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Toward the end of the hippie era

June 11, 2015
Tom Struckman and Dana Graham with their newborn daughter, Hannah Banana in 1971 probably in NW Montana.

Tom Struckman and Dana Graham with their newborn daughter, Hannah Banana in 1971 probably in NW Montana.

In 1971 I had already joined the Marines in my counter-intuitive attempt to avoid Vietnam when Tom and Dana had their only child Hannah. History is blurred because we communicated by letter on USMC stationery and pencil from my end, and Rapidograph drafting pen and drawing paper on Tom and Dana’s end. Most of what I know I found out in the late-70s when we got together again to scratch a living being a student and delivering newspapers, or while sitting around smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and drinking beer.

In January, ’71, Tom and Dana came to our wedding in Lewistown. Soon after, they married in Missoula and Bob McConnell took photographs at their ceremony at someone’s house. Peter Koch wore a Nehru jacket. I think Tom did also. Eventually I gave the 35mm slides to their daughter, Hannah.

Tom and Dana went to Dillon, Montana, where Tom fixed up a 1950s-era Chevy farm truck. Rebuilt the engine in our mom’s basement. They traveled to Eureka and stayed with Becky Cuffe Vredenberg who, with her husband Rick, raised Simmenthal cattle. Tom said Rick was tireless, up before dawn, hit the ground running. I think Tom and Dana went to Canada for a while, then to Missoula for another long while. I probably have the order of things all jumbled up.

Tom and Dana had Hannah in Plains, Montana, probably in somebody’s house because Plains is such a small town. I heard that Dana was in a lot of pain and that Tom was unsympathetic. I hesitated to write that last sentence, but Tom was like that and he probably told me himself.

We visited him, Dana and Hannah in Missoula in 1972, I think. They had a volkswagen bug then that just got stolen from in front of their house near Rattlesnake school. They had left the keys in the ignition and someone simply drove it away. It turned up in Modesto, California, I think.

From there the story of Tom and Dana sort of peters out. They divorced. Dana remarried, took Hannah to France for several years, and Tom moved in with our sister in Bozeman where he worked at a printing shop and painted Carol’s house.

In 1974-5 Tom stayed with us for a few months in Tustin, California, where we delivered newspapers and I was still a supply sergeant in the USMC. By 1976 we had all moved back to Missoula. Tom rented a couple different places on the north side and we lived in university family housing. We moved to Billings, Montana in 1982, Tom lived in Missoula until he died in 1997 of a heart attack. Tom mostly could not work because he had schizophrenia and was disabled. He did read voraciously and built a harpsichord and a clavichord.

Dana returned from France and became a social worker, eventually retiring in northwestern Washington. She had a second child, Maggie.

Hannah’s life was intertwined with ours. She stayed with us in Billings, sometimes. Tom and she went to a juggling convention in Denver with us in 1989 or 1990.

Hannah married Jason Wild and they had two: Jacob and Savannah. Then they broke up. Hannah had another child, Henry.

Suddenly, sadly, Hannah died in Kona, Hawaii, a couple of years ago. She had been turned away from a homeless shelter there. She made a bed for herself in a nearby park, folded her things neatly, laid down to sleep, and was discovered dead the next day. No sign of violence.

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  1. Thanks Dan. –Todd

  2. Liberty Zuelke permalink

    Dan- I think it’s wonderful that you’re documenting.
    The storIes in life aren’t always romantic and pretty but they deserve to be told.

  3. Bill Reynolds permalink

    Gee Dan just read this piece…this was exactly after the last few times with Tom. He and Dana and Mary and I drove across from Seattle to Msla or the other way, and camped out next to rivers and slept on sandy beaches and made love all night long. We were all very happy and I think I never saw Hannah, nor, for that matter, did I ever see Dana again, perhaps neither Tom…thanks

  4. Jessica Sanders permalink

    My heart is broken. I knew Hannah before we were even born, because our mothers were friends. Hannah, within her mommas belly, was there when I was born at St Patrick’s Hospital in April 1971. I remember her getting scarlet fever, I remember her loving rhubarb so much that she’d eat it straight out of the garden. She got a rash on her face because at that time, nobody told her take the leaves off. She sucked her thumb past 1st grade. I remember one of her birthdays in Spokane when her little sister, Maggie, ate ALL the frosting off Hannah Bananas birthday cake. I’ve been looking for her for awhile.The last time we talked, my son was 3. That was back in 1996. I found her. Just not the way it should’ve been. RIP Hannah Banana. I love you. ❤ and I’m so sorry.

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