Deer Lodge 2019: Territorial Days Parade

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June 15, 2019.  My beloved classic 1970 Chevy Impala was not in the Territorial Days Parade.  A few miles east of Deer Lodge, en route to a chiropractic appointment in Anaconda just four days earlier, the 350 cubic inch V8 engine’s passenger side bank took a dump.  Began missing like crazy, just all of a sudden.

Not terribly surprising.  That engine had been on life support for some time.  But it meant withdrawing from the parade.  After I got over the initial irritation, this new development was mostly a relief.  I didn’t really want to show off the car this year.   Frankly, it looks noticeably worse than it did in 2018.  The small rusted areas near two fenders have grown some.  The rock-starred windshield has not been replaced.  The vinyl seat is thread-ripped and cross-busted where my bony butt has wreaked havoc.  The cracked dash cover is still cracked.   Viewed from behind, the body looks to be canting to the right,  a full two inches lower on the passenger’s side than on the driver’s side.  Despite frequent compliments from people who see the Chevy around town, I’m not exactly in love with it.

If somebody came along with a similar or older Chevy possessing leaf springs rather than coil springs in the rear, I’d be happy to talk trade.  I’ll never buy another vehicle with rear coils.  Yuck.  Not that many years back, in 2000-2001, I owned a great 4-door 1967 Chevy post sedan.  With leaf springs, thank you very much.  Wish I had that and the ’70 was gone.  I loved that ’67 plain-Jane boat.  Jacked up the rear.  Put bigger snow tires back there, as big as the wheel wells would accommodate.  Chained it up on all four and drove the mountain snow all through the winter, mud in the spring, you name it.

Enough whining.  On with the show.   I didn’t even try to photograph the long line of vehicles in the parade.  Just snagged a pic of each goodie as it rolled by.

Okay, so I mixed up the order.  On this page it’s tractors first.

When I was seventeen and just out of high school, a Massey Ferguson tractor (see photo, above) like this one marked itself forever in my mind as the crème de la crème of farm tractors.  Dad was in the VA hospital, getting his spine fused.  He was out for the summer and it was up to me to bring in the hay crop.  One fine day, with our largest hayfield cut and raked and ready to bale, the Allis Chalmers tractor we used to tow and power the baler went down.  I don’t recall what was wrong with it, just that I did not have the time to fix it.  The hay had to be baled immediately.  I had to ask for help.

That help came in the form of John Manley’s awesome little red Massey Ferguson tractor.  Or was it Jim Manley?  I never could keep those two names straight.  Not to worry.  If I’ve got it wrong after all these years, a reader will likely let me know and I’ll fix this paragraph.  Mainly, I knew the rancher, whose place was a few miles to the west of ours.  Dad and I had cut hay on his place one summer, paying him for the stumpage in order to obtain enough feed for our herd through the winter.  I drove down to the Manley ranch, explained the situation, and he loaned me the tractor on the spot.

They say good fences make good neighbors.  True enough, no doubt, but it’s even more true that good neighbors make good fences and loan pieces of prized equipment to teenagers in need.  Yeah, it helped that he’d seen me work, knew my work ethic and how I cared for machinery, but still.

I baled that field at warp speed and got his pretty red tractor back to him.  Don’t remember if I told him I’d fallen in love with it or not.

On to more Territorial Day Parade photos.  Trucks.  Let’s see if we can find any trucks.

Oh, yeah.  The “float” representing Timber Eatery, now that’s a truck.

Trucks.  Trucks.  Need more trucks.

I was assigned a 3/4 ton truck like this one during my Army stint in Germany, 1964-65, when the Berlin Wall was still up and an Eastern Bloc attack through the Fulda Gap was always a possibility.

Oh, wait.  Did we forget the floats?  What’s a parade without floats?

Relax.  We have floats.

Touting the local production of The Music Man.

More characters in costume.

One of the things I love most about Deer Lodge is the sheer energy, the joy of participating in Life Itself, that permeates the community.  Yes, we have issues.  Every town does.  Yet simply talking with other residents, or even simply observing, leads to an inevitable conclusion:  We are, for the most part, a group of hard working, energetic, civic minded, optimistic and enthusiastic folks.   Who can ask for more than that?

Finally (on this page–much sooner in the parade as it happened)…cars!

As with every car show (and/or parade), there were too many vehicles to document on a single-page post like this.  The 1951 Ford pictured above, however, deserves comment–because my first-ever car (purchased in 1959) after getting my driver’s license (in 1958) was in fact a ’51 Ford.  A four door sedan, not a hardtop, but with a paint job just as eye catching as this one.  Two toned.  Black on bottom, shocking pink on top.  My Dad bought it for me after long negotiations.  Told me he’d paid $375 for it.  I later found out he’d paid $75, not $375, thereby saving himself money, buying a battered beast but wanting me to think it was worth more so I’d be motivated to work on it when it broke down.

Which it did frequently.  By the time it bit the dust for good, I’d personally worked on the carburetor, patched the gas tank, and replaced both the transmission and the rear end (more than once).  I’d also managed to drop the vehicle on myself, a young-and-dumb move at the age of 16.  I was learning.  Thanks, Dad.

Wouldn’t mind having another ’51.  It’s the only “older Ford” model that’s pleasing to the eye with its lines and the double-bullet front “upper bumper” piece.  But then, I’m undoubtedly biased…and I would not paint anything black-and-pink, believe me.

Okay, I stand corrected.  This Crown Victoria (above) isn’t bad when it comes to lines, either.  Unlike later Crown Vics which don’t even have crowns.  Should just call them Vics, right?

Wanna see a cool paint job?  Check out the T-bird (below).

And finally–ignoring many other deserving vehicles–check out the Ford Fairlane Skyliner.

That’s right.  The convertible hardtop stores in the trunk.  Electric motors move the top back and forth.  Restoring something like this is a work of genius.

On the way from downtown, choosing not to hang around to see what cars won what, I encountered a new vendor.  Powell Swanser, in full mountain man attire, was touting his historical novel titled John Colter, Young Patriot.  If you live in Montana and don’t know who John Colter was, hey, even Wikipedia has a page on him.  Powell Swanson is related to John Colter and is also a world renowned sculptor, not to mention the man who managed to bladesmith precise reproductions of “Colter’s blades,” two knives and a tomahawk.  The novel, partly truth and partly fiction, you guess which, is remarkable.  I read the whole thing in two days (also remarkable) and explained to my non-reading wife, “Powell spells a few words his own way and might benefit from the services of a proofreader, but he can really make a story POP!  He’s like Tam the Tall Tale Teller (the title character in a book of mine) came alive in the flesh.”

“Oh,” she said.  “Like you!”

Thanks, honey.  I think.

Powell Swanser’s book stand.

Powell up close.

Just in case y’all want to reach Powell Swanser–to buy a set of Colter blades for many thousand dollars or just a copy of his book for under twenty bucks–he can be reached at:

  • Phone:  1-406-544-0188
  • powellswanser@hotmail.com
  • www.powellswanser.com
  • powellswanserincredibleart@gmail.com
  • P. O. Box 764, Milltown, Montana, USA, 59851

Milltown?  How about that.  Turns out he’s my neighbor.  Milltown is just 45 miles from my Holy Waters Ranch property near Ovando.   In Montana miles, 45 is nothing.