Game wardens and whangdoodles

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OK, so my memory of almost ninety years isn’t perfect. Last week, I wrote a few recalls of noted writer Pat McManus characters and mentioned his haunting game warden, “Smee.” What happens? A fellow Hungry Horse columnist, Jerry Smalley, also does a recall of his friendship with Pat and he had the game warden’s name correct. It was “Sneed.” I’m only going to point out, Jerry is younger than I.

In other matters, the “Over the Hill Gang” got to remembering our longtime hiking buddy, Elmer Searles, recently, so I dug out a column from 1992. Enjoy!

Elmer has a quotation for whatever situation arises. Most times when he casts these pearls before the ancient members of the Over the Hill Gang, we are in a position which does not lend itself to writing things down. When a fellow is hanging by his fingernails to a ledge on Mt. Gould, it is difficult to memorize even the most eloquent phrases.

Years ago, we were sitting at the base of horrendous cliffs on the south side of the Dragon’s Tail, trying to figure out a way to the top, 1,000 feet above. It was getting late when I wondered out loud, “Why do we do this?”

Elmer instantly replied, “Only the deeply curious, the truly adventuresome, and the most energetic can ever go where the woodbine twineth and the whang-doodle mourneth for its mate.”

That did it. We set off with renewed determination and reached the top within the hour. Woodbines were not twining up there, but I might have heard a whang-doodle.

I missed the Gang’s outing two weeks ago when they hiked from the Loop to Logan Pass in the snow, ice and fog, The next day at out coffee klatch, I explained to Elmer that I stayed in town because I was “Working on a land deal.” He looked at he with such sympathy, sipped his hot chocolate and then said, “If you put your nose to the grindstone rough, and you hold it on there long enough, someday you’ll say there’s no such thing as brooks that babble and birds that sing. Of only two things will your world compose, just that stone … and your bloody nose.”

Over the years, many quotations are ones that just sort of fall in my lap because they are part of our national inventory. I recall writing a past column on quotes from Mark Twain, because he is a good one for a guy trying to justify behavior that is not quite up to society’s highest standards, i.e., “Water will not hurt you … if taken in moderation.” Or, “Every man is entitled to his own brand of insanity.”

My sharp humor was curtailed last week by an operation for the removal of cataracts from my beloved left eyeball. Over the Hill climbing buddy, Dr. Hi Gibson did the surgery with great expertise and I was almost back to normal by Wednesday afternoon. At Wednesday morning’s coffee klatch, I explained to the gang that while recovering, I couldn’t be shaken up by using such things as a chain saw or snow blower for several weeks. Someone remarked, “Well, what are you going to do about riding in your car?” That brought on unkind laughter and I could only suggest they were all jealous because they couldn’t make a car last for 18 years.

If Elmer comes up with a quote for the car situation, I’ll pass it on.

G. George Ostrom is an award-winning columnist from Kalispell.

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