against the evil of drink and loose living.
We rented a small slab wood covered cabin on the west side of town. Somewhere I should be able to find a picture. One room was fitted out with a huge wall-to-wall bed where my sister, brother and I slept together with our parents. The toilet was an outside two-holer. The meat market turned out to basically be a break-even operation, so except for my Dad’s very hard work, it was a paid summer vacation.