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Finding roots in Malta, Montana

July 14, 2015
Tom's late daughter, Hannah B. Wild, in 1997.

Tom’s late daughter, Hannah B. Wild, in 1997.

Malta is more than 200 miles from Billings, through sparsely populated prairie. Didn’t we need some CDs for the trip, especially since P. and I had been so keyed up that we could sleep only poorly? We bickered, so we agreed to quietly lick our wounds and listen to some recorded music. Two of the discs had been put together by our niece Hannah of some groups in the Seattle area. The sound sort of reminded me of Reggae, and that made me think of smoking weed, and that reminded me that Hannah had been bedeviled with drug abuse problems. Saddest of all, the music reminded me that Hannah is dead. She died about a year ago in Kona, Hawaii. No foul play was suspected. She had been denied admission to a shelter, “The friendly place,” because she was intoxicated. They gave her some blankets and she found her way to a field where she fixed up her bedding, folded her things neatly, and ?? Anyway, someone discovered her body the next day.

This figure has always reminded me of my grandparent Struckman's daughter.  Trouble is, I don't know for sure.

This figure has always reminded me of my grandparent Struckman’s daughter. Trouble is, I don’t know for sure.

Like I said, we drove to Malta to wait for our daughter and children to arrive by train from Minnesota. I had several hours so I walked from the Malta Amtrak station along Highway 2 a few hundred yards to the Philips County Museum.
I skipped the dinosaur museum. Last year at the Yellowstone County Fair I spoke with a man who claimed that he could prove dinosaur fossils were only 5,000 years old. Even though we kept things quite polite, I didn’t want to encounter him again. (What do you take me for, a fool?) Anyway, I am not intrigued by dinosaurs any more. I don’t think I ever was, really.
Instead I went to the historical county museum next door. There, newly appointed curator Lori Taylor found records from 1928-31 of my grandpa, Emil G. Struckman. He was school superintendent, so every September a reporter from the local paper asked him about enrollment. (Not so many elementary students, he said.) I gladly signed the visitor book and paid $5 to tour the exhibits.
Was I glad I wore my heavy sunglasses? It was a bright, sunny, hot day on intermittent sidewalks on the north side, and a dusty dirt railroad way on the south. On the way I passed a heavy, crated piece of freight dumped onto what could pass for spotted knapweed near the tracks. Evidently someone had delivered it from a train because it had the word “Malta” written in black marker on a board. Well, this must be how freight comes to town, I thought. Perhaps an hour later I saw a man unload some other heavy freight off a truck from Havre. Walking near I saw a plastic envelope with shipping information taped to a bunch of long boxes strapped to a wooden pallet.
We ended up walking a couple blocks past the museum to the local Dairy Queen for treats, past an old-looking house in need of paint that advertised “Abrahamson Upholstery” and a green sign sort of jammed into a hedge that proclaimed, “No Free Roaming Bison.” I didn’t see any other pedestrians, but it must have been close to 90, although windy with some stinging dust.
Amtrak had been hours late, held up for flooding and tornado watches. The kids needed exercise so we walked across to a small park with large mosquitoes and stayed all of 4 minutes. Then we stopped at Albertson’s for some Cortisone-10 cream to soothe the itching. We drove south but had to return to fill the car with gas. We stopped in Grass Range at Little Montana for hamburgers and corn dogs. Got home at about 9 pm.

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One Comment
  1. caryann wayman permalink

    I was on a quest to find my dear friend hanah b wild n share the birth of my daughter charlie luna lynn hanah wayman in april 2015 in all our struggles n great times we shared you would have been so happy in learning of ur passing im deeply saddned u will b missed my prayers for ur children n family u are a beautiful woman im grateful we had the light if our friendship your presence I will truley miss always my love n memories ill friend until we meet again ill see later love always hanah banana.your friend caryann..

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