By John Hagen, a Many Glacier Hotel employee 1970-1980.
Public outcry, of a sort rarely heard in the history of the national parks, has greeted long-range planning proposals for Glacier National Park released this summer. Tumultuous public meetings, scathing editorials, and streams of indignant letters to Congress have shown an almost unanimous public consensus in opposition to these proposals.
Park Service management decisions very often are controversial. Generally, however, public opinion is significantly divided. The Glacier Park issue, by contrast, has galvanized people across the political spectrum in opposing government action.
The tentative proposals made by the Park Service involve the closure of long-established visitor facilities cabins, motel units, auto campgrounds. All three alternatives proposed by the Park Service contemplate removing visitor services at Swiftcurrent and closing the Many Glacier campground.
The Park Service openly has stated that these closures are not driven by budgetary considerations. No environmental data has been produced to support the proposals. The Swiftcurrent closure is explained in a single vague sentence citing concerns for "wildlife habitat and migration."
Public reaction to these proposals has been incredulous and indignant. One survey of 560 visitors showed roughly 95% of those with an opinion opposing removal of facilities like Swiftcurrent and the Avalanche Campground.
Background: The Long-Range Planning Process
In 1977, Glacier National Park adopted a Master Plan to guide its administration. This plan was intended to be in effect for approximately twenty years. Since the plan's adoption, visitation in Glacier has doubled (from about one million to two million visitors per summer).
The Park Service therefore determined that a new General Management Plan should be adopted in the mid-1990's.
The planning process began in March 1995, with a series of 'open houses' and a general call for public comment on Glacier's future. Within the next few months, the Park Service recorded over 2,000 separate comments from the public.
Significantly, none of these 2,000 comments called for closing down the visitor facilities at Swiftcurrent. This fact was established through a recent citizen's inspection of the comments. (Hungry Horse News, 9/12/96)
A Park Service Planning Team reviewed the 2,000 comments and released two "scoping brochures" listing broad planning issues in June and November 1995. These brochures did not suggest the outright removal of any major facilities.
The Planning Team developed three alternative draft proposals for Glacier's future. The planners were led by personnel from the Denver Regional Office, and also included Glacier Park personnel.
The Three Draft Alternatives
In late July 1996, the Park Service issued its three draft alternatives for the future of Glacier Park. Each alternative included proposals for 29 specific facilities and areas in Glacier. (Interested persons can obtain the planning document by writing to Glacier National Park, West Glacier, MT 59936 and requesting "GMP Newsletter 3.")
The three alternatives include one (Alternative 2) which reasonably might be called an "extreme preservation" proposal. This proposal calls for removing seven auto campgrounds (Kintla, Bowman, Sprague, Avalanche, Many Glacier, Rising Sun, Two Medicine). It also proposes removing the Rising Sun Motor Inn, Lake McDonald coffee shop and tour boat, Two Medicine Campstore, Camas Road, Inside North Fork Road, Goat Haunt visitor center, and much else. Public use of the park would largely be confined to a "day use" corridor" along Going-to-the-Sun Road. The rest of the Park would almost all be deep wilderness with very limited access.
The other two alternatives, while somewhat less extreme, both call for sharp cutbacks in existing visitor facilities. Alternative 1 would close three auto campgrounds. Alternative 3 would also close three and reduce a fourth (although it would reopen two remote North Fork campgrounds).
Among many other reductions in visitor use, Alternative 1 would remove the tour boat from Two Medicine Lake and bar access by road to Bowman and Kintla Lakes. It also would prohibit private vehicles from parking anywhere on Going-to-the-Sun Road between Sun Point and Lake McDonald. Only shuttle buses would be permitted to park at Logan Pass and at trailheads along the road.
Alternative 3 would bar all private vehicles from Going-to-the-Sun Road. Staging areas would be provided at Apgar and at St. Mary for visitors to park their cars and board a transit system.
Removal of Swiftcurrent Valley Facilities
The most controversial feature of the draft alternatives is the proposed removal of Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and all adjacent facilities, including the Many Glacier Campground. This proposal appears in all three of the alternatives now pending.
The planning document explains the proposal in these cursory terms: "In alternatives 1, 2, and 3, the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and NPS campground are identified for removal. This is due to resource concerns, including wildlife movement and habitat for various wildlife species in the area and the high and concentrated amounts of visitor use."
This is the sole explanation that the public has been given. Throughout the ensuing debate, the Park Service has made no attempt to specify the "wildlife movement" at issue, and has offered no data to show specific "habitat" problems or any other concrete "resource concerns."
The Swiftcurrent proposal has brought virtually unanimous opposition. A flood of letters has disputed the notion that these facilities interfere with wildlife "movement" or "habitat." Opponents point out that the visitor facilities have been in place, in one form or another, for well over 80 years.
A particular focus of public anger is the impact of these closures on families with children and moderate income. Removing the Swiftcurrent cabins and motor inn, as well as auto campgrounds, would drastically limit the number of lowcost lodging sites available in Glacier. The only facility left in Swiftcurrent Valley would be Many Glacier Hotel, where room rates are about $100 per night and dinners about $20 per meal.
Public Reaction to the Plan
The outburst of public opposition to the plan was led by editorials in the Montana press. The Hungry Horse News broke the story with an editorial declaring that "the public shouldn't stand for it." (7/25/96) The Great Falls Tribune's editorial criticizes the plan as a "confusing maze of options" "written in bureaucratese" which pays "lip service to public involvement." (8/25/96)
A series of open meetings was held at various sites around Montana to allow for public comment. Those meetings were often angry, with crowds of people offering overwhelmingly negative reaction to the plan. News accounts of the meetings describe tumultuous scenes, with ''boos and jeers" and "fire from all corners of the audience." (Hungry Horse News, 8/22 and 8/29/96)
Meanwhile, torrents of letters poured into West Glacier and into Congressional offices. When the comment period closed at the end of September, about 1,600 responses (again overwhelmingly negative) had been received by the Park Service.
Several citizens' groups have led organized opposition to the plan. These include the Glacier Park Foundation, the Glacier/Waterton Visitors Association, and Friends of Glacier. The latter group sponsored a survey showing vast majorities (more than 90% of respondents in many cases) opposing closure of facilities.
The Future of the Planning Process
The present Park Service timetable calls for publication of a Draft General Management Plan (with a "preferred alternative") early in 1997. After public comment and further revision, the final Management Plan would be released in the summer or fall of 1997.
This timetable probably will be slowed because of the massive public opposition to all the proposed alternatives. Recent Park Service statements indicate that at least one additional step will be added to the planning process.
Congressional involvement may have decisive weight in shaping the management plan. Republicans and Democrats alike have expressed concern with the present proposals.
Montana's Republican Senator Conrad Burns met face to face with Glacier Park Superintendent David Mihalic and obtained an extension of the comment period this autumn. Meanwhile, Montana's Democratic Senator Max Baucus introduced an amendment to the Interior Appropriations Act that requires the final Glacier Park management plan to be reviewed by Congressional committees before adoption.
The Glacier Park Foundation encourages users of Glacier to contact members of their Congressional delegations. The Foundation urges that Senators and Representatives be asked to contact the Park Service, urging that the planning process be slowed, and that long-standing visitor facilities not be closed without good reason.
"Dear Rep./Sen. (name):
I am writing this letter because I am concerned that the proposed General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement, as stated in Newsletter #3 for Glacier National Park is threatening to significantly limit recreation access to the Park. The claims made in this plan are unsubstantiated. The proposed actions are uncalled for. Please help to keep Glacier National Park open for open for all of us to enjoy and appreciate.
Cordially, (your name)
A note such as this is better than not writing at all.
- or -
The Honorable (name)
Washington, D. C. 20510
Your letter will get to the right place.
All House Office Building addresses are Washington, D.C. 20515
All Senate Office Building addresses are Washington, D.C. 20510
Congress E-Mail Addresses
By Tessie Bundick, a Many Glacier Hotel employee 1972-1982.
There was the moonwalk of the century, the trial of the century, the inaugural address of the century, the wedding of the century and now . . . the REUNION of the century.
Yes, it can be reported to a world waiting breathlessly for the news, that the reunion to end all reunions took place at Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park, Montana, during the weekend of August 14, 1996.
Well, perhaps, to people in Paris, France, this news isn't too spectacular but to the sixty Many Glacier Hotel employees of the 1970's who were in attendance, this get together was front page stuff.
To say that it all was gloriously fun would be a slight understatement. And it all started when Ray Kozel, MGH employee from 1972 through 1974, conceived of a brilliant idea during the summer of 1995. "I had a super time during my days at Many Glacier," said Ray. "Why not organize a big reunion of all those great pals who I worked with and see what's become of them?" So he got to work. He called Tessie Bundick, (MGH employee from 197280) who was a Glacier Park volunteer that summer, and invited her to drive over to East Glacier to visit with Mr. Tippet, Many Glacier manager during the 1970's.
These eager, former emps sought to recruit Mr. Tippet's help in their schemes. Fortunately for the planners, Mr. T shared their enthusiasm and agreed to be of assistance.
During the year, Ray and his committee (who consisted of Carol Dahle, Bill Rollie, Drew Metcalfe, John Hagen, Barb Burch, and Tessie Bundick, all 1970's employees) worked hard locating addresses, planning events, sending out letters and shouldering all of the thousands of mundane reunion details.
Carol Dahle plunged into the arduous tasks of making address labels and directory organization. Peter Erskine volunteered to be the official photographer, while John Hagen designed the T-shirts. Tessie Bundick got busy drawing the cover of the directory and Ray Kozel worked on everything, urging reunionites to send in banquet reservations, to find lodging and to sign up for the Sunday night concert.
The buzz through the Glacier grapevine tingled with excitement and finally the long awaited first weekend in August arrived.
On Thursday, August 1, armed with the self-assurance of those who knew every knot hole of Many Glacier Hotel, the committee members noodled their way into the confined space behind the information desk to hold court and register incoming former emps. (It's anybody's guess what the current employees thought of this unruly invasion.)
Like the lost children of Israel, dazed and happy reunion-goers began pouring in. Amidst boisterous greetings and many huggings, they were duly registered and accounted for. After ordering Tshirts, photos and directories, most everyone gave themselves shamelessly over to nostalgia and carried on as if 25 years had not just passed. Of course, a reminder that we were not still 20 was the everloving presence of children and spouses. (May I put in a good word here for these long-suffering family members who all conducted themselves so graciously even though they must have felt swamped by a tidal wave. Hopefully, they had lots of fun.)
From Thursday afternoon on, the MGH reunion train picked up velocity and never slowed down. That evening was a free night, and most people either set up camp or settled into their lodging and then gathered around a campfire or ate in the dining room. Rapid fire talking was the order of the day as there was much to say and so little time. "Remember whens" and "do you recalls" hung thickly in the air and the warm glow of being with people who shared a lovely part of each other's lives gave everyone the sweetest of feelings.
Friday was hiking day and a reunion group the size of a small town's population picked their way along the ever-stunning trail to Iceberg Lake. Hiking afforded another 6 or 7 hours of talking time. People took this opportunity to fill in the holes left over from conversations of the day before. The lake was as beautiful as always and everyone had expectations that the weather would hold but ominous clouds began looming towards evening and those who showed up for the hootenanny, planned for that night at the pow wow grounds, were bundled up enough for a Minnesota winter.
When it became evident that hanging around the camp fire was going to be foolhardy, Carol Dahle took the bull moose by the horns and found accommodations for the crowd in the employees' cafeteria.
Shedding parkas, reunionites settled into the caf for a cozy and lovingly sentimental hike down memory lane, as the storm raged outside and rattled the old windows. Many sweet, traditional tunes wafted over the teary-eyed heads of the appreciative audience, expertly rendered by the talented likes of the impromptu band consisting of Tex Dyer, Jeff Kuhn, Einar Hanson, Paul Hoff, Rick Taylor, Patty Dyer and Linda Kuhn with Sara Singleton filling in. Terri Stone, Kathy Renno, Terrie Stewart, Gary Newgard and friends all provided more music while Fred Newman had people convulsed with laughter as he did a dead-on impersonation of a fly complete with flight patterns and landing mechanism. Jim Singleton entertained all with his dancing wooden man (the "Limber Jack") and the formal hoot events ended with misty-eyed renditions of old favorites, "Going Home" and "Hail to thee, O Many Glacier".
The hootenanny ended but this never-say-die bunch was certainly in no mood to retire. Jamming sessions continued until the wee hours. People who had considered Thursday and Friday just warm up sessions got down to some serious conversing and jawing over old times. Many people who were camping assessed the storm damage, cut their losses and sought refuge with sympathetic friends at the hotel or the motor lodge.
The idyllic Canadian town of Waterton was the next destination of the reunion folk on Saturday. Confinement in cars gave people more opportunities for further catching up (it had been 25 years, after all) and hanging around the stately old Prince of Wales Hotel and the quaint Waterton townsite jogged memories and more stories and Glacier anecdotes poured forth.
Back on the United States side of the border, this Many Glacier-loving assembly was treated to a delicious meal at Johnson's in St. Mary, under an outdoor pavilion. At the dinner's conclusion, Carol Dahle paid tribute to the dear comrades who had passed on.
People who wished to and were hardy enough braved the winter storm elements and actually went for a cruise on St. Mary Lake. Everyone else returned to Many Glacier and talked some more.
Sunday was given over to preparation for the evening concert and Mr. Tippet, who had not heretofore been seen, showed up in full sail and everyone was glad to see him.
Just like the old days, he was everywhere at once. Preparing the lobby for the show, interviewing performers for resume material, writing the script he would use to host the concert, rehearsing his accompanist duties, watching Mr. T's running here and there reminded everyone of their early days at Many Glacier.
Corie Jones had suggested that we sing Mr. Tippet's old school song, "Jerusalem", and Carol Dahle, choral conductor, pulled together a four part harmony choir in one hour with Mr. T serving at the piano. Other performers were busy scurrying around practicing and giggling about the familiarity of it all.
The concert was a resounding success. With the tempest still raging outside, Fred Newman started things off by leading a group of reunionites' children in a nose whistle rendition of "This Land is Your Land". Many former emps revived numbers that they had done in the 1970's and Carol Dahle even went so far as to wear a dress that everyone remembered her wearing as she sang "How Are Things in Glocca Mora" and "Look to the Rainbow".
Mr. Tippet seemed to have a smashing good time executing his hosting duties. He was aided and abetted by Tessie Bundick, who, on behalf of all the reunion goers, thanked Mr. T for the years spent working at the hotel and all he had done for us.
Linda Kuhn played a lovely cello interpretation of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", while Terrie Stewart delighted everyone by singing "Look for a Sky of Blue", recalling her starring role in 1970's Little Mary Sunshine, which had been produced at Many Glacier. On hand to help Terrie were Lee Flath and Lon Eliason.
Fred Newman provided a full but invisible orchestra with just his vocal chords, performing "Sixteen Tons" and enchanted the capacity audience with a duet done with his daughter, Lila, called "Sorry the Day I Was Married". Rolf Larson played a Dvorak piece on the english horn and a Bartok on the oboe, while Rob Rhein jazzed things up with a rag on the piano. Marge Goergen-Rood was charming as Lucy, singing a tune from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown .
Tex and Patty Dyer, with Linda Kuhn on cello, swept all away with a haunting version of Tex's own "Coming Home to the Rockies". John Hagen told an amusing anecdote about his days as a Many Glacier bellman.
After an audience participation singing of "Amazing Grace", led by Corie Jones, Drew Metcalfe and Barb Burch, the Many Glacier Choir burst forth with their rousing version of "Jerusalem" accompanied by Mr. Tippet.
Every hootenanny in the 1970's ended with "Going Home", so, of course, all reunionites came forward to give forth a lusty reading of this special old song. The whole affair ended with a heartfelt, harmonized performance of "Hail to Thee, O Many Glacier" complete with fireworks sound effects compliments of Fred Newman.
If anyone had somehow escaped being KO'ed by gallons of nostalgia up to this point at the reunion, this concert got them up to speed. The rest of the evening was given over to more reminiscing and sweet sadness when the realization that our lovely trip back into the mists of time was almost at an end.
The next day, amidst tears and laughter, the tired but happy former Many Glacier employees hugged each other one more time and slowly "went down the road" to the varied and far-flung places whence they had come, leaving behind their beloved old hotel and the most beautiful mountains in the world. But they took with them a whole backpack full of special memories and renewed friendships over which to gloat when "the frost grows on the windows and the wood stove smokes and glows."
By Einar Hansen, a cook and bellman at Many Glacier Hotel from 1977-1980.
"How'd you like to climb Wilbur this afternoon?"
The question was innocent enough. Waiting for an answer, Dave Beneman stood beside me along the steamtable line, next to the stoves. With his curly black hair and alive brown eyes, Dave looked like a youngish weightlifter, a son of the mountain king.
I'd heard Dave ask Keith Barbeau, the first cook, the same question earlier, before the lunch rush, before the hundreds of plates of corned beef on ryes, fruit plates, or grilled trout were fed to tired travelers from Iowa, or Nebraska, or Ohio, who were doing Glacier Park-for-a-day, as our guests at Many Glacier Hotel. Guess Keith had turned him down.
"Great. Steve took off this morning to do it before his afternoon shift, and I want to do it, too."
I had caught glimpses of the mountain-climbing rivalry between Dave and my other roommate, Steve Winnett, during the previous three weeks. I knew Dave had taught climbing in the Appalachians, out East near his home, and he and Steve had met last summer working at the Park. A blond farmboy from the Midwest, I had never even seen mountains before. Having one summer under his belt, I considered Dave a veteran, even though he was only 18, and I was 19. Besides, he'd climbed Wilbur before.
I knew which mountain was Wilbur. When I'd hiked up Mt. Altyn the previous week, my first (and only) climb, Rolf Larson had pointed Wilbur out to me. It was spectacular, rising like a hand of peace above the valley.
My Red Wing work boots, which my novice mind thought could double as hiking boots for the summer, had their crepe soles ground to dust by the red scree of Altyn on our descent. Facing the prospect of shoeless climbing, I had hitchhiked the 120 miles to Kalispell after work yesterday to buy my first hiking boots, a beautiful set of Raichles. What more could I need to climb Wilbur?
Two hours later, with our shift over, we set off. The mid-afternoon sun shone through the June haze, casting shadows across the face of Wilbur's sheer east face. There must be an easy way up, I thought. Dave surely must know that I don't know how to climb anything hard.
We stepped off the trail near Red Rock Falls, picking our way through the scrub and brush on the mountain's lower flanks. For two hours, we bushwhacked, pushing through willows, then scree, then boulders, until we finally rested below the towering face. It was five o'clock.
"How much farther is the top?"
"Oh, we're about halfway there."
"The hard part's just beginning."
The next three hours introduced me to fear as I had never known it. Wilbur's face is an unbroken cliff, wrinkled and furrowed with the erosion of time. These wrinkles, actually deep chimneys in the rock, offer the 'easy way up', through 'opposition climbing', a technique Dave taught me from above, talking me up over overhangs and through crossovers.
A great vault of midsummer's air hung behind us, under us, over us. An eagle lazily circled far down the valley below. If only I can make it back down, I thought. The hotel, miles away, shone in the late afternoon sun. My thoughts wandered to Connie, the pretty dark-haired waitress I was nuts about. I wonder if I'll see her again, I mused. Reason enough to make it back down this rock.
"Move one, hold three", urged Dave. My thoughts snapped back, and I was back on the cliffs again, carefully gripping a new handhold, then a foothold, then another handhold, then a foothold. Oops! Not that one! A chunk of loose rock broke off in my hand. I dropped it and heard it skip away below.
Dave was quiet and sure in his climbing. "Practice not kicking out loose rock," he said. "Other climbers below might get hurt."
Above me, Dave hoisted himself through "Thin Man's Pleasure". This landmark of the climb was a narrow shaft behind a huge chock rock caught in the chimney we were climbing. The face of the chimney leaned out just before the passageway, creating an overhang. Negotiating this area meant stretching back across the thin air of the chimney, away from the comforting face of the mountain, to inch past the wall swelling toward you.
"Here", Dave called from the ledge above, tossing down the end of a slender purple rope. "Loop this around your wrist. It can provide another handhold if you can't find one".
I looped the rope around my right wrist.
"Yell 'Belay on' when you wish to use the rope for support. That's climber's lingo for me to brace the rope across my hips to take your weight if necessary."
Gradually, I inched upward, stretching my feet back to footholds on the chimney's side walls. "
"I can't find another handhold, Dave."
"Then say 'Belay on."'
My heart was pounding heavy and slow. I drew myself up on the "handhold" made of rope, as I sought a new foothold.... Suddenly, the rock crumbled beneath my other foot, my left handhold pulled free, and I was dangling in space, suspended from the rope around my wrist.
"Hold on!" cried Dave. Hand over hand, he pulled me up like a bucket from a well, until I regained my footing and scrambled onto the ledge where he stood.
I drank in air. Oh, that was close. For the first time I thanked God Dave was built like a fireplug. We continued upward. The remainder of the climb was just a scramble to the top. From this perch above the continental divide, the mountains of Glacier Park and beyond marched rank upon rank to the setting sun. It was glorious. I'll never get down, I thought with calm certainty. I'll die up here.
We ate our bag lunches, signed the climber's register in the summit cairn, and took pictures. "We must be the first people to climb Wilbur after work," exulted Dave. My answering cheer was a little hollow. How were we ever going to get off this stupid rock?, I thought.
It was 8 p.m. when we started down. Getting off the cliffs before dark was going to be a race against time, a race made easier by fear being replaced by the utter numbness of having no choice. Only flashes emerge from the blur: jumping 10 feet down from one ledge to another to save time; Dave guiding me from below where to put my feet as I descended a particularly hairy section.
Then, we were off the cliffs, scree sliding down the upper slopes. It was 10 p.m. The sun was setting at this northern latitude, two days after the summer solstice. We were still more than a mile up the mountain.
Quickly we were off the scree slopes, and into the willows and alder underbrush. It was dark, a moon rising behind the mountains. I found myself in front, as we fought through the tangled growth. Branches whipped our faces.
I heard the sound of falling water grow louder from somewhere ahead. Suddenly, the ground disappeared under my feet. I fell forward, grabbing the branches. I caught myself, suspended by alder branches above the waterfall.
I pulled myself back up onto the ground again. The adrenaline I thought had long ago been burned dry now caught my breath short and pounded my heart. I was exhausted. My body ached all over.
We detoured around the water and on down the slope. Finally, we reached the hiking trail, back where we had started. It was 11:30. A full moon shown down between Mt. Grinnell and Mt. Allen.
After all that struggle, after fighting with myself not to turn back, and swearing to myself that I would make it, I could keep quiet no longer.
"Dave, that was terrible. Is that considered a hard mountain to climb?"
"Oh, yes. It's probably the second hardest mountain to climb in Glacier in terms of sheer climbing."
I was silent. I couldn't believe Dave had taken me up a mountain that hard without even telling me what I was getting into; I couldn't believe I had been muleheaded enough to keep going.
"If we hurry, we can still get a beer at the hotel."
We started to jog down the moonlit trail, Dave in the lead. Keeping a steady pace, we made good progress, sometimes stumbling on unseen tree roots.
Soon, we reached the footbridge across Swiftcurrent Creek, a good-sized stream. Dave stopped short. I bumped into him. Someone was splashing in the stream below.
"Who's swimming?", I yelled. "Shutup!", hissed Dave. "It's a bear."
Sure enough. Silhouetted in the moonlit stream, a bear fished for a midnight snack. It turned its head towards us . . . we stared . . . then we bolted down the trail. Forgetting all the park ranger warnings not to run from bears, we tore down the trail like sprinters. Almost there . . . "OOF!!"
Almost in unison, Dave and I had run full-tilt into a heavy chain, strung across the trail to stop errant motorcycles and ATV's, like two runners hitting the tape. We straightened up, sucking back our wind. This was the Swiftcurrent Motel parking lot. We were back.
Fifteen minutes later, after jogging the last mile to the Many Glacier Hotel bar, we were each gulping down a Coor's.
"Did Steve make it up Wilbur?", Dave asked a passing fellow cook. "No, he turned back. Figured it was too hard to get up and back before dark."
I finished my beer, then left the bar. I walked towards the laundry/employee lounge, looking for the tall, dark-haired waitress who I hoped would be off work. Connie was. I swung her up, and flopped down on an old green sofa. A few other waitresses and waiters were hanging out as well, including Scott, of whose dark, wavy good looks and Amherst breeding I was somewhat envious.
"Where were you?" asked Connie. I heard you went mountain climbing with Dave."
"We climbed Mt. Wilbur," I replied.
"You must mean Mt. Henkel", interjected Scott.
"No, it was Mt. Wilbur", said I, for by that time, I was no longer confused about what it was.
Interview by John Hagen, a Many Glacier Hotel employee 1970-1980.
Editor's Note: Ray Kinley worked at Many Glacier Hotel from 1922 to 1977. Ray was an avid Glacier Park Foundation member, a famous storyteller and Park historian. GPF tape recorded Ray's memories of Glacier before his death in 1985.
During "Reconstruction'' [the upgrading of the hotels in the 1950's], Ray and a number of other men lived at Many all winter to work on maintenance and renovation. One of the crew was a young man named Michael. He owned a new red Oldsmobile of which he was very proud.
Another of the crew was nicknamed "Wild Bill". His favorite pastime was archery. Bill used to shoot arrows from the men's porch of the Lower Dormitory to a target on the women's side. Sometimes his shots were none too accurate.
One day, after observing an arrow shot go wild, Ray scolded "Wild Bill" in front of the other men. "You're going to put an arrow into one of the cars parked in front of the dorm, if you're not careful, Bill!" he said.
Young Michael looked very concerned at that. "You'd better not put an arrow into my car, Bill, or I'll kill you!" the youth exclaimed in a very uncordial voice.
Ray thereupon conceived an ingenious practical joke. He waited until one day when a wild shot of Bill's struck the horse bridge. The head of the arrow broke off, and Ray retrieved the discarded feathered shaft.
Ray imbedded the shaft in a wad of chewing gum, which he dyed with red nail polish to the shade of the Oldsmobile. Then, one day when Michael had driven the garbage truck to Babb, Ray brought out the arrow. He used the gum to fix it to the back hood of the car, with the feathers jutting up at a dramatic angle.
Soon Michael returned in the garbage truck. He slowed as he drove past the Lower Dorm, to take an admiring look at his car. Then Ray heard a sudden screech of brakes and a string of furious imprecations. Michael sprang from the truck and charged into the dormitory roaring, "You *#&~%#, Bill! Where are you? I'll kill you! I'll kill you!"
Fortunately, Wild Bill had gone away on a fishing expedition. While Michael was raging around the dormitory, Ray slipped out and plucked the arrow off the hood of the car. Then he took the arrow and went into hiding.
A few seconds later, Michael came seething out on the porch again. He stomped down the stairs to take a look at the damage. There sat the Oldsmobile, gleaming in the sun and not showing a scratch. Recalling the episode, Ray said, "Michael actually thought that he had gone nuts."