Small Town Montana

Summer. Think vacations, hot dogs, staying up to stargaze, and being bit by mosquitos. It’s a time where heartwarming memories are simmered to perfection. 

This weekend was our annual Gala Days; which was also combined with the all school reunion. Every person that ever attended the high school is invited to come home and relive the glory days. Our town went from a population of 150 to some number over 1000. Houses were full, RV’s abounded and  friendships were renewed. 

We also learned what people outside our community think about us and this is where the story begins….

A couple came into the coffee house around the time everyone else in the community were leaving to get their class pictures. So, four people, the coffee shop owner, the couple, and I get the chance to get acquainted.

It was established quickly they had never been to our town and were directed by a stranger in another community to visit our hamlet. 

So we listened to them explain the beginning of their journey started on a train in Tucson, Arizona. 

“We got on a train in Tucson, stopped in L.A. Took another train that eventually led us to Glacier National Park. From there we rented a car and drove to Shelby, Montana.”

Under the advice of arriving before 11:00 they were party to the Gala Days parade. Think vintage cars and trucks, the ambulance, the fire trucks, police cars, collectors versions of military vehicles, and anything that would make someone say “oooh” throwing candy as they roll down the street. 

They were kind enough to hand me the candy.

From there it was a lunch of grilled hot dogs and a visit to the local coffee house. They heard friends reconnect, families pass the time, and various discussions about heat and ice cream. At one point in time the place was so full, someone got out of the line, went behind the counter and helped serve coffee. 

They were amazed. 

Time passed and people returned. I was in the corner for a book signing and several women sat around the table loaded with my books and we began talking about the town when they lived there. This couple gets invited to the table and what I call storytime starts happening. 

A couple minutes into the conversation, the wife turns to her husband and says something to the effect of our community matching their expectations of a small town. 

I looked around and once again the coffee shop was bustling with life. It was getting close to dinner time and they’d been in the coffee shop for a little over two hours chatting away with people they’d never met  but thought well enough of them to treat them like they’d been in our town all their lives. So, we said our goodbyes, recommended another place they’d like, and they went in their way. 

And I had to chuckle. The same people who wonder why I’d made the decision to spend the rest of my days with them proved why to two random people life brought their way on a warm summer day. 

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