If you want to hang around in the mountains for the sake of snowpack, sledders, skiers, and boarders, OK. But down here it’s March and you need to come to your senses — and leave ours.
From somewhere back in the 1960s floats a jingle from the kitchen radio and, probably, KYSS-AM. It’s the Garden City variety of an old Gene Kelly tune:
“Singin’ in the rain/ We’re singin’ in the rain/
Everyone here in Missoula is singing a springtime song/
“Bees are buzzin’ by the dozen, bells are ringing, birds are singing … “
And memory runs out.
It’s March 4, 2019, the landscape is white and the temperature flirts with zero. If we can’t have spring, we can at least get in the spirit. Let’s march forth to the Missoulian archives to visit other, warmer days.
March 4, 1905: There’ll be no specific mention in the Missoulian tomorrow, but the temperature tops out at a record 65 degrees. Constable and truant officer Chick White has his hands full keeping the youngsters of Missoula in school.
“The pleasant weather is suggestive of the top, marble and baseball season, and there are a number of youngsters who miss no opportunity of playing 'hookey," the newspaper notes.
Somebody is already looking forward to St. Patrick Day. Another blurb in the March 5 paper: "Even should the weather reverse itself, we may depend on having an abundance of green twelve days from this morning."
That's one way of looking at it, we guess.
Or this from Page 8: “Quite a large number of the fishermen are planning to spend the day on the trout streams surrounding Missoula. A number of the fishermen will also visit the sloughs down the valley below town. The trout are reported to be rising to flies and a number of good baskets have been secured during the week.”
The word “twitterpated” didn't grace these pages until 1957, and then in an ad for “Bambi” at the Fox Theater.
In 1982, columnist Mike McInally celebrated it, calling twitterpated “the very best word in the script” of Bambi, which had just been re-released.
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“It describes the feeling you get when you first fall in love better than any other word in the English language,” he wrote.
He might have added that it’s most common in springtime. Something like twitterpation must have gotten into a team of black horses pulling the Marsh funeral hearse on that warm March evening in 1905.
The horses “became somewhat frisky on Higgins avenue about 6 o'clock and ran away with Dr. S.W. Stern, who is stopping at the Florence hotel,” the Missoulian reported. “The horses, which are ordinarily tame, in some way became frightened in front of the Dixon block and darted down the street throwing the doctor and a friend out of the rig.”
Dr. Stern’s face sustained bruises but he was otherwise fine. The carriage, though, was considerably damaged.
“After breaking loose from the rig the animals ran down East Front street, and were finally captured near the island,” the anecdote concluded.
Earlier that day the university team played “two interesting games of baseball ... on the South side grounds.”
The first was against the high school squad, and the college boys came out on top 4-3.
“Then the university lads got gay and crowed over their success with the result that a nine was selected from among the spectators and they assumed the name of ‘The Woodticks,’” the next day’s newspaper account said. “They proved to be too much for the university lads. The result of the game, which was a ‘corking’ good one, was a score of 3 to 2 in favor of the Woodticks. The feature of this last game was a home run by Murphy and a running backward catch by Morey.”
There was one more March 4th with a 65-degree high (in more ways than one) in recorded Missoula history.
It happened on another Monday in 1968, and was duly noted on the weather page as equaling the all-time record set in 1905.
Hard to imagine having to worry this March about facing the consequences of the warmth wave 51 years ago.
In Hamilton, firemen quelled two grass fires after dealing with four the day before. In Missoula, a malfunctioning air conditioning unit flooded the county courthouse.
“We’re going to have a beach party,” quipped county assessor Fred Barclay.
His office and that of the country treasurer in the same room were temporarily closed as water gushed from the third floor to the second, then to ground level and the basement.
“While sunny skies and warm weather greeted most Missoulians, courthouse annex staffers were plagued with an impromptu cloudburst and a minor flood,” reporter Denn Curran wrote. “Help finally came in the form of Missoula firemen. Lugging mops, pumps and vacuums from the station across the street, they dried out the courthouse before serious damage resulted. No sandbags were needed.”