We all have memories. Vibrant recollections of
times past. A dear friend spent some of the best
days of her youth in her grandfather's Floridian
orange groves. Where at his expansive Spanish
revival manse she sat amidst a verdant paradise.
However upon recently returning to the spot she
found no trace of said past perfect. Checking the
address, she was definitely in the right place.
Yet obviously at the wrong time. She found that
her childhood nirvana is now a sea of run down
tract homes. Proof that life is an ever changing
continuum. And our reminiscences fragments of
people, places, and times gone but not forgotten.
Perception may be reality. However by its very
nature it provides a warped perspective. Each
of us recalls prior circumstances via our own
filter of events. Thus for some days long gone
were glorious. Whereas for others poisonous.
However we cannot rely on fantastical rumor
and innuendo alone. Instead it's often helpful
to put our past in historical context. To delve
into the reasons why things happened. Hence
a deep dive into family photos, ancestry.com,
census data, and all genealogical resources is
advised. If nothing else it clarifies who, what,
where, when, and why it is was what it was.
Recently an article was published about
lovely Lewistown, Montana. There within
the author puts the local post World War II
boom in context. Suggesting that the glory
days of our youth were an anomaly. That
from the start central Montana was a rough
spot. Indigenous people referred to our area
as a snow hole. Later on the Metis, and then
homesteaders, adventurers, and others came
here to start anew. Only to be confronted
by times of boom and bust. Droughts and
floods. Feast and famine. Wild success and
dismal failure. All challenging at best...
Blast from the past
Post World War I central Montana experienced
its hardest times. Crop and beef prices crashed.
Banks failed. Half of the population left. Then
the Great Depression hit. Thus by the time that
World War Two was over - the local economy
and its residents had survived all time lows.
Hence the positive benefits of national growth
and a booming economy greatly benefited this
community. Along with "Cold War" impetus
for an influx of people, cash, and missiles. All
of which made the following twenty years a
fantastical moment in time. A period that was
unique to central Montana and all too short.
Like most humans, we all want what we can't
have. Hence rather than celebrate all that we
do have, we mourn all that we've lost. Which
is why it's easy to consider the here and now
inferior versus our childhood memories. The
question is was it ever as good as we think it
was? Or if it truly was that great, what were
the primary contributors to said success? In
hindsight, factors beyond our control fueled
those glorious days when Main Street was a
vibrant thoroughfare. Along with most of the
rest of these United States. And the chances
of that happening again is quite improbable.
All the more reason to do the best with what
we've got. Dwelling on the past perfect does
nobody any good. Rather we must celebrate
the here and now. Leveraging each and every
opportunity that both Lewistown and Fergus
County are afforded to make a difference.
Time marches on. Attempting to preserve a
fantasy benefits nobody. However leveraging
our past with the future in mind just might be
the answer. So before you say no to anything,
or reject new options, put whatever it is in
context. Do your homework. And accept
that even if you want to, we can't go back.