The diplomat’s tour

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Here’s a classic column that G. George Ostrom picked out from August, 1970.

If you would really like to learn more about your state, just try teaching 95 other people about it.

I’m not sure how much knowledge my friends from foreign lands accumulated in our three week journey around western Montana, but old George got a fine look through many new sets of eyes. The Diplomatic Tour made me thankful all over again for being able to live under the Big Sky and it renewed my determination to help keep it clean for future generations to enjoy.

While I was wagon mastering these past weeks, it was accidentally learned that this column had won first place at the newspaper people’s convention. My thanks to Mel Ruder and his thousands of readers for making this possible.

After our drive down the Middle Fork Canyon on U.S. 2, Georg Gotschlich, from Germany, came to me in a puzzled mood and inquired how it was possible to play ball games on those steep mountains.

At first I didn’t know what he meant, then he said. “Vee saw a sign for us to watch out for big game but vee never did see even a little game. I do not believe there are any games up there, only the voods and vild animals.”

The Irish ambassador, William Warnock, mentioned to me that Montana might have been longer in acquiring statehood if Ireland had only built its jails out of better materials.

While I was pondering this statement, he went on to remind me that Francis Meagher was an Irish rebel and had escaped from prison there before fleeing to Montana territory.

I hoped to get a picture of Ambassador Warnock by the heroic statue of Meagher which stands in front of our Capitol Building in Helena, but this did not come to pass.

Upon parting at the Missoula airport, many of the diplomats presented Iris and I with all sorts of gifts, such as candy and exotic liqueurs.

We accepted these gifts and put them in a large bag, which was on a bench in the waiting room, then while the passengers were boarding their chartered 727 jet, the overly efficient airport manager picked up our sack and put it on the plane.

The material gifts to us returned to New York but the more durable gifts of knowledge, friendship and understanding which we shared with these fine people will not be carted away in a paper bag.

Iris and I flew to Missoula to bid the diplomats goodbye Tuesday morning and we had Ron Radabah along to continue my instruction in flying procedures and radio navigation.

After leaving Missoula, we flew to the Mullen Pass VOR station, then back to Kalispell by dead reckoning.

Iris has claimed all along that she loves to fly, but I am beginning to wonder. My landing at the local airport was a bit squirrelly due to the winds and when I asked Iris if she had been nervous, she replied, “Of course not, I always have my eyes shut during landings.”

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