Tag Archives: Butte

Missoula : Much to Celebrate.

I was born in Missoula but grew up saying I was from Butte. Birthplace of my parents and older brother, we moved to Butte when I was eight. Roots ran deep. We moved into Mom’s cousin Eleanor’s home, newly vacant following Eleanor’s marriage and relocation to Oregon. We lived blocks from Nana, an aunt, uncle, and cousins. Extended family peppered the city and, on the cusp of third grade, it didn’t take long to embrace Butte as my own.

I’ve been back in Missoula nearly thirty-eight years. The hospital where I took my first breath became the hospital where, as a new nurse, I had to call a wife to tell her that her husband had taken his last. My memory bank overflows with this and other Missoula memories—those forged in my early years and newer ones from 1978 and beyond.

Jon Krakauer’s Missoula and a subsequent Montana Supreme Court hearing thrust the Garden City into the national spotlight. It’s time to give shout-outs to recent Missoula news.

  • Noting our “rugged outdoorsy spirit,” Thrillist named Missoula one of “The Most Hippie Towns In America (That Aren’t Berkeley Or Boulder).” Though I neither drive a Subaru Outback nor own a Labrador retriever, this designation makes me proud.
  • Big Dipper Ice Cream is a “Best Ice Cream Parlor” nominee for USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. Started in the back of a brewery more than twenty years ago, what’s not to love? Currently number 2 on the leaderboard, you can vote daily here. (Voting ends May 23rd at 10:00 a.m. MST.)
  • In utero blood transfusions—possibly the only successful case in the United States to date—resulted in an early Mother’s Day gift for a Helena mom May 4th. According to Dr. Bardett Fausett, “In little old Missoula, Montana, we’re doing world-class fetal therapy.”
  • Missoula is preparing for another world-class event, too. Our tenth International Choral Festival will welcome thirteen choirs spanning four continents, July 13th-16th. Last festival, Rich and I had the privilege of hosting three lovely Taiwanese singers who still call me “Mom.”

 

Taiwanese singers Rainbow, Amy, & Tiffany at Missoula People's Market 2013.
Rainbow, Amy, & Tiffany at Missoula’s People Market

1974 Butte Central Classmates Janet Finn, Leah Joki, and Karen Antonietti. Then...

Forty Years Later

It is the time of year when many high school seniors are immersed in college applications. Some have ideas about what they want to pursue after graduation. Others do not.

As I worked my way through my final year of high school forty years ago, I knew I wanted to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become a nurse. A Butte Central classmate, Janet Finn, was planning to study pre-med. Another classmate, Leah Joki, had plans to undertake a fifth year of high school in Belgium, then come back and become a film critic. None of us envisioned that, years later, we would be authors.

1974 Butte Central Classmates Janet Finn, Leah Joki, and Karen Antonietti.
1974 Butte Central Classmates Janet Finn, Leah Joki, and Karen Antonietti.

Last month, the three of us took a road trip back to our roots to read from our most recent works. We read at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives at noon and at the Finlen Hotel Copper Bowl Ballroom that evening.

Janet Finn, Leah Joki, and Karen Buley.
Janet Finn, Leah Joki, and Karen Buley.
MINING CHILDHOOD: GROWING UP IN BUTTE, 1900-1960; JUILLIARD TO JAIL; NANNY ON THE RUN.
MINING CHILDHOOD: GROWING UP IN BUTTE, 1900-1960; JUILLIARD TO JAIL; NANNY ON THE RUN.
Janet, Karen and Leah signing books at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives.
Janet, Karen and Leah signing books at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives.

Our audiences were a mix of people we knew and people we didn’t; of folks with longtime Butte ties and relative newcomers. At our evening reading, a three-generation family whom we did not know sat in the front row. We learned that the grandmother had penned a memoir about growing up in China and the Philippines during WW II. The dad, a Golden Gloves boxer, had coached prison inmates in the sport. The mom had worked as a nurse at Saint Patrick Hospital in Missoula, and their daughters—one in college and one in high school—aspired to become an actor and a writer.

Years have passed since Janet, Leah and I were the ages of those girls, and our lives are different than what we had imagined they would be. Janet teaches in social work, women’s studies, and international development studies at the University of Montana. Leah received an MFA in acting from the University of Montana last spring. She recently wrote and performed her one-woman show, PRISON BOXING, at Missoula’s Downtown Dance Collective. I, after a long and fulfilling nursing career, am working as a library media assistant in a Missoula high school. We all have works in progress.

To the girls who were seated in the front row at the Copper Bowl Ballroom, best of luck as you pursue your dreams. To Leah and Janet, our high school English teachers would be proud.

Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives

Butte America: Back to My Roots

Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives
Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives

Often, one of the getting-to-know-you questions is, “Where are you from?”

I’m from Butte.”

I grew up saying this, even though I was born in Missoula, Montana. We moved to Butte when I was eight, as summer vacation was nearing an end. My parents, Dan and Kay Antonietti, were born and raised there, so we weren’t lacking relatives. But being on the cusp of entering third grade, I wondered if it would be hard to make friends.

It wasn’t.

I made a friend before school started, which felt huge. I wasn’t welcomed as in the words of Teddy Roosevelt below, but to my eight-year-old self, the welcome I did receive on the playground of my Nana’s apartment complex was just as memorable.

Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives
Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives

For the next ten years, I lived, studied, played and worked in Butte. I went away for college, came back for the summer, and then after two more quarters on Montana State University’s campus in Bozeman, I was back in Butte to do my nursing clinicals.

Butte was the home I loved. After fifteen months back, though, I was a twenty-year-old ready to get out of Dodge for the summer. In June of 1977, I left to be a mother’s helper in New York City. I had no idea my summer would unfold as it did, nor did I have any awareness that years later I’d be compelled to write a novel based on that summer.

A novel, Nanny on the Run, which I recently read excerpts from in Uptown Butte.

My first reading was at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives, partially housed in the old fire station. As a young girl, I had the privilege of sliding down the fireman’s pole, courtesy of my Uncle Joe. It was a thrill to read my work near Uncle Joe’s old digs.

Intro by Ellen Crain at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives
Intro by Ellen Crain at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives
Q & A following the reading
Q & A following the reading

Between my two readings, I visited Butte’s indie bookstore, Books & Books. As I relayed the story of my novel’s trajectory to two booksellers, I mentioned that my early working title was Nanny on the Run: a Far Cry from Butte.

“You should’ve called it that,” said one of the women. “We get people asking all the time if we have Butte books.”

Hopefully the book’s description will capture readers who are interested in Butte stories. Though my character Bridget goes to New York City, she’s from Butte, and threads of those deep roots are woven throughout her story.

My second reading was at Headframe Spirits, across the street from the Elks Club. I grew up four blocks away. Bridget didn’t live far from there, either.

Home of Headframe Spirits
Home of Headframe Spirits
Headframe Spirits under the watchful eye—and windowed reflection—of  Our Lady of the Rockies
Headframe Spirits under the watchful eye and windowed reflection of Our Lady of the Rockies

Headframe Spirits is a place for tasty drinks and lively conversations. Owner John McKee was gracious when I asked about doing a book signing, and perhaps an accompanying reading, there. It was the most animated reading I’ve done to date, and I’m grateful I had the chance to read some of Bridget’s story in my old neighborhood.

With my parents at Headframe Spirits
With my parents at Headframe Spirits

I’m grateful, too, that my parents were able to travel to Butte for my readings. They’re still from Butte, even though they moved away nearly thirty-six years ago. I’m from Butte, too, though after having lived in Missoula for the past thirty-five years, I’ve begun to modify my answer.

I was born here, but I’m from Butte.