By Mary Clearman Blew
In language equivalent to the wild great thing about titanic Sky kingdom, Mary Clearman Blew provides us a glimpse into the lives of her relations as she strains their connection to Montana’s normal and human panorama. starting together with her great-grandparents’ arrival in 1882 in Montana--still a territory then--Blew relates the tales that make up her life.
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Additional info for All but the Waltz: A Memoir of Five Generations in the Life of a Montana Family
He was on his way to Roundup to haul home a load of coal, seventy miles there and seventy back. It was a trip he had made two or three times a year for thirty years. The weather had been dry and cloudless with all the endless false promises of fall in Montana, and he would have driven out of the shade of pines with the sun at his back, soon out of sight of the sandstone ranch house, the sawed-board corrals, and the warm sorrel back of his favorite mare, Kallie, grazing in the home pasture. Seven miles down from the foothills, in Lewistown, he filled up at a self-service gas station on Main Street, and the manager-one of the last people who talked to him-said later that when he came in to pay her, he told her where he was going, and that he seemed happy to be on his way.
But Abraham also copied out excerpts from Shakespeare, Pope, Cowper, Byron (and, for God's sake, Joanna Baillie, who wrote verse dramas about passion in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. What kind of curriculum did they have at Lafayette College? ). And lists of staples and reckonings of mileage and surveying notes are written in the margins of much revised poems of his own. The stained, Reading Abraham 27 fragmented paper suggests that he wrote quickly on whatever he had at hand, perhaps in the course of some of those endless miles in his buggy.
One of Albert's younger brothers, my uncle Theo, still ranched a quarter of a mile away, across the Judith River. A visit to him meant the breathless splashing trip across the current in the wagon behind one of the work teams. Occasionally Duff and Alec Weir drove down in their spring wagon. Otherwise it was my father and mother, Grammy and Bill Hafer, my little sister and me for months on end. I learned to read at home and, my nose an inch from the page, read everything in sight. Even the strange old textbooks with nineteenth-century illustrations accumulated by my mother's mother from one-room schools all over Fergus County.