The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Bear Paw Meanderings


July 12, 2017

I have maybe written this story for you dear readers before. If I have it is good enough to demand a repeat and if you are hearing it for the first time, you will never forget it.

The Hugh Black family came to the St. Mary area of Glacier National Park after World War II armed with a contract to tear down the old St. Mary Chalets. While there they purchased a tiny slip of land just off the Park and started building tiny cabins on it. Every time Going-To-The-Sun Road was open the cabins were full at all times and they always needed more. It got so bad that Hugh Black and his crew were just hanging ceilings in cabins that had been rented for the night with the promise that renters could move in after 6pm.

Good thing the Black family grew to be large as they were always needing housekeepers, maids, and after the main Lodge was built, they needed trinket salespersons and a large wait staff.

Blacks were strong Catholics. St. Mary workers tell of the whole family going off to mass on Sunday morning and the hired help being happy they did not have to go along.

People driving to St. Mary these days can easily see the old family home as it is a rambling log house on the corner heading from 89 into Glacier National Park.

Roscoe Black, one of the Black sons, who, by the way, ended up managing the St. Mary properties until it was sold to Glacier Park Incorporated, was, as a teenager a person who was one of the best fishermen ever to fish the east side. He had been attacked by a grizzly bear at a young age and he was a legend in his own time.

Legend or not, all summer long he was a housekeeper along with his brothers and sisters and expected to get his rooms cleaned before he did anything else for the rest of the day.

At the time of this incident, there was a film crew staying at St. Mary as they filmed “The Cattle Queen of Montana”. One of the stars off the film loved to fish and so it was not even fate that brought him and Roscoe Black together and Black would be paid to take this star fishing. Well, Roscoe got paid much more taking the star fishing than cleaning his rooms so he let them go. Let them go, that is, until his mother caught up with him. She laid the law down and said that his rooms had to be cleaned before he took anyone fishing.

The star heard about that and started cleaning the rooms with Roscoe so they would get to fishing more quickly. That went on for a couple of months while the film crew filmed that epic movie filmed at Lake McDonald.

Oh, and the star’s name? Well, he did gain huge notoriety but not for being a film star but by becoming the President of the United States. That star who loved to fish in Montana was Ronald Reagan.


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