This is neither the Original nor the Belmont nor the Orphan Girl. It might be the Anselmo, but I am fairly sure it is not the Bell Diamond. My father calls them head frames, but my brother (the photographer) calls them gallus frames the way I do. Some in Butte, Montana called them orphan and widow makers because these frames were used to lower the miners down into the precious metal mines. A mile high and a mile deep is the claim to fame. All of them make for their own sort of ghost town. Mining for copper stopped in Butte some time ago. Butte’s open pit is now a Superfund site, but that is another story.
The Bell Diamond was lit a couple years ago in memory of the O’Keefe family and their ancestors, the Hickeys, who founded and named what was to become the world’s largest open-pit copper mine at one time. Our great-great ancestors deep into the gold and silver rush didn’t see a future in copper so the mine was sold to Marcus Daly for a tidy 1800’s sum.
I think about Michael Hickey. Back in his day he couldn’t have imagined what his discovery of this mine would become. What, today, do we undervalue? What can we not imagine? What in my own day am I overlooking?
Here’s a leap.
My brother, whose photos are in this post, met my kids (what do you call adult children?) and me in our hometown last weekend to eat a meal together at our parents’ house. He came because I asked. What I hadn’t realized when I asked was Butte (his home) was deep into its most celebrated weekend, The National Folkfest. And my brother and his family were deep into that three day celebration as well.
Mike and his wife drove three hundred (300) (Three Hundred) (three zero zero) miles round trip just to sit down for a two-ish hour meal with us. We cooked, we dined and everyone traded stories. We dropped food on the floor; we ate our dessert first. We played a cheating game of spoons around a big kitchen table. And then he packed up and headed back to Butte.
There is much about today I suppose I undervalue. Probably, I move through some days misfocused. Perhaps it is this way for you as well? I don’t know when I will see Mike again — we live hours apart and are, you know, such busy people. Ever since we hugged goodbye I’ve been thinking about shifting my focus, lining my valuable ducks in a row so as to better appreciate what is here and now.