The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Dr. Chip Halverson
Guest Column 

Dr. Halverson Makes House Call To His Roots


During my recent trip home to Glasgow in mid-November, I realized my visit was too short but nevertheless full of activities and fun. As a result, I wanted to send a note and say Glasgow was such a great place to grow up!

I spent a year teaching and coaching in Glasgow in 1992 after undergrad but other than that, my family and I have only been back a few times for a holiday or reunion. I had no idea how much fun I would have seeing people again, from the cowboy I rode with on the 1989 Montana Centennial Cattle Drive 25 years ago to the neighborhood friend, who I hadn't seen since 1983. The best part was, for the first time in a long time, I didn't have any plans, mostly impromptu meetings, and enough time to enjoy the moment of not being on a schedule.

The reason for my visit was threefold. First, my good friend and classmate, Greg Liebelt, was coaching the Scotties and I wanted to see a game and support the program. I've only attended one other game in over 20 years, so I figured it was time. Since I was already going to be in Polson for my monthly satellite clinic visit, I decided to dust off my old Scottie coat and sneak over for the playoff game. I have followed the program the past few years and have been impressed with how the program continues to grow. It was an exciting game to watch. I also enjoyed catching up with several other Scottie coaches and getting updates on the upcoming seasons. Go SCOTTIES! After the game I went to use the bathroom at GHS since the stadium bathroom had been already cleaned and locked while I was busy chatting. I especially wanted to see a photo of my role model and hall-of-famer, Jim Clowes, who inspired me in my youth.

Additionally, my grandfather's 95-year-old cousin, who lives in White Earth, N.D., prompted my return. The last time I called him on the phone, he was 91 and his wife answered and said he needs to finish mowing the lawn before he could talk. A few days after the football game, my visit found him on the family farm with a new blanket of snow on the ground. Unfortunately, his wonderful wife, Leona, unexpectedly passed away two months ago. Twenty three years had passed since we first compared and shared genealogy notes about our family and their pilgrimage from Norway to New York, then to Minnesota, on to North Dakota and finally Eastern Montana. Actually, his father stayed in North Dakota and my great-grandfather, Henry, left for Northeastern Montana in 1927. A special treat was meeting his daughter, Nancy, again after over 40 years.

For you WWII history buffs, you can find an article in the "GI Journal" or the May 2013 issue of "North Dakota Living " about Clifford Halvorson (yes, Halvorson as our North Dakota relatives spell it OR not ER) and his harrowing story as one of the "Iron Men of Metz." I knew he was in the war but had no idea he was awarded the Silver Star for heroism and distinguished himself in an epic battle in France. Equally impressive were his stories about my great-grandfather, his uncle, my grandfather and his first cousin who worked during the depression in the Civil Conservation Corp (CCC) and Work Progress Administration (WPA) during the depression. It is hard to describe what a rare opportunity it is to sit with someone who is still so sharp in mind and capable of recalling so much American history. I felt like I was sitting in class again with my history teacher, Mr. Sullivan. I would not be surprised if Clifford surpasses his uncle Henry, who lived to be 101.

When my family, friends, and patients heard I'd be in the area, I was encouraged to give a free community health talk in Glasgow. Since I give talks around the country, I was told, "You need to come over here and remember your roots."

The Cottonwood Inn, my first official job site 30 years ago when I was a seasonal maintenance boy, hosted the event. Along with my stories about working hard, getting along with people and turning a bad situation into something positive, my children, age 10, 13 and 16, can probably recite my Cottonwood work stories. How I was given a sledgehammer one day and instructed to take out a footing and a portion of the sidewalk by myself. After several hours on the job and to my disgust, my boss had a tractor from Farm Equipment come over the hill and finish the job. I remember chuckling when it took the tractor some time to finish the job due to the excess rebar and deep footing. More importantly it felt good to return and give back to the people and community that helped raise me and contributed to my success as a naturopathic physician in big and small ways. I was surprised by the number of people who turned out for the talk, and like weddings and graduations, you never get to visit as much as you like.

The health of your family and close friends is an important thing in life. Indeed, I have a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.

So a few side notes on how much fun I had while in the area and what a special place Montana is in general. During my visit I went downtown to purchase a Scottie sweatshirt for a good friend who makes it back to Glasgow even more infrequently than I do. From the time I parked and then purchased the sweatshirt at D&G and walked to the post office and returned to my car it took over 2.5 hours. I can't even count the people I ran into, some I had not seen for nearly 30 years.

I was impressed with all the new businesses downtown and expansions of others. It seems like Glasgow is thriving. By the time I got to the Children's Museum to see the exotic animal exhibit, it was closed. For a moment, I thought I was back in Portland when I saw some of the new businesses' signage or heard about affordable daily flights to Billings with a new airline, the health food store Herbs and Things, Yoga and Photography Studios and an Art Gallery downtown. Later I visited a trendy deli, and much to my delight, ran into an old classmate, who is the owner. Equally impressive was to see the next generation of families running and expanding businesses that date back many decades. Times have certainly changed in Glasgow and I can see why people are returning to visit more often.

Just when I thought I would stop running into people, on my way to North Dakota I stopped in Wolf Point to use the restroom and ran into an old friend and got an update on an old AAU wrestling coach who now lives near Portland. Later, I needed to call and check in on a patient and found out right around Poplar, no cell service was available. I had 10 minutes until I needed to make a call, and with pay phones now almost non-existent, I stopped by Poplar City Hall to consider other options. I was reminded of Montana hospitality when the woman in the office offered to let me use her cell phone. After the call, we discovered she knew some of my Poplar friends from the days when Glasgow hosted the state student council convention in 1984 and a friend from my days at Concordia College. To top it off, she attended grade school with my younger sister. Just another "small world" Montana story to add to the list. My family is used to these meetings by now.

I know a lot of us still read The Courier. Hopefully this short glimpse of my experience will encourage out-of-town readers to return to Glasgow and catch up before too many more years or decades pass by.

Dr. Chip Halverson grew up in Glasgow and is a licensed naturopathic physician with clinics in Polson, Mont., and Portland, Ore.


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