Excerpts from Faith's Memoirs

Montana, Winter of 1949

The winter of 1949 was a doozy. It started snowing in January and it didn’t stop for good until April. The snowdrifts piled up to six feet in places. The roads were impassable and we didn't have telephones out there yet.

The daily ranch routine was that [my husband] Eddy would load up a hay wagon (steel rimmed wheels-- no rubber tires) as high as it could go, and Betsy and Babe, the sorrel team, would haul it out to the cattle in a pasture four or five miles away.

I had a one-year-old and I was terrified that she would get sick while we were snowed in. And the minute I could, I wanted to be on the road, to go anyplace.

After a couple of weeks of being snowed in, one night about ten we heard a knock on the front door. My God -- what? It was Enoch Christianson, the old bachelor who lived across-country two miles from us (much further by road). He told Eddy--who was putting his clothes on as he listened--that there was a man at his house whose plane had crash-landed not too far south of us. The pilot had followed the fence to the old guy’s ranch. His passenger was at the plane, hurt, but Enoch didn’t know how badly. The pilot had built a fire and then gone to get help.

So Eddy and old Enoch went off into the night with an extra saddle horse. Quite a few hours later, there was a commotion out by the front porch. I thought I saw a body fall off the horse. They carried the body in (not dead, fortunately) and put him in our bed.

Another neighbor, Henry Berg, had joined the rescue team. Soon they all went off to get the pilot, who was still at Enoch’s. The plan was to have both survivors here to start out for town in the morning.

The old guy, the plane's passenger, was doing a lot of groaning, and seemed to think he was dying. I guessed I could officiate, but I wasn’t the least bit sure I could do anything to help. When I happened to be at the sink and opened the high cupboard, I saw the bourbon bottle up there. Why not?

The old guy improved a great deal quite immediately with the first whiff of whiskey, good Jim Beam at that. Clearly he would make it. I was not called on to officiate at a deathbed scene.

In the morning the procession set off early. The neighbors had begun to arrive at dawn with wagons, teams of horses and a tractor that could be started. Of course, while the men were in town, they got everything to replenish all the refrigerators and cupboards in the neighborhood. However, the snow and cold and six-foot drifts went right on. I had been no place but the cattle feeding ground for - how many weeks? Four or five.

After another two weeks, I heard a slightly familiar sound--quite loud. It was the county snow plow, and it came right to our door, clearing the drifts. If it had just cleared the county road it would not have relieved us; it had to come almost two miles up our lane. We bundled up and followed the plow in to town--driving in what seemed like a tunnel without a roof. The wind was still blowing and making drifts. By the time we returned in the late afternoon, our roadway was starting to fill in again.

Only after eight weeks were we free to come and go.

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1976, Travel in Eastern Turkey

Going to Turkey in the 1970’s to teach turned out to be a huge adventure in my life.

The gang of young teachers (in their twenties and early thirties) were happy to include me if I could keep up in the parties and picnics and excursions that happened most every weekend. There were curry dinners at Stephen’s, picnics at our small neighborhood ruins site, excursions to Konya to see the whirling dervishes (like a slow whirling dance that went on forever), to the forested national park to the south, and to the restored ancient Roman city at Ephesus.

The most memorable trip was around eastern Turkey with Peggy and Anne. Everybody told us not to go— they said that the Kurds didn’t like foreigners and would throw stones at us. Quite the opposite.

We were walking along a sidewalk in a quiet neighborhood in Van. A group of ladies who were having tea in one of the houses saw us and sent their children to invite us in. Of course, we went and had a nice visit. Kurdish was the ladies’ first language but they all spoke Turkish too. Peggy spoke fluent Turkish and translated.

We met two men, Kurdish school teachers. One of them drove a taxi for summer work. The other’s father was the landlord of a village up in the hills toward Iran. The taxi took us up to the village, where eleven families lived. The women there seemed very shy. They came out to look at us, but when we tried to be friendly, they dodged away around corners. Our guys told us they would “get lost” because it was not proper for the women to meet them.

When the guys left, the women were eager to invite us into their courtyard and talk. They were starved to have contact with women from the outside. One was so eager to connect she squeezed my hand until it hurt.

The community prepared a fine dinner for us. We heard all about how it had been in Iranian jails. Our Kurds had experienced this or their cousins had. Naturally, we became instant Kurdish nationalists. Before we left they gave each one of us a nazarlik (a good luck hanging made of seeds and colorful torn cloth ties).

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The Rescue of Rufus, 1998

I hadn’t been retired and settled in my new place long at all when I started thinking about getting a dog.

One Sunday morning I found a paper on my dining table with a picture of a handsome red-coated German Shepherd-type dog who was seeking a home. My daughter had picked up the flyer at a party the night before.

The hosts, Laura and Peter, later became some of my dear friends because of the Red Dog rescue project, as did Cindy and Larry who were caring for him. Well, when such a paper finds its way to your very house, it certainly must be a sign.

I called the number on the flyer. Cindy told me that she and her husband Larry had been in Ballard and when their car door was open this strange dog climbed in. He paid no attention to their dog who was sitting in the back seat. They decided that the stranger wanted to go someplace pretty bad. So Red Dog got a good meal and a lot of attention from Cindy and Larry.

The next day they took him back to Ballard with a bunch of notices (including a good picture of him) for posting around. But Red Dog did not want to get out of their car. So he went home with them again.

Apparently he had decided if he didn’t do something about making a living for himself there wasn’t going to be any living, so he was taking care of it using his best judgment.

Cindy told me that Red Dog had had an injury and was scheduled for surgery. After he recovered from that we could get acquainted and see how we liked each other. But meanwhile we needed a fenced-in yard. I was touched that Laura and Peter came and helped build the fence.

Red Dog’s former owner eventually showed up and gave us information. Red Dog was 11 years old and his first name was Rufus. But Rufus was not going back to that fellow. He didn’t deserve to have a nice dog. He had neglected him.

Cindy and Larry eventually released Rufus to me and we had a wonderful, if expensive, year or so. Rufus had all kinds of health problems – allergies, bad heart, and cancerous lumps on his legs. But he had some great times and adored me. One day he couldn’t get up on his feet. Well, that was it. The vet, my son and I quietly cried as he died. Dan dug a grave and we buried him in the yard.

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