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Guest view: The city of Butte is changing faster than most people know

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The City of Butte is changing fast. Faster than most people know. It has changed before and will again. That said, this one hurts. When I was a child there was always chaos on the side streets of Butte. Kids were everywhere. Now they stay inside on sunny days and pass messages through the air. I am not here to make Buster the Hacker cry. I am just saying, this was Butte Montana not long ago.

We were masters of entertainment. Kings and Queens of whatever street we called home. Our Mom or Dad would do a headcount at dark, then we would sneak back out a window when the lights were off. This, was to go raid a garden in the summer or Hooky Bob cars in the winter. My favorite hobby at night was a visit to Mr. May's smoker. This, after his weekend at Georgetown when the fish were biting. We took just enough to add to the cheese and crackers.

Our Hero of all Heroes was Evel Knievel. Because of this, our favorite sport above all sports was jumping bikes. The bigger the ramp, the bigger the jump. The bigger jump, the louder the roar. The roar of the crowd. About one or two times each summer some idiot kid would build a ramp so big that it took days with lots of wood and dirt. During this period, the word would spread to the “outer banks”. This was the neighborhoods that were right next door on both sides. Then came “show time”.

The first thing I did the day of my jump was to steal a girl’s bike. I knew it wrong, but the last thing you want in life is to land on that bar. They call it a boy bar for a reason. I then found a football helmet that was so old it was made from leather, with no strap. No problem; that's why God made duct tape. Speed was important because that second ramp was your ticket to glory, even if you wrecked. I cleared the edge of the ramp, made the wreck look good with the help of luck and sat up to listen to the giggles. The roar I did not hear.

Not all was good afterwards. My Dad was mad because he had to buy Stacy Spindler a bike. Stacy was happy because her old one was old. He tried to make me do it, but I said no. I wasn't good with money at the time. I felt bad for the man. But he loves me still, and I love him.

Back to the streets of Butte Montana. Kick The Can and Dog fights were an after-supper thing. Not every dog gets a bone. Still, every dog wants one. All dogs ran wild. It was a dog lover's paradise. Even if your mom said no after the, “dog talk”, you still had your favorite neighbor dog. If your dog got in a fight, you had to go in and save it, “if need be”. If you did not do that, all you would have is, big dogs and no little dogs. Not one summer did I go unbitten, many times.

If you read all this with a fond recollection of the words I have written, you should be overjoyed. One, you lived it. Two, you are not a kid anymore. So it doesn’t matter much. Three, it taught you life lessons that you still use today. Not just how to have fun but how to love your neighbor, not just your Dad. Now if you want to feel bad for Buster, that’s ok. I do too, and that’s no joke.

Michael John Gallus, a Butte native, offers this childhood remembrance.


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