Wednesday, September 17, 2014

You Can Never Go Home Again

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.

I moved to Shell when I was eleven.  Benny is eleven right now.  I left Shell to go to school in Canada when I was fifteen.  Kaleb turns fourteen in a couple of months and Kanyon is fifteen now.  It was pretty cool to visit this little town from my best boyhood memories with my own boys who are the very ages right now that I was then.

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.
Your Friend,


  1. Thanks for sharing part of your boyhood with us.

  2. Thanks for this moving tribute. The Wallin family appreciates your kind words. Kristi Wallin


  3. Thank you for the beautiful blog. It is bittersweet for us but healing to be reminded of the idyllic life you boys experienced in Shell.

    Donna and Bob Wallin



    1. I sure miss them both. If you sent pictures they didn't work could you email them to me at ? Thank You!

  4. Beautiful tribute reminding us of the idyllic life you boys experienced in
    Shell. It is very healing for the parents of our lost boys.

    Thank you.

    Donna and Bob Wallin

  5. Is that schoolhouse also known as the Whaley School? My mom went to school there in the late 30's/early 40's. I have been searching for an early photo of that school. Any ideas on where to look?
    Such unique and beautiful country!

  6. Whaley schoolhouse is out of town and in bad disrepair. It is actually not to far from the cemetery. Shell school is right in town.