From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
By Constance Cain
L. to R. Leif Amundson, Alma Hultin, Eva Amundson, Marlene Cain and Mark Cain
L. to R. Ardis, Eleanor, Priscilla, Connie and granddaughter, Rene
The Sweet Grass hills on the northern Montana border provide a scenic contrast to the flat prairies. My grandparents all settled in this part of Montana.
Otto and Carrie Holdt Amundson came from Oslo, Norway, to Westby, Wis., where they lived many years before coming to Joplin, Mont., in 1909. Grandpa wanted to be close to town so bought a relinquishment on a homestead and he operated a meat market in Joplin in partnership with Chris Nymon. A few years later he started his own butcher shop and operated it until his death in 1923, at 63. There were five children. My Dad, Leif N.; Sigard, Kalispell, Mont.; Lillie Jenson, Polson, Mont.; Viola Dittrich, Edmond, Wash., and Gerda, deceased.
Grandma moved to Kalispell in 1933 after Dad bought the farm and during the summers I took many bus trips there to visit. Those Rocky Mountains were such a change from the flat prairies where the wind never stops blowing. She lived to an active 88, attending a Sons of Norway party the evening before her death.
Elmer and Alma Nelson Hultin came to Joplin from Langdon, N. D., in 1910, homesteading 15 miles north. Grandpa's parents lived in Thief River Falls, Minn. Grandma's parents were some of the earliest settlers in 1883 in Cavalier County near Osnabrook, N. D.; Grandma was one of the first white children born there. In the 1930's they moved to Big Sandy, Mont., where Grandpa had the Watkins dealership. There are seven children. My mother, Eva; Fritjof, Hawaii; Ralph, Midland, Mich.; Juanita, Tacoma, Wash.; Selma Sonntag, Spokane, Was.; John, Hingham, Mont., and Ruth, Mill Valley Calif.
Some of my first recollections are of visits to their home-the clean smell of Grandma's immaculate house and Grandpa's Watkins products. Oh, how good those sticks of gum tasted that he gave me and the way she could bake, especially sour cream cookies.
Grandma returned to Norway in August, 1970, to visit relatives of her parents. She celebrated her 85th birthday Oct. 2, 1970, and she lives in Joplin. Grandpa is in the Masonic home in Helena and is 95. He was very active until his eye sight failed when he was 90.
When Dad first started farming it was entirely with horses. The wheat was cut with a binder, shocked and then threshed. Later he got a header-bardge and first tractor. The wheat was stacked in the bardge as it was cut, then the stack pulled out by cable for threshing later. The first combine was quite a cumbersome thing, pulled by a tractor, but it sure cut down on the work. Today's self-propelled combines make harvest a snap in comparison.
Dad still has the first truck he bought, an International 6-speed, with wooden spokes in the wheels. It hauled wheat for the last time in about 1950 and then he converted it to a water-hauler. Since nearly all the water in that country is soda water, drinking water and garden water has to be hauled, even today. It still makes many miles a year on this job.
The barn was my favorite building on the farm-it was huge. My folks milked a lot of cows and I helped by feeding the calves, dragging cats through by the tail and causing commotion and even once falling in the manure trough. Poor Mother scrubbed me for days. There were always horses to ride, to cultivate the garden and for sleigh rides in the winter. The best room though was the tack room with the old harness, Grandpa Amundson's meat market equipment, wood chopping block, marble top counter, huge knives and glassed meat coolers and many other things. The hay loft full of feed for the cows and the dangerous hole in the floor which I fell down, only once, and broke my nose. The barn and everything burned in the 1950's.
I walked one mile to a country school the first year where the gophers scratched up my new lunch pail trying to get something to eat. The next three years I rode horseback the four miles to Joplin in nice weather and boarded out in the winter. Oh, that horse loved to give me a bad time. Going to school was an up-hill battle-after school she was in such a hurry to leave I could hardly saddle her and I think she thought by standing on my foot she would help. When my sister started school we drove.
I have three sisters. Eleanor married Dale Johnson of Missoula and lives in Takoma Park, Md.; Ardis attends Boulder school, she had polio when she was two, and Priscilla married Donald Pimley and lives at the farm in Joplin. There are 11 grandchildren.
I worked at Glacier Park, Missoula and the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Billings. I met Donald Cain when he came to Billings to visit friends, Dewey Winches, formerly of Miles City, and Doug Vincelletes, formerly of Baker, Mont. We were married Jan. 2, 1954, in Billings and have lived on the ranch in the Stacey community since.
We have two children, Mark and Marlene. Mark is active in 4-H with steer calves as his project and Marlene is taking sheep. They both attended school at South Stacey and are now in Miles City for school.
Mother and Dad now live in Missoula and although they say they are retired they are two of the busiest people I know. Someone is always dropping in to visit and so the coffee pot is never cold.