Page 1

Summer 2009

folfing missoula

disc golfers take to the hills

the sound of summer

the writing life

serving exercise and fitness

endangered species

western montanans love music in the out-of-doors

sarrah carlson is champion of tennis

missoula’s community of writers welcomes a new generation

phone booths as memories of bygone days magazine


Trout Meadows River Ranch Missoula, Montana magazine magazine

letter from the editor


ummer sneaks up on Missoula, teasing us with sunshine and promises of more, taunting us with wind and rain and the occasional snowshower. But then – kapow! – it is here, and it is perfect. Here at magazine, we are unabashed in our affection for summer in western Montana. The long, long, long days. The lazy floats down wide and friendly rivers. The wild, eye-popping rides through narrow whitewater reaches. We love evenings at the ballpark, rooting on our Missoula Osprey. And rambunctious afternoons on the folf course. We love matching wits with trout and tennis balls. We love our music out-of-doors and our huckleberries in big, glutinous batches. Most of all, we love celebrating Missoula’s summertime riches with you, our readers. Thus the fare in this edition of Joe Nickell, the Missoulian’s arts and entertainment reporter, leads the way with a guide to western Montana’s ever-expanding repertoire of summer music festivals. The venues, of course, are without equal and now the music itself is top drawer – from tiny Paradise, which hosts the Montana Baroque Music Festival, to downtown Missoula, home to the Missoula Symphony Orchestra’s hugely popular, once-each-August Symphony in the Park. Nickell also takes us for a stroll through huckleberry country, and the evereccentric lineup of midsummer berry festivals in Whitefish, Trout Creek and Bigfork. We’re shopping ’til we drop: for ice cream and skin cream, pretzels and purses, ginger dressing and gelato. The hardest thing to find? A quart of huckleberries! If you’re looking for more exertion in the out-of-doors, we’ve got you covered as well. Missoulian sportswriter Nick Lockridge provided our first-ever guide to Missoula area folf courses, where thousands of disc golfers spend thousands of hours in surprisingly heated competition. Tennis, anyone? Lockridge’s sports department colleague Bill Speltz introduces readers to a local woman whose mission is to get everyone in town off the couch and onto the tennis court. And everyone who’s ever taken a lesson from Sarrah Carlson tells the same story: You’re gonna love this game! I’m also partial to the surprises in this edition of our magazine: Photographer Linda Thompson’s ode to western Montana’s disappearing pay phones. Greg Patent’s voluptuous summer recipes. Michael Jamison’s tribute to the North Fork’s grand old Wurtz family cabin. Michael Moore’s tribute to some of the icons of Missoula’s community of writers who passed away in recent months. They are all part of this wondrous natural phenomenon we call summer in western Montana, and that we hold close all year through.

bookmark it! Go online to throughout the summer for:

get out! We’ll take you into western Montana’s backcountry for climbing, hiking, biking, camping and fishing on our outdoor recreation blog,

but don’t pick the flowers! What’s that beauteous little bloom along the trail? We’ve got the ultimate guide to Montana wildflowers, and how to find them, at

wet your whistle! With the Grizzly Growler beer blog and Know Your Vino wine blog. Tim Akimoff and Kate Murphy are our blogmeisters!

watch the birds! OK, so they aren’t real osprey, although a few circle the field every now and then. But we’ve got a new blog dedicated to Missoula’s own boys of summer, the Missoula Osprey Pioneer League baseball team. Check it out at

work up an appetite! And when you’re ready for a bite to eat or a little something to sip, head for our food and drink blogs:, and

under construction! Sherry Devlin is editor of the Missoulian and magazine. She can be reached at (406) 523-5250 or by e-mail at

Join us online at throughout the summer, and watch as our Web site takes on a new look and identity -- still celebrating the best our city has to offer, but giving you a chance to join in the conversation!

subscribe! subscribe to and have it delivered right to your home at magazine magazine is is the the flagship flagship magazine magazine of the missoulian newspaper of the missoulian newspaper

publisher john vanstrydonck publisher stacey mueller editor sherry devlin editor sherry devlin art director kate murphy art director kate murphy director mike lake assistant artassistant directorart mike lake photo editor kurt wilson photo editor kurt wilson advertising director kristen bounds sales & marketing director jim mcgowan online director jim mcgowan

writers timwriters akimoff tim akimoff daryl gadbow betsy cohen michaelgwen jamison florio nick lockridge daryl gadbow michaellori moore grannis kate murphy michael jamison joe meseroll nickell bob greg patent michael moore bill speltz kate murphy barbara joe theroux nickell greg patent photographers tom bauer jodi rave michael gallacher linda thompson photographers tom kurtbauer wilson

michael gallacher

graphic design diann linda kellythompson kurt wilson megan richter chris sawicki graphic design diann youa kelly vang

megan richter sawicki advertising sales jacque chris walawander 523-5271youa vang

advertising sales jacque distribution. Available in more thanwalawander 160 racks in western magazine is a natural extension 523-5271 Montana, for people who read and rely on the Missoulian newspaper. Reaching 80,000 to 90,000 readers daily, the Missoulian has long been recognized as the most thorough, in-depth source of news in western Montana. .Available in more than 160takes racksthis in western Montana, magazine award-winning magazine is a natural people who readinand rely on the coverage another step, showing offextension the very for best of Missoula words and Missoulian newspaper. Reachingon 80,000 to 90,000 readers daily, the Missoulianthe hasregion long photographs. By capitalizing the Missoulian’s presence throughout been recognized as the mostchain thorough, in-depth source of news in western Montana. and utilizing its established of distribution, magazine and magazine award-winning another step, off Web site takes reachthis more readers in coverage more places than anyshowing other such the very bestinofwestern MissoulaMontana. in words and photographs. By capitalizing on the Missoulian’s publication


presence throughout the region and utilizing its established chain of distribution, Missoula. compart magazine Web site reachwithout more readers in more places than any No of the and publication may be reprinted permission. otherall such publication in western ©2009 Lee Enterprises, rights reserved. PrintedMontana. in the USA.

on the cover:

No part of the publication may be reprinted without permission. ©2007 Lee Enterprises, all

Disc golfers tee off at the fourth hole of the popular 18-hole folf course at on the cover: Blue Mountain. Ryan Springer pedals along the Clark Fork River with a delivery of Le Petit Outre breads bound for downtown Missoula photo byrestaurants. linda thompson magazine

cover photo by linda thompson magazine

vol.3 no.3

inside this issue

contents summer 2009 “People look us up online and come find us. One day this guy from San Diego just showed up in my yard. He was standing in the parking lot looking around. I went out and played a round with him; he just wanted to say he played in Montana in the snow.� page 56








in season

all year long

32 36 38 44 50 52 56 64

9 10 16 20 24 26 27 68 74 82

the sound of music cultural connection endangered species the write stuff i huckleberries serving enthusiam for tennis folf timeline magazine

the way we were missoula cooks know your vino and your beer fashion buzz flybox on the fly summer reading list western montana getaway parting shot

the way we were

1920s stardom

Bill Wickes, age 4 or 5, poses for a photograph taken by his older brother, Tom, in the early 1920s. The Wickes brothers were sons of W.W. Wickes, who owned and operated the Star Garage on Front Street for many years, beginning in the mid-1930s. His son, Tom, took it over after he retired.

photo courtesy of john w. macdonald magazine

missoula cooks Heirloom Tomato Salad showcases little-known varieties that have a tremendous range of flavors. Make a salad of several kinds and see for yourself.


anticipation abounds by greg patent photos by linda thompson

10 magazine

very year, I wait with anticipation for summer’s crops to appear at local farmers markets. At first, there’s just a trickle of them: some perfectly ripe red tomatoes displayed by a few vendors; perhaps baskets of fine French beans at another stall or two; and peppers, large sweet bells in assorted colors, looking all shiny and beckoning with the promise of good eating. And then there are bunches of basil, whose pungent aroma leads me by the nose to think about how to cook summer’s bounty. In our climate, garden vegetables can arrive with startling rapidity and abundance, and the question then becomes: How can I possibly cook them all? Nature’s window for truly ripe tomatoes and peppers is very brief, and I find myself eating tomato salads daily. I make sandwiches and tuck slices of heirloom tomatoes into the filling, and I often cook up fresh tomato pasta sauces, grill tomatoes, and bake them in olive oil to concentrate their flavors and preserve them in the freezer for use during winter months.

Garlic and green beans are another great summer side dish. Browning thin slices of garlic in olive oil before adding the blanched beans flavors the oil and adds crunch and color.

One of the best ways to bring out the sweetness of bell peppers is to cook them with onions, garlic and tomatoes until they become a thick stew. Seasoned simply with a bit of salt, pepper and red wine vinegar, the dish is known as peperonata. My wife and I learned how to make it when we lived in Naples many years ago, and it has become a staple of our summer kitchen ever since. Peperonata freezes well, so make several batches to tide you over during the winter. Because green beans have a relatively short season, and I only enjoy them fresh, I tend to pair them with robust flavors to enhance my summer memories of them. Garlic and beans are a fabulous combination and make a great side dish for just about anything. What you’ll notice about the recipes here is their short list of ingredients. That’s because when vegetables are at their peak of

flavor and eaten in the proper season, they don’t need much else to reveal their natural essence. Greg Patent is a food writer and columnist for the Missoulian and Missoula. com magazine. He also co-hosts a weekly show about food with Jon Jackson on KUFM Sundays at 11:50 a.m. His cookbook, “A Baker’s Odyssey,” was nominated for a 2008 James Beard Award and won the Cordon d’Or Academy Award. His brand new cookbook, “Montana Cooking,” celebrates the foods of our state. Visit Greg’s Web site at You can write him at Linda Thompson is a photographer for the Missoulian. Reach her at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at Find the recipes on page 12, 14 and 15. magazine


Peperonata, a thick stew of colorful red bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic, is a great side dish for grilled meats or fish. You can also use it as a sauce for pasta or as a topping for pizza.

Peperonata A classic stew of sweet bell peppers, onions and tomatoes that can be served hot, warm or at room temperature with grilled fish or any meat or whatever grilled vegetables you like, such as zucchini and eggplant. Peperonata also makes a great sauce for pasta or a topping for pizza.

1/3 cup olive oil 1 pound yellow onions, sliced 1/8 inch thick 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 pounds red, orange and yellow peppers (4 large), cored and seeded, cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 pounds Roma tomatoes (8 to 10), peeled and cut into 1/2inch chunks (See note.) 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1/4 cup chopped parsley or basil or a combination

12 magazine

Heat the oil over medium heat in a 12-inch skillet or a 5-quart sautĂŠ pan. Add the onions and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and peppers, and a little salt and pepper. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook 10 to 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are wilted and partially tender. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, and a little more salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook another 10 minutes or so. Be warned: The tomatoes will release a lot of liquid and the vegetables will look very soupy. Continue cooking, uncovered, over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until almost all the liquid has boiled away, about 10 minutes. Adjust the heat carefully toward the end of cooking to prevent scorching. Stir in the chopped parsley or basil, or a little of both. Serve at any temperature between hot and room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers, covered, for 3 or 4 days. Makes 6 to 8 servings. Note: To peel tomatoes, add them to a large pot of boiling water and leave them for about 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large bowl of cold water. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins and cores with a sharp paring knife. magazine


Missoula Cooks ...continued from page 12

Garlic Green Beans The best beans for this dish are the thin French snap beans, haricots verts, which you can find at many farmers markets. Lacking them, regular snap beans will work fine, provided they’re not too fat or old. The beans make a fine side dish for any grilled meat, fish or vegetable.

1 pound haricots verts, stemmed 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper


6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the beans, bring the water back to the boil, and cook until the beans are crisp/tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain the beans in a colander and transfer them to a large bowl of cold water. When cool, drain again in the colander and pat dry. If not ready to cook, store in plastic bags in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pepper flakes and sliced garlic, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden brown. Add the beans, salt and pepper to taste, and stir well. Add the balsamic vinegar and continue cooking about 2 minutes until the beans are cooked through but still have a bit of crunch. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.

14 magazine

Heirloom Tomato Salad Summer is the time to sample heirloom tomatoes, varieties that for whatever reasons aren’t commercially viable. However, they are flavor powerhouses, and serving a mixture of them, say three or four different kinds, in a salad is a great way to get to know them. Heirlooms come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors. Unlike the usual garden variety of tomato, the green ones are completely ripe. Seek them out at farmers markets and in health food markets.

1 1/2 pounds heirloom tomatoes Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot 3 or 4 torn basil leaves With a sharp paring knife, remove the cores and any tough spots from the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into wedges or slices and arrange them on a large platter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, sherry vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste to make a smooth, creamy dressing. Drizzle over and around the tomatoes and scatter the shallots on top. Garnish with the torn basil leaves and a sprig of basil. Serve at once with good crusty bread. Makes 2 to 4 servings. magazine


know your vino

a pioneering force in the industry


or anyone familiar with Missoula’s own Ten Spoon Winery, it may be hard to believe that owners Andy Sponseller and Connie Poten have been photos by bottling their wines for six years now. The kurt wilson pair has worked diligently to produce quality organic wines from our great region while honing their winemaking techniques. But they’ve also hit a few bumps along the way. A number of “learning experiences” have helped Ten “Each year is different Spoon, the couple said, both than the last and we continue to learn much to become a strong pioneering -- indeed, something new every year,” says Connie force in the wine industry here in Montana and to gain national Poten, who owns Missoula’s Ten Spoon Winery with recognition. her partner Andy Sponseller. “The best part is when In 2003, Sponseller and you realize you can make good wine despite the Poten spent much of their challenges each year presents.” time working to gain federal licensing from the Bureau of

by kate murphy

16 magazine

Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. They also lobbied the Montana Legislature to allow self-distribution of their product – a timeconsuming endeavor which ultimately proved successful and paved the way for fellow winemakers and peers. In 2005, they had to change their vineyard and winery’s name from Rattlesnake Creek to Ten Spoon because of a trademark infringement threat from a Washington winemaker. Ultimately, they turned the setback into an advertising advantage with a name-thewinery contest that gained notice in Wine Spectator, bringing in suggested names from around the world. In 2008, another trademark dispute forced them to retire the name “Fat Cat.” This white wine, made from estate-grown St. Pepin grapes, is now called St. Pepin, so people will learn the name of the French-


agree relate to harvest time, terroir (the American hybrid grape. Spike, the original n their winemaking business, land) and the art of winemaking. Fat Cat, remains on the label, this time with Sponseller and Poten are first and In their first year of harvest, Andy a halo. foremost farmers, then winemakers, and remembers measuring the brix, which is the In addition to these business hurdles, finally business managers. That said, they amount of sugar in the grapes. In waiting the couple deals with ever-changing have been successful in all three areas for an ideal reading, he understood Mother weather, variables in grape growing, and and with each passing year the proportion Nature had her own agenda strict winemaking guidelines and recognized he wasn’t that pose year-to-year going to reach that magical challenges. However, the number. He needed to philosophy they built their modify his plans. vineyard upon has remained “It is the variables from intact: Combine the best year to year that make you a of traditional and modern better winemaker – when you viticultural techniques while have to make adjustments caring for the land and in order to create a good environment in which the vintage. In winemaking, you vines grow. are never finished; it is everWorking from this changing and it is because of philosophy, they ensure the this, harvest is our favorite perfect matching of soil, time of year at the vineyard,” climate and grape variety Sponseller said. – while being meticulous “Each year is different in the production process than the last and we continue from vineyard to cellar – to to learn much – indeed, create certified organic wines. something new every year. Sponseller and Poten believe The best part is when you these organic principles and Wine bottles are filled at the winery in Missoula’s Rattlesnake Valley. realize you can make good growing their vines in harmony wine despite the challenges each year with the land in a sustainable and natural becomes increasingly equal. presents,” Poten said. way are essential to the success of their However, the experiences they’ve had Sponseller also emphasizes the vineyard and define their wines. over the past six years have helped define importance of terroir in relation to Ten Spoons Winery – experiences that both

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winemaking and how it defines the wines of our region. “In order to craft good wine, you need to capture the essences of the terroir, year in and year out, cultivating the truest expression of the grapes you have planted,” he explained. It is the St. Pepin grape they grow on their Rattlesnake Valley vineyard that Sponseller and Poten believe captures the characteristics that come together in the glass to create that unique sensation that is attributed to the terroir of Ten Spoon Winery. Capturing this essence is an attribute both feel passionate about, and Sponseller would like to see his peers in the wine industry get back to the basics and honesty of the terroir. He feels the industry is promoting a loss of discovery in creating too many factory-style wines, offering the analogy that winemakers are making wines that are simply background music, rather than creating the music by which we are inspired or moved. Ten Spoon grows Maréchal Foche, Frontenac, Leon Millot, St. Croix, Swenson Red, St. Pepin and LaCrosse grapes on their “5 acres of heaven” to create their flagship wines, Ranger Rider, St. Pepin (formerly Fat Cat) and Farm Dog.

They also continue to purchase grapes from family farms in Oregon, Washington and California that make up their Moonlight Pinot Noir and Prairie Thunder Petite Sirah and Zinfandel blend. And we can’t forget their famous Flathead Cherry Dry, created from organic Lambert cherries grown at Flathead Lake. Sponseller and Poten are forging ahead, creating wines that tell the story of the grapes and the land from which they hail. They also welcome the next challenges that will reshape and refine their winery. In the meantime, their energy will go to the land they work and the quality of wines they produce, always striving for that magical moment when someone tastes their wine with a growing smile and an appreciative glimmer in the eye .

Tasting notes: Range Rider is made from Ten Spoon estate-grown Maréchal Foche, Frontenac and St. Croix grapes. This wine has flavors of black fruits, plum, bitter chocolate and toasted wheat, with fresh acidity and fruit flavors that carry through the finish. Pair this with grilled meats, lightly sauced pasta dishes and strong cheeses.

Kate Murphy is the wine writer for the Missoulian. Partake of the ongoing discussion of wines on her blog at She can be reached at (406) 523-0486 or by e-mail at Kurt Wilson is photography and multimedia editor of the Missoulian. He can be reached at (406) 523-5244 or by e-mail at


life’s front door Wayne-Dalton of Missoula 5657 Alloy South Missoula, MT 59808 728-6243

18 magazine

St. Pepin (formerly Fat Cat) is feather-light on the palate with crisp acidity; it’s a simple white with bright citrus, melon, apricot and citrus zest flavors. There is a little residual sugar on the attack, but it finishes dry with a citrus pith tartness that would pair wonderfully with grilled herbed salmon or spicy Asian cuisine. Moonlight Pinot Noir has fresh raspberries and red cherry fruit with a subtle cedar-tinged spice box on the palate. This wine opens up in the mouth, creating an easy-toenjoy Pinot that will pair with a variety of foods, from pizza and burgers to roast turkey and grilled lamb.

Prairie Thunder Red has tangy notes of blackberry on top of ripe plums and cherries with plenty of rich, spicy notes that accent the ripe fruit, Kirsch and mocha flavors. Savor this wine with rich stews, red meats and hearty pasta dishes. Also superb with hard, aged cheeses.

Flathead Cherry Dry drinks more like a Pinot Noir than a fruit wine. It has fresh red fruit flavors backed by caramel, a lightly oaked finish and fresh acidity. This is a great wine for your summer barbecues.

ten spoon ten spoon Prairie Thunder - Petite Sirah/Zinfandel In tribute to Montana’s magnificent grizzly, we’ve crafted a rich, 60-40 blend of petite sirah and zinfandel from organic grapes grown at Redwood Valley Vineyard in Mendocino County, Calif. Prairie Thunder opens wide with chocolate and coffee notes on a full berry field. Spicy strawberry flavors splash through--a bear’s delight. TEN SPOON donates a portion of the sale of every bottle to THE VITAL GROUND FOUNDATION, a conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring grizzly bear habitat. Preserving grizzly habitat protects all wildlife. Go griz! --- FOR SALE IN MONTANA ONLY -----------------------------------------------------------


petite sirah & zinfandel made with organic grapes


4175 Rattlesnake Drive, Missoula, Montana 59802 / 406.549.8703




supporting Vital Ground’s protection & restoration of grizzly bear habitat


Grizzly Photo by Amy Shapira

750ML / ALC. 14.1% BY VOL. magazine


and your beer

kickin’ it with the “tall boys”


by timothy alex akimoff photo by michael gallacher

20 magazine

he first “And Your Beer” article featured a four-pack of Kettlehouse Brewing Co.’s Double Haul India Pale Ale cans chilling in swiftly flowing water at river’s edge. It’s fitting, in a way, because Kettlehouse Brewing is a pioneer – and now a veteran – in what has become a full-fledged movement toward canned microbrews. Cans have long been associated with domestic beer, while craft brewers tended to favor the more refined nature of handsome labels on dark bottles. But in 2002, Dale Katechis, owner of Oskar Blues Brewing Co., in Lyons, Colo., became the first craft brewer to put his beer in cans. The brilliant blue 12-ounce cans of Dale’s Pale Ale didn’t immediately fill the aisles of every grocery store across the country, but other brewers took notice. And one Montana brewer took it a step further. “My main motivation was to get beer that we make on my raft when we go floating and fishing,” said Tim O’Leary,

owner of Kettlehouse. “I saw this hand canner advertised in a brewer’s trade magazine, and I said, ‘I gotta do that.’ Meanwhile, Dale from Oscar Blues did it, so I tracked his successes and felt we could do it here on a small scale.” The main problem with beer in a can is that the canning process allows for a lot of oxygen to get inside the can before it’s sealed. For the big domestic brewers that produce mainly lagered beer, oxygen wasn’t a big issue because the beer was already pasteurized and would retain its flavor longer. Craft brewers typically make ales, which are alive when they go into a can or a bottle. And live beer hates both light and oxygen. Undaunted by the naysayers, O’Leary started canning his Double Haul IPA and his Cold Smoke Scottish-style ale in industry-unique 16-ounce “tall boys” instead of the typical 12-ouncers about four years ago.

continued on page 22

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Kickin’ It With The “Tall Boys” ...continued from page 20

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“Cans are the next logical step since you can’t recycle glass,” O’Leary said. “The stock is up to 80 percent recycled aluminum. Almost 90 percent could be melted down and put into a new can.” The only thing more difficult than getting a spot at the bar at the Kettlehouse Brewing tap room on a Friday evening might be finding a four-pack of IPA left in the beer aisle on a hot day. “Missoulians support Missoula microbreweries so well that this market alone could almost drink us dry,” O’Leary said.


ut a Montanan need not fear an inability to score a Double Haul or a Cold Smoke in a can for the right recreational conditions. Big Sky Brewing Co. introduced their famous Moose Drool, a brown ale, and Trout Slayer, a light, filtered wheat-based ale, in cans earlier this year. “Thanks to guys like Tim O’Leary at Kettlehouse Brewing Co.,” Big Sky coowner and executive vice president Bjorn Nabozney said. “They really paved the road to make it possible for companies like us to step in and do it at speeds that are more appropriate for us.” Technological advances and the growth of the craft-brewing industry have made mid-size canning machines more affordable, and the new technology means less oxygen in cans, which means a longer shelf life. And a longer shelf life is good for a company like Big Sky Brewing, which distributes its beers from the Northwest to the Midwest. With glass forbidden on many Northwest rivers, canned beers are hugely popular not only in summertime but all year long now. And while you’ll still see some people floating lazily down the Blackfoot River with a Pabst Blue Ribbon in hand, you’re more likely to spot a Troutslayer or a Double Haul kickin’ it in a coozie these days. “I welcome all Montana beers into cans,” O’Leary said. “You go camping, you want to have a beer in a cooler that night to match your burger and steak.”. Keep up-to-date on the craft beer industry by following Tim Akimoff on his blog, Michael Gallacher is a photographer at the Missoulian. He can be reached at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at

22 magazine

Brett Thuma Gallery

“Autumn at Avalanche Lake�

Prints Available Brett Thuma Gallery . Downtown Bigfork (406)837-4604 .

Corbett Custom Lighting, Inc. Excellence in Lighting Design since 1974 You are invited to visit our new showroom at 29771 Hwy 209, Bigfork MT Please call for an appointment! (406) 837-5823 magazine


fashion buzz









BRI GHT IDEAS making summer fashion a work of art photographs by michael gallacher and tom bauer 24 magazine

a. Sotto Voce – blue and cream dress, Pura Vida, $60; scarf, Judy’s, $22; necklace, local jewelry, Natural Changes by Tessa Roods, $70. b. Sotto Voce – brown hat with grommet detail, San Diego Hat Company $29. c. Sotto Voce – white leather bag Tano, $240.

d. Sotto Voce – blue dress, Nataya $154; necklace, local jewelry, Natural Changes by Tessa Roods $60. e. Sotto Voce – brown and cream dress, Pura Vida, $60; necklace, local jewelry, Natural Changes by Tessa Roods, $60; bag, local artist Magda Martain with Magbag, $40; scarf Judy’s, $22.




f. Sotto Voce – dress, Pura Vida, $68; swing jacket Salaam, $65; necklace, local jewelry Mystic Mountain, $60, scarf Judy’s, $22. g. J Elaine’s Boutique – 3/4 sleeve fuchsia jacket by Luii; black tank by Kay Celine; Asian inspired skirt by Lily; jewelry by Dani Stewart of Dani’s Designz. h. J Elaine’s Boutique – floral halter dress in wine country colors by Lily; jewelry by Dani Stewart of Dani’s Designz.

i. Sotto Voce – floral dress, Lulu Mari, $58; black leather bag, Tano, $240; local jewelry by Sherry Toft, $26; blue scarf, Judy’s, $22. j. Sotto Voce – black and white striped hat, San Diego Hat Company, $30; red leather bag, Tano, $230. k. J Elaine’s Boutique – retro pink and white floral sundress with black rosette applique neckline; jewelry by Dani Stewart of Dani’s Designz. magazine





green drake

salmon fly

golden stonefly

tomsu’s supreme hopper

no hackle


tomsu’s supreme hopper

crawfish magazine

on the fly


River Road Creations Inc. in Stevensville offers an assortment of innovative tools and materials for anyone interested in tying their own foam flies.

flying with foam

wo species of mayflies – tiny blue-winged olives and slightly larger mahogany duns – were hatching on the Elk River near Fernie, B.C., when I arrived to fish it in September a few years ago. In addition, two different sizes of caddis flies were making their seasonal appearance on the stream. But all those insects were hatching only sporadically in the crisp, bright, sunny fall weather. I was curious to see what fly patterns my guide would recommend to match the hatches during our float trip – an outing graciously provided as a retirement present by my thoughtful colleagues at the Missoulian. To my surprise, the first fly the guide knotted onto my leader was a hulking, whopper-sized sandwich of black-over-tan foam, bristling with black rubber legs, which I recognized with some degree of contempt as a Chernobyl Ant. I’d heard about them, was well aware of their increasing popularity, but I’d never stooped to fishing one. As with many old-school fly-fishers, the relatively recent advent of closed-cell foam fly patterns for trout fishing offended my traditionalist sensitivities. I firmly believed that trout flies should be composed primarily of natural fur and feathers, as the fly-fishing gods obviously intended, with perhaps a minor exception for the addition of a token amount of synthetic material to provide sparkle. Foam flies, in my stodgy opinion, were for bass or crappies. But I am becoming a convert. The guided trip on the Elk River was part of my transformation. The same Chernobyl Ant the guide tied on at the outset of the float remained on the end of my line all day, bamboozling one fat, feisty native cutthroat after another, plus one bull trout, and amazingly, it looked as good – or at least the same – as new at the take-out.


by daryl gadbow photos by michael gallacher

art of my initial resistance to using foam flies was that I had no inkling of how to tie them. I enjoy tying my own flies, though I do purchase flies on occasion. But I have this quirk: I don’t like to buy flies that I can’t tie myself. The mystery of tying foam flies began to unravel for me in 2003 under the tutelage of Matt Simms, a Missoula fly-fishing guide magazine


Tony Tomsu ties one of his lifelike foam grasshoppers at his shop in Stevensville recently. Tomsu’s River Road Creations is the world’s largest manufacturer of foam fly-tying tools.

who for a number of years had guided and tied flies for the famous “One Fly Contest,” which has been held annually for going-on two decades on the Snake River in Jackson Hole, Wyo. “The One Fly Contest started with a bunch of guides with the same day off who were sitting around drinking a lot of beer,” Simms told me. “And one of ’em says, ’I bet I can catch more fish than you on one fly.’ After a couple of years, it became a charity event for the family of a guide who drowned. Now it’s pretty high-end – kind of a giant rich-man’s contest. It costs $4,000 for a team entry. And you have to be invited.” The contest created demand for flies not only proven to be deadly on the Snake River, but also flies that are extremely durable. Enter the Chernobyl Ant, which evolved in the early ’90s on the Green River in Utah to imitate the local cicadas. Its bizarre appearance elicited comparisons to an overgrown mutated ant; thus, its colorful moniker. It was so effective, however, the “Ant” soon spread to other streams in the West. “There were no cicadas on the Snake,” Simms said. “But it worked. The guides started using them all summer long.” In 1995, and again in 1999, the Chernobyl Ant captured the championship at the One Fly Contest. That success helped make the “Ant” – and the myriad subsequent foam permutations that it quickly spawned – an

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almost instant hit in the fly-fishing world ... especially among guides. Foam flies are a godsend for guides, according to Simms, because they sit low on the water, offering fish a tempting profile of a large insect – such as a grasshopper, cricket or stonefly; they’re ultra-durable, never sink and are easily spied by myopic dudes. Their superb flotation also is conducive to the “hopper-and-dropper” technique favored by many guides, in which a dropper fly, such as a weighted nymph, is suspended below a floating fly that functions as a strike indicator as well as an attractor. That setup doubles the client’s chances for success. In addition, Simms said, foam flies can be easily twitched to give them a lifelike motion on the water that fish often can’t resist. If that motion results from a sloppy cast, so much the better.


ust in the past year, my foam flytying skills have improved markedly through my discovery of the innovative tools, materials and guidance offered by River Road Creations Inc., a Stevensville company owned by Tony Tomsu and his wife Kathi. After moving to the Bitterroot Valley from Texas in 1993, the couple started their company 11 years ago as a “hobby business.” It’s now the world’s largest manufacturer of foam fly-tying tools

continued on page 30

Welcome Home. 406 541-6550 2800 S. Reserve Street | Missoula magazine


Flying with Foam ...continued from page 28 and supplier of specialty foam fly-tying materials. Its handmade-in-Montana products are distributed worldwide. In Texas, Tony and Kathi both worked for a pharmaceutical company. But they were ready for a lifestyle change, he says. A fly-tier since his youth, Tony enjoyed fly-fishing for bass and bluegill in Texas. But he craved a chance to do more trout fishing. “I spent six or seven years trying to decide where I wanted to live,” says Tony. “I did a lot of research.” Finally, he settled on the Missoula area and the Bitterroot Valley. “It had the right combination of urban and country, and the University (of Montana),” he says. “Plus it’s Trout Central.” Tony took a job as a financial planner The foam fly cutters are made of flexible razor steel bands set in wood handles. at UM. He’s now associate director for “I bend every blade myself and do all the finish work,” says Tomsu. institutional research and planning at the university. Kathi went to work for Ribi ImmunoChem Research Inc., a A Hamilton fly shop owner encouraged Tony to start a business pharmaceutical research company in Hamilton. She now works at making foam-cutting tools to produce wings and bodies for flies Valley Drug in Stevensville. after another local man quit producing them. Tony soon was involved with the fly-fishing community in the Bitterroot. He was elected president of the local Trout Unlimited chapter, and developed friendships with many of the area fly-tiers.

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tarting his fledgling company in his unheated garage during a frigid winter, Tony began designing and manufacturing the tools by hand. The cutters are made of flexible razor steel bands set in wood handles. Through word of mouth – especially on the Internet – and with no advertising so far, River Road Creations Inc. has experienced remarkable growth, Tony says. “We’ve nearly doubled our business every year since we started,” he says.


he Tomsus built a spacious new manufacturing facility behind their home in 2003. And the company now employs four people, including Tony and Kathi. One employee, former professional fly-tier Ron Falk, does all the woodwork. In addition to serving as the company accountant, receptionist and safety officer, Kathi is in charge of the River Road Creations Web site (www., which details all the products and contains a multitude of innovative foam fly patterns and precise tying instructions. Tony designs all the company’s cutter tools and still fashions each tool’s cutting blade by hand. “I bend every blade myself and do all

the finish work,” he says. “I’ve learned to cut myself 10,000 different ways working with razor steel.” The company produces foam fly body cutters in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes to mimic almost every conceivable fish prey imaginable, from miniscule size 20 trico mayflies to imposing size 5-0 critters to entice bass and saltwater denizens. In addition, the business produces foam cutters to form wings to match all the various fly body shapes and sizes. River Road Creations turns out upward of 10,000 individual foam cutter tools a year, says Tony, at least 100,000 since the company started. The widespread acceptance and popularity of foam flies has propelled the company’s success, he says. Compared to the wildly impressionistic Chernobyl Ant, the trend in foam flies is toward more realistic patterns, and his company increasingly is focused on that theme, Tony says. One of his most recent designs is a set of cutters to produce an ultra-realistic grasshopper fly – “Tomsu’s Supreme Hopper.” “What our business provides,” Tony explains, “is speed and repeatability in the foam tying process. Foam flies can be realistic and practical to tie, without a

tremendous amount of time or skill.”


espite his professional preoccupation with foam flies, Tony says he has nothing against traditional fly patterns, and still enjoys tying and fishing them. “My flies aren’t foolproof,” he says. “There are days when the fish turn their noses up at them. There will always be a time and place to tie something traditional – a Quill Gordon, or a Gray Ghost, or a Royal Coachman. I like to tie those. I like the art form of it.” “When I come up with a foam fly design,” he adds, “it has to be practical, easy to tie, repeatable, with easily found materials, durable, and it has to be effective to fish.” Like the Chernobyl Ant, still a staple of River Road Creations’ product line. “The Chernobyl Ant was the springboard to let us do what we’ve done since,” he says. Daryl Gadbow is a Missoula free-lance writer, and fly-fishing and fly-tying enthusiast. Michael Gallacher is a photographer at the Missoulian. He can be reached at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at

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Lori Presthus warms up on her cello as the audience begins to arrive for opening night of the fifth annual Montana Baroque Music Festival last summer at Quinn’s Hot Springs near Paradise.

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ne day back in the summer of 2003, Barry Haarvig of Proctor was driving to the dump when he noticed a gray-haired woman standing beside a bicycle on the side of the road, with a black case strapped to her back. Haarvig stopped and asked if the woman needed help. The woman, Monica Huggett, explained matter-of-factly that she was looking for Lake Mary Ronan and had taken a wrong turn. The two got to talking. Haarvig discovered that the case contained a violin. Haarvig’s wife, Janet, plays the cello professionally. He invited Huggett to lunch. Thus was born the Montana Baroque Music Festival.

Actually, the story is longer – and more bizarre – than that, involving freak summer rainstorms, a stopover at Hot Springs, and the will-do initiative of both Huggett and Plains resident Jean Morrison, the festival’s primary organizer. But in the end, that story is far out-weirded by what has come of it: a three-day Baroque music festival, stacked with world-renowned performers, held every summer on the lawn of a quiet roadside resort a few miles outside the tiny western Montana town of Paradise. “We’ve got people who come in calling it ‘bar-k’ music, but they sure seem to like it even if they don’t know how to pronounce it,” grins Morrison, the gregarious head of the Sanders County Arts

the soundofsummer by joe

nickell photos by kurt wilson and linda thompson magazine


Council. “It’s such a great connection for the musicians with these people who just have a genuine appreciation for the music.” The story of classical music’s rise as a summer staple in western Montana is riddled with tales like this: wrong turns and ill-timed bets, hubris and hunches. All of which makes the recent transformation of our cultural landscape all the more dramatic. In less than a decade, during a period that saw the worst political crisis and the worst economic crisis of our modern era, classical music has somehow taken root in the rocky and arid summertime soils of Montana. Consider: In addition to the Montana Baroque Music Festival, this summer’s slate includes the weeklong Festival Amadeus in Whitefish, the now annual Symphony in the Park concert by the Missoula Symphony Orchestra, a series of concerts by touring classical musicians at St. Timothy’s Chapel on Georgetown Lake, and Montana Lyric Opera’s first summer production: Giuseppe Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” at the University Theatre in Missoula. Prior to 2003, the only classical music regularly heard around these parts during the summer months were the concerts at St. Timothy’s. “It’s a pretty big change,” notes Morrison. “We are housing a lot of good music in the summer now, and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of it and see it grow.”


t is a transformation that has come in increments, mostly through the coincidental efforts of musicians and volunteers

at organizations around the region. But it has also been fueled by its own successes. John Driscoll knows all about that. Back in 2005, Driscoll – the head of the Missoula Symphony Orchestra – decided to push the idea of a one-time free summer concert in Caras Park. Partly motivated by the dissolution of Montana Power Co.’s Montana Summer Symphony concerts in Helena (a victim of Montana Power’s own dissolution), and partly as a thank you to the community after the orchestra’s successful 50th anniversary season, Driscoll lined up business sponsors to pay the musicians, and put out word about the free concert. The result? A crowd estimated at more than 3,000 people showed up, completely filling the park. Just like that, the MSO’s summer concert was an instant tradition. “The summer concert in the park is one of my favorite concerts in Missoula,” said Darko Butorac, the magnetic 31-year-old conductor of the MSO. “To be out there in front of 5,000 people with the sun setting in such a wonderful location, it’s always magical.” Similar success greeted the Glacier Symphony Orchestra when it initiated its ambitious, six-day Festival Amadeus in the summer of 2008. Boasting a high-quality slate of touring soloists and regional performers, the festival debuted with performances that focused primarily on music from the classical era of Mozart and Beethoven, presented in engaging concerts laced with a heavy dose of audience

To be out there in front of 5,000 people with the sun setting in such a wonderful location,


it’salways magical. magazine

interaction. “The whole thing was built on a hunch, essentially, that the people who live and visit in this area during the summer, who come from larger cities elsewhere, would have an expectation to be served with this caliber of arts,” said John Zoltek, conductor of the Glacier Symphony and artistic director of the festival. “At the same time, I think a key to the particularly local identity of this festival is utilizing our indigenous talent – the great musicians from around this area – and working on ways to help audiences feel welcome to attend who aren’t necessarily conversant in classical music language.” The concept worked like a charm. “We completely exceeded our own expectations,” said Alan Satterlee, executive director of the GSO. “We served 2,400 people over the six days. When you look at our average concert attendance during the rest of the year, that simply blew it out of the water. So we were really surprised and happy.”


ina Lapka shakes with a deep, self-deprecating laugh when asked what would possess her to form a professional opera company in a place where no opera company has ever existed, during the deepest economic recession of modern times. “I know, I know!” she exclaims. “Some people would probably say we’re crazy.” If so, she’s not the only crazy one. A little over a year ago, Lapka called me out of the blue and asked for a meeting about this

new opera company she was forming. We met for a cup of coffee and a chat at Break Espresso in Missoula. In the course of an hour, Lapka sketched out her vision for a company that would break down negative and elitist stereotypes about opera even as it put on world-class productions of the classics. She described educational productions that would travel to area schools, and performances of opera music in bars and other unusual venues. She talked about providing performance opportunities – and pay – for the many underutilized and overqualified musicians around this area, and about bringing in top singers from around the country. I walked away from that meeting as the newest member of the company’s board of directors. This summer, our fledgling company goes public in a big way, with a production of Giuseppe Verdi’s romantic tragedy, “Rigoletto.” The production will feature singers from Missoula performing alongside singers from the Chicago Opera Theatre and New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Musicians from across the state will perform in the orchestra. All of this at the very nadir of the worst global economic crisis of the past half-century. “I think it’s like having a baby: If you wait until it’s financially right, you’ll be waiting your entire life,” said Lapka in a conversation earlier this year. “I really do believe that especially when the world is bad, people want the arts more than ever, as a way to be transported and uplifted. We’re just going to have to

continued on page 78

PHOTOS: (from left to right) The Missoula Symphony Orchestra, while still under the direction of Joseph Henry, performs in Caras Park. Karin and Robert Knight applaud the performance at the evening’s end. Having never attended the baroque festival before last summer, the Knights were astounded by the performance. The Glacier Symphony Orchestra initiated its six-day Festival Amadeus in 2008. Bozeman violinist Carrie Krause prepares backstage for her first performance at the Montana Baroque Music Festival. magazine


N O N C e C U LT U R A L


very three years, the cultures of the world come to Missoula. This summer, the economies of the world are getting in the way. “We just lost Gambia,” said Carol Stovall, executive director of the International Choral Festival, in a coversation in early May. “Due to the current world economy, we have been losing many of the choirs that originally said they were coming. ... It’s a good thing that we overinvited our choirs.” Indeed, in the 12 months leading up to the 2009 International Choral Festival, more than 30 invited choirs were forced to cancel their visits to Missoula, citing financial shortfalls. That’s left 14 choirs planning to attend this summer’s event, which takes place July 15-19 in Missoula. Founded in 1987 by then-University of Montana choral conductor Donald Carey, the International Choral Festival is one of Montana’s longest established music festivals. Every three years, choirs from the farthest-flung regions of the Earth converge on Missoula for a series of concerts and cultural exchange events. Choirs are responsible for paying their own way to Missoula; once here, they are fed and provided with housing. This year’s festival promises more of the same – which is to say, plenty of vastly different performances. Choirs from countries including

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Congo, Georgia, Taiwan, Germany and Sweden still plan to attend the event. “We’ll have enough choirs to make this feel like the same kind of event,” said Stovall. “It should be a great festival.” While the economic crisis has affected the ability of choirs to attend this year, it hasn’t greatly affected the choral festival’s own budget. Stovall said the organization began fundraising immediately after the last International Choral Festival, which took place in 2006, and was thus able to secure many commitments before the economy began to falter last year. As to changes for this year’s event, Stovall said one major venue change is in the works. While hesitant to yet announce specifics, she said the festival’s gala final concert – which is typically attended by more than 5,000 people – will move from the Adams Center to “a University of Montana outdoor venue.” “I think it’s an exciting change that we’ll be able to announce closer to the festival,” said Stovall. But in the meantime, “I just think we’re so fortunate to have such a great festival coming up again this year. It’s been a challenge to pull it together, but I think the payoff will be wonderful.” Joe Nickell covers the arts and entertainment for the Missoulian and blogs at Tom Bauer is a photographer for the Missoulian. He can be reached at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at

T IO NS eC by joe nickell Photos by tom bauer magazine











* D # SPECIES A P h o t o E s s a y b y L i n d a T h o m p s o n


hile on assignment in Eureka in 2006, I spotted a young woman using a phone booth set in the middle of a neighborhood that I thought might make a good photograph. By the time turned my car around, she was gone. I had already been thinking about how the invention that changed the world, fitted with a coin slot for anyone with spare change to use, is quickly becoming obsolete. I had seen others document the disappearing phones, and couldn’t resist the urge myself. I have rarely seen a soul using the coin-fed phones since, and I am fascinated by their placement and what that says about the people who used and continue to use them. In Hot Springs, the entire town’s phone numbers are posted above the phone. A pay phone in Greenough stands alone in the forest, while a booth on Main Street in Darby stands empty, leftover from a time gone by.

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e s t B r o a dway, d o w n t o w n M i s s o u l a magazine



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lorence Hotel, Missoula


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u b r e c h t E x p e r i m e n t a l Fo r e s t , G r e e n o u g h


a i n S t r e e t , D a r by magazine









missoula’s lively writing community

Jim Crumley was the quintessential novelist when it came to hardboiled detective fiction. Not surprisingly, Crumley’s heroes sounded much like the gruff writer himself.

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written by Michael Moore

photos by Michael Gallacher



omething seemed to pass last September when the writer Jim Crumley died. Something more than Crumley himself.

Part of it felt like a passing of a relay baton, from one

generation of writers to another. An era that had slowly been slipping away now seemed good and gone. They’re not all gone, of course, the aging writers who made Missoula famous. Bill Kittredge is retired nearly 14 years from the University of Montana, but he still works. He still matters. So does James Lee Burke, who first came to Missoula in the mid-1960s and now serves as an American master of crime fiction. But a new breed of writer is fully in charge, some students of Kittredge, Dick Hugo and Crumley, some not. What passed with Crumley was a frozen, suspended moment, a way of living the writing life. In a way, Crumley’s death is a window opening onto Missoula’s changing social landscape over 40 years. magazine



From top left, clockwise. Deirdre McNamer, author of “Rima in the Weeds” and “My Russian,” upholds the lofty standards for teaching at the University of Montana’s creative writing program set by poet Richard Hugo. Bill Kittredge, one of the West’s most important and respected voices, could scarcely believe it when he was


ill Kittredge came up to Missoula for a writing conference in 1969, a time when the University of Montana’s creative writing program was taking flight under the tutelage of poet Dick Hugo. Kittredge was 35 and in the famed Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa, having given up on a ranching life in Oregon. The conference was fantastic, Kittredge said, and so was the ongoing party that accompanied it. Kittredge distinguished himself as a diehard when it came to partying, so when he heard a few weeks later that Crumley was quitting teaching at UM, he figured he had no chance for the job. A few days later, though, Earl Ganz,

46 magazine

invited to teach in UM’s creative writing program in 1969. Jim Welch became a respected novelist after a conversation with poet Richard Hugo convinced him that he really knew nothing about poetry. The novelist and short-story writer Rick Demarinis was a longtime neighbor of the Hugos and the Welches on Wylie Street in Missoula’s Rattlesnake Valley.

who was teaching at UM, called. “He called me up and asked me if I wanted the job, and I said, ‘Well, sure,’ ” Kittredge recalled. “I thought, well, these are my kind of people.” The entire negotiation took place by phone, with no written application and no real interview. “I’d written three stories or so by then, and one of them was pretty damn good,” he said. “Still, there’s no way anybody would get hired into the program today based on what I’d done. You’d probably get laughed out of the place.” But that was Missoula 1969, when a shared drink and some damn good writing counted for far more than a regimented,

bureaucratic job search. The next decade was pretty heady, as the program drew some top students and a few others just wandered in the door. James Welch, author of “Fools Crow,” had already studied with Hugo, who urged his student to write what he knew – the lives of Indians – instead of windy poetry. Bryan DiSalvatore and Bill Finnegan, both of whom later gained a measure of fame at the New Yorker, were stars in those later Kittredge classes, but so were people like Ralph Beer, who went on to write “The Blind Corral” and “In These Hills.” Unlike DiSalvatore and Finnegan, who came to write, Beer came to UM to get a teaching certificate. Still, he caught the eye

of those in the English department. “Bill Bevis (an English professor) came over and told me I ought to take a look at this guy,” Kittredge said. “So I did and he was really, really good. He’s what I would call a walk-on, a guy who wasn’t in the program but got roped into it anyway. You could do that back then.”


eil McMahon was a carpenter when he first took a writing class from Bill Kittredge in 1975. He was still a carpenter when he finished the class, but a new notion had taken hold in his head. “Writing was very seductive, and the group of writers was very seductive,” said McMahon, now an accomplished novelist. “There was something about it that made sense to me, for the first time in my life, really.” Writing, of course, has always presented itself as a powerful lure, mostly because people miscomprehend the difficulty of both writing and publishing. Part of the draw, then, for struggling young writers like McMahon and the magazine writer Bill Vaughn was the ready-made community of writers that welcomed the newbies. “Kittredge, in particular, was a huge aid to me, but this was something that came with a built-in peer group,” said McMahon. “Everybody was struggling to make it, but back then it didn’t really matter, because Missoula was an easy place to live.” Kittredge, McMahon and Vaughn said there was something of a Wild West ethos at work for writers and students coming to Missoula. “We had sort of a reputation for hell-raising and a lot of people wanted to be involved in that,” Kittredge said. “You have to remember, a lot of these guys were coming out here from the East Coast and maybe it was their first time out West and they wanted to be right in the middle of everything.” The “middle” of everything used to mean the Eastgate Lounge, at the corner of Van Buren and Broadway, a place now utterly demystified by its incarnation as a casino. “I’d say it was pretty routine for classes to adjourn to the Eastgate,” said McMahon. “I think Missoula is probably a very different place these days, and I know young writers live a very different life than the ones we lived.” Said Kittredge: “I used to just drive by to see whose car was in the parking lot. There was almost always somebody there to talk to.”


riting wasn’t just about bars, even if you were Jim Crumley. There was softball, too. When I came to the Montana Review of Books softball team in 1985, Bryan DiSalvatore, the Buddha, was the skipper. Crumley still sat in the stands and nursed a six-pack, but he only entered a game if we were short of players. By then, he was a big man of big appetites and his softball skills were most questionable. The Book, as we came to be known, had started in the late 1970s as a team made up mostly of writers, but with a few civilians mingled in for psychological balance.

DiSalvatore, Vaughn, Crumley, Steve Krauzer, poet Jack Heflin and Eric Johnson all played on that early team, and it’s hard to say the focus was on softball, despite DiSalvatore’s love for the sport. “I thought softball was stupid, but then again, I played,” Vaughn said. “It really was a hell of a group of guys, and you could have the most interesting discussions just sitting in the dugout.” The team was known by other names for a while – the Eastgate was a sponsor for a while – but when the one and only actual Montana Review of Books was published, the name stuck. magazine



“E verybody was living on a shoestring... and that in no way kept you from enjoying the good life.�

“We published the Review and I think it’s fair to say that the operating premise was that we would review each other’s books and say nice things about one another,� said Vaughn. “Since we didn’t make any money off it, we didn’t do it again. But that didn’t kill the team.� Writing about Crumley’s death, Vaughn recently wrote of the Book: “These twicea-week softball games were invariably followed by parties at one of Missoula’s fine old dives or in someone’s backyard, the bacchanal illuminated by a garbage fire in an oil barrel.� The Book, because it played on the mystique of Missoula as a writer’s town, was renowned enough to draw the notice of the New Yorker and the Washington Post. Over time, the team was successful, mixing poets, novelists, poets and journalists with the occasional Mountain Water Co. employee to produce softball that was something to see, as long as you didn’t mind that the right fielder wore loafers. As our shirt logo once proudly proclaimed: “C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas le softball.�

Figure it out and you can play right field.


n the mid-1970s and into the 1980s, it wasn’t that hard to survive as a struggling writer in Missoula. Housing was cheap and so were drinks. A part-time job paid the rent and gave you time to write. “Those were some pretty wild days,� said Vaughn, author of “First A Little Chee-Chee,� countless magazine pieces and the blog “Everybody was living on a shoestring for the most part and that in no way kept you from enjoying the good life.� It wasn’t just writers who partied, though. Kittredge, who once authored a piece called “Drinking and Driving in Montana,� said Missoula was a hard-driving town, a much more blue-collar place than it is today. “I think writers, we did our share of partying, but that was the social milieu of the day,� he said. “Missoula was a little more rough and tumble than it is today. We’ve undergone some pretty major


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free admission Saturday & Sunday • August 29-30, 2009



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changes in the way we live here, and it’s not just because some writers got old.� Said McMahon, who is now at work on his seventh novel for HarperCollins: “You could make $400 a month and get by OK. You might not be making a living writing, but you could work a part-time job and still have time to write.� That’s no longer true. It’s still quite possible to make $400 a month, but you won’t be getting by and you won’t have the luxury of writing. Back then, publishing wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as tough as it is today. Publishers were still happy with mid-level authors like McMahon and Bob Reid, even if their books didn’t sell millions. Magazines were running full steam, too, and folks like DiSalvatore and Vaughn did well at places like the New Yorker and Outside. Certain unpedigreed newspaper reporters could even sell the occasional freelance piece. Oh, how times have changed. The beer that used to be 50 cents is now $3. A house that sold for $37,000 is now $250,000. And talented writers like Bob Reid can’t sell a

novel. “This is how tough it is,” said Vaughn. “I can’t even get anybody to send me a rejection letter.”


his is not an obituary, not for Jim Crumley, not for Steve Krauzer, who recently died, not for the writing life. Hugo is gone, too, along with Welch. Nothing lives forever, not people, not the times they live in. It all moves on. Kate Gadbow attended the graduate writing program in the mid-1980s, then took the helm in 1995. That period spanned major changes in both the program and Missoula. Missoula’s demographic changed and so did the program’s. Today, the new Ralph Beer probably couldn’t just “walk on.” And the new Bill Kittredge probably wouldn’t even get an interview. “I think when I took over the writing program in 1995, the change was under way,” Gadbow said. “We were seeing a different sort of student. And I suppose you could say the old boys’ network that had made us famous was going by the wayside.” In part, the students are more polished. They come from the top university undergrad programs, applying by the hundreds for the dozen spots usually open in the graduate creating writing program, said Dee McNamer, a novelist and

professor in the program. “We certainly have an incredible choice of some of the best students in the country,” McNamer said. While things have changed and the old guard has mostly moved on, Missoula is still a powerful draw. “We still have a lot of the things we used to have going for us,” said Gadbow, who retired from the program last year. “The faculty is still very well respected and people still come just because of Dee or just because of Kevin (Canty),” Gadbow said. “And Missoula is still exotic, maybe even more so. The West still exerts a powerful pull on students, particularly those from the East Coast.” Some of the students are older, too, having already had successful careers in other areas. They are serious about the work, Gadbow said, and a bit less inclined to party than students of yesteryear. “There will always be the party here and there, but I think a lot of our current students are really here more for the classes,” Gadbow said. “I think it’s been harder for them to get into the program, so they come at it pretty seriously.” And yes, just like the 1970s and ’80s, some of the students have published successful novels and decided to stay in Missoula. Aryn Kyle’s “The God of

Animals” became a bestseller after being published in 2007, and Michael FitzGerald’s “Radiant Days” met with superb reviews. “I think what you see is that we’ve got a continuum at work here,” said Gadbow. “You have to give all the credit in the world to Hugo and Kittredge, but I think those who’ve come later have really picked up the mantle and carried it even further.” That sounds about right to Kittredge, right about the way things change, right about the way one life moves on and another one moves in. “I can look back on it all now and see it as this arc of a thing,” he said. “It’s easy to say, you know, ‘Those were the days,’ but if you look at what we’ve built here in Missoula with writers, maybe they just keep going on. Maybe the days just keep going on.” Michael Moore is a reporter for the Missoulian and former member of the Montana Review of Books softball team. Reach him at (406) 523-5252 or by e-mail at Michael Gallacher is a photographer at the Missoulian. He can be reached at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at magazine


story and photos by joe nickell

here was a time, long ago, when the word “huckleberry” was most often used to describe something small and insignificant. Mark Twain played on that common usage in giving name to his most famous fictional subject, Huckleberry Finn. The irony, of course, is obvious to anyone who lives around these parts: Today, huckleberries are huge in Montana. From highway truck stops to small-town restaurants, huckleberries can be found everywhere, mixed into everything: ice cream and skin cream, syrup and soap. Plucked high in the mountains from thicketed caches guarded as family secrets, these tiny sweet-tarts typically ripen in early August, inspiring a weekslong, statewide flurry of baking, canning and good old eating-by-the-handsful. Now normally I would feel like I’m stating the obvious by explaining all of this. But none of it was obvious to at least two vendors at last summer’s Whitefish Huckleberry Days festival, an annual three-day celebration of Montana’s most beloved fruit. To be sure, potter Ansi Daffie was a receptive listener, nodding and asking questions as I offered her a quick education in the quasi-mystical, thoroughly delectable fruit that inspired the gathering of artists, craftspeople and food vendors in Whitefish’s shady Depot Park. “I haven’t seen this fruit I don’t think,” said Daffie, her thick accent belying her South African heritage. She and her husband moved to Fort Benton three years ago; since then, she has only ventured into the western Montana mountains to sell her exquisitely colorful pottery at arts festivals around the region. “Maybe I will try them, if maybe I can find them,” she ventured. Ah, but therein lies the rub, Ansi. Finding one’s own patch of huckleberries isn’t always easy. Finding them at Whitefish Huckleberry Days proved, in surprising ways, even more difficult.

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o be sure, there were plenty of vendors selling huckleberryderived or huckleberry-themed goods among the many painters, potters and jewelry makers whose tents turned the verdant park into a sea of white canvas. Jam maker Shannon Clarke of Livingston offered jars of his Wild Huckleberry Jam with Wine. (“It usually sells so fast in the summer that I normally don’t have any left by now,” he said. “So you’re lucky this year.”) Sandy McIntyre, owner of Nature’s Peace Tea in Libby, offered samples of her huckleberry tea blend – even though she isn’t a big fan herself. “I don’t like huckleberries at all,” she said with a laugh. “If it’s got ‘berry’ in the name, I’m not into it.” Kettle Care of Whitefish offered huckleberry lotion, lip cream and hand cream; the Commissary at Gresko’s sold cone after cone of huckleberry gelato; the Coeur d’Alene Dressing Company gave away samples of its award-winning Huckleberry Ginger Dressing. But plain, glorious, delicious huckleberries? Not so much. “We thought we were going to have to climb the mountain to find them,” laughed Sue Steelquist, a Blaine, Wash., resident who was visiting Whitefish with her husband and three teenage children. Steelquist brandished a single quart-sized bag of huckleberries that she bought from a vendor – the last one available on the first day

continued on page 80

Plucked high in the mountains from thicketed caches guarded as family secrets, these tiny sweet-tarts typically ripen in early August.

ABOVE: The Huckleberry Days Art

LEFT: Mixed into ice cream, blended

RIGHT: McKinley Williams, left,

Festival in Whitefish offers a little

into hand cream: There are plenty of

claimed last year’s title of Miss

something for everyone -- even if the

ways to enjoy huckleberries.

Huckleberry at the Trout Creek

festival’s namesake is in scant supply.

Huckleberry Festival. magazine


ten ser ving enthusiasm for

By B IL L SPELTZ Photos by


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nnis magazine



arrah Carlson is becoming notorious as a local racketeer. But please don’t be alarmed. She’s not out to swindle your money or initiate a bribe. Her scheme involves a different sort of racket, strung to specification and round on one end. It’s a tool that plays a primary role in her ambitious plan for a long-range gift exchange. She’s giving first. Hers is a useful gift for trying economic times, sensible and appealing to the whole family. She expects something in return. “I’m doing this,” she confesses, “for my daughters.” What Carlson is offering is the sport of tennis. Offering in ways unprecedented around these parts. She’s hoping Missoula will have embraced the sport by the time her offspring are old enough to do the same. She envisions a future where empty tennis courts aren’t such a familiar sight at the Garden City’s plentiful (six) park locations. “The city really puts a lot of money into their parks here,” said Carlson, a former Division I player and Washington native who has lived in Missoula three years. “When I came here, I was bummed the tennis community wasn’t as big as it is in other places.

“I want a big community of kids that play. We need to get them involved and then not have them lose interest. It drops off in junior high. I’m trying to focus on that age.”


eaching six days a week is one way Carlson promotes her passion. Her group lessons are booked solid, in part because of her motherly touch and background teaching alongside UCLA legends Billy Martin and Glenn Bassett. “The kids find her fun and I think she explains things well to them on their level,” said Christine Caldwell, who has two daughters working with Carlson. “She really is building a following of a lot of people. “She also has very positive feedback and keeps it light. They’re having fun learning something, but without the criticism. They enjoy it and want to come back.” Nothing pleases Carlson more than an eager child excited about executing a shot. But she also likes the idea kids use her sessions as an opportunity to see friends and enjoy “playtime.” “You can’t put little kids in a line and expect them to not start hitting each other with rackets,” Carlson said. “You have to keep them active.” The 11-year teaching pro gets almost as much joy

“W hen I came here, I was bummed the tennis community wasn’t as big as it is in other places.”

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out of helping adults. “For them it’s the Aha! moment I enjoy,” she said, “when you give them something they can use and it works.”


arlson’s secret weapons are vision and determination. Besides teaching, she coordinates the local Parks and Rec summer tennis program and promotes her specialty at the Missoula Family Y. She’s also a Garden City Tennis Association board member and vice chairperson of a United States Tennis Association (USTA) community development committee that serves five states, including Montana. “I’ve taken on way too much, I know,” said Carlson, whose latest local creation is cardio tennis, a program that appeals to fitness-conscious adults. Unlike a lot of sports, tennis is inexpensive and doesn’t require a group. Carlson offers kids’ rackets through the USTA for $10. Then it’s just a matter of buying a $2 can of tennis balls and keeping them away from the dog. “I started by playing parks and rec tennis when I was young, and I think Playfair Park is a great hub for that here,” said the 31-year-old Carlson. “But we need to keep it cost effective.” As part of her promotional efforts, Carlson has arranged for Karen Green, the USTA’s national schools tennis coordinator, to visit Missoula. She’ll put on a workshop for local physical education instructors with hopes of spurring a middle-school tennis program. “If they decide to do it,” she said, “the USTA gives them all the equipment.”


t should come as no surprise Carlson’s favorite professional player is Venus Williams. Venus and sister Serena grew up in a dangerous suburb of Los Angeles where they honed their world-class skills at the local public courts. Their story is rare. But as Carlson points out, you don’t have to be a pro to be passionate about the game. “Right now I guess what I’m most happy about is we’ve made the park-rec program a legitimate tennis program,” said Carlson, who credits local teaching pro Brian Hanford with reaching out to help her. “I had heard some things that it wasn’t even really a tennis program. “When you hear people say, ‘You should take Parks and Rec tennis. It’s really good now,’ I’m proud of that because that’s where a lot of people start playing. I want to try and get even more kids through our park-rec program.” Carlson’s tennis enthusiasm has become downright contagious. Even husband Bret, a former college baseball player and Missoula Mavericks coach, has been unable to avoid the bug. “He’s on my challenge ladder now,” she says with a smile. “He just played his first match in April. “He started playing because of me and it’s great to see him excited about tennis.” Bill Speltz is a sports columnist for the Missoulian. He can be reached at (406) 523-5255 or Linda Thompson is a Missoulian photographer. Reach her at (406) 532-5270 or by e-mail at magazine


The 18-hole folf course at Spiritwood in Victor features a variety of unique markers, such as baskets, tones and a hubcap.

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ost disc golfers say a good drive is only the start to a good hole and a good round. That drive could take on a whole new meaning, however, if Missoula’s disc-chucking connoisseurs can’t wait out recent efforts to rejuvenate one of the area’s oldest courses – or if the opening of a new course near Fort Missoula doesn’t take hold. In short, instead of hitting the hills this summer, folfers, as they’re also known, may be hitting the road. “We’ve seen an increase in traffic,” says Nick Mariana, curator of Spiritwood, a privately owned disc golf course in Victor that’s open to the public. “I’m not sure if that’s related to Pattee Canyon being closed or not, but the overflow at Blue Mountain has made that course so crowded more people are coming out here.” The Pattee Canyon Recreation Area has been home to a folf course of some sort since the early 1980s, but was closed on Nov. 1, 2008 – one of many restrictions placed on the site over the years – to allow vegetation to recover. The U.S. Forest Service and Missoula Ranger District targeted July 1 as the course’s grand reopening with several new features, including tee pads, a reconfiguration of holes and an elevated puncheon over some of the area’s muckier spots. “We’ve had really good participation and help from the Garden City Flyers and others who have helped with the rehab and improvements at Pattee Canyon,” says Andy Kulla, a

resource staff officer with the Missoula Ranger District. “The folfing community has been great to work with on this, and actually coming up with great ideas on how to help.” One such idea was installing a temporary course on some land near Fort Missoula. The course, which goes by several names, flew under the radar, so to speak, until its coming-out party June 7 at the Zoo Town Open. The course offers area disc golfers 18 more holes in their own backyard, but with no permanent pins the plot of land can be tough to navigate. Plus with fewer trees in that location, designers decided to feature distance. “I talked to some people who thought it was too long,” Mariana says. “Some of those guys can really wing it. I can’t throw it very far anymore. I used to be able to muscle-up and throw one, but my career peaked about 10 years ago.”


piritwood is one of a handful of local courses within 35 miles of Missoula, but folfing fanatics can check them out sooner with a quick jump onto the information superhighway. “We get a lot of Internet traffic, too,” says Mariana, who owns a video production company. “People look us up online and come find us. One day this guy from San Diego just showed up in my yard. He was standing in the parking lot looking around. I went out and played a round with him; he just wanted to say he played in Montana in the snow.” magazine


fo lf


Nearest to town 1. Blue Mountain – The “Blue Monster” is well-marked with signs and trails throughout the 18-basket layout. Two big parking areas access the course, but that can mean crowds too. The Garden City Flyers want to make scorecards for here and Pattee Canyon eventually. 2. Fort Missoula – A brand new 18-hole course with longer, possibly tougher, fairways and parking near the tennis courts. No permanent markers. It plays as a par 63 with two par 5s included. 3. Pattee Canyon – Reopening on July 1, this 18-basket course will have a new look with tee pads, a boardwalk, new pin placements and recycling bins for aluminum cans. Also coming soon: scorecards. Next closest to town 1. Snowbowl – An 18-hole course with baskets and scenic views of the Missoula Valley. Cost is $7 to ride the chairlift, which operates Friday through Sunday starting June 27. 2. Echo Valley, Frenchtown – Originally a 9-hole course with bright red tones, this course has expanded to include more tree-only holes on the upper section. Slightly hilly, but a short drive from Missoula. 3. Spiritwood, Victor – At this 18-hole setup, baskets, tones, a doghouse, a hub cap and an old Ford pickup tailgate act as markers. There’s lots of water in play. A $1 donation is accepted at a wooden check-in kiosk. Worth the drive? You tell us at 1. Helena – At one time the mountains around the Queen City accounted for four courses, including a tree-only course on top of McDonald Pass. Two of the courses, Deerknuckle and Scratch Gravel, are located right next to each other. 2. Whitefish – This resort town is equipped with three courses, including one at the Whitefish Mountain ski hill. Buffalo Bob’s, near the KOA campground, is an 18-hole course with baskets on the front and tones on the back. 3. Timber Beast, Troy – One of the smallest communities in the state with a folf course was also one of the first to put down cement tee pads. Troy entertains folfers from western Montana, eastern Washington, northern Idaho and even Canada. There’s a course in nearby Libby, too. For further information, check out one of the following Web sites:,,

58 magazine

Just as golfers have their clubs, folfers carry a different disc for different shots. magazine


Evan Guzik putts at the third hole at the folf course at Blue Mountain.

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Mariana says Spiritwood has been around for 30 years. He’s hosting the 23rd annual Spiritwood Open on Aug. 1. The course originally criss-crossed over the property of three different landowners, but has since been reined in to Mariana’s 27 acres. The 18-hole layout has been in its current configuration for the last 15 years, he says, and will likely stay that way given its uniqueness and sudden popularity. “I know there’s some frustrations with Blue Mountain, because I’ve had some people call and ask, ‘Do you have lines?’ says Mariana. “Some people like to jog while they folf and are just more serious about it. A lot of times you’re waiting at Blue Mountain. There’s nobody in your way 99 percent of the time out here.”


he 18-basket course at Blue Mountain is currently the only proven ground for Garden City disc golfers, but even this spacious course has been inundated with players in recent months. Heath Carey lines up a throw at the Blue Mountain folf course. magazine


Folfers, or disc golfers, make their way through the 18 holes at Blue Mountain.

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“I was up here during Brewfest and it was a 45-minute wait between holes,” says Tucker, a Lolo folfer who, like Kramer from “Seinfeld,” goes by just his last name. “It was the hugest party I’ve ever seen up here.” “This place is overrun, especially on

a hot weekend,” says Eric Nelson, who’s played roughly 200 rounds of disc golf across the Northwest this season. “Missoula needs two or three more full courses to sustain the population that’s here.” Even with nearly 30 folf courses to choose from in Montana, area players say

they aren’t scouring the state in droves – or drives – searching for a new hot spot to take their disc. They’re glad to wait for Pattee Canyon’s reopening and they’re OK with waiting in general at Blue Mountain. “This course has everything we need,” says Katie Gainor, who only folfs at Blue Mountain with her friends. “I’ll probably just keep coming here.” “Yeah,” says Tucker, “but I think they might start fanning out.” Nick Lockridge covers prep sports and the Missoula Osprey Pioneer League baseball team for the Missoulian. He can be reached at or on his blog, Linda Thompson is a Missoulian photographer. Reach her at (406) 532-5270 or by e-mail at

Bryan Van Horn tees off at the second hole of the Fort Missoula folf course. magazine


Timeline T

hese are the photographs etched into a nation’s memory, and upon its people’s hearts: The young girl terrorized by war, her clothes vaporized by napalm. The high school students, sobbing, in disbelief and agony, at the loss of their schoolmates. The baby, limp in the firefighter’s arms after the Oklahoma City bombing. Each was awarded the highest honor in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize, just 150 photographs from 1942 through 2008. Their true measure of greatness, though, is the impact they have had – and continue to have – on those for whom the photographs were taken. This August through October, the citizens of western Montana will add their names to those mesmerized, and humbled, by “Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs” – a traveling exhibition. The University of Montana Museum of Art and Culture will host this expansive exhibit, opening three galleries to the large-format photographs. Here, we bring readers of magazine one photograph from each decade represented in the exhibit, images you’ll find both familiar and haunting.

1942: United Auto Workers strike at the Ford Motor Co. factory in Detroit. April 3, 1941. By Milton Brooks, The Detroit News. 64 magazine

1958: Policeman leans down to speak with a young boy at a parade in Washington, D.C. Sept. 10, 1957. By William C. Beall, Washington Daily News.

1968: Electric lineman resuscitates injured co-worker in Jacksonville, Fla. July 17, 1967. By Rocco Morabito, Jacksonville Journal. magazine


1974: POW returns from Vietnam and is greeted by his family at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. March 17, 1973. By Slava Veder, The Associated Press. 1986: A volcano erupts in Armero, Colombia, killing more than 25,000 people. Nov. 15, 1985. By Carol Guzy and Michel duCille, The Miami Herald.

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1993: The Nigerian women’s 4x100 relay team celebrate their surprise bronze medal at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. July 1992. By Ken Geiger, Dallas Morning News.

2004: Mail call for a weary soldier en route to Baghdad, Iraq. April 2003. By Cheryl Diaz Meyer, Dallas Morning News. magazine


book mark

hot books:

a summer reading list by barbara theroux photo by linda thompson

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hen I was growing up, summer reading fell into two categories: required books for the next school year – always left until the last minute – and the mysteries, classics and current bestsellers just made for reading while I was working on my tan. Some things never change: People of all ages come to Fact & Fiction asking for a good book, something to read on an airplane, at the lake or in their hammock. So here is a list of titles to spend time with during the lazy days of summer. Mark my words: Lisbeth Salander will be the talk of the summer. In June, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” came out in paperback. It’s about the disappearance 40 years ago of Harriet Vanger, a member of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden and about her uncle who wants to know the truth about what he believes was her murder. It’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance. And most of all, it’s about Lisbeth Salander, a 24-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom and a terrifying

capacity for ruthlessness to go with it. “The Girl Who Played with Fire” is an August release that brings Lisbeth and Michael back for another look at the seamy side of Sweden. Mikael Blomkvist has decided to publish a story exposing an extensive sex-trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business and government. On the eve of publication, the two reporters responsible for the story are brutally murdered. But perhaps more shocking for Blomkvist, the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander. At the end of the second book, you will be planning to learn Swedish so that you can read the third and final volume – or you’ll know what will be the first book on your summer 2010 list!


he Mystery Guild of America honored James Lee Burke and CJ Box at the end of April. Now Grand Master Burke has a new mystery

with a brand-new character, Texas Sheriff Hackberry Holland, cousin of Billy Bob Holland, entitled “Rain Gods” and due in July. “Blue Heaven” by C.J. Box won the 2009 Edgar for Best Novel; this book set in Idaho is already out in paperback. Box’s Joe Pickett returns in June. “Below Zero” begins with an unassuming phone message: “Tell Sherry April called.” But Sherry – Joe Pickett’s oldest daughter – Sheridan and the Pickett family are shaken to the core. April, Pickett’s foster daughter, was killed in a horrific murder and arson spree six years prior. Other mysteries to look for this summer include: Neil McMahon’s “Dead Silver” is the second Hugh Davoren mystery set in Helena. Fans of “Lone Creek” will learn how a dirty job leads to dirtier discoveries about a deceased wildlife biologist who was framed for murder. magazine


Along the way a dead silver mine project, the environmental movement and family secrets are uncovered. Martin Clark’s compelling legal thriller, “The Legal Limit,” may be set in southern Virginia, but it also occupies the no-man’s-land between what is lawful and what is just. Its central character, Mason Hunt, is a young attorney who finds his ascent from hardscrabble childhood to career success undermined by his complex relationship with his older brother Gates, a high school football hero turned bad. Mason knows Gates is poison, but cannot forget the debt he owes his brother for protecting him from their abusive father. The inevitable trouble comes one drunken night when the Hunt boys, still in their early 20s, find themselves cornered by a vengeful redneck on a deserted country road. Lisa Lutz has three comedy-mysteries featuring Izzy Spellman, an irrepressible 28-year-old sleuth who works for her parents’ San Francisco PI firm. “The Spellman Files” introduces members of the dysfunctional Spellman clan: Izzy’s 14-year-old sister Rae, who engages in recreational surveillance; her uncle Ray, a cancer survivor and recovering health-food addict who regularly disappears on liquor-drenched Lost Weekends; and brother David, a successful attorney who has nothing to do with the family enterprise. He has troubles of his own. The adventures continue in “The Curse of the Spellmans” and “Revenge of the Spellmans.” Those of you who reserve each summer for the classics may want to review “Beowulf on the Beach” by Jack Murnighan. Fifty of the most revered books of all time are explained in ways your teachers never mentioned: Moby-Dick is funny, Dante will make you cry, Anna Karenina is a beach read, and James Joyce is great, but only if he’s talking about drinking, sex or organ meats. Plus you get the juicy tidbits on what you’re supposed to know, what you need to know, and what’s OK for you to skip without feeling guilt. In no time at all, you’ll be revved up and ready to tackle Dickens or

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Woolf – only this time without the test.


ecent announcements for One Book Montana and The All Freshman Read may give you reason to add these books to you list: “The Surrounded” by D’arcy McNickle, is the 2009 One Book Montana. As the book opens, Archilde Leon has just returned from the big city to his father’s ranch on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. The story that unfolds captures the intense and varied conflict that already characterized reservation life in 1936, when this remarkable novel was first published. It is still considered one of the best works of fiction by or about Native Americans. “The Confessions of Max Tivoli” by Andrew Sean Greer has been chosen as the All Freshman Read for 2009. This a heartbreaking love story with a narrator like no other. Born as an old man, Max Tivoli lives his life aging backwards, falling in love and living an odd, sometimes terrifying life in San Francisco at the turn of the 19th century. The author has an MFA from the University of Montana and will be on campus in the fall for discussions, readings and signings. Also by Greer is “The Story of a Marriage,” set in 1953, where Pearlie, a dutiful housewife, finds herself living in the Sunset district of San Francisco, caring not only for her husband’s fragile health but also for her son, who is afflicted with polio. Then, one Saturday morning, a stranger appears on her doorstep and everything changes.


very year the Pacific Northwest Library Association announces a list for the Young Readers Choice Awards. These titles are great for any age, and some are perfect for family reading. Highlights from the 2010 lists include: “The Mysterious Benedict Society” by Trenton Lee Stewart tells about five young contestants brought together by a curious newspaper ad to perform an important mission for the mysterious Mr. Benedict.

“Peak” by Roland Smith is the story of Peak Marcello, who after being arrested for scaling a New York City skyscraper has two choices: wither away in Juvenile Detention or go live with his long-lost father, who runs a climbing company in Thailand. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian” by Sherman Alexie (which is based on the author’s own experiences) tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. “Does My Head Look  ig in This?” by Randa B Abdel-Fattah describes the reactions of parents, friends and strangers as 16-year-old Amal stands by her decision to embrace her Muslim faith and starts wearing the hijab full- time. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by author/illustrator Jeff Kinney recalls the growing pains of school life and introduces Greg Heffley, a new kind of hero who epitomizes the challenges of being a kid. Maybe keeping a diary or journal appeals to you. In that case, buy a blank book to record your adventures, thoughts, dreams and the list of books you plan to read. May all your summer adventures include a book! Barbara Theroux presides over Fact & Fiction Bookstore in downtown Missoula and writes about books for magazine. Linda Thompson is a photographer for the Missoulian. Reach her at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at magazine


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western montana getaway

From the North Fork of the Flathead River, the views stretch to the peaks of Glacier National Park to the east.

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room for rent

discover the north fork’s wurtz family cabin by michael jamison photos by kurt wilson map by ken barnedt


OLEBRIDGE – The dusty dirt road heading north out of Columbia Falls leads back in time, to the days of tough old homesteaders and a world without leisure. There’s no power up here, no phone, no cell tower. But there’s lots of natural wonder and cultural history, including the grand old Wurtz family cabin, refurbished as a U.S. Forest Service getaway. “It’s a beautiful place,” said Tim Light, archaeologist on the Flathead National Forest. “You can fish or hike or snowmobile or whatever.” The Wurtz cabin is one of a dozen wilderness cabins and fire lookouts for rent on the Flathead National Forest. More than half are here in the North Fork Flathead River drainage, a wild expanse stretching north of Columbia Falls to the Canadian border, along the western edge of Glacier National Park. For anywhere from $20 to $65 a night (Wurtz is on the high end of that scale), groups can rent the historic structures, each of which comes with a roof and a bed and not a whole lot else. Most have a cookstove of some sort, but many don’t have refrigeration. Some have lights and firewood, some don’t. Most all have an outhouse. This is not luxury traveling, but it is a great way to experience a little bit of what life was like here a century ago. That’s when Frank and Ella Wurtz arrived from Kansas, in 1913, to begin building their backcountry life. By 1917, they’d finished their first cabin, now known as the “bunkhouse.” They were working on the big house when it burned down in the heat of July 1919. magazine


bunkhouse as a schoolhouse. The kids moved out and the Wurtz family moved in, finishing the big cabin during the summers of 1932 and 1933. They kept adding on and improving and hammering together more outbuildings, Light said, right up to 1964, when Frank Wurtz died. The place then sold to the Jokerst family, who passed it to the Lawrences in 1974.


The Polebridge Mercantile is the center of activity in the North Fork and offers a delectable variety of baked goods. “There’s a bit of mystery there,” Light said. Turns out, two Wurtz children were gone missing when the fire played out. Were they burned in the blaze, or perhaps spirited away? “No one ever knew,” Light said.

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The family began rebuilding the next summer, but their hearts just weren’t in it anymore. By late 1920, they’d moved on to a fresh start in Washington state. By the time they returned to their homestead in 1932, the locals had taken to using the

he Forest Service bought it in 1991, the year after it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In August 2006, the agency reopened the Wurtz homestead to the public, complete with new floors and a level foundation, a new exterior and a refurbished interior. They replaced some of Frank’s log chinking according to his own recipe – a paste made of sawdust, flour and water. Part of the roof is new, too. “It’s a great place to sit and watch the sunset,” Light said, and the cabin is only a quarter-mile walk from the river – right along the main road on the west side about 12 miles north of Polebridge, 40 miles north of Columbia Falls. That’s just far enough away to put some distance between yourself and the rest of the world, just far enough to escape city

lights and reclaim the stars, to trade traffic for grizzly bears and the heat of town for the soaring peaks of the Livingston Range. Inside, Wurtz cabin has room for 12 guests, with two double and eight single beds. It comes with a “well-equipped” kitchen, complete with cookstove and griddle. There’s a toilet, a wood stove, propane lights and a heater, all for $65 a night. But there’s no water, so be prepared to pack your own. Just don’t pack your pets; they’re not allowed in Forest Service rentals. Call (877) 444-6777 for reservations, or visit For information about other rentals on the Flathead National Forest, visit www.fs.fed. us/r1/flathead. Michael Jamison is a reporter for the Missoulian. He can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or by e-mail Kurt Wilson is photography and multimedia editor of the Missoulian. He can be reached at (406) 523-5244 or by e-mail at magazine


The Sound of Summer ...continued from page 35 be really smart about how we spend our money.”


razy? Perhaps. But crazy seems to work out pretty well when it comes to such undertakings around here. Just ask Judy Stephens, one of a handful of volunteers who put together the Montana Baroque Music Festival every summer. “When I first heard about this thing, I thought it was a crazy-impossible idea,” said Stephens, a retired elementary school music teacher, as she helped prepare for last summer’s festival. “How would we get a crowd? Where would we get musicians to play this music? It’s a far cry from anything we’ve had around here before.” Now, it’s an annual tradition that draws hundreds of visitors from all around the region. On the first night of last year’s festival, Charles and Cathy Meyer of Rollins sat with their deaf and blind dog,

Fluffy, in folding chairs on the lawn at Quinn’s, awaiting the concert. “This is really the highlight of our summer every year,” said Cathy. “I just can’t understand why there aren’t a thousand people here. We’re so honored to have this quality of musicians here, and the ambiance is amazing.” Jean Morrison grins quietly when she hears such endorsements. But suggest that she deserves credit for making the festival happen, and she shakes her head. “The music you seek is seeking you to express it,” says Morrison. “It’s amazing, the people who will ask to be a part of the festival just out of the blue. I just really feel that I’m sitting there watching it happen. It’s not an effort. It’s just a joy.” Geoff Sutton sees more than oddball surprise and musical joy in the successes of these new summer traditions. Project manager at the Montana World Trade Center, Sutton says that established classical music festivals in places such as Aspen, Colo., have helped transform the

sounds ofmusic July 21-23

July 30-Aug 1

The 2009 Montana Baroque Music Festival takes place July 21-23 at Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort in Paradise. Concerts begin nightly at 7 p.m.; admission is $12 per night. Tickets are available at the door, or in advance at Morgenroth’s Music Center and Rockin Rudy’s in Missoula. For more information, visit www.QuinnsHotSprings. com, or call 888-646-9287 or 406-8263150.

Montana Lyric Opera presents Giuseppe Verdi’s “Rigoletto” on July 30 and Aug. 1 at the University Theatre in Missoula. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call (800) 947-2393, ext. 111.

July 27 The Glacier Symphony and Chorale present the second annual Festival Amadeus, July 27 to Aug. 1, in Whitefish. Concerts take place at the O’Shaughnessy Center on Monday through Thursday nights. The larger Festival Amadeus Orchestra concerts will be held in the Whitefish Performing Arts Center on Friday and Saturday nights. For detailed event information, or to purchase tickets, visit, or call (406) 2573241.

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July 12,26 & 28 Aug.9&23 St. Timothy’s Memorial Chapel at Georgetown Lake presents its Summer Music Festival with events on June 28, July 12 and 26, and Aug. 9 and 23. For specific event information or to purchase tickets, visit or call Betty Hoffman at (406) 846-1317.

August 9 The Missoula Symphony Orchestra presents its annual free concert in Caras Park on Sunday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m. Call (406) 721-3194 for more information.

very fabric of those local communities. He sees the same seeds beginning to sprout here. “I think the creative aspects of the Missoula community is what’s going to drive this economy back locally,” said Sutton. “The whole classical music thing is an area that may not be seen as populist in comparison to some of the other artistic areas, but it’s definitely something that draws people who are seeking out creative areas to visit. As a result of that and other activities that are starting to happen, this has really become a place that people want to live and work for reasons that go beyond our beautiful scenery.” Joe Nickell covers the arts and entertainment for the Missoulian and blogs at Linda Thompson and Kurt Wilson are photographers at the Missoulian, and can be reached at (406) 523-5270. magazine


IHuckleberries ...continued from page 50 of the festival, she noted. “I guess we got lucky.” “If you know where we can find some huckleberries, let us know, OK?” said vendor Jim Lockwood, a woodworker from Lockford, Calif. “I’d love to try them.” Like Ansi Daffie, Lockwood came to the festival clueless about its namesake. “Before we got here, I wrote on the side of our trailer, ‘Follow us to Huckleberry Days’ – I was just hoping nobody would think we had any huckleberries,” said Lockwood with a laugh. “I think somebody at our hotel had some, but I’m not sure. I just came because it looked like a good festival.” It is a good festival, a fun and relaxing way to spend a summer’s day in western Montana’s shiniest, most affluent tourist destination.


ut if you want a Huckleberry Festival that features bucketloads of real huckleberries, you’ll have to drive much farther afield, into the northwestern reaches of the Treasure State. There, near the banks of the Clark Fork River, you’ll find the Trout Creek Huckleberry Festival.

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A tradition for the past 29 years, the Trout Creek Huckleberry Festival has grown to become the signature summertime event of this sparsely populated region of Montana, drawing hundreds of visitors and vendors to the tiny town for three days of music, games, dog acrobatics, and one of the most lusciously quaint parades you’ll find anywhere in America. “This is by far the most laid-back, comfortable, fun festival my husband and I have ever gone to,” enthused Donna Shriner of Libby. Sitting in the shade of her RV alongside her husband, Ben, Donna said she has been coming to the Trout Creek festival every year for the past dozen summers or so. Along the way, she began selling the signature red hats of the Montana Red Hat Mamas, the Libby chapter of the Red Hat Society. Last year, on a whim, she began selling “Huckleberry Visors” – purple visors with a splash of red feathers. “I figured I needed something purple for the festival, so I felt like I fit in,” she said with a laugh. Actually, the Shriners fit in just fine, chatting with the strolling passers-by and soaking up the low-key vibe of the festival, which takes place in a tree-rimmed field behind the volunteer fire department. “This community, it’s amazing they can

pull all of this together,” said Ben. “We just totally relax and have so much fun talking to the other vendors and the passers-by. Selling this stuff is just something to do while we enjoy ourselves.”


ear the festival’s front gate, Stormy Bachelor of Trout Creek sat behind her van, selling gallon-sized Ziplock bags of fresh huckleberries for $40 a gallon. It was a high price, she admitted, but last summer’s harvest was lower than usual. “We normally pick 300 gallons by now, and sell them for $25 a gallon,” she said. “This year there’s nothing out there to pick – there’s not even green ones on the bushes. The snow stayed on the mountains too late. It’s too bad, because this is our summer income.” Still, Bachelor had a vanload of huckleberries to sell, as did several other vendors. Then there were the locally made huckleberry products: cheesecake and pies, huckleberry lemonade and even “Huckleberry Pizza Pie.” “Me and my family love to come up here in the summer and pick huckleberries,” said McKinley Williams, a 13-year-old from Missoula. “My mom makes them into pies. But it’s fun to come to the festival and see what other people

are making with them.” Williams decided to get a little more involved in the festival last year. She entered the Miss Huckleberry contest, and won. “I played the violin for my talent, and did some interviews,” she said, sitting with her friend Adriana Pitzer in the shade of a tree. “I didn’t really do much for it – I just did what I knew how to do – but it was cool to win.” So it goes at this low-key, light-hearted festival – a big Montana tradition inspired by a little fruit. Joe Nickell covers the arts and entertainment for the Missoulian and blogs at

huckleberry festivals The 30th annual Trout Creek Huckleberry Festival takes place Aug. 14-16, 2009, in the Trout Creek Community Park. For more information, visit www. or call (406) 827-3301. The Swan Lake Huckleberry Festival takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2009, at the Swan Lake day-use area near mile marker 72 on Highway 83. For more information, call (406) 886-2003. The Huckleberry Days Art Festival takes place Aug. 7-9, 2009, in downtown Whitefish. For more information, visit www., or call (406) 862-3501. magazine


parting shot

p.s. photo by linda thompson

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A resident of Skillyville makes the most of a dandelion patch and a sunny afternoon. magazine


84 magazine Magazine Summer 2009 Magazine Summer 2009