Montana Moments – Favorite Stories

Huckleberry Finn got his name because, like huckleberries, he could not be domesticated.
Montana Moments – Favorite Stories
By: George Noga – August 19, 2018

        This post contains some favorite vignettes about life in Whitefish and NW Montana. The natural setting, adjacent to Glacier National Park, is so spectacular that (unbeknownst to viewers) many commercials you see were filmed here. You can go off the grid in nearby Polebridge which has no Wi-Fi, internet or electricity. Ted (Unabomber) Kaczynski did that for many years not too far away. Enjoy!

Bear Bell: The club where I play golf has a “blind” approach to the 18th green. To signal the group behind that it is safe to hit, departing players ring a loud bell as they complete the hole. When the bell inevitably rings, I act surprised and concerned and tell my visiting Florida guests that was the “bear bell“, warning that a grizzly is nearby. It works every time and the reactions from my unsuspecting guests are priceless.

Huckleberries: Hucks grow many places in the US, but are especially prized in NW Montana, which has huckleberry ice cream, pancakes, jam, syrup, martinis, etc. Hucks only grow in the wild and cannot be domesticated despite prodigious efforts to do so; that’s how Huckleberry Finn got his moniker – he was wild and undomesticated. Each season there are huckleberry festivals and the status of the current huck crop is a ubiquitous topic among Montanans. Families have secret huck patches handed down through many generations, the locations of which are jealously guarded secrets.

Poker Talk: I frequently play Texas Hold’em poker at live games which are legal in Montana. During games, which often last many hours, there is much conversation among the players. Once there was a particularly voluptuous lady in her 40s or 50s playing and a male player remarked several times that she looked “awful familiar” and hadn’t they met before. Finally, when the guy asked again for the umpteenth time, the lady averred, “Maybe you’ve seen me before; do you watch much porn?”

Judge Wears Jeans: Even government works better here, as most interactions with  citizens are polite and efficient. This is because Whitefish is such a small place that if any government employees behaved imperiously, word would soon get around and they would be shunned. I once went to city court to contest a speeding ticket. Upon entering, I noted the judge wore blue jeans and cowboy boots under his robe. When my turn came, I pointed out there were no speed limit signs posted on the road where I was ticketed. He conferred briefly with his clerk and promptly invalidated my ticket.

Great Northern Cabaret: Every Sunday at 9:00 PM there is live cabaret with a new show each month written and produced in Whitefish to incorporate local humor. For example, nearby Butte is the butt of jokes – much like Bithlo is for Central Florida. If you are somewhat priggish, this is not for you. By the way, a Scotch costs only $2.75.

Private/Public Partnerships: The 36-hole golf club where I play is governed by a board composed of half public and half private members because originally one course was public and one private before they merged. Whitefish also has “The Wave“, a massive indoor aquatic and fitness facility with pools, lockers, food court and myriad daily activities for all ages. During long winter months, it is so popular (and affordable) that some days 25% of the town’s population goes there. The golf club and The Wave both are well-run, first-rate facilities. Private/public partnerships seem to work in Montana.

Next on August 26th we discuss Mokita – truths that no one will discuss.