ERNIE AND NORMA SMITH COON
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
In 1964 we purchased an acre of ground as we say, in the suburbs of Ashland, Mont., and have built up a very nice place. We have a two-car garage, built a nice living room and bedroom beside our trailerhouse. It looks quite sophisticated compared to an ordinary trailerhouse.
There is a little barn and corral at the back so that Ernie can keep a horse. He just bought another one recently. He has to make a rope horse out of this one; you'd think at his age he would have made enough rope horses, but no, he has to train another one. Likely he'll be over at the Stacey Rodeo next year, 75 years old and still roping! We were in to the Roping Club's dinner dance at the Crossroads last December and had a good time.
Ernie has carried mail over much of the eastern end of Montana and has carried every route out of Miles City. He carried the Blue Creek Route out of Billings and the Otter Creek Route out of Ashland from 1930 to 1934. He is carrying the Ashland to Volborg Route for the third time. Too bad that Star Routes don't have a good pension plan.
I moved home from South Dakota the last of June, 1970, after finishing five years teaching down there, 40 years altogether. I am still going to be working in the education field in the Ashland community.
We had a good ranch, saddle horses, cattle and a permit on the forest when we were married in 1936 but we sold out. We couldn't get over the idea that we needed a ranch so we bought and built up a place on Tongue River out of Miles City, all the while carrying mail and teaching school. We'd go out to the highway together and there our path would divide. Later we had a nice ranch west of Billings but Ernie had a heart attack so that put an end to the ranching.
When we go to Miles City we think back over old times, "Do you remember so and so who lived on that old place that we just went by?" Ernie comes up with some interesting tales. One day he told about Bob Kingsley who had a horse that had been struck by lightning. The horse had a big bump on his head and everyone told Bob not to ride him. Bob did not take the advice and the horse fell over backward and killed old Bob. Not all of Ernie's tales are so gruesome.