Today the boys and I woke up early and set off from Deerlodge, Montana headed for Wyoming. I was born and raised in Wyoming and almost all of my family lives there still. We are going Camping in the Tetons for a week with one of my brothers and my Mom. Dave lives in Basin which is near Shell, the little town from my boyhood.
Shell is a little town at the base of the Bighorn Mountains. When I moved to Shell in fifth grade, there were 50 people in town and the little red one room school house was still up and running. It had one very pretty teacher who stayed in the little house right next to the school and there were fifteen students from kindergarten to fifth grade. I could ride my bike through the little town streets to the school in the fall and spring and trudge through snow in my moonboots pulling my sled during the winter.
I had two best friends during my years in Shell their names were Jimmy Alexander and Tom Wallin. Together we explored the area around Shell. We camped in the forested areas around Shell Creek and even in the mountains. We rode our bicycles and later motorcycles all over the country around Shell. We shot bows and arrows, built tree houses, swam in the canal and reservoir, hunted for fossils, built and walked on VERY tall stilts, peeked at Playboys, built enormous bon fires, snuck out at night to ride around town and basically lived the life of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
I have never forgotten those wonderful days in Shell or the friends I shared them with. The boy I was shaped the man I am.
Jimmy, Tom, and myself were all born in 1967. Jimmy and Tom both died two months apart in 1988 when we were all nineteen years old and they are buried side by side. I walked the little streets of Shell today with my own boys and teared up multiple times as I mourned the boys they were and the sons they never had.
My oldest son is named James Thomas.
I miss you guys.