50 Years & Counting

Two weeks ago today we celebrated my folks’ 50th anniversary with a grand party at the Jersey Lilly in Ingomar.  It was a great get-together, and we thank all the friends and family who took the time to be there to honor Mom and Dad — known to the rest of the world as Harold and Belva Arvik.

Finally, after two weeks jam-packed with all the stuff we try to fit into the waning days of summer (including a 10:30 departure from the midway at the Miles City fair last night), I have actually risen earlier than the rest of my family this morning.  Since that is getting to be a rarer and rarer feat, I figure it’s a sign that it’s finally time to post pictures from the anniversary!

First things first, the Jersey Lilly did an excellent job of handling the food, drink, and the influx of guests.  Made my and my sister’s jobs pretty easy.  Thanks, June and Boots!  You’re pros!


Though Dad insisted there should be nothing officially embarrassing at the party — no toast, no dancing, no cake-cutting, etc. — my sister did manage to get the attending members of the wedding party up to the front for a photo:


That’s bridesmaid Marleen with my mom; at Dad’s right are his best man Dallas Davidson and Mom’s brothers Rick and Cody Kuntz.

(Marleen took her opportunity at the front of the crowd to recall a very apt memory from the night before the wedding.  The 19-year-old bride and her maidens decided it was only appropriate to purchase a case of beer and drive out into “the hills” to drink that night; the beer would have to be procured from the local bar.  Because Marleen was the only non-local member of the wedding party, she was elected to go into the bar to buy the beer.  She remembers that the bartender sniffed out her intentions immediately, so much so that he insisted upon loading the case of beer in her car for her.  Thinking quickly, she replied, “Sure.  I need to run to the ladies’ room real quick, but go ahead and put it in that red car parked right out front.”  When Marleen exited the bar minutes later, she retrieved the beer from the red car, loaded it with her girlfriends in their own car, and their car sped out of town.  The other girls asked Marleen to tell about her beer-buying experience, and when she told them about the red car, the hometown girls burst out laughing:  the red car belonged to the ol’ bartender himself!)


The crowd got a good chuckle out of that one!  (This picture is a little blurry, but didn’t Mom look downright fancy at the party?)

Speaking of the crowd, I tried to get some representative pictures of who all was in attendance.


There was Bert Farnes, who lived and cooked in the cookhouse here at the PV when I was a very small girl.  Many a time Bert and I watched the evening news together in the cookhouse as we waited for my mom to return from some shouldn’t-take-long ranch task she was helping my dad with.  Our family rarely sees Bert these days, but even though she’s pushing 90, she made the 160-mile trip from Broadus for the party!  (This photo, and a few of the others below, taken by my sis Sue Gallo.)


There was my own grandmother (pictured with my handsome cousin Beau — not to be confused with my handsome husband Beau).


I like this close-up of Grandma Peg’s 91-year-old hands:  still polished, still befit with rings, still purposely revealing glimpses of the turquoise buckle she wears on her belt.

There were cousins and cousins-in-law:


Lots of little girls:


Lots of little boys:


And babies playing in the gravel out front, where certainly nobody ever spits or grinds out a cigarette or spills their beers — because our life is just that sanitary!


Ingomar was the ideal setting for the party because the kids could just kinda roam free through town.  Look!  The Ingomar School is revived!  … But only for an afternoon.


There were folks outside the Lil on the boardwalk (at far left that’s Vergal, who’s worked for Dad since I was about 10, and next to him is neighbor Swede Pfaffinger, who’s chronicled most of our family’s big events through the years with his own capable camera.  That’s Swede’s wife, Shirley, next to Swede, accompanied by random kids.)


Here, Vergal’s wife Gail is at left, and then Peggy and then Rex — the Pennsylvania-carpenter-retired-to-Sumatra-Montana-who-built-my-parents’-new-home:


Below, Mom and Dad’s longtime neighbor Shirley Redland (at left), pictured with Doris Manning of Hysham.  (You can read in my previous blogs An old-fashioned winter and 5 Special Teachers about what an impression Mrs. Manning made on our family during us Arvik kids’ elementary years.)


Below, Ben has also worked for Dad since I was 10 or so, and he remains among Dad’s most loyal and trusted friends.  Our family is very thankful for Ben (pictured here with his friend Rebecca).


Our trusty vet, Dick, and his good wife Dana.  Dick and his colleagues are such an important part of the PV Ranch crew that the ranch Christmas party wouldn’t be complete without them:


My sister Sue’s high school basketball coach, Mr. Miller (with who he still calls “one of my favorite girls,” meaning basketball mentees, Sue’s schoolmate Twila Cunningham Dean):


And these twins!  So adorable I want to squeeze them!  They were even wearing matching sandals!  They are Jean Hjelvik Lang and Joann Hjelvik McCaffree.


These four boys (Dad is at left) all graduated from high school in Park Rapids, Minnesota.  That’s Bill in blue, Don in brown, and Doug in orange.

PR boys

These guys are the sort of school friends one could only hope to go through life with.  They just make continual, intentional efforts to stay in touch with Dad.  Bill, these days a semi-retired veterinarian, has driven to Montana from Minnesota at least once year since long before I’ve been alive, just to visit for a day or two.  When Bill’s around, Dad always talks him into doing some sort of vet work for free:  pregnancy-checking a bunch of cows, palpating a horse, administering dewormer, diagnosing sickness in a batch of fresh-weaned calves… etc.  We tease Bill because he, a life-long bachelor, travels with a jug of milk on ice on top of the console and a zipper bag full of chocolate chip cookies (which he is very stingy about sharing) at his side:

bill n don

Bill has been a constant in our family’s life.  And Don, Bill’s impatient passenger and a retired engineer for 3M, has never been in danger of bodily injury while experiencing yet another starting-before-daylight horseback adventure with my dad.  (Just kidding, right, Don?)  Because until recent months, the only way to spend time with my dad was to try to keep up with him as he made his daily rounds on the PV.

Speaking of which, Dad finished high school with the dream of moving west and trying his hand at cowboying — and his classmate, Doug Liden (in orange), had a free pass to Montana: cousins living east of Hysham.  Those same cousins Dad first encountered close to six decades ago made it to the party to see their cousin Doug and to celebrate my parents:


Doug’s cousins are the Mack kids:  Roger settled in nearby Melstone, and Marlene and Lenore remain in Hysham still today — they have faithfully attended the Presbyterian Church, along with Mom and Dad, for decades and decades.

So that’s the story of how Dad ended up in Hysham!

And in Hysham Dad and Mom built their family.  Here we are, 50 years later:


Or, in case you prefer an un-cropped picture, because I’ve discovered in my years of editing and trying to make life appear perfect that some folks despise cropped pictures because they don’t tell the whole story:


So there we are in real life.

Congratulations on 50 years, Dad and Mom!  At the risk of this seeming like an official toast… here’s to many more!


© Tam Blake

(P.S.:  Some kind soul who attended the party paid the bar tab for all the drink tickets that were handed out, and my parents would like to thank [actually, they’d really like to know the identify of] the generous anonymous person who did so.)

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