Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sid Robertson

Sidney Woodrow Robertson was born March 9, 1916 at Pompey’s Pillar, Montana. His parents, Maude Brodock Robertson and Oscar Duncan (Dunc) Robertson moved to Pompey’s Pillar to farm on a dairy farm. It seemed liked their small business was going reasonably well when three of their children fell ill: Robert Theodore (born 29 Aug 1912), Winifred Louisa (21 May 1914), and my Dad, Sid. My Mom always told me that Dunc thought the illness came from Dunc feeding the children beans off his plate. After looking through some old newspapers from Pompey’s Pillar that my grandmother saved, I wonder if diphtheria was the cause. The papers tell of a diphtheria epidemic so serious that the school was closed.
Whatever the cause, Robert died at 15 months old. Dad and Win nearly died. Before his illness, Dad said he had red hair. His hair all fell out and grew back in a dark brown color. I remember my Dad having dark brown hair and almost black eyes.

Picture of Dunc Robertson & Sons and Grandma with Gene and Geneva

Because of the loss of Robert and the near death Win and Sid, Dunc and Maude decided to move. Dad said they thought the water was the cause of the illness that affected him and two of his siblings. They moved to West Fork, Montana. Dad said West Fork is as close to the North Dakota border as a person can get without being in North Dakota. They had high hopes of making a good amount of money raising flax. Instead, they lost their shirt.
I am not certain of everything that happened after that, but eventually, the family found their way back to York where Dunc had grown up. They had a mining claim there. They lived in a log cabin with a dirt floor. Dad attended a one room school house.
Doctors did not figure heavily in their existence. When my Dad’s tonsils were giving him trouble, my grandmother painted them with kerosene. Dad was shot in the eye with a homemade arrow. He and his brother Gene were playing cowboys and Indians near the bar. Dad looked through the crack in the chinking between the logs and Gene shot at Dad with the home made bow and arrow. By some fluke, the stick went into my Dad’s eye. My grandmother removed it and covered Dad’s eye. It eventually healed up, although he at terrible vision in that eye. However, two of my daughters both have a right eye that is much more near sighted than their other eye. So who know if the arrow was what really caused the bad vision?

Picture of Aunt Win

Dad was very near sighted. But money was always in short supply, so Dad did not get his first pair of glasses until after high school. Dad’s brother, Les, purchased Dad’s first pair of glasses. Dad remembered being able to see the blades of grass and how wonderful that seemed to him to see each blade. Before grass had just been a blur of green.
Dad’s vision must have made school more difficult for him. He said he was always put in the front of the class. When his oldest brother John was old enough for High School, the whole family moved to town so that John could attend. They moved to the west side of Helena called the “Kenwood Addition.”

Schooling was very important in my Dad’s family. Dunc was Chairman of the school board in York
According to Dad, he was skipped a grade when he was in the third grade because he was the only third grader and the teacher was lazy. She didn’t want to have to teach one kid separately. This put him at a disadvantage for sports. He LOVED sports. He longed to play basketball when he was in High School. The basketball coaches were not teachers from school, but some men with 8-5 jobs. Dad lived very far from the school. He had a trolley pass to ride to school, but it expired at 5:00 p.m. Basketball practice began at 7:00 p.m., so Dad could not play.
I didn’t realize how much I had to write about Dad. I will write more another time.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Safety Challenged

Is it a “guy thing” to have the inability to comprehend that a situation is dangerous or will soon become so? Is this a genetic deficiency? Due to a church responsibility, I was attending a church sledding party yesterday when some men showed up with giant inner-tubes. These men, I must assume, were once boys. These men also have children. Evidently they have an imperfect memory of what they were like as boys and don’t spend much time with their kids because they seemed to be unable to predict that kids, especially boys, will take an activity and escalate it to the red zone unless you stop them. And maybe the tube providers were able to predict the escalation. Perhaps their Y chromosome blocked their common sense development so they were impaired in their ability to reason that a human head hitting a granite rock at 20 miles an hour could cause injury.

As soon as I saw the enormous tubes I knew we needed a few boundaries. But I was not in charge and did not have authority. The kids took the tubes, piled about 7 or 8 people on them and shoved them down the lower, less steep part of the slope. Inner tubes are cushy, but bodies banging into each other aren’t. I hoped everyone would be O.K. on the lower slope since it is not overly steep. I thought an big inner-tube should be O.K. with one or two kids riding it on the upper, steep slope. But I knew kids will escalate and next the step would be six or seven kids on a giant inner-tube flying down the steepest slope. This is exactly what happened. The extra “g” forces increased speed and the stop at the bottom was abrupt. This caused about three kids to walk away limping, crying or both. We could hear one kid’s head “thud” on the ground. There we were at the bottom of the hill forming a first aid unit as we checked for serious injury and observed tears.

Did this circumstance provide a hint to the guys that perhaps this activity should be discontinued and boundaries set? No, they just stood at the bottom of the hill watching complacently as a new group of kids toted another inner-tube up to the steep part hill for another brush with death or disabling injury.

I am equally disgusted with the women in attendance. They stood spinelessly at the bottom of the hill, biting their lips and shuddering. I am fed up with being the only one to stand up to the men. If no common sense is one of the men’s failings in our stake, then no backbone or gumption is one of the women’s.

Finally I loudly burst out, “HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE TO GET HURT BEFORE YOU PUT A STOP TO THIS????” This outburst earned me the shocked attention and glares from two of the men who brought the tubes as well as other men leaders who seemed to be at peace with the prospect of more injuries. A teenaged twit who prides herself on being a “tomboy” responded with, “A lot!” It was interesting to note that the teenager and the inner-tube providers seem to be on the same mental level. I’ve always heard people can be developmentally arrested at certain ages, now I’ve witnessed it.

Still, someone must have heard me because no more large groups rode the big inner-tubes from the top. Everyone was able to walk away for which I am enormously grateful. But for once, could those in charge, take control? AND WHY DO I HAVE TO BE THE ONLY TO STAND UP???

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Do men have an equivalent to Better Homes and Gardens? Would it be called my shop is bigger than your shop? Anyway, here are some pictures of Garage-mahal.


I am glad that I didn't have to go to any point east on Monday. We had some snow that caused the highway that leads east to be classified as emergency travel only. I heard that visibility was limited to seeing the hood of the car you were driving. Emergency travelers next became the emergency because the visibility was so bad the highway was closed completely. Search and Rescue had to go and ....well, search and rescue. Cars were off the road everywhere.