March 8, 2019
In this article, I will continue writing about the Chuck and Maude Welch family with a thought by their daughter Lucile: “I don’t believe my parents ever regretted coming to Montana although I am sure they did endure many hardships. I guess the good times off-set the bad!” Maude passed away in 1961 and Chuck in 1970.
After reading many articles in Shifting Scenes of the Homestead Days I have to agree. What made these “good times?” It had to be then, and today, because of caring, wonderful neighbors and people who were ready and willing to help with the burdens of everyday life.
I trust and hope that you read the poem by Cub Welch at the end of my last article about his boyhood thoughts. It brought back many good memories of my childhood days.
Now to the article by Eldon (Cub) Welch he wrote in 1983. I will bring out some highlights presented by him, but if you have Shifting Scenes Vol. III it is on pages 265-266. Take the time to read this very interesting history of his life and family.
As reported, Cub was born in Marmarth, North Dakota on January 5, 1919 to Charles (Chuck) and Maude Welch. They left the homestead due to the terrible drought of 1918-1919. His dad went to work for the railroad as a machinist in the roundhouse. At the age of four he moved with his family back to Carter County to the Sam Rumelhart place located on the Ekalaka to Camp Crook Mail route. He started school at Spring Valley. From that place the family moved to the Mort Pickens place in 1927 and then again moved to the Frank Snow place in 1932, in the Opechee Park neighborhood.
Cub reports that his father had lost faith in the land and never owned a ranch of his own after leaving the homestead. Cub finished grade school while living on the Snow place and started to attend Carter County High School but quit school shortly before his seventeenth birthday and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. He spent the winter of 1935-36 at Ekalaka (at what is now is Camp Needmore). He went west with the CCCs to the western part of the state for more work. He served about three and one-half years for the CCC at camps and came back to Carter County in the summer of 1938.
During these years there were no jobs. The CCC provided employment for a lot of young men from the east and from eastern Montana. I can remember many of them coming from camp into Ekalaka on Saturday nights to the dances. This may have been during the summer of 1940 and I recall some of them as being “a rowdy bunch.”
Like most Carter County individuals, Cub was gifted in many occupations which included ranch work, doing such tasks as breaking horses, calving, pitching hay and hauling manure. He shoveled wheat in the harvest fields of Montana and North Dakota and picked spuds in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Other jobs were logging, concrete work, mining, carpentry and heavy equipment operating. He also spent one winter in Borger, Texas working with the Huber Oil Company.
Later, living back in Ekalaka, he had other occupations.
“I went to work for Luther Waterland, Sheriff of Carter County, as his Undersheriff. I later worked for Sheriff Bob Peabody in the same position. I also served as Town Marshall and later as Chief of Police for the city of Ekalaka,” he wrote.
Cub reported that in the 1950s he moved to Libby, Montana and cut logs with Bert Frye and also worked for a lumber company. He worked for the Libby Police Department, becoming Chief of Police and in that capacity served twenty years. Around that time, he was disabled by heart problems and had open heart surgery, but continued to work for three more years. He had to retire from police work as he again had another heart attack.
I will end this memories article here but will continue next time as Cub tells of his war service during World War II and some on his family. I found it very interesting and you readers will also. He wrote another poem and I will present it next week as well.