Posted by: Jim E | May 16, 2012

Molt, Montana…Bluegrass Music…And Breakfast At The Prairie Winds Cafe…

Well, here we are in 2012…and I am going to post something I wrote in 2003…it is one of the “best ones” I have ever pulled on my sweet wife Judie…it all happened on during our trip to Billings, MT…so sit back and enjoy this short interlude in your day…this was “two” emails…but now put together…so longer than usual…I don’t know what made me think of it…but here it is…

July 7, 2003, Breakfast: Molt, MT Part 1

To all…We are back from our Montana trip…and trying to get ourselves together…but also trying to write something about the trip…

 Judie, Judie’s sister Becky, her husband Keith and myself traveled to Montana together…with stops in Dickinson, Medora and numerous other “emergency” pit stops along the way…we did many things while in Billings, Montana…a trip to the “Rims”, going around town, restaurants, picnic on the deck, and many things…but the one experience that stands out was the trip to Molt…Jim Yeley (Judie and Becky’s brother) and Keith went scouting out that small town one day…they called back and said they found out where we would go to breakfast on Saturday morning…

For those of you who have never been to Montana…it really is the Big Sky country…when you leave the city limits of Billings, you are out in the country…miles and miles of open land…with rolling hills…beautiful big sky country…anyway, that Saturday morning we left the city limits and drove about 20 miles outside of Billings towards Molt…I couldn’t imagine what this restaurant would be like…or how big the town was going to be…

As the eight of us drove (the three couples and two of Jim and Shirlee’s kids) towards Molt…(the name of the town even gives one pause…especially when we were  going to eat there)…I noticed after we drove for a while, a group of buildings caught my eye on a distant hill…trying to be funny, I said, “Well, there’s Molt.”…Jim said, “Your right, that is Molt.”…as we got closer, we noticed there were about 8 or 9 buildings still usable ( mostly houses and mobile homes) and a few others in various stages of disrepair…and we were there to eat breakfast!!!…as we pulled up to the only brick building left in town it was crowded with cars…we couldn’t even find a parking place because it was so crowded…

On the outside of the building the name laid out in brick on the front, read, “Hardware”…but on the side of the building was a sign reading, “Prairie Winds Cafe”…music was coming out of the cafe…a bluegrass band was playing…two guitars (one of them a Dobro), a banjo, a mandolin and a base…it was great…we had to wait for a half hour or 45 minutes to get a seat but it was worth it…inside were about 8-10 “kitchen tables”…and the walls were lined with shelves…on the shelves were antiques of all kinds…from old games to glassware to toys…the tin ceilings were beautiful…

 Our group went inside to wait and listen to the music…I waited outside and sat on the rough wooden benches in the front of the cafe…there was a man just wandering around in front of the cafe…he was murmuring to himself…he came up to me and said, “I’m from California…I have never seen a place like this. Do you know the road ends here? Right in front of the cafe?”…it was true the blacktop road ended right there, it went no further…He said, “Where are you from?”…I told him…but he just didn’t get the fact that a place like this could exist…and later he just wandered off to his car, murmuring…

 I visited the post office next door…the only other commercial building in town…met some of the people and found out that it was named for a man who gave the land for the town…we talked…or they did, about the problems of those in the country…how so many are leaving and how large corporations are taking over…how foreign companies are getting involved…how their children have gone off to college, got degrees and can’t find jobs because the jobs have gone overseas…how many of them have started their own business…I finally got away…to breakfast…

 We sat and listened to very good bluegrass music and ordered our meal…each meal that had hashbrowns got about 5 pounds of potatoes…with bacon it was 5 or 6 whole strips…on and on…a great breakfast, a great BIG breakfast!!!…the guest book had people from 45 states and a number of foreign countries…

 So when in Billings…all of you will no doubt want to go to Molt, Montana…it makes the maps of Montana, but gives no population…too small I guess…but the breakfasts are wonderful…and the bluegrass music inspirational…they don’t take coupons…but do take to heart the message found on the Prairie Winds Cafe business card…“Get a Seat Before The Boys Get Here…”

July 10, 2003

Flour Sack Dish Towels: Molt, MT Part 2…

To all of you fans of Flour Sack Dish Towels…I have a story for you…oh, wait a minute, you’re not a fan of Flour Sack Dish Towels???…Oh I see, you don’t even know what Flour Sack Dish Towels are!!!…(it is hard to believe there is anyone in the world who does not know what a Flour Sack Dish Towel is!!! )…but I will tell this story…and it might help…it comes directly from Molt, Montana…and the Flour Sack Dish Towel capital of the West…

Let me take you back to the tiny town of Molt, Montana…home of the Prairie Winds Cafe…the breakfast of 5 pounds of hashbrowns, a half pound of bacon, etc…the bluegrass band…and a 45 minute wait to get in…

Because we had to wait…all the others went inside to wait for a table and listen to the band…for those of you who know me…that would not be me…usually I am more comfortable on the outside of things where I can easily escape…for example, at meetings, I am the first to get there and the first to go…the question Judie has had to answer hundreds of times is, “Where’s Jim?”…they knew I was at the event to start with, but at some given time, “Jim” disappeared…so waiting in a confined place even to listen to bluegrass music would be out of character for me…

So during that time, I wandered all over Molt, Montana…as I said, that didn’t take much time…ten steps to the North and ten steps to the South basically takes care of the visual tour…so I wandered into the post office next door…I mentioned in the previous Molt, Montana email that I talked to some people there…we talked of how the town got it’s name (from the person who gave the land for the town)…and about how the town is rapidly losing people…that there used to be three grain elevators and now only one, and it is struggling…how the old high school blew down in a wind storm…how many of the people are moving to the city…and how so many of the kids have gone to college, got degrees and can’t get jobs…and finally, the fact that many people are starting up their own businesses so they can stay here…

Now, that is where Flour Sack Dish Towels come in…oh, that’s right, you don’t know what Flour Sack Dish Towels are!!!…well, as I tried to pry myself away from the post office conversation…the last thing I heard was, “A lot of people have started small businesses, like her.”…(referring to the woman standing by the counter all the time I was there)…”She has her flier up on the bulletin board out there.”, they said as I was going through the door…the woman was leaving too…and as I past by the bulletin board, I said to her, trying to be polite, “Is this your flier?”…she said, “Yes.”…it read,

“FLOUR SACK DISH TOWELS”

           Large 32″X36″

      100% Heavy Cotton

   Hemmed and Bleached

And it went on from there…now this would not surprise all of you Flour Sack Dish Towel experts, but it surprised me…that out here in the middle of no where…this woman was selling Flour Sack Dish Towels…how could there be any money in that, I asked myself?…so I had to stop and ask her about her business…(and I thought, “I would like to get a few to give to Judie and the rest.”…it would be a fun thing from out here in Molt!!! )…I asked how she could do a business like that from Molt, Montana…and if she had some to sell me…she said, “I just sent out the last of what I had just now.”…she told me she has sent out anywhere from 7 to 700 all over the country…Ben Franklin stores, individuals, etc…they just use them as they are or they can embroidery on them, etc…

She told me she had about four Flour Sack Dish Towels at home, but they were seconds and she would not send those out…but I saw an opportunity here!!!…I could pull something amazing here!!!…so I asked if she would sell those four Flour Sack Dish Towels to me…”Oh yes.”, she said…she was eager to sell them and I thought she would go and get them…but no, she gave me directions to her house (this was getting even better)…it was on the Molt Road back toward Billings…she said, “It’s a gray mobile home about 5 miles from Molt. The mail box is on a tree stump.”…I told her that if I can talk the rest of the crew into it, we would stop after we had breakfast…

After breakfast and bluegrass music…we started back toward Billings…no one knew I had been to the post office or talked to anyone…(“Jim, was just gone as usual.”)…as we left Molt I told Jim Yeley, who was driving, “Tell me when we are about 5 miles out of town.”…(it was not hard to find her house…there were no other houses or mobile homes for a lot further than 5 miles!!!)…when we got there I said, “Pull in there.”…everyone of the eight people in the Suburban looked at me sort of questioningly…I told Jim to stop and I said, “I’ll be right back.”…I got out of the car…at that moment, Judie almost had a heart attack!!!…(you know, “What is he doing?”…”This is so out of character for him!”…”I’ve been married to him for 40 years and I have never seen him do anything like this!”…and so on)…so when I went up to the door and as I got there a woman stepped out, smiled and greeted me…and invited me inside…the whole crew thought “many things”…but Judie was by this time hyperventilating…sputtering…and the rest of the crew were trying to calm her…no one had a Valium…

After I paid her for the Flour Sack Dish Towels…I greeted her family, said goodbye to her and walked out the door…she stood on the porch smiled and waved at everyone in the Suburban (like they knew what was going on)…everyone kinda’ waved back but they lacked enthusiasm…Judie was being “revived” in the back seat…as for me, there was complete triumph…I had pulled off one of the best ones of all time…they had lots of questions…Judie issued a number of threats, none of which can be printed here!!!…and I had the Flour Sack Dish Towel flier to prove my story and also came “bearing gifts”…a Flour Sack Dish Towel for each…What a guy!!!..

Someday we’re going back…what a place…and we will see if the food, the music and the flour sack dish towels, are as great as I remember…have a great weekend…

 


 


 

 


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