Pardon the personal indulgence, but here’s hoping every one of us has an endless summer that warms us the rest of our lives.
The months between eighth grade and high school in 1970 were filled with blacktop basketball, a river bridge and swimming hole, sneak-outs (sorry, Mom), a girl named ... well, you get the picture.
There were pipes to change, bales to buck, and pipes to change again. The days were soft; not too hot or too cold. At least that’s how they’re remembered.
All these years later, old Missoulian newspapers have been digitized and placed online at Missoulian.newspapers.com. Among other things, it allows those who grew up here the opportunity to revisit parts of our favorite summers that we missed because we were having too much fun.
Take today, Aug. 5, 49 years ago.
On that Wednesday, Butte got nearly a quarter of an inch of rain, and temperatures reached 100 degrees in Havre and Miles City. In Missoula, after reaching 95 on Tuesday, we peaked at 75 and the weather service measured a .03 inch of precipitation.
Local fire danger was moderate. Just 35 men were fighting fires throughout the Forest Service’s Northern Region. (The first crew of women fighting fires wouldn't be on the job until one year later, according to the Lolo National Forest.)
Reporter Charles Johnson revealed that in July, for the first time in 11 months, Missoula residents breathed clean air, “or at least air that didn't exceed particulate standards.” Suspended particulate, he said, was measured with a vacuum sampler on the courthouse roof.
Coach Bob O’Conner’s Mount Sentinel Little League baseball all-stars were home after claiming the state championship in Great Falls behind the pitching of Rick Martin, a future pro.
The Missoula City Band featured accordionists in its penultimate concert of the summer at Bonner Park. Uptown, Merrillee Rush and the Turnabouts of Seattle, two years after their Grammy nomination for “Angel of the Morning,” staged a dance and concert in the short-lived Inferno on West Main.
Missoula was a two-drive-in town. The “Double Bill of the Century” opened that night at the Go West! (1967-2000) out by the Wye. Steve McQueen’s “The Reviers” started at dusk, or roughly when what’s now called Ch-paa-qn Peak disappeared in the gloom to the west. It was followed by Richard Harris as “A Man Called Horse,” from “the story by Missoula’s own Dorothy Johnson.”
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In town at the State Drive-In (1949-1976), just off the 93 Strip, “Patton” was playing, followed by “The Undefeated” starring John Wayne and Rock Hudson. Down the street, Sharief Pizza advertised all the spaghetti you could eat for $1. The price included garlic toast, salad and coffee or tea.
Nationwide, Hurricane Celia was dying in the mountains of Mexico. It had ravaged Corpus Christi, Texas, and killed 31 people in its path from Cuba to Florida to Texas.
Charles Manson held up a banner newspaper headline at the Sharon Tate murder trial in Los Angeles. “Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares," it said. The judge sentenced a defense attorney to three nights in jail for letting him do it.
Missoula broke ground on a new Community Hospital at Fort Missoula. Dozens O’ Dusters were on sale at 93 Chrysler.
August moved on. “The Long and Winding Road” dropped out of the Billboard Top 100. It had been the Beatles’ last No. 1 single in June. The Fab Four had parted ways a couple of months before.
Fighting increased near the Demilitarized Zone in Vietnam. Dennis the Menace bedeviled his dad by throwing popcorn into the barbecue grill. An ad plugged “Free full color Charles Russell print with a fill-up at Union 76.” The top Page One headline on Aug. 22 read "Senate Acts to Limit Cambodia Involvement."
“Rubber Duckie” by Ernie of Sesame Street fame made the Top 40 countdown on KYLT Radio. So did “War” by Edwin Starr.
Hanoi unleashed an offensive in the North. Middle East peace talks opened in New York. A hearing of the Kent State shooting wrapped up. North Vietnam’s chief negotiator returned to the Paris peace talks.
Out of Helena came word that a state skibob meet was being considered.
The horse racing circuit moved from the fair in Kalispell in the second week of August to Missoula the third week, then on to Hamilton and the Ravalli County Fair at the end of the month.
Out in Bonner, no one hung out at the swimming hole any more. Football double sessions got underway in town. School started on Aug. 31, and the summer that lives on nearly half a century later lurched into September.