Butte, Montana — 315 N. Montana St.
In June, 1954, Poppa became the pastor at Mountain View Methodist Church in Butte, Montana. This was the summer before I turned five in October. The circumstances surrounding our move to Butte were sketchy at best, and in many ways the move was uncomfortable. It is not my intent in this blog to draw attention to the negative, so I’ll say no more on that topic. I know I took a photograph or two of the church. Can I find them? Can Lightroom find them? No. If we were not in the middle of a March blizzard, I’d be tempted to drive to Butte and take more photographs. Instead I’ll share my photo of the parsonage.
I got my interest in photography from my father. During the first five years of my life, Poppa always had his Kodak Rangefinder camera handy. He took slides, using Ektachrome, and I remember many a slide show at home growing up. The day I started school at Lincoln Elementary in Butte, Poppa took his last photo for many a year. Somewhere I have that image of me standing in front of the featured house above, ready for my first day of school. I have no idea why Poppa put his camera away. I don’t remember him using it again until we went to Japan almost ten years later.
315 N. Montana Street, Butte, Montana
Look closely at the picture of the house. Note how steep the street is. Think of what it meant to be a five-year-old boy growing up on that street. One of the few times Poppa played “Catch” with me, I was on the downhill end. I missed the catch and the ball rolled four blocks before someone else caught it. I also got my first bike in Butte. How was I supposed to learn to ride it? My practice arena was the church basement. At least that was flat.
Take another look at how steep that street is. Momma says that my favorite Winter activity was sitting in the front room by the windows. I’d watch the cars sliding backward down the hill. This ceased to be just fun and games when we left Butte in January. The moving van parked in the alley to the right of the house. After loading all our furniture, the driver pulled out onto Montana Street and slid sideways for a block and a half downhill. Watching it go, Poppa said “I wouldn’t give a nickel for the entire load.” Fortunately, the van righted itself and carried the driver and our goods safely to Billings.
The National Register of Historic Places
Both Mountain View Church and the Church Parsonage “contribute to the Butte Historic District” and are listed on the National Register. The plaque in front of the parsonage is worth quoting in its entirety.
When the Mountain View Methodist Episcopal Church located on the corner of Quartz and Montana in 1880, a small, narrow frame dwelling on this site served the early pastors. The congregation quickly outgrew its quarters and members broke ground for the present church in 1898. The parsonage underwent remodeling at about the same time, doubling its size and incorporating the older north half into the current design. Completed before 1900, the home is a superb example of the Queen Anne style. Its clapboard façade displays wonderful mixed ornamentation including dentils below the porch eaves; textured shingles; and a whimsical, inset, canted bay. Double geometric banding offsets the second story. Very fine vintage hand graining–the Victorian practice of applying a faux finish to imitate wood–covers the interior woodwork and that of the staircase. A succession of ministers and their families occupied the parsonage, usually serving a year before the church moved them on. Joseph Albritton, for example, served from 1900 to 1901. A few, including C.L. Bovard (1904-1906) and George Wolfe (1915-1920), served longer.
To which I would add C.G. Spellman served from June, 1954 to January, 1956.
This strange 3-wheeled contraption is a representative of the first car imported into the United States from China. Wikipedia tells us “The ZAP Xebra was an electric car launched in May 2006 in the United States market by ZAP corporation. [The Zap!] is classified legally as a three-wheel motorcycle in some jurisdictions, and is available in both sedan (model SD) and pickup (model PK) truck variants. It has seat belts. It does not have regenerative braking.”
Another website, The Daily Drive, calls it “The EV No One Needs to Know About.” Apparently, in order to drive the thing, you need a motorcycle license, even though the pickup model shown here has an enclosed cab and seat belts. And why am I featuring it today? This particular “truck” graced the International Folk Festival when said Festival visited Butte in July, 2009, which is where and when I photographed it. BTW, I highly recommend reading the Daily Drive article linked above. It’s one of the most humorous “auto” reviews I’ve ever read.
It might be appropriate to speak of the Scottish song, often played at funerals. Certainly when we lived in Butte, Montana, there was a lot of death. One of the uncomfortable aspects of Poppa’s tenure in Butte was the number of funerals he had to conduct, and most of them were not church members. Every funeral home in Butte, even the Roman Catholic one, would call Poppa when the deceased had no church home, or when the priest refused the service. The “flowers” I show above are, of course, a different type of flowers of the forest. I captured this image at a farmers’ market in Butte, July 16th, 2016.
One day closer to St. Patrick’s, and focused on Butte, Montana, what can I do but suggest pasties? Pasties are another of my comfort foods, but one Momma never made. (Please note, we are talking about meat pies here, Pass-Tees, not nipple coverings, Pays-Tease.) Pasties came to Butte with the Cornish and Irish hard rock miners who would take them as lunch down into the mines. Opening his lunch box, the Cornishman would regard the meat pie and say, “Oh, look, a letter from ‘ome.” The church ladies at the various Methodist churches in Butte held Pasty Dinners. (The Cornish are predominantly Methodist, and there were enough Cornish folk in Butte that in the 1950s, Butte had seven Methodist churches.)
The recipe I’m sharing, however, is from an Irish woman, the wife of Montana’s long-time Senator, Mike Mansfield. I got it from the Butte Heritage Cookbook, a wonderful compendium of the world’s cuisine, as found in the home kitchens of Butte, America. I would suggest you get your own copy, but the lowest price I found was $135. (The highest price listed was almost $1,000.) It’s a terrific book, one I use often, but I’m glad I didn’t pay that and I won’t ask you to either. Fortunately, the Seattle Post Intelligencer printed Maureen Mansfield’s recipe, and that’s where my link goes. Here’s Maureen’s Irish Pasty recipe.
I looked for blog posts mentioning Butte, and actually found more than a few. Today’s choice comes from Mortons on the Move, a blog by a young couple who gave up their Fortune 500 jobs to live in an RV on the road. In 2016, they drove across Montana, south to north, passing through Butte, and they wrote it up as a blog post.
Today’s video comes from Nathan Wratislaw, who also goes by the name 1 Owner Car Guy. He has a wide-ranging on-line presence, as well as an El Cajon, California address. He also has a Missoula, Montana phone number. Go figure. In today’s video he drives into Butte, then heads uptown looking for the Dumas Brothel, a building he claims to have owned at one time. If you watch closely, after his first left turn, he drives north on Montana Street. When he finally turns right, if you pause the video and look very carefully, just at the top left of the frame, you can see Mountain View Church. It’s the one without a steeple. (Yes, I recognize certain Butte landmarks.) Enjoy Nathan’s drive around Butte, Montana.