Day 6, WLBT June 20, 2018

Missoula Mt.

Goldsmith’s Bed and Breakfast on the Clark Fork river has been reinvented more often than we have. Built as the president of the University’s home in 1911, it later became a fraternity house, then an annex to the zoology department for species storage and finally was declared unfit and ready for demolition. Anyone interested in saving it had to have a legitimate plan for it and be willing to move it off campus. Nick Goldsmith’s parents got custody of the lumbering old house and moved it across the river in 1989. Nick now oversees the operation of the seven-bedroom behemoth.

To accomplish the move, the house was cut in half and on a snowy day nearly 30 years ago two trucks, their beds each filled with half a house, slowly moved across the river to its current location on N. River street.  After being put together and totally renovated, it opened for business.

At breakfast WLBT met a couple headed to Hailey, from whence we’d come, and another couple from Cambridge, MA who were on their way home, wishing they had set aside more than the 40 days they did to visit the West.  They were appalled at how little interest Westerners had in the plight of Native American culture.  Failing to find any grave marker for Chief Joseph, they asked locals where he was buried. “He’s just not that important to anyone,” one local said. Unbelievable, these tourists thought, that there was no interest in one of the last great Nez Perce leaders and peacemaker.

After catching up on correspondence, WLBT crossed the river to visit the University campus. A busy place, indeed. Hundreds of prospective students trying to look nonchalant and keep five paces away from their parents made it easy to guess it was orientation day. Our sources tell us the University has struggled to make a comeback after various sexual assault charges leveled at some members of the football team.

After lunch with Carol Williams and her granddaughter, WLBT visited the two bookstores in different parts of Missoula where Deedie would be appearing later in the afternoon.  The signing at Fact and Fiction in the main business district was pretty much of a bust, with only one customer expressing enough interest to buy a book.  She had recently relocated to Missoula from Hollywood with the goal of becoming a film producer and screenwriter.

Across another bridge, WLBT arrived at Shakespeare and Company for a reading before ten women book club members. Herded by Mary, they’d prepared for the reading by going to the bakery across the street for tea and scones. They were fascinated and asked a dozen or more questions about writing and innkeeping. WLBT didn’t get the impression anyone of them, including the former Penn State French graduate student, was ready to jump into the business.

Turnout was devastatingly affected by a competing ACLU rally for immigrant rights, Carol reported glumly.

A dinner after ensued with the Williams family – Carol, former Congressman Pat, and their daughter, Whitney, a longtime aid to Hillary Clinton and now a political consultant and public activist. Two young filmmakers in town to interview Pat for their latest natural resources film joined us. Talk of films and politics filled the air, along with some book talk. It was a lively discussion.  One of the filmmakers, David Byars, had been at the Ashland Independent Film Festival several months ago showing “No Man’s Land” his award-winning film about the ugly, armed farmer-federal government standoff two years ago in Harney County, OR. 

Laughter predominated when everyone at the table except for WLBT kept coming up with quotes and scenes from “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”  Whitney admitted to peeking when her parents watched them many years ago.

WLBT got lots of advice from the Williams’ about places not to miss as we head for several days in Yellowstone. First stop: the world’s largest candy store in Philipsburg.

David will be filing a separate report later in the week about the YMCAs he’s visited thus far.

Stand by.