Arriving in Pearl Harbor on January 2, 1945, we stayed only a few days, departing for the west coast on January 5. Upon arrival at the Bremerton Ship Yard, WA. On January 12 the Nashville was dry docked for damage repairs and overhaul.
I was in the first leave group and flew to Cincinnati to see Betty and her mother and dad.
Betty and I returned to Bremerton by train via Lewistown MT to see my relatives. My mother, Uncle Rolly Martin and his wife Margaret met us at the train station in Roundup, MT. When Betty and I got off the train it was cold and pitch dark. We had been in almost the last car on the train and upon debarking we weren’t at the station but standing in gravel alongside the train tracks. As the train pulled out we could only see a little white light in the distance so we struggled up that way with our luggage. Soon we saw three people standing in front of the station. Fortunately, it was mother, Rolly and Margaret. They almost left thinking we had missed the train. We drove on to Lewistown that evening after a short visit with Aunt Marion.
In the Sleigh [click to enlarge]
One evening the Casino Creek Community Club had a pot luck party for us at the Community Center near Grandma Martin’s farm. It was in the dead of winter, plenty cold and snow pretty deep. We rode as far as we could in a car and then took a sleigh the rest of the way to the Club house. Betty had on high heel shoes so Uncle Pete just picked her up and carried her in to the Club House. That was Betty’s introduction to Montana.
One “no no” in Montana was that we didn’t stay with the family at grandma’s farm but stayed in the hotel in town. Grandma was not well and confined to her bed and the house was packed with the family and my mother and sister Beverly. After their first objections, I think they all felt we had made the right decision.
Betty got another introduction to Montana in going to a chivaree. A young couple had just returned from their honeymoon and it was tradition to have a party. Before we left town we had to stop first at the Elks Club for a drink. Our group included my mother, sister Beverly, uncles Pete and Rolly, their wives, aunts Irene and Margaret, and Betty and me. It got to be about 9 PM and I asked weren’t we going to the chivaree. Pete said I guess we should be on our way because Rolly and I are in the orchestra. We had to drive about 12 miles to the Beaver Creek to a one-room school house in a cold drizzle that threatened snowing. Upon entering the school house, we had the option of taking either a swig of bourbon or a swig of gin I believe. No entry without one or the other. Maybe around 10 PM or so the music started and played until midnight when a full spread of food was served.
I had noticed a Catholic nun in her habit in attendance and wondered how she handled the forced entry policy at the door. During the intermission, Pete and I went out to his car to get something and saw the nun with some people at another car taking healthy swigs from their bottles. I got my answer on how she got in. Well, it was a cold night.
The music started up again and played until well past 2 AM when we headed home. We all had a real good time.
We showed Betty our old home where I grew up.
Our visit was only for a few days but it gave Betty a taste of Montana and meet some of my relatives, and for me an opportunity to experience Montana way of life again.
Mother went with us on the rest of our trip to Seattle. We had to take the jaw-bone train (local run) from Lewistown to Harlowton where we caught the main line. It required an overnight stay in Harlowton. Upon arriving there, the conductor, a friend of mother’s from Lewistown, let us off from another car ahead of the other passengers and told us to high-tail it for the hotel because they had very few rooms. Thank goodness for his help because we got the last available room. We caught the train early next morning.
Mother took the train from Spokane on to Medford, OR, and Betty and I went on to Seattle where I reported back aboard the USS Nashville. We checked into a hotel and stayed there as we did in Vallejo.