My Forty Years Scribblin's
Mildred Chaffin

The Montana Journal March/April 1999

A Montanan from the ground up, I well remember life on an isolated homestead and horse and buggy days. No school busses in those days—I walked four miles to the old O'Keefe and DeSmet schools when I was nine and my little cousin was seven years old. I am more or less self-educated, since when I was growing up, "girls didn't need an education", just boys did—they had to make a living. But I read every thing I could get my hands on whether it was considered proper or not.

Having nothing else to fill my time, I married very young and started raising seven children. If necessity is the mother of invention, then I should claim at least one wall in the United States Patent office. "Necessities" bounced off our walls and jumped at me from the corners. I learned about railroad life, ranching, cooking in a hot lunch school kitchen, and how to feed a bunch of hungry hunters while outfitting in "The Bob." Also, I did several stints for the Forest Service.

Clerking in an old-time country store was fun, when there were still plenty of oldtime Indians. And they were the nicest people to wait on.

I well remember the troop trains of World War I that labored up the Evaro Hill and right past our house, and I survived the 1918 flu. Through the "Great Depression," I learned if you can't have what you like, you'd better like what you have! I'd had a taste of writing—reporting for a couple of weekly newspapers and a session as a "stringer" for the Missoulian. When the "Empty Nest" problem caught up to me, I hauled out my bag of memories and prepared to bombard Montana Journal, Bugle magazine and [a] couple other unsuspecting publications. I write of the way we lived and hope that I've contributed to the history of the world we live in, even though in very small way.