‘Whitey’ was The Man for Anaconda High sports history

As a newspaper reporter, I depended on Tom White for a variety of things. As someone who learned from him both as a student and an adult, I developed a deep respect for him.

Today, I opened my email to find the local obituaries — it’s become a morbid obsession of mine. And more and more, the people who have shaped me as a man keep popping up in the feed. I guess that’s how life goes, but it doesn’t get any easier. When I saw Tom’s picture, guilt washed over me. about two and a half years ago, I saw him for the last time. And the guilt was because I never sucked it up to visit him in the nursing home.

It was the middle of July, 2013, and I was helping Slim Kimmell, then a photojournalist for the Billings Gazette, with a project ranking the best gymnasiums in Montana. Slim had never been to Memorial Gym, and he wanted a tour in order to see what all the fuss was about. I wanted Tom to be interviewed — to have the foremost authority of the history of basketball in Anaconda speak on behalf of our monumental Snake Pit. But when I made the call, something wasn’t right.

Let me backtrack a bit. When I was beginning a writing career for the Montana Standard and Anaconda Leader, Tom was my go to source for any and all things Anaconda High School. He knew everything, usually off the top of his head. He would always retire to his dungeon of information and return my call, but it always turned out he was spot-on with his recollection of data.

Tom compiled every season of Anaconda High School basketball from the 1900s until the early 2000s. And he didn’t just compile records and totals, he compiled everything. Full rosters of coaches and players, the amount of games they played, the points they scored — home and away — along with win/loss records against common opponents. Want to know how many games John Cheek or Bill Sullivan won or lost against Billings West or Dillon? I can give you that information in seconds.

And what’s more was Tom could regurgitate all of this and more in intimate detail. He was a living and breathing encyclopedia.

So back to the interview. While waiting for Tom, who only lived a block away, the exact date of the opening of Memorial Gymnasium wasn’t quite clear to me. I didn’t even dare to guess because the man who knew everything was on his way. Once he arrived, something  wasn’t right. His thoughts were cloudy and he brought a yearbook from 1950 to help refresh his memory. And even that didn’t help.

We discovered it did open in 1949, which was my original guess, but seeing Tom so scattered had me puzzled. He never went on camera because I think even he knew something wasn’t right. Days later, he was admitted into the nursing home two blocks from his house suffering from dementia and signs of Alzheimers.

At first, I was crushed. All that information, knowledge, history and passion was being stolen from him. And from me.

Once I was discharged from the Navy in 1997, I knew I wanted to be a writer. And the only place I wanted to do it was in Anaconda. Bruce Sayler gave me my first, second, third, and twentieth shot at the Standard before I just started showing up so often he knew he couldn’t get rid of me. Of all the feature stories I wrote, any that provided statistical data comparing one individual to another, those numbers came directly from Tom White.

“I needed somebody to talk to for the story when the legendary John Cheek passed away a few years ago,” Sayler posted on a Facebook feed tonight. “Tom White was so much help. I remember him playing on the Estes teams, too. He is a big loss to the Anaconda community in general, the sports community in particular.”

One of my favorite things to do is look through the trophy case at Memorial Gym. I’ve looked at the Wayne Estes memorial thousands of times, and every time I remember the stories Tom would tell me about him. He knew intimate details about those days, because as an undersized athlete, he played alongside the biggest legend in Montana basketball history.

“Quick with great defense! Couldn’t shoot a slingshot!” joked Tom Greenough, a former teammate and friend of Tom’s at Anaconda High. “A six-foot high jumper too! In the days when 6-foot-10 was the world record.”

Below are two screenshots from one of his history books. It’s the season recaps from his junior and senior seasons. Check out the rosters and the reference to the Butte Salute. I cherish this book, and it’s only one of many.

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I used Tom more than baby powder during Sunday softball tournaments in July.

When Don Hatcher passed away in 2015, Greenough and I had a conversation. I asked him what year Don graduated to get a baseline on his time at AHS. Class of 1960 it was. By looking over Tom’s black history book, I relayed that Mr. Hatcher was “one of 24 players to score four TDs in a game-did so against Bozeman in 1959. Scored 224 points in hoops in 26 games for an 8.8 ppg average in 1959-60.”

“Yep, that’s Hatch,” Greenough replied. “He was a defensive wizard also.”

Because of Tom’s research, I was able to put a smile on the face of a man who had just lost a friend. That Friday night, Anaconda played in Whitehall during the Trojans Homecoming. I gave a shout out to Don during the radio broadcast after his passing and reiterated those facts.

Because of Tom, players can look back on their time at AHS and relive a little of their former glory. To me, that’s remarkable.

Since he stepped away from recording all of the statical data, I picked up the slack. I also began categorizing girls’ basketball from their start in the 70s. I’m nowhere near as detailed as Tom was, but I can say that the information is up to date and accessible. And I’m extremely proud of being able to piggyback on his data.

In one of our many conversations, I told Tom I wanted his collection of material once he decided it was time to give it up. Shortly after he was admitted into the hospital, his youngest son, Shawn, who is a year older than me, called and told me about what happened to his father. He also offered three file cabinets and several boxes full of old yearbooks, scorebooks, spreadsheets of information, game programs and a book he wrote.

Knowing that Tom trusted me with this was truly humbling. Knowing he had the conversations with his family that he wanted me to have all of his research was touching. A lifetime of work landed in my lap, and I can tell you it was one of the most gratifying gifts I’ve ever received. That afternoon, I pledged to Shawn I would write a book (or numerous with all of this information) and a majority of the proceeds would go to whatever charity the family would like. It’s the least I can do for a man who gave so much to the school and community he loved.

I can say I haven’t had much time to write a book as of late. My children are young and I’m busy enough in my own life to take on such a huge task. But when the time is right, it will be done.

It’s not hard for me to admit my biggest passion is following and supporting Anaconda athletics. But before me, there was a man who did it bigger and better.

And I can’t thank him enough for paving the way. Rest in peace Whitey.






Eric Hempstead boxing benefit Saturday, April 23 at Locker Room Bar

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On Saturday, friends of Eric Hempstead are holding a spaghetti feed fund raiser to help offset the costs of his impending trip to Las Vegas to begin chasing his dream of fighting professionally on the biggest of stages.

Hempstead was invited to be a sparring partner at a heavyweight boxing camp for Gunnar Kolbienn Kristinsson, an undefeated Icelandic champion, at world famous Johnny Toccos Gym in May. While there, Hempstead will train with Luis Monda and hope to get his foot in the door to some bigger events and hopefully get a shot on a headliner card in the future.

This is a huge opportunity for Eric. Kristinsson is coming to America with a lot of fanfare, many feel he’s a possible heavyweight contender. These invitations are not extended to just random boxers, especially those who walk in off the street as Eric did. Walking in to Johnny Toccos for an unscheduled workout, Eric raised enough eyes into earn this opportunity.

Moving to Vegas, Hempstead needs some help chasing his dream. Saturday will get him that much closer as his departure date grows closer every day.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. at Anaconda’s Locker Room Bar. The spaghetti feed is $8 per plate with every cent of the proceeds going directly to Eric. Spaghetti and trimmings were donated by Scott Hatcher at Locker Room, Jack “Gazooni” Moreni and yours truly.

During dinner, several auction items will be available for bidding including boxing memorabilia donated by Chris Eamon, metal sign artwork by Ryan Pesanti, several randomly donated items and one-of-a-kind signed items — gloves, trunks and shoes — from Hempstead himself.

If you can’t make the event, Hempstead has a gofundme page set up. Click here https://www.gofundme.com/ystmc7hk to donate.

Anaconda’s Ed McCarthy was the coolest guy you knew

IMG_1989Word was spread today from his family that Anaconda’s own Ed McCarthy has passed.

In a different time when mailmen could actually come to your front door and hold a conversation or even sit down on the other side of the plank and have a few during their break,he was the guy who made your day better.

Even when he retired from the rigors of his job at the Anaconda Post Office, he regaled anyone who would listen with stories of his time on this earth.

And nobody turned a deaf ear.

He was the kindest human around, and probably the funniest as well. And he needed that humor to cope with the shenanigans associated with the political scenery his wife Bea endured as a democratic Montana State Legislator and Board of Regents member.

In 1965, they began a world-renown St. Patrick’s Day party at their home that grew larger by the year. it started in their living room then spilled out to the streets and alley on Anaconda’s west end. Their final party in 2005 brought tears but also allowed the family to enjoy some special time with one another–even if it was only so Ed wouldn’t have to save a year to replace the contents of his private stash.

The McCarthy’s made the ugliness of political races go away once their doors opened.  Every political party, incumbent or ones seeking office — they all made sure the McCarthy party was on the campaign trail. You see rubbing elbows with the enemy was far easier to do while looking at the history in pictures the couple had gathered in the basement and throughout the home. Plus, a negative review from those at the party may as well have been a death sentence to your chances for election.

I was too young to regularly partake until the 1998 party, when I began working for Roach and Smith Distributors (now Summit Beverage). The beer we would deliver leading up to the event was magical. Tapped kegs in the garage, back patio and basement and making sure Ed’s beer fridges in his sanctuary were full took hours. Even when the party stopped, if Ed’s garage door was open and you didn’t stop he considered it an insult.

When the days beer distributors had to stop direct delivery to non-businesses came, I remember meeting Ed at Town Pump to deliver the cases upon cases of on-sale Rainer to his garage that he purchased. One, because he was such a nice man and two, the payoff in suds and conversation was well worth the time.

Whenever you’d cross paths with Ed during his afternoon touch, he’d greet you like a long-lost family member – even when you had just talked his ear off the day before.

When I was covering Ed’s grandson Triston as a four-year starting quarterback for the Copperheads or a rocket-firing lefty for the A’s, the conversation always stayed on point and positive — even when some of those years produced anything but.

In fact during any one of our discussions, I don’t recall him ever saying a bad word about anyone or anything. How is that possible?

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His appearances in the St. Patrick’s Day parades here in Anaconda lit up the eyes of children throughout the route. He’d distribute bags and bags of assorted candies then put his younger Hibernians to bed at the AOH afterwards.

Simply put, I don’t know if there’s been another ambassador for Anaconda who has brought more kind words to the community. Everyone loved Ed.

His church, Hibernians and Anacondans will all be at a loss, but you can guarantee the sadness will be saturated in joy once the stories start flowing. He was a true gem of a man, and every day of his life was one to be cherished.

Slainte buddy. I’m going to tip some of that frosty Rainier goodness back tonight in memory of a guy who cannot and will not be replaced.

House Bill 114 will crush the dreams of Montana public schools

First, I hate politics. I’m a former sports reporter/editor turned radio play-by-play hack, thus I prefer the certainty of a contest played out mano-a-mano instead of having politicians only voting for ones party be the end result of a conflict.  House Bill 114, introduced by Mike Miller (R) of Helmville, is exactly what I despise about politics.

HB114 was drafted for one sole purpose: to stick it to Anaconda. In short, the Bullock administration and his Montana Department of Revenue feel School District 10 is spending TIFID money captured from the Dave Gates Generation Station (NorthWestern Energy) in Mill Creek illegally.

If it’s illegal, then by all means put a stop to it. However, it appears it may not be illegal after all – even when terms like “Double Taxation” get thrown around as a scare tactic to Deer Lodge County residents. If what SD10 was doing with their cut of TIFID funds was illegal, why is the DOR so adamant on changing the laws set forth in HB114? I’ll tell you why, because they hate the way Anaconda has planned to spend their money. Period.

The DOR vehemently disagrees with Anaconda using TIFID money to renovate Mitchell Stadium – the current home of the Copperheads’ football and track and field teams. So much so they took SD10 to court in October of 2012 only to have Judge Ed McLean rule the DOR “lacked legal standing” to bring the case forward as it had not been harmed by the alleged misuse of funds.

When then DOR deputy director Alan Puera said under oath in 2012 “The TIFID is intended to build infrastructure for an industrial district, not to build football stadiums for the school district off budget,” and when the now Montana Budget Director Dan Villa told me in July of 2012, “My tax money will never go to building a football stadium,” I had a feeling what was in store for Anaconda. Since they couldn’t legally prove impropriety, they would resort to the next best situation – change the law.

Now, SD10 must hurdle Montana giants NorthWestern Energy’s “double taxation” claims and the DOR with HB114 if they want to use money the Office of Public Instruction already deemed “legal and entitled use” of TIFID funds.

And according to an April 3, 2014 document published on the DOR Web site, 45 other TIFs – categorized by either Industrial or Urban Renewal – list some sort of revenue received by local schools within their respective districts. They aren’t just taking this fight to Anaconda, this bill will have significant repercussions to public schools statewide.

Mitchell Stadium, along with many other buildings in Anaconda, is in desperate need of repairs. And no matter what people think, it IS a school building. The proposed construction was to be about $5 million, a drop in the bucket in my opinion to return the grandeur and glory to a staple of our community that has deteriorated over time. However, some opinions state the lack of use of the facility doesn’t equate to that sum of money. Tell that to Butte High fans about Naranche Stadium.

Yes, Naranche was revitalized with TIFID funds just in time to play host to the Bulldogs – the 2012 Class AA State Championship football team. Being in that facility on Friday night, Nov. 16, for the state championship did it for me. What an atmosphere!

Tell Butte High or its fans a football stadium isn’t worth the money. Some places cannot be measured by solely using a price tag. (Here’s a story I did about Naranche Stadium in 2012)

When asking Rep. Miller why he was introducing HB114 via Twitter, his response was, “Follow the law!” and “My understanding is that there are a couple districts that do not do it the way the rest of the districts do.”

And what I found most alarming was Rep. Miller doesn’t even specifically know why he’s introducing HB114. I would think if you want change – a change that alters the way the law reads and is adhered to – you must feel pretty strongly against the way it’s been done in the past.

So why is Rep. Miller even introducing HB114? I’ll tell you why, someone told him to. This year he’s sponsoring Bills for two separate hunting measures, a revised tax law related to pollution control and a revision to the TIFID laws for Montana schools. Some wide range, I’d say.

If as a representative you want to remove the stigma of dirty politics, you may want to at least be schooled on the reasons you are asking for TIFID reform for Montana school districts.

HB114 would likely be a death sentence for Anaconda schools, and it looks as though a representative with an ulterior agenda with some friends in high, or low as it were, places may be playing the executioner.

Why Dave McLean’s misdeeds are his, and his alone

First of all, sorry for the language that follows in this blog. I wish I was more eloquent when it comes to matters of the heart. Deep breaths and hit send …

Dave McLean embezzled money from his Anaconda law firm.

Well, that’s what the headline should have read after it was released he was being suspected of misappropriating client funds at his law firm. Instead, the salacious, the wicked, the dumpster fire known as the Montana Standard – a rag I wouldn’t line my dog kennel with for not to sully the reputation of very shit being placed upon it run by organization, Lee Enterprises, famous for restaffing legends and redistributing those funds to line the pockets of corporate fat cats – thought differently. (STORY HERE)

In a way to bring more attention to the story, they lumped Dave’s daughter-in-law, the Lt. Gov. of Montana Angela McLean, into the story. You see, when you can’t sell a newspaper with misspelled and half-assed reported stories, it’s much easier to go for the throat of another.

I used to be in the newspaper business as a highly-opinionated scribe, once even employed by the Butte-based publication, but I still cannot see the use of this headline. It’s over the top even for sensationalist reporting.

The Montana Standard, and other dailies throughout Montana, not only threw the bus on top of the Lt. Gov, they may as well have listed her as an accomplice with the unquestionably-vague headline. Dave McLean took money from his own clients, something that even he knows is reprehensible. And all Angela McLean has done is have the man as a father-in-law.

Here is the headline from the Montana Standard:

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And from the Great Falls Tribune:

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What’s worse, the Tribune ran a photo of the Lt. Gov. in the article. Really tasteful. Maybe instead of trashing an innocent politician they could use their time better studying correct grammatical prose. It’s “Lt. Gov.” not “Lt. gov” you mindless twits.

As a former reporter, it’s imperative to make the professional connection between Dave McLean the lawyer and Angela McLean the Lt. Gov. in the story. But you don’t do it in a headline when it has absolutely nothing to do with the story at hand.

Let’s get down to the facts of the case. Dave was turned in for the misappropriation by his partner, his son, Mike McLean, once he became aware of the matter in late July. Let that sink in. He had to forget about all of his familial love and loyalty to do what was required via his oath as a lawyer.That takes guts, more than I could probably muster.

Mike worked hard his whole life to return to Anaconda in order to raise his family and build a practice with his father. They accomplished that. And according to the letter written to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel by Mike, everything has been researched to have been above board from January of 2003 to the 2010 calendar year — reportedly when Dave’s impropriety began.

In fact, from 2010 until earlier this year when she was appointed to the office of Lt. Gov. by Gov. Steve Bullock, Angela McLean was a nationally certified American Government teacher at Anaconda High School and member and chair of the Montana Board of Regents.  Would her picture have been published and name been connected with Dave’s crime if she was still telling William Howard Taft knock-knock jokes to high school juniors and seniors? Hell no it wouldn’t have.

I’ve been in my fair share of trouble through the years. So, should the Montana Standard publish a picture of my mother for every headlock I’ve generously applied to those who needed it? Let’s just say her headlocks hurt worse, so do your damnedest.

Mike had to turn his father in for something that just doesn’t make sense. I can’t get my head around it. Neither can he. And making a few extra bucks selling a newspaper with a misleading and hurtful headline like this isn’t helping matters either.

Those who were duped by Dave will see justice – monetarily and criminally. Reportedly there are means to pay judgments from the State Bar of Montana, so clients will be able to retrieve any money that has been misappropriated. Unfortunately that’s not even scratching the surface of everyone this is affecting.

Mike and Angela are fantastic people. They raised a wonderful family in Anaconda and will continue to do so in Helena. Mike has been a good friend and a mentor to me and my family. Angela has been a champion for Anaconda students and is continuing that legacy for all Montanans since her appointment to Lt. Gov. In fact, the only questionable thing I can say about Mike is he probably needs a little help training his dogs how to not jump a fence.

Now on to Dave.

This just kills me. Dave has been in my life since I was a little asshole. He coached my baseball All Star team. I wish I still had the vivid-green coat with yellow trim he paid for every member of the team to have – each one had our names on the front.

He looked the other way in group settings when we were disrespectful little assholes in high school, only to corner us one by one and read us the riot act individually. He tells the story of us thinking we were sneaky while throwing parties at the family cabin on Georgetown Lake, and how he always knew when we were there because of our signatures of times and dates in the guestbook. Wow were we dumb.

He coaxed me into being a member of American Legion, one of the better decisions I’ve made in my adult life. He was a guiding light to Legionnaires battling for better medical coverage and treatment, and disability and retirement compensation throughout the country. He worked for a year straight without much sleep battling to get the Southwestern Montana Veterans Home built in Anaconda from 2009 to March of 2010, when it was awarded to Butte. To date, for whatever reason, ground has still not been broke on the facility. In my opinion, vets would already be enjoying it if the home was awarded to the rightful place here in Anaconda.

Professionally, Dave’s legacy may be tarnished. But after my many indiscretions, my speed bumps in life, my horrible decisions, Dave never judged me. He knew me for me and treated me like a confidant and friend.

His reputation will not be tarnished in my eyes. He will not go down with this bump in the road hanging over his head. Nor will his son and daughter-in-law.

Dave made a grave mistake. Don’t you do the same by putting his bad judgment off on the people who were lucky enough to love him for the man he is deep down inside – the Navy fighter pilot, veteran, Legionnaire, husband, father, grandfather, friend.

Oh, and horrible bowler.

I can understand many may feel cheated or dishonored by Dave, and honestly I can respect if you feel that way. However we will agree to disagree.

This is the memory of the man I will continue to cherish. For better or worse, I’ll never let my loyalty to the guy fade away. And I’d go down in flames fighting to protect his honor if need be.

Dave McLean America Legion


Class of 1993 remembers their fallen

So it’s the beginning of our 20th reunion, and at 1:45 a.m. on Thursday morning, July 18, and I can’t help but think how much time the reunion committee has banded together in order to put this thing on. With the help of our local 93ers, not to mention the patience of John Hekkel at Club Moderne and Scott Hatcher at Locker Room, who both endured late weekday nights so we could forget everything we just spoke about, our weekend IS FINALLY HERE!


Our 10th Class Reunion at Smitty’s Barn

The sleepless night also brought me to think about those who won’t be joining us. One such classmate is Christian Winther, one of our exchange students from Denmark, who sent me a message after contacting him to tell me he is serving in Afghanistan. I’m sure you will join me in wishing him well while he fights for all that’s good and right for his country.

So many other classmates aren’t joining us who hail in the contiguous United States because of work strains or having the trek be just too far for a weekend visit, and all I can say is we will be thinking of you, one and all. Kudos to you for thinking of your family first and foremost, as any good, responsible parent should. Let it be known we will be tipping a few back for the good ol’ times that seem like forever ago (but thanks to Selina Pankovich and her Forget Me Not Photo Archives business, those memories are a little more clearer than ever before).

Then I got to thinking about those who can’t be with us because they paid the ultimate sacrifice. We’ve been an extremely lucky class in this regard, only losing four to death. Clarissa Walner, Joseph Windorski, Marlo Rouse and Doug Garland, we will be holding a moment of silence in your honor. You are not forgotten.

But as I scoured through the numerous faces in our Big Stack and tried to contact our former teachers, administrative assistants and administration, I found we’ve lost a few more over time.

- Anne Carpita, our former Señora and Spanish teacher as freshmen, died following a battle with cancer in October of 2010. I tried to get in touch with her husband, Jim, who still resides in Helena, but I’m not sure my message was received. I spoke with a cousin of his in Dillon and was given an E-mail address, but you know how those change over time. Of course Jim is linked to our class in another way as well as his son Tony, who was married to classmate Jennifer (Galle) Carpita passed away some time ago as well. We pass along our sympathy.

- Bob Gossack, our former science and biology teacher, passed away April 8, 2008, after a battle with cancer.

- Rich Silzly, our former match teacher, passed away July 23, 2010, after a battle with cancer.

- Pierre Tesson, our former typing teacher, among other classes he taught, and an Anaconda High School cross country and softball coach, died June 28, 2008 after a battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).


As a message to their family and friends, please accept our deepest sympathy of the loss of your loved ones. Whether they were our classmates or the men and women who molded us into the people we are today, we all still hold a special bond of graduating from the greatest place on earth, and may we all once again remember what the true meaning of being from little old Anaconda and calling ourselves “Copperheads” is all about.

Cheers to us all this weekend! Let’s have one to remember!

Class of 1993 20th reunion registration form

Oh boy, you are all old as shit!

But if you’re at this location, at least you’ve owned up to it! Welcome Class of ’93 to the second installment of reunions for us, our 20th! By clicking the link below, it will download our registration form via PDF format. It is an interactive PDF, so all you have to do is fill it out, save it as a new document name (for example Reunion.PDF) and email it to brhempstead@yahoo.com .

Class of 1993 Registration Form

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Just an FYI, we are asking that these be sent in no later than Sunday, June 30 so we can continue the planning phase with Old Works and our caterers. The dates of events will be as follows:

Thursday, July 18

We will have kegs in the park. This is free to everyone (except for the dirty hippies who have recently inhabited Anaconda) in the class or even people who want to stop by and shoot the breeze.

Friday, July 19

Registration at Locker Room (kids welcome early, but please none after 6 p.m.) Many have expressed an interest of taking in some Art in the Park from 6-9 p.m., but just know we will have drink specials for all Summit Beverage products from 6-close at the Locker Room.

Saturday, July 20

Saturday we will have golf scramble at Old Works and 3 and 6-mile walk/run or 15-mile bike ride through the Pintler byway and Washoe Park before finishing at Old Works for a picnic. (A quick FYI, if we don’t have much interest in the walk/run, we’re not going to put Michelle through the hell on trying to get it set up.) The picnic will begin about 2 p.m. That night dinner with music provided at VFW will begin at approximately 7 p.m., but cocktails will start at 6 p.m. and last until 2 a.m.

Sunday, July 21

Sunday picnic at Washoe Park Pool will go from 11 a.m .to 2 p.m.

A class photo and family photos will also be available if you want one as well. Babysitting can be set up for anyone who needs it on any day, just give me a heads up and I’ll get you some names.

I’m going to also invite some old teachers and friends of the class, so if you have a friend that may want to come along that was close to us as classmates, bring ‘em along! If they want to be included in the meals, they will need to pay just like the rest of us, plus $12 for the dinner on Saturday.

If you have any suggestions, don’t hesitate to call either myself or Amy. If all you want to do is complain, save it. We’ve met for a year and we haven’t heard a peep! See you in a month!

Dear Rainbows; get the funk out

Don’t be fooled by their promoted delusions of grandeur; the dirty hippies you see gallivanting through the streets of Anaconda, Butte and Deer Lodge within the last week aren’t spreading peace and love — they’re spreading disease and vagrancy.

While the Rainbow Party was founded on the belief of traditionalists living off the land based on Native American ways of life, that typically isn’t the case with this yearly gathering.

According to their Web site, “Some say we’re the largest non-organization of non-members in the world. We have no leaders, and no organization. To be honest, the Rainbow Family means different things to different people. I think it’s safe to say we’re into intentional community building, non-violence, and alternative lifestyles. We also believe that Peace and Love are a great thing, and there isn’t enough of that in this world. Many of our traditions are based on Native American traditions, and we have a strong orientation to take care of the the Earth. We gather in the National Forests yearly to pray for peace on this planet.”

But I’ve witnessed first hand what type of carnage these dirtbags leave. They strip the land of all its natural resources, then move on to the public sector to do the same. Throughout the summer, we will see more and more of the Rainbows clad in tie dyed shirts, corduroy pants and no shoes. And the longer they stay, the more they will do whatever necessary to access food and drinks — especially steal.

Now, pigeonholing all of the hippies into the stereotype of the Rainbows may not be fair, but nor is life. Living a normal life only to escape once a year to attend this gathering is no different than you and I taking a family vacation. However, I doubt you or I would travel to where upwards of 25,000 people gathered — 80 percent of whom were there because they choose not to work or bathe to instead live under the umbrella of what this so-called lifestyle grants you.

For the most part, the Rainbows are a disease waiting to be spread. Once the members with money and resources have gone, that’s when the granolas find more public settings in order to scrounge. And that’s when Anaconda will get bombarded. They’ll wash your windows, sweep your sidewalks or even possibly do odd jobs, but mostly the congregation would rather loiter and hold a cup out for their next pack of cigarettes while the family dog starves. And as soon as you pay one, they’ll multiply. Have you ever been on the border in Tijuana and handed the little shoeless kid a dollar pedaling Chicklets? What happens next is 50 more like him are pulling at your pants to get some as well. And just like the panhandlers here, the second you don’t pay that’s when the trouble begins to surface. In fact, don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning and a handful of them are running around in your sprinkler.


In 2000, the Rainbow Gathering was in the Big Hole near Dillon, and all they did was leave rubble in their wake. Sure, if you look on their Web site you see random letters of appreciation from anonymous-at-best sources, however there is no mention from groups and populations who have had to deal with the infestation of these people.

I worked as a beer delivery driver for Summit Beverage at that time, and trying to protect our property became just as much work as delivering to the customer. In fact, a former Pepsi driver lost a whole pallet — thousands of dollars worth of product — during the gathering when he forgot to lock his truck while he was merchandising the delivery inside the store. The Safeway, McDonald’s and Town Pump in Dillon was always surrounded by these broke, begging bums, ones who destroyed their public restrooms and inhabited the shade their business provides its customers.

Before you get all spiritual on me, let’s get one thing straight. These are not your grandfather’s hippies — the ones you’ve read about from the 60s and 70s, people who gathered at Woodstock or you’re local folk and freedom festivals, or ones who, even for a short amount of time, lived the “alternative” lifestyle. If you remember when they tried to reenact Woodstock, it was overrun by poser hippies. In fact, that’s what the majority of this group is now. They are worthless bums, living off of the next handout because the lives that you and I strive to exist in is too tough for them to accomplish. Instead of holding down a job, these dirtbags beg for handouts. Instead of grinding through the rigors of raising a family — one that your community can be proud of — these heathens populate the earth with illegitimate children and disease, things you and I usually end up paying for anyway.

Many of you want to head up to Racetrack to view what this gathering is all about. Some would even like to partake in it. But I’m begging the kids around here to stay away. The Rainbows are a filthy bunch of non-conformants who will do anything and everything within their power to survive. And often times, that means using you as a host.

They pass their wives around for a drink of brandy, even ship their children off into lives of being nothing more than social malcontents. And all because these scriptures of Native Americans tell them to do so.

Somewhere along the way, this group has been hijacked by the new hippie — a downtrodden individual too lazy to conform, and one who has learned to tug on the heartstrings of the American public. And forget the thoughts of them being peaceful. They are a dangerous group of scumbags who are eager to multiply and desperate to find new “hosts” to further their cause of debauchery.

And just wait. Alive After Five, Goosetown and Art in the Park will be a breeding ground for these people. Music festivals are akin to cupcakes and fat kids for the hippies, and just wait until they have to pay for entrance or camping fees in a public park. There’s going to be trouble, and I doubt our police force is capable of handling such a number of knuckle draggers all at once.

That’s why I’ve requested thousands of Butte’s Montana Folk Festival posters to be delivered to the Rainbows. With some crafty signage, maybe we can get them to congregate at the Berkley Pit just in time for us to bury it.

It may not get rid of all of em, but every little bit helps. But then again, they’re in Butte. They’ll like it there.

American Legion Post 21 celebrates Memorial Day with ceremony, honors fallen comrades

Monday’s annual Memorial Day program and Post Everlasting ceremony by American Legion Post 21 and its Auxiliary was a lasting reminder of those who gave and are giving the ultimate sacrifice for our American way of life.


Montana Lt. Gov. Walsh pins Henry Villa with the Air Medal during the Memorial Day program Monday at Washoe Theatre

The event, emceed by Post 21 Commander Dave McLean, began with the Memorial Day program at Washoe Theatre. Serving as dignitaries for the event were two of the highest ranking government officials in Montana — Sen. Jon Tester (D) and Lt. Governor John Walsh.

Tester, as McLean introduced as “one of the biggest supporters of veteran’s in Washington,” spoke quickly and eloquently, leaving the keynote address to Walsh.


Sen. Jon Tester and Lt. Gov. Walsh were the dignitaries present for Monday’s Memorial Day festivities in Anaconda

Walsh went a bit deeper, speaking to the heart of what Memorial Day means to Montanans, Americans and himself, a 33-year veteran of the National Guard, touching on topics such as honor, duty and sacrifice.

Later, both Tester and Walsh helped present Donald Kelley Sr., Howard Hunter and Dale Harthan the Republic of Korea-Korean War Service Medal and Henry Villa the Air Medal in recognition of his service in Vietnam from Sept. 14, 1969 to March 5, 1970.

Then, the congregation watched the Post 21 and Auxiliary Honor Guard march up Main Street to the Memorial Monument for the Post Everlasting ceremony.


Post 21 and Auxiliary Honor Guard

Youths representing several service organizations in Anaconda then placed wreaths in commemoration of the memory of our brothers and sisters who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great Nation.


Meika Boyer and Brennen Blume were two of the many local youths representing service organizations during the Post Everlasting ceremony

Art Ellison of Post 21 read off the names of the service members who lost their lives this calendar year, then burned the orders of the fallen, transferring them to Post Everlasting.

Below is a picture tour through both events courtesy of Post 21. All photographs are property of Blake Hempstead, however copies can be e-mailed or burned to disc upon request. Please contact him at brhempstead@yahoo.com for any and all requests.

Local organizations, businesses make upcoming Stand Down a success

Dave Baker barbershop

Dave Baker, left, of Golden Age Barbershop in Anaconda


Without the help of local organizations, businesses and volunteers, the Anaconda Vets on Vets Stand Down wouldn’t be a success.

But because Southwestern Montana contains a significant amount of families with military members including a large number of veterans, those who are giving their time to the third annual event understand the services provided at the Stand Down are top notch.

The Stand Down, set for Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28 at the National Guard Armory east of Anaconda organized by Anaconda’s American Legion Post 21 and Auxiliary, focuses on the needs of veterans, young and old, and provides a vast array of services from providing mental and physical health options, clothing and outreach to veterans service officials. And all are completely free of charge.


Ott Lemm, center, a member of the American Legion and Anaconda Search and Rescue, is a prime example of the collection of groups helping with this year’s Stand Down

The events provide a centralized location in order for veterans to receive a broad range of necessities including food, clothing, medical, legal and mental health assistance, job counseling and referral, and most importantly, companionship and camaraderie.

One of the local businessmen eager to lend a helping hand was Dave Baker of Golden Age Barbershop in Anaconda. Although Baker won’t personally be at the event, he provided a healthy amount of free vouchers for haircuts for those who walk through the doors.

“I like to think I’m helping out the veterans,” Baker said, who has been in business in Anaconda for over a year.

And while Baker won’t be there in person, other providers of dental, vision and blood pressure testing, for example, will be.

Admission to the event is simple: the veteran must provide a VA or military ID card, proof of discharge orders or a copy of his/her DD-214.

Doors will open at 9 a.m. both days.

For more information on how to become a part of the Stand Down, call Nardacci at 560-2242 or Campbell at 691-6210.