Bernie Kuntz: Voices from the past
One of a number of rewarding aspects of writing a weekly column for 44+ years, is that people out of one's past come back to life through a phone call, letter, postcard or e-mail.
For example, last week a 61-year-old woman from San Francisco named Dana sent me several e-mails, asking about an article I had written many years ago about her late grandfather, Jack Anderson of Dubois, Wyo.
Well, I remembered Jack Anderson very clearly and a couple visits to his cabin along the Wind River in northwestern Wyoming. Dana said she tracked my e-mail address down through the Jamestown Sun and had a photocopy of the article I wrote on her grandfather many years ago. Where was it published, she wanted to know? And did I have an original copy that I could spare? The Dubois Museum was including a permanent section on Jack Anderson and she wished to include an original copy of the article.
I pulled my bound volumes of WYOMING WILDLIFE off the shelf, looked through the indexes for each year but couldn't locate the article. So I thumbed through each year and there it was in the June 1977 issue! I suggested she contact the current editor of WYOMING WILDLIFE magazine and see if they still saved back issues in the basement because I did not have a loose copy of that issue. I also promised Dana that I would visit the Museum next time I am in Dubois to view the artifacts and materials about her grandfather who was a genuine western character.
Over the years I have received dozens of notes and e-mails from people who knew my parents, Jake and Emma. Most of them were strangers to me, but it always was a pleasure hearing from someone who knew and liked my parents.
One time a couple years ago I had an e-mail from a guy named Randy who was retiring from the railroad and moving to a place along the north shore of Lake Sakakawea. He reminded me that he was the stepson of a guy who used to work with Jake on the railroad. And then he said he had hunted as a teen-ager with us many years ago in the Little Missouri River Grasslands, and that while we were working on dressing out a deer, a coyote ran by, Jake and I each fired a shot and claimed to have killed it. "There were two bullet holes in the coyote's chest, four inches apart," he wrote. I confess, I do not remember the incident. I do remember the hunt though from 1972. Jake shot a huge mule deer buck that scores around 185 and Randy's stepfather, Roy, shot a very nice whitetail buck.
A couple years ago I had an e-mail from a lady named Marlys who said she lived across the street from us in Jamestown. She remembered Jake helping out many of the neighbors during the flood of 1950. Even though I was only six years old when we left that house to move to a house Jake built on Eighth Avenue Southeast I still could recall seeing Marlys walk out of her parent's house and walk east to downtown. Maryls was in high school at the time so is quite a bit older than me, but it was charming of her to remember me and our family as old neighbors. And she said her husband, who was a carpenter, knew Jake, who also was a carpenter and plumber.
A few months ago I had an e-mail from a woman named Martha who said she had just retired from a school teaching position at a small town southeast of Jamestown. She asked about my brother, Jim, and wanted to know if I remembered her parents, Ed and Emma who farmed near Nortonville. Of course, I did. Jim and I had fine times playing on that farm when we were kids, although I never did know why Jake and Emma from a railroad family were such good friends with farmers from Nortonville.
It turned out that the Emmas--my mother and Martha's mother--were in the hospital together in 1952, and gave birth to my brother Jim and Martha within days of one another. Voices from the past, indeed.