Loose Ends: Monuments to things that matter

dollyviscardiOne can count the number of monuments in the White River Valley on one hand — unless the various and sundry bronzes honoring cultural traditions count. The two large blocks of granite honoring the soldiers and warriors at Milk Creek honors the memory of both groups. The boulder on the courthouse lawn honors the first settlers in the community as well. The sculptures seen throughout the town — the sheepdog herding the sheep, the mother and child in front of Pioneers Hospital, the mountain lion springing in to action behind the First National Bank of the Rockies, and the two or three bull elk in front of local businesses all represent the traditions of this region as well.
Monuments most often are a way to remind residents of the sacrifices of others, while bronze sculptures now seem to be another way to recognize important cultural traditions. Most often they are tributes to those who have come before us and done something memorable in the community. Our large mule deer population that continues to roam through town each day (and also bed down under the pines at night) has contributed to the health and welfare of the residents of this region and yet there is no monument, memorial or sculpture to remind us of their sacrifice. Most likely the increased presence of entire families blot out the memory of the number of venison dinners provided to the local populace during lean times.
Talk to any longtime local resident and eventually a story about some of those difficult days emerges. More than one or two old-timers recall the lean times, when wild game of every variety was all that was available. Often in the worst winters, breakfast, lunch and dinner all featured venison.
“You can’t imagine our disappointment,” one senior confided, “when company came to Sunday dinner and mother could only share our one pot of venison soup.”
She recalled eating so much venison at one point in her life, she couldn’t stand the sight of it anymore. She continued to go hunting each fall and process the meat after the hunt, but she found that she tended to stockpile the deer meat and save it until practically the end of winter.
Another longtime resident had a different viewpoint to offer, after a lifetime of eating deer and elk meat. He pondered it a bit and said it would have to be something that jogged the locals’ memories about the history of the White River Valley.
“A monument to the doe who gave her life so we always had something to eat should be erected, don’t you know?”