Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

The Wisdom of Mel

Out 'N The Woods Again


January 11, 2018

Dale Terrillion

If'n you're a fairly new comer to the Seeley Swan area you probably never knew Mel Nelson. Ol' Mel had a little gas station just past Barber Creek road there on the left.

Mel had a small airplane and repaired others. Mel could fix or tell you how to fix anything. Seems like he was a mechanic in the service.

Well sir, it came to pass I had an old antique Case tractor to plow snow with. When lo and behold the old bucket of bolts got anti freeze in the oil. Just enough to ruin the babit on a rod. At the time an old guy in Missoula had a small machine shop and Mel sez he'll replace the rod cap.

I got 'er all back together and sez but what'll I do about the anti freeze in the oil? Sez Mel, you've got a wet sleeve leaking so you'll have to drain out all the anti freeze and replace it with diesel fuel. And he sez it with a straight face!

"You'll be alright," he sez, "Just don't run it in the summer. She might catch fire."

At first, I figured Mel was put'n the shuck on me. Anyhow, what choice did I have? Ol' Mel steered me straight. She worked great all winter.

For some time when I was cut'n timber up the Valley I'd trade Mel some nice buckskin larch for gas on my way home. Worked great for both of us. 'Cause sometimes this timber cut'n didn't pay the best.

Anyway, out back by Mels' runway he had some cull logs he desired I'd cut into firewood. In no time I buzzed 'um up while Mel stood guard. While put'n my saw back in the saw box Mel queried, "You work too hard, you should get a grant."

"What's a grant?" sez I.

"You know, easy money to study something."

"What'll I study?" sez I.

"In your line of work, how about why lodgepole pine has cones," sez Mel.

"But Mel, that is ridiculous, it don't make any sense."

"Of course," he sez, "that's why it'll slide right through."

"Mel, I could never decipher the paper work be'n I don't have one of them there high falouton school diplomas."

"Ya," he sez, "You might be in trouble there. Maybe you could get someone else to help you find a grant that makes sense. There's some out there I hear."

So Mel Nelson your wit and wisdom is sorely missed (except for the pine grant). May God rest your soul.


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