Red Lodge Part Three: The Town

The title of this post is a little inaccurate, as I also go over the rest of the house. After my last post, Tommy and I finished going through the upstairs drawers and closets. There were a few more letters, a few more pictures, but the big find of the day was a box containing hundreds of old pennies dating back as far as 1909. Maybe they’re worth something, maybe not, but we spent the bulk of the day separating them by year and mint mark. It… was not an easy task.

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Or rather,  it was easy enough but time-consuming. Tedious. It took several hours, but we finally did it, and we sorted them all into their own individual envelopes. The amount of glue I ingested sealing them probably wasn’t healthy, but those are concerns for tomorrow me.

The only spots remaining to look through were the basement and the brown shed outside. The basement had a lot of boxes, a lot of empty suitcases. There were some old records (mostly Christian music, but also Barbara Streissand) and old books, but I didn’t root around too much. There were spider-webs everywhere, with spiders who wove them. I instantly began feeling things crawling all over my skin, paranoia out to get me. And yeah, har har, grown man scared of spiders, but they have black widows (not Scarlett Johanssen) and shit out here and homie don’t play that.

I would have taken pictures, but I left my phone upstairs to charge at the time and I’m not keen on going back down. There are probably some hidden treasures in those boxes. I’ll never know. I did make out with one thing though:

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Because, duh.

The shed outside was also probably filled with spiders, but it seemed safer. The contents of the house were pretty straightforward, though: loads and loads of old magazines and newspapers. Loads of them.

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I wouldn’t be able to save it all, and I didn’t know where to even start. I left it pretty much alone.

And that was that! The house has been pretty well sifted through. I found some knick knacks to keep, some to give to friends. I realized there was a cuckoo clock missing. It was a broken thing you had to reset by hand by adjusting the chains that hung below it; I was hoping I’d still be able to remember how, but no luck there. I found more personal memories and looks into the past than I think I had prepared myself for. It’s been a good journey. It was time to take to town itself.

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There are a few roads that cut through Red Lodge but most are more for residential zones. There’s one that cuts through the back and has a school, and a pool, a hardware store and a general store. Those two pictures there are Main Street, looking both ways. Most of the gift shops, stores, restaurants and the like are along this road, and you can get pretty much anywhere you need to be by walking. Plenty of people drive, of course, who don’t want to (or can’t) walk, tourists coming in and out, people leaving for other cities for work or coming home. Even so, the traffic isn’t bad, and the exercise is welcomed. Still, if I get tired, there are always free horse-drawn carriage

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rides from 7PM-9PM.

Now, it’s still early in the year, so when I passed the pool by, it wasn’t in great shape. It hasn’t been opened yet, so the water is the kind of green you want your ninja turtles to be and not much else. The diving board had been removed, probably so the heaps of winter snow didn’t wreck it. I took a picture anyway.

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When I vacationed here as a kid, I spent as much time in this pool as I could. I love swimming, love it, and I got to hang out with kids my age and flirt with the teenage lifeguards and pick up a tan. I look good with a tan. I also haven’t been tan in probably twelve years, so you would never know it.

Anyway, pool closed, I thought I would wander around and see what else I could find. Like, for example, a theater playing one movie. Which movie? Do you really need to ask?

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I found an antique store with helmets from WWII, guns from all eras, Native American artifacts, brothel tokens, badges, misfired bullets from Custer’s last stand, and so many skulls.

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Did I mention the jackalope? There was a jackalope.

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I continued on to the library. As a kid, I was always in there, reading every volume of the Hardy Boys mysteries I could find and re-reading the Indian in the Cupboard books. Remember the bathroom I showed a picture of in the last article? I opened up the medicine cabinet and there was – no shit – a plastic cowboy and Indian in there. They never came to life. Magic is bullshit.

I’m not bitter.

I’m a little bitter.

But I was stoked all over again when I found the Candy Emporium. This candy shop is ridiculous. Not only does it have all kinds of traditional candy bars and chewy snacks like 100 Grand and Starbursts, they have dozens of buckets filled with all kinds of taffy and hard candies and fruit candies. Grab a bag. It’s $7.99 a pound. I spent $43 fucking dollars and I don’t even feel a little bad.

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Once I was loaded up on diabetes fuel, I decided it was far past time for an ice cream sundae. I’ve talked about this before, but directly above the candy shop was an old-school ice cream parlor filled with tons of old photographs and Coca-Cola merchandise, a lever-action cash register and a machine that dispensed Coke in glass bottles, something I had never seen in Alaska. My grandfather and I used to go there all the time. I go outside and look for the staircase next to the candy shop that would take me up.

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What…what the hell?! They closed?! And I had given myself a hankering for ice cream that now was plaguing me. I was deeply dismayed. I wanted to sit on the little stools again and buy Coke in a glass bottle just for the hell of it and take a picture of the cash register.

I kicked at the street and headed back home. There was a shop called Scoops that sold ice cream, so I decided to head in there.

There were booths and tables, but no stools. I saw the ice cream selection and got Cookies and Cream from the nice young lady working. Then I… I looked around a bit.

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They had stools after all! And Coke in glass bottles! And that cash register! It turned out they hadn’t closed, but simply relocated and a shock of childish glee coursed through me.

I took my candy home, and my ice cream, sat at the table for a while and listened to the thunder storm I had just missed being caught in (I love listening to the rolling thunder down here), and just relaxed. It was a good day.

After a while the weather calmed down. I started writing this. Now I’m on my way to take a young man up on a drinking contest at the bar. There will be live music and good times, and even though the sheriff side-eyed Tommy and me pretty hardcore our first night in there, it should be fine.

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I think I’m gonna buy me a t-shirt from this place, something I almost never do.

And finally, for putting up with my posts about little ol’ Red Lodge, a place with overwhelming family and personal history, here’s a red-breasted robin, singing spring/summer in and generally not giving a damn.

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