At the conclusion of my first year at the University of Chicago, I traveled up to St.Paul, MN, to catch the Great Northern Railway to Glacier National Park. The railway owned the hotel concession in Glacier, and provided free transportation to summer employees from St. Paul to the Park and back. I had gotten a job as the night bellman at the Glacier Park Lodge, at East Glacier. I was then 17, and had to lie about my age, to get the job.
Why did I go to Glacier National Park? A look at the post concerning my 15th summer (1955) shows how enraptured I became with the great scenery of the mountainous western United States. During that summer, my parents, Kenna and Bob, my Aunt Etta, and myself had completed a trip from New York City to California and back, which trip included visits to Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park, Grand Teton National Park, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Mt. Rushmore and more. It blew my mind! And I determined to return to the West. Here are a few color photos and most of the pages from the scrapbook I created devoted to this summer. This first summer in the mountains of the West put me on a course that I rarely deviated from for the rest of my life.
The photos that I took that summer, with a lousy little box camera that often leaked light onto the negatives, demonstrates my early interest in capturing the grandeur of the outdoor scene and accurately documenting my outdoor experiences. As mentioned in the post concerning our family trip “Out West”, my father was very big on geographic detail, and I believe I inherited that interest from him. And the photo captions I provided in the scrapbook further demonstrate that interest.
At the hotel, I worked at night, and often had time to kill during the day. I spent many afternoon hours in the usually-empty, dark and cool interior of the Palomino Bar. The bartender never failed to serve me, and I forget what we talked about. He was a cowboy, who wore his cowboy hat while inside. He wore cowboy shirts, sewn by his wife from fabrics that featured large red roses. He would, every so often, take off his hat, comb his hair and carefully replace his hat. I wish I could remember his name. The nearest larger town was Browning, MT, which was the headquarters of the Blackfoot Indian reservation. Sad to say, drunken indians were a fixture at the underpass (photo on the left), always hoping to beg some change from pedestrians walking from the hotel to town and back, such as myself. Beside all the hikes and fishing trips I took, other events of interest during the summer included: my seeing a dead person for the first time – a guest died at night, in bed, of a heart attack, and, as night bellman, I had to help out with the removal of the body etc; I got into a fight for the first (and last) time of my life – a bellhop by the name of Mike had been harassing me, until I challenged him and got on top of him, at which point he agreed that that was enough; I tried, but failed, at getting laid; myself and friends would convene in the bar late at night and help ourselves to the liquor, which, apparently, wasn’t inventoried.
I took hikes or went fishing on my days off. The color photos below are by Malcolm, my partner for this particular hike.
When summer came to an end, I, along with the rest of the hotel staff, returned to St. Paul on the Great Northern RR. I recall getting everyone to write their name on my white cowboy hat as we traveled eastward. It had been a spectacular summer of hiking and fishing – and just the beginning of my involvement with the mountains of the West. I returned, for my sophomore year, to the University of Chicago, but the year did not go well, and ended my first attempt at getting a college education. I wasted the following summer on the East Coast – don’t ask – and my next adventuresome summer came in 1959, at Lassen Volcanic National Park, in California. The following post covers that summer: