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Missoula Teenagers of 1961

February 27, 2015

Bill, Tom, TerryBill WIlborn, Tom Struckman, and Terry Fitzpatrick were sitting in the dark in the upstairs of our house at 334 North Avenue West in Missoula when I opened the shutter, flashed the flashbulb, then closed the shutter.  You can see the couch that came from our grandparents’ house in Kalispell.  Bill is sitting in the overstuffed chair that our grandpa sat in for years.  Grandpa died in 1958 so grandma moved in with us.  Her bedroom was downstairs.  These three teenagers were of the ‘beat’ generation.  All were musicians.  Bill played trumpet, Tom played French horn.  I don’t remember what Terry played, but it may well have been the piano.  We had a piano downstairs and I remember one of Tom’s friends playing some wild and crazy boogy woogy.

I generally wasn’t welcome company when these guys got together, but they were willing for me to take a picture of them.  I had gotten a camera, a Kodak 116, which took a rather large roll of film, from journalism professor Olaf Bue.  Professor Bue caught me prowling around in the journalism building, so he gave me a boxful of cameras and film and chemicals, loaded my bicycle into the back of his station wagon, and drove me home.  He was well-known to my mother; he had taught at Kalispell at Flathead County High when mother was a girl.  He was a colleague of my dad before dad died of cancer in 1953.

I don’t know where I got the flashbulbs, but I discovered I could make pretty good photographs with these bulbs, the kind you screw into a regular light socket.  I used my grandma’s desk lamp, twisting the switch at the back to make the bulb flash.

I developed the film in the basement of our house.  I had a good size darkroom with an electric heater in the winter.  A pharmacist in downtown Missoula at the Missoula Drug Company and patiently, kindly, explained to me how to develop pictures.  I believe that’s one reason I eventually studied pharmacy and worked a career as a pharmacist.

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2 Comments
  1. Rick Hull permalink

    I was probably the piano player you remember, I don’t think Terry played an instrument. Do you know what became of these guys. I’m particularly interested in looking up Fitzpatrick. And I can’t tell from this page who YOU are, but I’m curious. I ran around with these guys a lot and you and I probably knew each other. Are you by chance Richard Larson?

    I loved the picture

    Rick Hull

    • Rick, I don’t know what happened to Terry Fitzpatrick. Last I heard he moved to Seattle, or thereabouts. Perhaps Bill Reynolds knows. Oh, and I am Tom’s little brother Dan.

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