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Know the West

Gone bitten; Target moms; celery phones

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

Sienna Gonzalez /High Country News

MONTANA
An overcast day sent Bill Childrey, 75, out early to the Big Hole River near Notch Bottom in Montana to do some dry-fly fishing. The fish were biting, but Childrey’s morning went downhill after a good-sized rattler, “a four-or-five-footer,” bit him on the leg, reports the Montana Standard. Understandably upset, he started limping home, though he only later learned how serious his predicament was: “I probably had three hours to get to the hospital.” Unfortunately, it’s hard to limp that fast, so when Childrey saw a neighbor’s truck with the keys inside, he jumped in and drove off, not knowing that the owner saw the truck leave and assumed it was being stolen. For several hours, the sheriff investigated the possible truck theft — maybe even a kidnapping. But everything ended well: Only one of the snake’s fangs penetrated Childrey’s leg, and he received antivenin after being airlifted to a second hospital. Childrey said he’s gotten a lot of ribbing from fishing buddies who ask him, with the fishing that good, “Why didn’t I stay and fish longer?”

COLORADO
Forget amenities like in-home movie theaters or fancy gyms, what makes one house in Aspen extra-special – and among the most expensive ever – is oxygenated air. The 15,000-square-foot mansion, on the edge of the White River National Forest, costs $49 million because the master bedroom features pumped-in oxygen. That makes sleepers feel they’re back at sea level instead of 8,000 feet above it.

OREGON
Wearing gas masks, they stood behind a sign that read: “I UNDERSTAND that I will never UNDERSTAND, however I STAND: Black Lives Matter.” Teressa Raiford, a Black mother and the executive director of Don’t Shoot Portland, a local group that works to end police violence, helped organize the early actions of the “wall of moms” in Portland, Oregon. The New York Times reported that after participating in the street protests for five weeks, the mostly white mothers decided to wear color-coordinated T-shirts to stand out. Raiford said, “Nobody recognized them until they literally put on white so they could be highlighted as white.” That just made the truth more obvious: “Black lives don’t matter here, white moms do.” The group’s informal organizer and leader, Bev Barnum, said that when she went on Facebook to urge women to join the protest, she told them to look “like they were going to Target,” adding, “I wanted us to look like moms. Because who wants to shoot a mom? No one.” 

COLORADO
The one-column classified ad in western Colorado’s Delta County Independent was highly unusual. Fifteen inches long and brutally frank, it read like an obituary for the long-suffering vehicle in question, which had survived the teenage years of the owner’s three sons. It began: “The 1997 Legacy is a town car because it will leave you stranded some day and if you’re still in town your friends won’t mind coming to pick you up.” We called to do a little fact-checking with owner Scott Locke, a metal fabricator in Montrose, who reported that the ad was absolutely accurate: He bought one tire at a time because he never knew when the car would quit, and bought only 5 gallons of gas at a time for the same reason. Moreover, “top speed is 60 MPH going downhill.” Yet the car (bought used), had its good points: It ran great in the snow “if it’s not too deep” and got 22 miles per gallon. On the other hand, the car – after racking up 350,000 miles – needed a quart of oil every month, plus a daily “turkey basting” of coolant. Locke said that the newspaper’s publisher, Dennis Robinson, liked the ad so much he let him keep running it pretty much for free, until a man on his first day out of jail offered him $200. “He drove it off OK,” Locke said, “and if he milks it, I think it would last another couple of years.” The sale delighted his wife, who feared that her new Subaru’s value might be “leaking due to the near proximity of the beater” in the garage.

THE WEST
Nevada reader Ron Guidott recently saw two signs that left him wondering about Western humor. One, in front of a restaurant in Teton, Wyoming, warned: "Please, no loose dogs or celery phones." Just as well, since celery phones tend to have such crunchy reception. The other sign, in his hometown of Minden, advertised in giant letters: “Blow Out tire sale!” Minden said he can’t help wondering just how long those “blow-out” tires will last.

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected]tag photos #heardaroundthewest on Instagram or submit a letter to the editor