By Suzanne Lintz Ives
The gangs in my high school time were from Anaconda. Hairy girls tucked cigarettes packs into their rolled up T-shirt sleeves. They were tougher and meaner than bear. They were really scary.
One Sunday afternoon, a couple of those wild females ones from Anaconish (as we sometimes called the neighboring town of ruffians), were quietly strolling Main Street in Deer Lodge. My gang and I (five of us) were cruising the drag in my Dad’s Pontiac (the one with the clutch), when my buddy, Dood, yelled out the window, “Hey, look at that! Street walkers!”
That’s when the brown, sticky stuff hit the centrifuge …
Only a few blocks later, the Pontiac came to rest briefly at the light by Bud’s Drugstore with the peaceful Mount Powell plainly in view ahead.
Not a happy or peaceful moment.
One of those broads ripped the passenger side door open and threw Lois Filcher onto Milwaukee Avenue. (Lois was wearing a brown two-piece Jantzen sweater-skirt at the time.)
Next thing we knew, all hell broke loose.
The light changed.
The clutch popped, and the Pontiac lurched forward and died under one of the two street lights in Deer Lodge.
Somebody picked Lois off the street with a dusty footprint on her brown Jantzen chest.
Safely in the car with lots of car locking noises and the car in gear, Lois panted, “We’re gonna rumble with them tonight at the fairgrounds!”
Throughout Deer Lodge, we spread fear and evil quickly, and soon, a dozen guys were signed up for the fairgrounds Rumble which was set to take place at 9:30 that night.
Unafraid and knowing that we had “back-up” (and without telling parents or Sheriff Johnny Wilson), we changed from our Jantzen Suits into Rumble Gear; each of us had a hearty meal; told lies to our moms and dads, and made our way to the fairgrounds in the same Pontiac.
It was dark. Suddenly, we were there, panting and sucking dry Montana air.
Silence. Fear. Sweat. Heat.
The Pontiac’s windshield began to cloud from the panic being breathed into the small crowded car.
The Big Shots from Andaconda (sic) — now in a single, lonely automobile with a 30 license plate — watched through a darkened windshield as a several dust clouds began spinning and, one by one, our heroes pulled their backup cars into a circle, lights shining brightly into each other’s windshields.
The tide turned swiftly, and the big-breasted Andacondites, acknowledging sudden and immediate death, jammed their car in reverse and whipped dust all over the would-be battlefield.
Triumphantly, the five of us in the Pontiac slowly backed from the death arena, went home and went to bed.
(Suzanne Lintz Ives is a writer and a native of Deer Lodge, Montana. The “rumble” she describes took place in August 1958.)