By Mary Clearman Blew
In language akin to the wild great thing about mammoth Sky kingdom, Mary Clearman Blew provides us a glimpse into the lives of her kin as she strains their connection to Montana’s usual and human panorama. starting along with her great-grandparents’ arrival in 1882 in Montana--still a territory then--Blew relates the tales that make up her life.
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Additional resources for All but the Waltz: A Memoir of Five Generations in the Life of a Montana Family
He had been a cowboy, a top hand, had ridden rep for the old Huffine cattle outfit, under the old Open A L brand. As a child I heard how Duff Weir, the Scotchman who homesteaded the bench above our ranch, had counted at a branding while Albert hind-footed 167 calves before he missed one, and I knew with pride that, in the assessment of old-timers in central Montana, Albert had been the better breaker of a bronc to saddle, but my father was the better hand with a team of broncs. In their formal wedding photograph, my grandmother in her handmade cream lace dress and her rimless glasses looks serene for once, her hands in her long kid gloves folded quietly in her lap.
As land is measured, it shrinks into its dollar equivalent. It can be purchased or sold. With its conversion into capital, land loses its primacy; it becomes a resource. Part of this process in Montana in the waning years of the nineteenth century was the conversion of land from a place where the Blackfeet, Assiniboine, Crow, and other northern plains tribes lived into sections and halfand quarter-sections that white settlers owned. It was Abraham's task to transform a thousand square miles of primeval grassland into straight lines and right angles on a map, to convert landscape into property.
An old friend from Northern Montana College, himself a great-grandson of plains settlers, listened from the audience. He was intrigued, he said, by the apparent contradiction of Abraham's choice of medium-his scrap paper-and his care- Reading Abraharn 3 7 ful preservation of such ephemeral texts. A day or two later I got a long letter from him. "I feel compelled to think he had some rather specific audience in mind," my friend wrote. "It struck me at an early hour this morning, in a hazy vision of Abraham stopping by Spring Creek, that undoubtedly he had you in mind all the time as audience-or the persona of you that we all carry with us when we speculate about our descendants unknown and their view of us.
All but the Waltz: A Memoir of Five Generations in the Life of a Montana Family by Mary Clearman Blew