After the upcoming meeting
we will have a different president. I have generally good feelings
about how things went during my tenure. I think the seeds have been
sown that will keep the run going for many more years. I want to
thank my directors. As a group you have stood behind me one hundred
percent. I think it is important to back your leader completely.
If you follow him, you may take a few wrong turns, but at least you'll
all be in the same place.
I created the Montana 500 newsletter four years ago. I don't know
what will be its fate. To a large degree, that will be up to the
new president. I might be persuaded to carry on with it if I could
get some help from someone.
There is a lot of stuff still to put onto the website. I hope that
I will be able to spend more time on this. With doing the newsletter,
being president and also simultaneously being
president of my local model T club, I am on the verge of suffering burnout.
I sent a survey out to the drivers of the last couple of runs. Thank-you
for returning them. Almost everyone responded - three people didn't.
I will publish the results of the survey later in this magazine.
It is my hope that we can use the drivers' wishes as a guideline when making
The meeting will be at Lincoln's
$10,000 bar, near St. Regis Montana on November 14th, 2004.
The meeting will start at 10:00 a.m. MST. They have an area roped
off for us and will provide a buffet. It is not a separate room,
but they say it will be fairly quiet and OK to conduct a meeting.
The cost of the buffet will be $7.95 per person. I have heard from
several members across the fruited plain who intend to attend.
The continuing saga of Joseph Vant and the Model T Garage
A while back I started to
write some short stories set in the fictitious town of Baton Noir, Idaho
in the early 20's. As originally written, each story would correspond
to the time the newsletter was sent out. In other words, summer stories
in the summer, Christmas stories in the winter and so on. Also, these
stories were in chronological order in respect to the town of Baton Noir.
Before I started I had ideas for 6 stories (which I have already presented).
These stories can be found on the website www.montana500.com if you haven't
read them and are interested. Several people have said they enjoy
these stories, so I have written a few more which I will present in no
particular order, that is they won't be chronological as before.
A Dark Day in Baton
By Tom Carnegie
I think it would be a safe
bet to say that fewer than fifty people from the town of Baton Noir have
ever been more than fifty miles from home. In general these folks
are not worldly. Many people are excited though because it is as
if the world is coming to visit them. The circus is coming to town!
Four-year-old Patsy Olson's pa works at the Model T garage. She is
used to seeing her daddy with his skin blackened with grease from the cars
he works on. Patsy is in town with her mother and sees a pair of
the circus workers. She tugs on her mother's sleeve and asks,
"Mommy, why do those men have grease all over their faces?"
Her mother then explains to Patsy that just as some men have light hair
or dark hair, these men's skin is naturally that way. Patsy has never
seen men like this in Baton Noir.
It seems like a bad time for Chief Whistle and Sgt. Mc Gillivray to be
away, but they are. They are both in Boise for some sort of police function
and aren't due back for a bit. Harvey Shoehorn is sitting behind the desk
at the police station as he sometimes does if both the Chief and the Sgt.
are gone. There is a report that Mrs. Selby has been attacked. She was
found unconscious in her home. She had apparently been bonked on the head
by an intruder. Robberies rarely happen in Baton Noir, so this is big news.
All the would-be detectives in town, including Harvey, head down to the
hospital to interview Mrs. Selby.
"She is drifting in
and out of consciousness. It would be better if you could wait a little
before you question her," says the doctor.
"We need to find out
who did this right away or they might get away," says Harvey as he
pushes his way past the doctor and up to Mrs. Selby's bedside.
"Who did this, Mrs.
Mrs. Selby is barely coherent
but mumbles something. "It was dark……."
"What did she say?"
"She said it was darkies," says Harvey. "You heard
her say it. It was them darkies from the circus. Come on boys, let's
go round 'em up."
The 'boys" head out to the circus site and arrest two workers who admit
that they had been to town. They bring them back to the police station and
begin to question them. The workers say they came to town and went into
the soda shop and then went right back to the circus site. Butch then
corroborates their story.
"It's a little embarrassing," says Butch. I was in Brownlings
Drug Store getting a Flapper Float for me and Bettie. I realized after the
floats had been made that I didn't have enough money on me. One of these
two fellas slipped me a quarter.
Butch continues his story but Harvey has quit listening as his train of thought
is stuck on "Flapper Float". He has visions of dancing girls in
long dresses bobbing in a pool. Unable to get this thought out of his head
he asks Butch,
"What is a Flapper Float?"
"It is ginger-beer with a scoop of vanilla ice cream."
Butch then continues his story.
"After me and Bettie finished our floats I went home, got a quarter and
went out to the circus site to find the fellas to pay 'em back. I didn't
find 'em though, but left the quarter with another fella who said that he'd get
it to them."
It wasn't too long after Butch told his story that the general consensus was
that the two circus workers were guilty based on the eye witness account by Mrs.
Selby and the further corroboration of Butch not finding them at the circus
site. It wasn't too long after this that the good folks decided justice
needed to be done. A trial was quickly arranged. A verdict was
quickly reached. It didn't seem to cross anyone's mind that they had no
authority. The ends justify the means. Justice is the justification.
The verdict is death by hanging. The good folks know that they have to
move fast as Chief Whistle could be back any time and ruin all of their lynching
fun. The sentence is to be carried out forthwith. The mob procures a
couple of good stout ropes, which are thrown over a lamppost in the Courthouse
Square. A local citizen kindly donates the use of his 1918 TT truck.
The truck has a nice flatbed, which will make a jolly good platform for the
hangin'. The truck is driven under the lamppost and two nooses are
tied. Joseph Vant notices the activity up the street and walks over to see
what is going on. He encounters Butch Dunsel and Jesse Olson on the way
and they fill him in on the details. Joseph is horrified. He tries
to get Butch and Jesse to stand up to the mob with him. They don't seem
too excited to do this. Joseph says he is going to stop this mob-madness
single-handedly if he has to. Jesse points out that there is room on the
lamppost for a third rope. Joseph says that he doesn't care and marches on
toward the mob, Butch follows. Jesse stays behind. Joseph notices
that the train has pulled into town. His hope is that Chief Whistle is on
it and will be by in a few minutes to put some sense back into the
populace. Joseph thinks that all he has to do is stall for a short while
and the situation will be diffused. When Joseph arrives at the scene the
two victims have ropes around their necks. The ropes have been pulled
somewhat taut over the lamppost and they are standing on the balls of their feet
on the deck of the Model T truck bed. They have rags around their eyes and
their hands are bound behind their backs. A good citizen is giving a
speech that is punctuated with words like "eradication, infiltration"
and "peace and justice". The man finishes his speech as Joseph
works his way to the front of the truck. The crowd clears away as someone
cranks the motor up. Joseph stands in front of the truck and tries to talk
to the crowd. A couple of the more astute people restate Jesse's earlier
observation that the lamppost has room for another rope. Another kindly
points out that it might not be too comfortable having a TT truck drive over
you. Just then the motor coughs to a stop. A few people shove Joseph
out of the way and someone begins turning over the motor, first by quarter
pulls, then by vigorously spinning the hand crank. The motor will not
start. Joseph now assumes that Chief Whistle wasn't on the train, as he
should be here by now. Several people try various things to get the truck
to go to no avail. The gas is checked in the tank and the supply is found
to be adequate. The owner of the truck asserts that the valve on the tank
had been turned on, so no one has re-checked this. In fact while Joseph
was trying to reason with the crowd, Butch had slipped underneath the truck and
turned the fuel valve off. The crowd is getting impatient and decide to
just push the truck ahead. Joseph is ready to push the other way as hard
as he can when shouting is heard up the street. It is Jesse Olson running
fast as he can whilst yelling,
"Clear the streets, two lions have gotten loose from the circus and are
heading this way!"
Participating in a lynching is one thing, but being eaten by a lion is quite
another. The emboldened crowd suddenly reverts to its more natural state,
that is, a bunch of individual cowards. They quickly disperse. Only a few
folks are left, along with Joseph, Butch, Jesse and the two circus workers,
still blindfolded and standing on their tip-toes on the back of the truck.
Of course no lions are on the loose. As Joseph frees the circus workers
Chief Whistle comes sauntering up the street.
"Where have you been?" asks Joseph from the back of the truck.
Chief Whistle shakes his head and makes a sound like his namesake.
"I had no idea this was going on. When I got off the train someone
told me about Mrs. Selby. I went straight to the hospital to talk to
"How is she doing?" asks Butch.
"Oh she is much better. She said it was dark in her parlor and she
must have tripped and hit her head on the end table. Nothing was missing
and there were no intruders."
Without saying a word the two workers head back to the circus. The town of
Baton Noir is a little more worldly than they were yesterday.