When I was sixteen, I visited a girlfriend in Wolf Point, Montana for the Wolf Point Stampede(rodeo). The picture above is the parade for the stampede. My girlfriends mother was mostly absent so we were left to our own devices. Her mother owned the hotel so you can imagine how midnight snacking was a step above what I was used to at home.
A lot of the rodeo people were staying at the hotel. I was from Minneapolis, MN so it was such a different way of living. The town in normal times had a population of about 2,500. Within two days, I was being greeted by name and found out about communication in small towns. I was amazed that all the stores could be on one street. It was a place where the only elevator in town was in the hotel.
We spent a lot of time at the Stampede. Not only did I see my first rodeo. I got to meet many of the riders. The rodeo people all knew each other and saw the Wolf Point Stampede
as a warm up for the Calgary Stampede. There were real cowboys and Indians everywhere thwt did not look like any movie i had ever seen. I got to try barrel racing and had fun with it.
My friend was called a breed meaning she was half white and half Indian. She had told me but I saw that it meant that some people didn’t talk to her. It also meant that amount the kids she was friends with both whites and Indians.
During that brief summer so long ago, she introduced me to my first love. A handsome tall Assiniboine Sioux young man with piercing blue eyes who was a year older than I was. We fell in love and saw a world in each others eyes. We went to the Sweet Shoppe and talked for hours. He showed me his home on the reservation so different than my home. I met his parents and they were so nice to me.
They both has Masters degrees in English and weren’t allowed to teach so they were wheat farmers.
He was a bright young man and when I talked, he listened. I had a new friend. We walked by the banks of the Missouri River saying nothing just walking. We sat by the river with our toes in the water. I got sunburned and he showed me a plant that took away the sting. When the sun went down and it got cold, he gave me his jacket. He told me of his hopes and dreams and I believed him. We wanted to get married.
Instead, I took the long train ride home.
My mother hid all the letters he wrote. She told him I wasn’t home when he called.
We got in touch twenty years later and he had realized many of his dreams. I learned today that he passed away and I found I still had a piece of my heart that was his.