A Cream Separator

The highlight of my book signing last night occurred when carolers stopped at the Manhattan Museum to regale us with song. It seemed like everybody who lives in this town of 2000 was milling around downtown, greeting each other with cheerful smiles, and popping in and out of decorated stores to check out offerings and buy Christmas gifts. There was no piped in music to drown out the authentic sounds of holiday greetings, carolers, and the clip-clop of the horses that pulled a hay-ride wagon.

I arrived early and had time to tour the new museum, which is housed in the old buidling that used to be a combination fire station and city jail. When I looked into a jail cell filled with dairy equipment—milk cans, strainers, and a cream separator—I was reminded of the times my brothers and I rushed to finish the evening milking so we could open our presents on Christmas Eve. (My parents had the wisdom to know it’s better to reward children who work in a dairy barn with early opening of presents than to make them wait until after morning milking.)

I love these small town museums that have sprung up across Montana. They do such a good job of letting us peek into the past. I could almost smell my mother’s cooking when I looked at the collection of kitchen appliances from the time when electricity was new in rural America. I could almost see my father working in his shop when I looked at the collection of antique tools—a saw for cutting loose hay, tongs for hauling blocks of ice, and wrenches for keeping your Model T running.

I enjoyed chatting with fellow author, Michele Corriel, and bought a copy of her mid-grade book, Fairview Felines: A Newspaper Mystery. She reciprocated by buying two copies of Adventures in Yellowstone: Early Travelers Tell Their Tales.

Like most authors I crave fans so it was great to hear people praise my articles from The Big Sky Journal like the one on early Yellowstone Entrepreneurs, and from The Pioneer Museum Quarterly like “Tales of the Belgrade Bull.”

I had a good time—and sold a few books.

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