Missoula Back in the Day


It’s been a while since my last blog.  The thing is, I thought blogging would have a major impact on my life, you know?  Like when Rolling Stone Magazine interviews rock stars and they ask, “So, why did you start this band?” And the rock stars always go, “To get chicks, man.”  Because what other reason is there, really?

So, I guess I thought I was gonna get the same results from my blog, but I was in Missoula this summer for a really big function and do you know that NOT ONE guy asked me out – not even the ones that said they’d read it!  I was like WTF?  Why am I doing this?  So, I had to step back, but recently I saw something on Facebook that I thought was worthy of a few words.

Somebody created a page called, “You Know You’ve Lived In Missoula If…”  As I read the comments, it really hit home how much Missoula has changed over the years.  To make my point, I’d like to play a little game.  Can you match up the names of these locations with what function they served?

1. The Benchmark
2. Buttrey’s
3. Rainbow Bend

A. Death trap
B. Nightclub
C. Grocery store

Give up yet, you little whippersnappers?

The Benchmark was a nightclub.  It hosted Freshwood, the most fly cover band that ever rocked that house.  Their version of Larry Graham’s “One in a Million You,” was life altering.  Without it, I never would have been able to put my arms around the cutest boy in the world for approximately three and a half minutes.

Seriously, Freshwood, I owe you big time.  My first child – totally yours, if you want it.  And, if you can find a way to recreate that scenario, I’ll even throw in a car seat.

Buttrey’s was a grocery store.  All the kids loved Buttrey’s on account of it had “butt” in the title and there was so much a kid could do with that.

Rainbow Bend on the Blackfoot River. Looks Idyllic doesn't it? But you should have driven around it on Hwy 83 North before they reconstructed the highway! Photo by Steve and Mindy Palmer.

And finally, Rainbow Bend was a deceptively dangerous curve in the road on your way up to Seeley Lake.  It LOOKED like you could take it at 75 miles an hour, so you did.

When you woke up in the hospital a few days later you had a whole new understanding of the term “optical illusion.”  The group I hung out with used to have a little song we sang that went, “My Mazarati does 210.  I lost my life round Rainbow Bend.”

These are just three of a thousand things that used to make Missoula Missoula.  Three of a thousand things that don’t exist anymore.  Missoula has changed ‘cuz, you know, that’s what happens.  Has it changed for the better?  Ask any old timer and they’ll probably say, “What?  Speak up, I don’t hear so good out of this ear anymore.”  And, if you ask any teenager, they’ll say, “Get out of the way, you’re blocking the TV screen!”

You know what it reminds me of?  It reminds me of that movie, Sense & Sensibility.  There’s this girl named Marianne and she’s young and fun and spontaneous.  She drives her carriage too fast on country roads with her boyfriend and sneaks off into the rain for romantic adventures.  Then one day something happens and she loses that part of herself.  She goes on, but she’s different now — practical, sensible, discreet.  Her thoughts turn from poetry to planned subdivisions and installing roundabouts at perfectly quiet intersections.

What I’m trying to say is that I think Missoula is like that for people who knew her back in the day.  She’s still Missoula, but she’s different now.  More grown up.  More responsible.  We miss the old Missoula.

But younger generations come along and they don’t know what we’ve lost.  They’re finding new connections with what Missoula has to offer today and what won’t be around in 20 years and then they’ll start their own Facebook page and write about how Missoula just ain’t what she used to be.

And this is why old people have to die.  Because things keep changing, but your memory of how they used to be doesn’t, and then you start to get really confused and totally lost because you can’t find the landmarks to you need to get back home.  So, you stop some kid on the street and ask, “Hey, where’s the Heidelhaus?” and they look at you with fear in their eyes because they don’t know how to react to a demented old person who thinks they’re in Germany.

Whether we like it or not, life keeps moving forward, which is good because it keeps us busy.  It keeps me busy anyway – so busy that I find I have less and less time to write blogs.  It may be awhile before my next one, ‘cuz I gotta go start a band or I’ll never get a date.  But I’ll be thinking about ya.

Missing Missoula,

CC the Trained Monkey


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BIO:  Carol Chrest is a bitter old spinster living in Los Angeles. When she’s not working ridiculous hours at her cruddy day job, she writes screenplays.  She drinks.