Montana 1864...the other story
Ken Egan, executive director of Humanities Montana, came to Eureka recently to give a presentation on his latest book Montana 1864, to talk with some classes at the middle school about Montana history and to meet with the Eureka Book Club. The club members had read the book and always look forward to having a discussion with the author. It's hard to say what Ken thought before arriving in the Tobacco Valley as he had never been to this part of Montana before.
Ken works in Missoula these days although he spent many years on the east side of the state. I suspect he thought it would be a rather end-of-the-road kind of town with not much going on. When he sat with the book club members on Wednesday evening, he discovered what an amazing community we actually have here. There was Christie who had brought along a copy of Montana Outdoors magazine with an article about Granville Stuart. And Dixie who had recently returned from a trip to China and Borneo. Tammie gave us the names of all the Native American nations that had been in Montana and there was a lively discussion about how to pronounce Piegan. Between travels and knowledge and experiences, the group proved to be as interesting to Ken Egan as he was to the club members. At one point, he raised the question, "Is this group typical for Eureka?" It's never easy to say what typical means. I'm not sure what typical for Eureka or the Tobacco Valley would actually be. Were the individuals around the table Wednesday evening typical? There were some who had been born in the valley, some who had moved here recently and some who had lived here for the majority of their lives. A few live in Trego, a few in Fortine and the rest in and around Eureka. Some work and some are retired. Please don't even raise questions of politics or religion because the group is all across the board. Maybe they are typical in that they present a good cross-section of the community. The Eureka Book Club has been around for nearly twenty years now, meeting monthly at different homes except in August when the meeting is held at Dickey Lake. Books are selected by members about every six months and there is an attempt at diverse categories: Montana author, classic, biography, poetry, non-fiction etc. I suppose the Eureka Book Club is as typical as any other group here in the valley whether it's the Ten Lakes Snow Mobile Club or the NRA. It's a group of people with shared interest getting together to enjoy what they like doing.
About the Author: Rita Collins. I am a believer in the power of community and for now I call the Tobacco Valley home. I have lived in nine states and three counties and this community here amazes me - how people reach out to neighbors and even travelers. I've never lived in a place that demonstrates people caring for each other so well. And I've never lived in a place that has such a high percentage of talented musicians and artists. I work with the the Sunburst Community Service Foundation, a nonprofit that began in Eureka twenty years ago and now serves numerous communities in western Montana. And I just started a new business, St. Rita's Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary. I never could have imagined life being this exciting in my sixth decade.