CLIFFORD G. WHITE
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
I spent all but seven years of my life in and around Miles City. I was born at Mercer, Pa., Sept. 21, 1903, the youngest of four children. A fellow by the name of Ross Calvin was born at Mercer, too, and as a young man had come to Montana and worked on the Terrett ranch at Brandenburg. He went back to Mercer and married my older sister, Gertrude, and brought his bride to Miles City. When my father died in 1908, the family moved to Miles City to be near Gertrude and Ross, In 1910 they homesteaded four miles south of Rosebud and stayed there the two years necessary to prove up. In 1912 A. W. Kennie of the Olive Hotel of Miles City bought up all the land on the Rosebud Flat, including the White homestead, and I and the family returned to Mercer for two years. I came back to Montana to work for my brother-in-law Ross Calvin on his ranch at Calabar (now Sheffield). When my oldest brother returned from the Army in 1919, the family moved to town and helped Calvin build some homes on Haynes Avenue. The years between 1920 and 1945 saw me try my hand at many different things. I spent seven years working as a mechanic at the Ford Garage, then a short time hauling wheat and some time in the construction business. In 1933 1 went into the oil business and was agent for the Yale Oil Co. with headquarters on Seventh Street across from the present site of the Peavey elevator. In 1937 1 built the Beacon Oil Company. The site of the Beacon Oil Co. building was on the old Tongue River bed west of Miles City and at that time the WPA was taking gravel out of the boat lake nearby and they gave me permission to clean that all out and use the gravel to fill in the river bed. The Carter Oil Co. bought out my business in 1945 and after a winter spent traveling around the country, I bought 17 acres of land east of Miles City from E. E. Hough for $4,500 and built a 17-unit motel, later adding the Red Rock Drivein, and then the Cafe, and in the spring of 1962 opened up the Red Rock Supper Club. The motel now comprised a total of 76 units. I still have the original 17 acres of land with the exception of two acres sold to the Highway Department for roadway. I am particularly proud of the red carpet on the floor of the Supper Club and in my office. It was custommade and dyed by the rug firm of Alexander Smith and bears a design of an Indian in full Indian dress riding his paint horse. The carpet design is exclusively mine and is on no other floor in the world. In 1927 I became interested in flying and that spring I soloed after six hours and 25 minutes' dual time of instruction from Frank Wiley. At that time you just learned to fly and that was it. You bought your own airplane and were your own airplane mechanic and engineer and everything else; if you wanted to fly, you had to keep the plane running. No examination or license was required, not until 1929, when there was a Government inspection and licenses were issued. Up until 10 years ago, I enjoyed many hours' flying time and recall purchasing in 1944 or 1945 the first surplus plane sold by the Civil Aeronautics Commission after the Second World War. The plane, a PT 19, was a low-wing Fairchild, had a Ranger 175 h.p. inline engine, cost between $7,500 and $8,000 when built and I got it for a bid of $1,800. My brother Emmett and I are the only surviving members of the family. Both of us make our home in Miles City.