NELLIE M. KRUCK CROSS
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
In the spring of 1916 my half sister and I boarded the Chicago and Milwaukee train at Ortonville, Minn.; destination Miles City, Mont. My sister, Mabel Emma McCallum, had been working in an office at Ortonville and I had been teaching country school and we both felt like we would like to go to the wild and woolly west. Sis had put in application for an office job in different cities and one that sounded the best was that of the George W. Farr Law Office in Miles City.
We went to the Olive Hotel, run by Al Leighton; then walked up and down Main Street and finally spotted the Farr Law Office but were surprised to find there was no paving on the streets, except for one block of wood blocks. We found a vacant apartment handled by a couple named Lawrence. We moved in at once.
I realized that if I intended to teach school in Montana I would have to pass a Montana teacher's examination so I enrolled in a private school, The Montana Institute, run by A. H. Dixon and his wife, very competent, both of them. LaBonna Homewood Thibaut was one of the pupils, as was Allie Bradshaw.
I finished a Montana Teacher's course, received my diploma and accepted a rural school at Finley Creek, about 50 miles north of Miles City. One of the ranchers out there called for me and took me to the school. I boarded with the Scriven family, which was a large family, consisting of Wilma, Thelma, Mabel, Cora, Tommy, Raymond and Grandma Scriven, who was quite crippled and in a wheel chair. Mr. Scriven was a good cook.
The Dan Haughian family lived in that district and had a number of children of school age. In fact, the Scriven and the Haughian children were the main pupils and were very good kids, lots of fun and very obedient.
Rev. Barstow, brother-in-law of the Scrivens, his wife and children, lived with the Scrivens for a few months before moving into a place of their own. They were a very interesting family and Gladys (now Gladys Laurie) was very musical. They helped keep life interesting and all the neighbors enjoyed them. In fact, it was a very enjoyable nine months for me, as there was always something going on such as barn dances at the Haughian Ranch, horseback riding in the Sheep Mountains, and spending a weekend at the Mann ranch with Edith Mann (now Edith Combs). One weekend when Wilda and I rode horseback to Miles City to attend a school meeting, we got pretty tired.
The winter of 1916-17 was a very rough one, cold with lots of snow. I had to go about two miles to school and most of the time I had to keep the stove going so I would try to get there in time to have the schoolhouse warmed up. However, James Mann came to school part of the time as he wished to get started in high school work and during that time he took care of the stove for me, which was certainly a wonderful help and greatly appreciated.
The next year I taught at the Bircher School. I quit teaching during the winter as I wanted to take up a business course as there was quite a demand for office help on account of World War I. So I enrolled in Montana Business School taking up typing and office work in general. My first office work was at the Ford Garage, owned and operated by Bert Shuey.
Things went along quite nicely, then a few years later Ed Love bought out the Calvin interest and the place was known as Love Motor Co. and has remained under that name ever since. A number of years later I resigned my job and went to Washington, along with Fern Lane, a friend of mine. Both of us got jobs and I worked for the Buick Garage in Aberdeen, Wash.. for a few months but soon I got lonesome for good old Montana and my sister's family. When I received a telegram from Love Motor Co. offering me a raise in pay I immediately accepted it. So here I was, back working in the Love Motor Co.
I bought a brand new Model T Ford Coupe. I was so proud of this car that I spent most of my spare time with it, driving out to the Ashelford Ranch and various other places. During the first summer I was back, my friend, Fern Lane, and I drove to Yellowstone Park. I had only driven the car about 2,000 miles, which was the extent of my driving experience, and my family and friends were very skeptical about my driving to Yellowstone Park and through it, but we had no trouble at all and had a wonderful trip. I would hate to drive that far now with a Model T and plain old dirt roads, especially up on Mt. Washburn. Fern must have had iron nerves to ride along with me but she never showed any sign of being seared and I didn't think of getting seared. How times change!!!
In the summer of 1919 my sister became engaged to Rufus Ashelford of the Cap Rock Ranch. They went back to our home in Minnesota to be married Christmas Day and I went back also for the wedding. They had one daughter, Joyce, who married Vic Stricker during World War 11. They have lived here ever since the war was over and have two sons.
Around 1925 1 started going with Harold V. "Babe" Cross. We were married Aug. 15, 1927, at Forsyth, Mont., in a blinding rain storm which had been going on for two days. The next day we started for the Big Horn Mountains on a month's vacation. We had camping equipment in our Model T car and spent most of the month's vacation in the Big Horns camping and fishing. We also spent some time with Babe's brother, Frances Cross, who was sheriff of Big Horn County and lived at Basin, Wyo. At the time he was married to Helen May of Miles City.
A couple of years after we were married we started in the cattle business, which we have been in ever since, except during World War 11 while Babe was in the Army. We have never gotten very rich in it but have had lots of fun and many experiences besides an education in cattle and horses. We have owned some grand cow ponies, such as Drifter. Gopher, Chickie, Rambler and White Sox and were most attached to them. Our main recreation through the years has been horseback riding and care of our horses and cattle.
In August, 1968, I had to resign my job on account of poor health and am living at home now, taking things easy and enjoying myself. I often think of the many interesting happenings and the grand people I worked with in the Ford Garage through the many years I spent there and do not believe anyone could have enjoyed working more than I did.