Memories of Movie Stars

As I've mentioned before, I grew up in a small town in Montana. It's a place off the beaten path that most people have never even heard of, and it's great that way. The people who live in the area are generations of families that have passed down the farm, or horse ranch, or piece of mountain land with a cabin - well that's mostly who lives there. The other people are rock stars and movie icons. To name a few - Tom Cruise, Andie MacDowell, Huey Lewis, Ted Turner. I believe the A-listers who move there do so because everyone else in town doesn't give a crap who you are as long as you don't cause any trouble.

I always thought highly of Andie MacDowell due to her philanthropic ventures and thoughtful choice of acting roles. Once she moved to my hometown, she had the desire to just be at home there and got involved in the community. We began to cross paths - as volunteer performers at a Halloween haunted house, at a fund raiser for a small university located out-of-state, and eventually her daughter was taking dance classes at a studio where I was an assistant instructor.

It cracked me up how whenever I'd see Andie and her husband - he was running around in overalls and flannel shirts, no matter the occasion. We had time to talk more between dance classes, and to my surprise I learned that she owned a house in the mountains which shared a property line with a close friend of mine. I ended up making a quick stop by her house a couple times, and she visited me for coffee. She was just like any other acquaintance I had back home. Say hello, have some coffee, catch up on life's happenings. Not a surprise that she was once quoted as saying, "My life in Montana is so diverse from my Hollywood life that it even feels odd for me to go from one to the other." She was just another face in Montana.

Since we knew each other casually, I didn't keep in touch once I left the state. My father still lives in the area, and over the years I've traveled back as much as I can. Dad being a retired farm-boy always keeps up on the small-town news, and has had a few choice things to say about his neighbors that like to stir the pot. I get an update every time I talk to him, and had nearly forgotten one of his rantings until I was watching a Discovery Channel special about the beloved wolves of my hometown. The show talked about a revolutionary program that has been put in place for a pack of wolves to return to the wild, and what a difference it has made in assisting in the recovery of an endangered species.

So back to not giving a crap who you are as long as you don't cause any trouble... Andie MacDowell's property was located within the zone of the wolf rehabilitation program. Whenever a property is bought or sold, the Forest Service requires you to acknowledge that you understand the dangers of living in the area, including the importance of not creating any enticements for the rehabilitating wolves - so they discourage having outdoor pets, small livestock (sheep/goats), or any type of birds (chickens/ducks), and they REQUIRE that you have lock-top garbage cans. All basic knowledge, but if you're from a city you might not think of the simple precautions.

My father's big hubub a few years back was that the wolf rehab project may be shut down because of attacks on pets in the area. His biggest beef was that Andie MacDowell was the front running voice for the shutdown. There was talk that because of attacks on area dogs, the wolves would be tracked and destroyed - before there was an attack on humans (particularly kids walking home from the school bus stop). Over the course of many heated debates - it was eventually revealed that on a particularly cold night, Andie had seen the wolves on her property and felt sorry for them, so she cooked up some hamburgers and threw the meat off her back porch. A few nights later the wolves were back, so she repeated the feeding process, and continued to do so every time she saw the wolves thereafter. It had seemed like a good arrangement because she believed was preventing the local wildlife from starving, and could watch them from the safety of her home.

The wolves became a "threatening and deadly nuisance" the day her family came home to find their pet dogs slaughtered - with wolf prints all around in the snow. A few more pets in the area were attacked in the weeks that followed, but the disturbances eventually died down.

All pending debates were canceled, fliers were sent remind property owners in the area of the best ways to protect themselves, their pets, and property from wolf attacks, and local papers printed a few short articles that relayed the same general messages.

Andie and her husband eventually divorced and she moved back to North Carolina.

The wolves returned to being a sight rarely seen... and the rehabilitation project continues to this day.

You know, small town people may seem like simple folks, but take their words to heart. They don't say much because they say what needs to be said up front without all the bullshit. If you are told you're living in a wildlife area - just believe it and let the wildlife live as they will... You are the visitor.


Post a Comment

<< Home