Ramona and I have been here a long time. The old timers who saw us as newcomers in the 1960s and 70s are dead. For the others we are part of the landscape. We have seen huge changes in perceptions of the Bozeman area and the Gallatin Valley.
When we arrived people outside our region seldom recognized Bozeman. Most of those who knew of it considered it a cow town. And MSU was a mere cow college in the most remote of the contiguous 48 states. How the world has changed!
We meet many successful people, as well as seekers, who elect to move here. Nearly all do it by intent. Only a few come by accident, say a corporate posting or child winning a scholarship to MSU.
The conjunction of our area's qualities; community, topography, amenity, and ecology, entice many. That number will grow and for increasingly strong reasons. Among them none of these values and indicators of virtues can be easily taxed. This has symbolic as well as financial value. Few people, even progressives, consider the IRS their favorite charity.
Here is a story that reflects Bozeman's upward trajectory. It's about people who came here by accident and now want our valley to be their home. They deserve a Green Card.
Several years ago a couple who lived in the DC area for many years moved to a home near us on Cottonwood Road. The husband was from Bavaria and had worked for 30 years in DC for the German embassy. Somehow, perhaps by scouting for a diplomat, he discovered Montana. And he loved it.
When he retired from the foreign service of Germany, he and his American wife, a kind and loving, artistically talented woman, bought their house on Cottonwood Road. Although we knew the couple only a few years, they were wonderful neighbors--and on multiple dimensions.
Alas, after living here a mere two years, the husband developed cancer and soon died. His wife was left alone. That's the middle of the story.
The husband, I'll call him Max, had maintained friendship with a school chum from Bavaria. The friend (and his wife) regularly visited Max and his wife in DC. And then in Montana. They came from Germany when Max was ill. They visited and comforted Max and his wife. The friend promised to look after Max's American wife who was left without husband in the wilds of Montana.
And he did. Among other commitments, Max's German friend agreed to help Max's widow get in the winter's firewood. That's what he is doing today.
The friend is a highly competent individual. He and his wife also fell in love with Montana and especially the Gallatin Valley. They even bought an F 250 diesel, their vehicle of choice when visiting.
This isn't quite as odd as it seems; the friend owns a trucking company in Bavaria. Earlier this week he showed me photos of the summer employees' party. He hosted it in the company shop, which incidentally looks OR clean. Nothing unusual about that; in Germany some Mercedes and BMW mechanics wear white coveralls.
But something took me aback, the flags. High on one wall was the blue and white, checkered Bavarian flag. Nothing unusual, that's where they were, in Bavaria, a major German province. However, flanking the main entrance door were------two large American flags. And on the side wall, adjacent to the Bavarian flag, was the flag of Montana. I nearly cried.
When the truck company owner left for this Montana trip a customer asked if he was coming back. And the owner said, "Yes, this time for sure. Maybe not next trip. I've entered the lottery for a Green Card."
He hopes to sell the company and move to Montana. Apparently it isn't as easy as it should be. I suggested he go to Mexico and come in as an illegal. How many things can you find wrong with this accurate picture?