Give A Piece Of Real Montana With Montana Books | Local
Marga Lincoln for the independent record
It is not too late for this very important date.
Are you looking for “Real Montana” gifts to put under the tree and you haven’t found the right idea?
The Montana Historical Society Gift Shop has a few new book titles to recommend that might be just what you’re looking for.
“We love Montana books,” said Rodric Coslet, store manager for the MHS museum, in an interview last week, surrounded by stacks of fascinating options for just about any age.
“A Montana History in 101 Objects: Artefacts and Essays from the Montana Historical Society” is flying off the shelves these days.
The book features “appropriate, curious and rare” objects in the museum’s vast collection.
This is one of Coslet’s best recommendations. “This is what we suggest for everyone.
“It’s our bestseller right now. People love it. They really love to see all of the wonders in our collection, many of which aren’t on display very often.
People also read …
“And the book includes beautiful new photographs by Tom Ferris and essays on each object by 21 different authors and edited by Kirby Lambert.
“It’s a great way to make our collection accessible to the public.
While diving there, we discover treasures of Montana such as:
–Thomas Cruse’s electric bathrobe, or “Standard Electric Thermo Coat”;
–The Lewis and Clark Historical Society Bridge spanning the Missouri River at Wolf Point; and
– A piece of the gallows on which the infamous Henry Plummer was hanged.
There are many more treasures to discover that will open your eyes to nuggets of Montana’s rich and wild history.
And for the curious child, there’s a companion book from Far Country Press, “Montana History for Kids in 50 Objects” by Steph Lehman. It includes 50 fun activities for kids.
What better way to learn and remember history than with a hands-on craft, like carving your own “grotesque” out of clay.
Don’t you know what a “grotesque” is?
Take this vividly illustrated book and find out.
“Other good things for our list are ‘Home Waters: A Chronicle of Family and a River,’ Coslet said. It’s written by John N. Maclean, son of Norman Maclean – from the famous ‘A River Runs Through It’ .
“It’s so interesting. I heard his speech at the Montana Club. It was so much fun, ”Coslet said.
It’s full of wonderful fishing stories, of Norman and his murdered beloved brother, Paul, and their unique bond, as well as Jessie Burns, Norman’s wife, and the trio’s close friendship.
Another topical book is “Hell Without a Lid!” Butte, MT: A Memoir of the ‘Wildest Town in the West’ by 1890s police reporter Horace Herbert Smith, ”edited by William Lambrecht and published by New Bay Books.
This is a heart-wrenching true story of 21-year-old “Bert” Smith, who was a police reporter for Marcus Daly’s Anaconda Standard in the 1890s.
“He knew the crooks, the prostitutes and the police,” Coslet said.
Young Smith fell in love with Butte and its “burning history” during his seven years as a journalist there, where he transformed “into a journalist stuffed with guns.” Smith’s reporting led to death threats from two dangerous criminals – Billy Fay, a professional gamer who was also a professional killer, and his nemesis, Frank Dougherty, a crooked gamer and drug addict.
In fact, the town funeral directors were vying for Smith’s business.
“When Smith left Butte, he became a correspondent during the Spanish American War and ended up in New York City to write novels and do journalism at a very high national level,” said Coslet.
It was also part of a literary salon that included Zane Gray and Sinclair Lewis. And he published two books – “A Captain Unafraid” and “The War Maker”.
He died in 1936 before he could publish his memoirs, which he hoped would be made into a film.
Thanks to her granddaughter, who found the manuscript in her papers and donated the collection to the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives, the book came into the hands of readers.
Critic David McCumber, editor of Montana Standard, wrote about it: “What a breather thing! “Hell With the Lid Off” is a spectacular contribution to the history of one of the West’s greatest cities, but best of all, it’s compelling read.
“It’s a cool novelty. I really like it, ”Coslet added. “Who wouldn’t want to read about Butte in the 1890s? “
A delicious and whimsical new book for children is “Charlie Russell and the Gnomes of Bull Head Lodge” by Emily Crawford Wilson with colorful paintings by Jeanne Bowman.
Russell loved and painted his Bull Head Lodge on Lake McDonald in Glacier Park, Coslet said.
In this children’s tale, “he goes up to Bull Head Lodge and struggles to find inspiration for painting.
“Which he did, and that’s right, he created these little gnomish creatures out of bark and other forest stuff,” Coslet said. “He put them on the porch railings and next to the forest paths.
“In the story, the gnomes come to life and help him paint.”
There is also an inspiring logbook to introduce young children to some of the fascinating and inspiring Montanais from our history, “The Brave People of Montana Who Changed the World,” by Heidi Poelman.
Some of the personalities featured with colorful illustrations and short articles include Running Eagle, Granville Stuart, Alma Smith Jacobs and none other than Evel Knievel.
Coslet also recommends a book by Missoula artist Josh Quick, “Yellowstone Quick Facts: 100 Surprising and Strange Facts About Yellowstone National Park”.
For example, did you know that “gas from the Norris Basin in Yellowstone Park killed 5 bison at a time in 2004”.
Or this, “Yellowstone Park has 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes a year.”
And Quick complacently illustrated this factoid with his drawing of a poor terrified camper shaking in her sleeping bag.
This brief overview of new books doesn’t exhaust the store options and Coslet’s recommendations in any way.
But beware, now is the time to act. The store is closed on Friday and Saturday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The museum store is located at the Montana Historical Society, 225 N. Roberts St., 444-2890, https://app.mt.gov/shop/mhsstore/. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.