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Letter From America: Why I Love Montana

...When Gay and I drove from Arizona in the Summer of 2002 to live in the wilderness outside the City of Troy, Montana, we were met by an advance guard of around fifteen local people that had news of our coming and they all turned up to help us move our stuff to where we stored it until we found a place to live, and then all turned up again to help us move it from storage into our home...

Ronnie Bray is reminded of why he enjoyed living in the "Last best place on Earth''.

Today I was reminded why I love Montana. Living in the ‘Last Best Place On Earth’ involves taking many truly wonderful and unique things for granted. This includes how good and neighbourly the folks are in ‘Big Sky Country.’ During the two years Gay and I lived among them we were constantly surprised by their thoughtfulness and their unselfish outreach to an Arizona Hick, as Gay describes herself, and to one of their old Colonial Masters.

Even when we tagged onto the end of the Fourth of July Celebration Parade in the City of Troy with the Union Flag on the front of our rig and one flying out of the window, we were cheered and applauded as if we were harmless eccentrics, and made to feel as if we belonged.

I remember reading an account from a visitor to Montana who had an infallible method for determining the temperature of folks and had been sent to spy out the land with a view to her and her husband moving there.

After she crossed the Wyoming-Montana border, she drove forty or so miles upstate stopped by the side of the two-lane highway, raised the bonnet, and then sat inside and waited. Within twenty minutes, she writes, five people stopped their vehicles to ask if she was all right and whether they could help. She then telephoned her husband to tell him that Montana was the place to be, turned the car around, and drove six hundred miles back home.

When Gay and I drove from Arizona in the Summer of 2002 to live in the wilderness outside the City of Troy, Montana, we were met by an advance guard of around fifteen local people that had news of our coming and they all turned up to help us move our stuff to where we stored it until we found a place to live, and then all turned up again to help us move it from storage into our home.

At one time we considered buying a house in Libby, Montana, and having found one we liked we talked to the Credit Union in Libby. They treated us like long lost family, even though we had just moved into the area. We were arranging to make payments to the owners title company and asked the Credit Union whether they would service the payments by standing order.

"Oh, don’t worry about that," said the helpful loan officer, "One of the girls will just take a cheque across the street to the title company every month!" We were amazed at the down-home, good-and country feel of business transactions in that place. It was a breath of fresh air.

Today, asking them about their rates for a loan to buy a car, I telephoned, gave my name, and a cheerful and helpful Jeanie said, "Oh, hello. Are you back or are you still in Mesa?" It is six and a half years since we left, but they still remembered us!

She gave us a good rate and told us to have the dealer fax the documents when we had bought a vehicle, provided the fax number and said, "Have them mark it for Jeanie."

"Is that with one ‘N’?" I asked.

"It is, and thank you for asking."

"You’ll know Jeanie at the hospital," I said.

"Jeanie Gentry?"

"Yes."

"I sure do. I was speaking with her this morning."

"Well, Jeanie is my wife’s niece."

"That’s just lovely!"

"Tom had his operation today."

Tom Gentry is Jeanie’s husband and has had a series of medical problems, one on top of the other, and was undergoing delicate neural surgery to correct a serious problem that very morning in New Jersey.

"Do you have an update on him?"

"Yes. We had an e-mail message from Jeanie saying that the doctor had called her and was thrilled with how the surgery went. Tom is expected to make a full recovery in time."

"Oh, how wonderful. I’ll call her when I get home tonight. Now you be sure and let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.''

"I will. Thank you, Jeanie. It has been a pleasure speaking with you. You have been most helpful."

"Thank you, Ronnie. ‘ Bye."

"’Bye, Jeanie."

Today I was reminded why I love Montana!

Copyright 2010 – Ronnie Bray

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