My Forty Years Scribblin's
Introduction
About the Author


The following was written for this book in 1998 by Mildred's children.

We never realized until we were married and raising our own families that our mother had aspirations towards becoming a writer. We remember as small children that she read quite a lot, but that was something grownups did and a total mystery to us. Playing was more important.

We guess we were first aware of the fact that she was, indeed, going forward with her ambition, when sometime in the early 1950s she announced that she had sold a story to a magazine!

It was a fictitious story, and she submitted it to True Story Magazine. They accepted it, rewrote it so that she "hardly recognized it," and paid her $75. In that day and age that was quite a bit of money.

Azara even tried her hand at writing once. She spent hours, days, even weeks trying to write a story that never would come together. So it amazes all of us that Mom has managed to write so much. What could she have done if her life hadn't been so busy with other things?

In 1994 the following was also written by Mildred's children and was published as In Recognition of Eighty-six Yearsin the May-June issue of The Montana Journal.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish our mother, Mildred Chaffin, a "Happy Birthday" and let her know how much she is appreciated by all the people whose lives she has touched. She deserves recognition for having dedicated a life time of hard work to family, friends, and community. As well, she has had some unique experiences.

Born in 1908 in Evaro, Mom is a native Montanan. She grew up with an aunt and uncle and cousins around Evaro and shared the homestead life of many others of her time. Her early years of school were spent away from home, staying with relatives because the homestead was too far from school.

Her earliest love was cooking, and she started at about age ten to practice on the family. Her efforts escalated into a variety of endeavors, including school lunch programs when they first originated, a lunch counter and bakery, and cooking for guests at the Tamaracks Resort in Seeley Lake. She also cooked for Forest Service crews for four years, as well as in a hunting camp. Mom wrote and published her own cookbook.

When she was young, it was believed "girls did not need an education," so at fifteen she married a railroader. She spent her teenage years as a nomad (more like camping) in what makeshift accommodations they could find. They moved from place to place many times on a freight train with a minimum of personal belongings and several small children, always a baby included. In the beginning of the Great Depression, she lost her husband to a railroad accident and faced raising five small children by herself.

Then began the next chapter of her life. She married again and became acquainted with farming, riding horses, hunting, and enlarging her cooking skills. All that experience was soon to be put to good use, for she and her husband decided on a life of packing into the Bob Marshall Wilderness. So began eighteen years of wilderness experiences where she heard more hunting stories (and now can tell more), spent more days and nights alone in the back country with her dog and the bears, rode more miles of rough trail, experienced blizzards and snow drifts, and cooked more meals on a camp stove than most people have ever dreamed of.

Next to cooking, Mom loves books and always wanted to write. Over the years she has had some stories and poems published, wrote a cookbook, collaborated on two books on local history, and did some newspaper reporting. You've read about some of her memories and experiences in this publication.

Growing up in the horse and buggy days, witnessing the advent of the automobile, airplane, and many other wonders of today's world, surviving the flu epidemic of 1918, two world wars, living a nomadic railroad life, experiencing the wilderness life of a packer/guide, raising a family of seven, and becoming an author, she has lived several lives all wrapped up in one. We still enjoy her special candies and wild fruit syrups and the garden and flowers that are the landmark of Seeley Lake.

In May [1994], you will be eighty-six years young. Happy Birthday, Mildred Chaffin, from your offspring, and your husband Allen, without whom you could not accomplish all you do.