“I don’t see well, I don’t hear well, I don’t smell well,” G. George Ostrom joked with a fan during a book signing last week.
On his birthday July 24 at the age of 90, the affable Ostrom was joking and cajoling with friends and readers at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kalispell as he promoted his new children’s book, “Yum Yoogle Snook Wild Beastie Book.”
The book features 21 pictures and fun facts about Montana’s wildlife, told in silly poems.
For instance, a poem on bighorn sheep starts out, “In whomp whomp autumn weather, rams bang their horns together. They crash like speeding trains, which dizzies up their brains.”
The genesis of the book started with a dream 25 or 30 years ago, Ostrom said. During the night, he had a silly poem about grizzly bears coursing through his head.
“So I got up and wrote it down,” Ostrom said.
At the urging of his daughters, Wendy Ostrom-Price and Heidi Duncan, Ostrom wrote more poems over the years, some of which have appeared in the Hungry Horse News.
Then, more recently, Heidi put them together in a book for family members. The kids liked them so much, that Duncan then approached Farcountry Press, which helped them design and publish it.
Ostrom recalled a quote from the late Dr. Seuss.
“I like nonsense because it wakes up the brain cells,” Ostrom said.
A radio personality and Hungry Horse News columnist for decades, Ostrom hasn’t slowed down much.
He still does a radio show every morning for KGEZ AM 600 radio, getting up bright and early at 5:30 a.m.
Ostrom grew up at the Flathead mine north of Kila where his father, Logan, mined for silver for the Anaconda Mining Co. He went to Flathead High School. World War II was on and Ostrom lied about his age, going to work for the Forest Service, maintaining the telephone lines from Hungry Horse to Spotted Bear.
He quit high school when he was 17 and joined the Army in 1945. He was shipped overseas but World War II had just ended. He worked in a top secret signal center in Frankfurt, Germany in the I.G. Farben building and was discharged from the service when he was 20.
Returning to Montana, he attended the University of Montana, but he didn’t do well in class and never graduated.
“I was a lousy student,” he said in a 2016 interview. “They called me kissing George.”
Even so, he served 20 years on the university’s president advisory council and received a distinguished alumni award.
He was also a Forest Service Smokejumper for five years and was an instructor in parachuting and smokejumping. He got hurt on a jump, “broke just about every bone in my body” in the Salmon River country of Idaho. He was down on his luck, living with his parents when a small radio station started up in Kalispell, the 10,000-watt KOFI Radio.
It was the fall of 1955. Ostrom was in debt and needed work, but was told there wasn’t any openings.
“You’d have an opening if you’d fire that announcer,” Ostrom told them. He knew he could do better than the guy they had working in the booth.
So they gave Ostrom a chance. They recorded him, liked what they heard and sure enough, fired the other announcer.
Ostrom has been in radio on and off ever since and has been at KGEZ for several years now. In 1955 he met his “first wife” Iris. It was a blind date — the two went to a political rally for then Sen. Mike Mansfield.
“I never took out another girl,” Ostrom said.
They were married April 12, 1958.
Ostrom has had a life-long love affair with Glacier Park. He’s written three other books on his adventures, “Glacier’s Secrets, Beyond the Roads and Above the Clouds,” “Wondrous Wildlife” and “Glacier Secrets, Goat Trails and Grizzly Tales.”
Ostrom also got a birthday present from Montana Sen. Steve Daines — who officially entered Ostrom and his biography into the congressional record.
You can watch the Daines video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIvEGmF7eng
The poetry book is available at local bookstores and at the Hungry Horse News office.