Monday, August 31, 2009

Stinson Reliant ...

Today's image is another of Harold Booth's 1934 photographs from the Fort Peck area. There's no caption on the photo, so all we know is that it's apparently a shot of someone who thought it was cool to shoot moose from an airplane.

Judging from the logo on the side of the fuselage, the aircraft is likely an old Stinson Reliant. You can see the words "Williston" and "opportunity" painted below the plane's windows ... two terms that are seldom seen in the same sentence nowadays. The other lettering is obscured by the wing struts, but it might be the word "Crosby," which is the name of another northwest North Dakota town.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Camas Hot Springs ...

Southwestern Montana was once home to a number of wonderful old resort hotels built at the sites of naturally occurring hot springs -- places where visitors could both relax, and bathe in the supposedly-healing mineral waters. Though a few of them are still left, most have been gone for decades ... grand places like the Broadwater in Helena, and Hunter's Hot Springs east of Livingston.

One of the last places in Montana to be known for its healing waters was the little town of Hot Springs, in northern Sanders County. The Symes Hotel was built there in 1929-30 as a destination for bathers, but local tourism really took off after World War II, when the confederated Salish & Kootenai tribal governments built the ultra-modern Camas Hot Springs bathhouse at the edge of town. The building had separate floors for men and women, each offering a variety of mineral water and mud-bath treatments.

The Camas bathhouse brought a brief boom to the town of Hot Springs, though tourism faded in the late 20th Century as the popularity of mineral-water therapy declined. The bathhouse closed in the mid-1980s and now sits abandoned, though small outdoor pools on the grounds still see some use. And the Symes Hotel remains open to serve the handful of spa pilgrims who still visit the town.

Today's photo is an old postcard view of the bathhouse, probably from the 1950s or so.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Montana Face ...

I don't mean to be uncharitable, but I think it's fair to say that these days Montana's university system is probably no better than average. There was a time, though, when the Missoula campus, at least, had a real reputation for intellectualism and academic endeavor, and the school was home to a series of nationally regarded scholars, particularly in the arts and letters.

One of those men was a literary critic and essayist named Leslie Fielder, who taught at Missoula for nearly two decades after World War II. Though a number of his works received broad national attention, here in Montana Fielder is best remembered for a little essay titled "Montana; or The End of Jean-Jacques Rousseau." First published in the December, 1949 issue of the Partisan Review, the piece has been reprinted several times since, sometimes under the simpler title, "The Montana Face." It's a scathing essay, guaranteed to offend a great many Montanans then and now. Here's a sample paragraph, in which he describes his thoughts after moving to Missoula to teach, resolutely prepared "to face down any student who came to argue about his grades armed with a six-shooter":
I was met unexpectedly by the Montana Face. What I had been expecting I do not clearly know; zest, I suppose, naivete', a ruddy and straightforward kind of vigor - perhaps even honest brutality. What I found seemed, at first glance, reticent, sullen, weary - full of self-sufficient stupidity; a little later it appeared simply inarticulate, with all the dumb pathos of what cannot declare itself: a face developed not for sociability or feeling, but for facing into the weather. It said friendly things to be sure, and meant them; but it had no adequate physical expressions even for friendliness, and the muscles around the mouth and eyes were obviously unprepared to cope with the demands of any more complicated emotion.
There's more to the essay than that, though, something that makes it a very important read for anyone who either lives in Montana or loves the place. His key point is this: we as Montanans cling to myths about ourselves and our past, about our status as a last frontier ... and that doing so intellectually and emotionally holds us back. He sums it up in the his essay's final words, which I think still ring true: "[W]hen he has learned that his state is where the myth comes to die, the Montanan may find the possibilities of tragedy and poetry for which so far he has searched his life in vain."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Frontier town ...

This morning's photo is an historic image of downtown Winnett, Montana, taken back in 1916. Winnett was a new homestead town back then, typical of dozens of such places all across central and eastern Montana. The place had a moment of glory, though: an oil strike at nearby Cat Creek in 1920, that briefly turned Winnett into a miniature boom town. People and equipment moved in rapidly, oil refineries were constructed, and by 1923 an estimated 2000 people called Winnett home. The town became the seat of newly-established Petroleum County in 1926.

The boom faded quickly, though, and by the end of the decade it was all mostly over. For the last 80 years Winnett has been a small and isolated ranch community ... and now Petroleum County is the least populated in all of Montana, with only 436 residents.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Longest electrified railroad ...

This is a shot I took a couple of years ago of the old Milwaukee Road substation at Loweth, out in Meagher County between Ringling and Martinsdale. Back in its day, the Milwaukee was a technological and engineering marvel -- the longest electrified railroad in the land. A series of 22 handsome and solidly-built brick substations helped keep the system going.

The electrification was turned off way back in 1974, though, and the railroad itself disappeared six years later. Only four of the Montana substations still remain, quietly standing guard by the old railroad grade, reminders of a failed dream.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Rocky Mountain Cafe ...

I have a friend who's helping update one of the major travel guidebooks for Montana ... and so a while back the conversation turned to great restaurants. That's something that Montana's not known for, but every now and then the state has produced a real winner.

Perhaps the most famous Montana restaurant of all was in Meaderville, an old suburb of Butte that was destroyed by the open-pit mine back in the 60s. The place in question was called the Rocky Mountain Cafe, operated by a man named Teddy Traparish, and it was THE place to eat in our part of the world. Being a Montana establishment, the speciality of course was beef -- in giant portions.

The cafe had a national reputation by the 1930s, and was soon getting rave reviews from well-known celebrities. The famous journalist and What's My Line? panelist Dorothy Kilgallen reported, "No one who has never seen a Rocky Mountain steak will believe me ... but to put it as accurately as possible, my steak was the size of a Saturday night roast for a small family ... And it was the greatest steak I have ever tasted."

My favorite description of the Rocky Mountain Cafe is found in the John Gunther book Inside U.S.A., which I've mentioned here before. Gunther wrote,
... two miles from Butte, in the suburb of Meaderville, is one of the best restaurants in the United States. Here, under the very shadow of the gallows frames and with the dollar slot machines making a splendid clink, coatless miners buy Lucullan meals. I don't mean to sound ungracious, however. I will never forget Mr. Teddy Traparish and his Rocky Mountain Cafe. The steaks are seven inches thick, and cover half an acre.
Tragically, the Rocky Mountain Cafe closed forever in 1961, as the Anaconda bulldozers worked to tear apart Meaderville. It's one of those things that makes me believe I was born a generation too late.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Deal, Montana ...

Today's photo is another shot taken by Harold Booth in 1934, and kindly forwarded to me by Derek Legg. The back of the photo is labeled "Main Street, New Deal, Mont." The community of New Deal was a ramshackle little boomtown that developed in 1934 in conjunction with the construction of Fort Peck Dam. It was a busy place for a few years, but quickly faded away in the 1940s after the dam was completed and its construction workers moved on. There's almost nothing left there today.

This is a great photo, and if you can look closely you can see lots of detail in addition to the old cars that first draw you in ... like the American flag waving in front of the store on the right. Studying the original image with a magnifying glass, I can report that the sign on the roof of the center building reads, "HARDWARE," and that the building just to the left of it is a General Store.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Old photos ...

Today's post is the story of a cool moment, and a thoughtful gesture.

A little over a week ago I was out in the hills walking my dog, when my cell phone rang. It turned out to be someone I'd never spoken to before ... a gentleman named Derek Legg, who'd come across a post I'd made a couple of months earlier about the wreck of a Great Northern Railway train at Wolf Point, back in 1934. It turned out that Mr. Legg was in possession of a series of other photographs of the wreck, shots that had been taken by a now-deceased family relative, and he very graciously offered to send the pictures to me.

A fat envelope arrived at my house a few days later, containing a letter and a cache of old photos. The photos, perhaps from a Brownie No. 2 box camera, had been taken by a man named Harold Booth, who in 1934 had just graduated from the University of Iowa and had been sent to Fort Peck with the Army Reserves. There were several photos of the Fast Mail wreck, and a whole series of other shots depicting life around the Fort Peck Dam site that summer. They're very evocative images, and I hope to feature a few of them here.

Today's photo is one of Mr. Booth's shots of the Fast Mail wreck, probably taken the day after the accident. A steam wrecking crane has arrived on the scene, has righted the tender, and is now working on the locomotive. You can see how badly the locomotive cab was crushed by the event.

Many, many thanks to Derek and Ann Legg for sharing these photos with us.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My place in the universe ...

One volume that few Montana promoters are unlikely to quote when writing about the state is called Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by the noted scientist and geographer Jared Diamond. The book is about -- well, societal collapse -- and the author uses contemporary Montana as his very first case study.

It's not really all bad, though, because the book shows a clear appreciation of the beauty and natural appeal of our state. The Montana section begins with an extended quote by a part-time Bitterroot Valley resident named Stan Falkow, who describes his first visit to the area:
I flew into Missoula airport, picked up a rental car, and began to drive south to the town of Hamilton. . . . A dozen miles south of Missoula is a long straight stretch of road where the valley floor is flat and covered with farmland, and where the snowcapped Bitterroot Mountains on the west and the Sapphire Mountains on the east rise abruptly from the valley. I was overwhelmed by the beauty and scale of it; I had never seen anything like it before. It filled me with a sense of peace, and an extraordinary perspective on my place in the universe.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Small-town life ...

I had a discussion with an online friend recently about urban versus rural life ... the friend lives in Washington, D.C. and he told me that he thought life in a smaller town would inevitably be "barren." His statement was something I'd heard many times before, but it still disappointed me. I know I'll never understand people who think that having a few more restaurant choices is more rewarding than being able to see a Montana sunset.

And even discounting the sunsets, there are wonderful experiences out here. I was thinking about that last night, when I volunteered to help with an evening called "Story under the Stars." It's an outdoor film festival being held on the grounds of the Story Mansion, one of Montana's finest historic homes. Our group gave tours of the old mansion, and then folks set up a movie screen on the lawn. There were hundreds of people there, spread out on the grass with bags of popcorn, and the evening was perfect. A real community event, and a fine time ... and another reminder that life out here is far from barren.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Missouri breaks ...

Today's road is in one of my favorite parts of Montana ... the Misouri Breaks country of northern Fergus County. And it's my favorite kind of road, too ... no freeway can compare to this.

That pickup truck is heading towards one of Montana's very best backroad destinations ... the historic McClelland Ferry across the Missouri River. There'll certainly be a post or two on that later.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Cattle-ac ...

I'm a sucker for a great business name, especially one that involves a ridiculous pun. One of the best is in Miles City, Montana's self-proclaimed quintessential cowtown ... where a place called the "Cattle-ac" is a classic destination for an evening of dinner and drinks.

I visited the Cattle-ac in September 2005, in the company of a couple of English photographers I'd met earlier that day, and I jotted down a few notes about the evening afterwards:
The place was full of ranchers, listening to an Extension Agent or something talk about cattle vaccinations and such. I had a fine prime rib, and enjoyed some great conversation about photography, high-plains geography, European travel, and American politics. A drink at the adjacent saloon followed, and we were the last patrons to leave. It was a great evening, all in all ... a reminder of how fun and rewarding little encounters on the road can be.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Laughing through disaster ...

The Yellowstone earthquake of 1959 was one of Montana's greatest natural disasters, and it was also perhaps the biggest news story of mid-twentieth century Montana. Most of the reportage, of course, was both dramatic and poignant, recounting the harrowing stories of quake survivors and rescuers.

One exception came from Dan Valentine, a very well-known columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune. Valentine wrote a daily piece called "Nothing Serious" from 1950 till the early 1980s, each one filled with sentimental quips and a banal sense of humor that was thoroughly beloved by Tribune readers. Here's how he started his piece about the Yellowstone earthquake, which was published on August 20, 1959:
Even sudden disaster can’t stop American laughter . . . even crushing catastrophe that strikes in a spilt second can’t dull the American sense of humor.

A California woman, Mrs. James Pridgeon, was in the center of the Yellowstone earthquake. She stopped off in Salt Lake City Wednesday with some light side notes on the shattering quake.

Mrs. Pridgeon, her husband and son were in a cabin near the Old Faithful Inn when the quake hit Monday evening.

“There was a roar and a rolling,” she said, “then there was a deathly quiet . . . the next thing I heard was the high-pitched voice of a woman in a cabin across the way who yelled to her husband, ‘Henry get up, there’s a bear outside shaking the cabin.’ ”
The rest of the column was more of the same nonsense, and ended with a line that was as telling of 1959 American sensibilities as any could be:
How could Russia ever defeat a people who can laugh and joke through an earthquake?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Earthquake ...

Another anniversary: fifty years ago last night, at 11:37 P.M., a massive earthquake took place in the upper Madison River Canyon in far southwestern Montana. The quake killed at least 28 people, and caused one of the largest landslides in the region's recorded history. Many of the victims were campers who were buried forever by the slide, which dammed the Madison River and created Quake Lake.

Dozens of other campers were trapped in the canyon for a terrifying night, the town of Ennis was evacuated, and the lives of thousands of others were disrupted. A number of buildings were destroyed, and Highway 287 was rendered impassible by the damage.

Of the many photographs of the quake and its aftermath, I think this remains one of the most evocative. Taken for the U.S. Geological Survey not long after the quake, it shows the shredded remains of Highway 287 through the canyon.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Snowplow art ...

I saw this railway plow last spring, sitting on one of the turntable leads at what remains of the old Great Northern shop complex in Great Falls. Who knew that Great Falls was such an angry place?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Highway 7 ...

Enough of current events and southwestern Montana for a little while. Here's a photo I took several years ago of Montana State Highway 7, heading south from the town of Baker, running straight as an arrow.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Politics under the Big Sky ...

As I'm sure you all know, President Obama visited the Gallatin Valley yesterday, staging a "Town Hall" meeting out at the local airport. I'd been a little worried that our valley's cranky, far-right contingent would end up embarrassing the state, but by all accounts the afternoon went off almost without a hitch. Since the airport is nearest the town of Belgrade, most of the national news reports used that name in their datelines, finally giving Belgrade its official fifteen minutes of fame. I was amused, though, when the All Things Considered story on the event described us as being "kind of in the middle of nowhere, which a lot of things are in Montana."

I was out of town for the day, but drove by the airport about four hours before the event was scheduled to start, and things were already turning into a madhouse. There were designated areas for demonstrators (far from where the president was) which were drawing huge and rambunctious crowds. Separate areas for both sides of the ongoing health-care debate, and I guess the two sides just waved their signs and yelled at each other ... until everyone was drenched by an August rainstorm. As so often happens in Montana, Mother Nature wins.

This is a quick shot I took out of the car window as I was driving by yesterday morning.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Trippin' in Montana ...

Here are some relatively obscure lyrics for today ... these are the final stanzas from the song "Trippin' in Montana," by an R&B songwriter named Anders Osborne. (He's a Swedish immigrant who now lives in New Orleans.) The song, inspired by Montana's perceived status as a haven for the far right, the heavily religious, and the misanthropic, was released on Osborne's 1999 album, Living Room.
It was a hopeless situation
We all knew it had to end
Bow your head and seek salvation
Close your eyes and lose your head

Fifteen men down in this canyon
Breaking bread with all the gods
One man standing outside Bozeman
Flicked his joint and broke the odds

He went trippin', trippin' in Montana
Like the good book said
He went trippin', trippin' in Montana
Living the words that he read

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Red Bluff ...

One more post today on the theme of loss and regret. My friend Courtney sent me the photo below after reading yesterday's post, and it's one of the more spectacular shots I've seen. It's also one of the saddest.

The Red Bluff mining district is a half-hour or so west of Bozeman, not far from Norris ... and it was a big deal for a few years back in the 1860s. When the boom there ended, the largest landmark that remained was a huge stone building, constructed in 1867 as the home and office of one of the region's early entrepreneurs. It sat there neglected for well over a century, eventually becoming part of an agricultural research facility operated by Montana State University.

Some restoration work was finally done on the building a few years ago, spearheaded in part by an MSU historian named Jeff Safford who'd written a book about the region. It looked pretty good afterwards, and more and more people began recognizing the building's significance ... one of the largest and earliest buildings remaining from Montana's pioneer mining era.

And then in July 2006, the building caught fire ... Courtney happened to be driving through the area and managed to photograph the tragedy. Three of the walls remained standing afterwards, but MSU had never really embraced the building for what it was, since it didn't fit in with the agricultural mission of the site. So there was never a real push to restore it. Now it's gone, and a big part of the region's history is lost ... and I suspect some of the ag guys actually breathed a quiet sigh of relief.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Regrets ...

Yesterday's post about the recent Montana fires brought to mind some advice that I frequently give myself, but that I don't follow anywhere near as often as I should. The advice is simple: look at the things around you, and take pictures ... because those things might not be around forever.

I think of that every time I drive old US 10 down through the Jefferson River Canyon. A little ways east of Cardwell there's a spot called LaHood, where there's a fading motel and a couple of other buildings ... but there's also a foundation, all that remains of the hotel building that's depicted in the old postcard below. The "Mountain View Inn" was built in 1928, and served transcontinental travelers on Highway 10, as well as tourists headed to Morrison Cave -- the place now called Lewis & Clark Caverns.

The coolest part of the hotel wasn't visible in the postcard, but I remember it very well ... though the gas pumps had long been shut down, you could still drive under the little canopy and gaze up at the underside of the roof. There, you'd see a fairly-amazing set of hand painted murals, depicting the caverns and an assortment of other must-see sights along US 10. I loved doing that.

And then in 2001, without warning, the whole place just burned to the ground. For years, I had never gotten out of the car to look at the murals more closely, and I never took a picture ... and now every time I drive by the spot I wish I had.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Goodbye to Whitehall ...

I'm sure nearly all of you recall the series of big downtown fires we had in Montana last spring -- three blazes, each destroying a row of buildings along a city's Main Street. The first was in Bozeman, where an explosion nearly vaporized the old buildings; here, plans for reconstruction are already well underway. The Miles City fire also left a row of buildings very heavily damaged, and the facades were soon leveled for ostensible safety reasons ... the lots are vacant now, seriously impacting a downtown already harmed by years of fire and neglect.

And that leaves Whitehall, a little Jefferson County town that already had relatively little to recommend it. Given its tiny business district, this fire caused a far greater relative impact than the other two ... but it also left the buildings far less damaged, so that if the owners or the town cared enough, they could have been rebuilt. But they apparently didn't, and when I drove by yesterday the last of the cleanup was taking place. And now Whitehall is closer than ever to not having a downtown anymore.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Presidential Glacier ...

The big news around southwest Montana today is that President Obama is headed for Bozeman this Friday, apparently en route to a tour of Yellowstone National Park. I'm of course of the opinion that he and his family will be missing out big time by not instead going to Glacier ... which is a far superior place.

Only one sitting American president has ever had the good taste to visit Glacier: Franklin D. Roosevelt, back in 1934. He and his family traveled over the Going-to-the-Sun Road in an open touring car, and then the president gave a national radio address from in front of the fireplace at Two Medicine Chalet. He said, "Today, for the first time in my life, I have seen Glacier National Park. Perhaps I can best express to you my thrill and delight by saying that I wish every American, old and young, could have been with me today. The great mountains, the glaciers, the lakes and the trees make me long to stay here for all the rest of the summer."

Last week, a caravan of vintage vehicles commemorated the 75th anniversary of Roosevelt's visit, retracing his Going-to-the-Sun journey. One of FDR's great-granddaughters was along as a passenger. They skipped the fireside chat, though ...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Libby, Montana ...

I think for many years, the part of Montana that was most neglected by historians and others was the far west, the logging country near the Idaho border along the Bitterroot, Clark Fork, and Kootenai river valleys. The community of Libby represents the essence of that country as well as anyplace: it's an intriguing, Twin Peaks-like little town, one that's suffered greatly in recent decades due to the corporate destruction of its lumber economy. When Libby finally garnered some broader attention over the past few years it was due to a still-greater tragedy: a massive asbestos contamination caused by a nearby mine that's sickened hundreds of local residents.

This photo of Libby was taken back in 1926 for the U.S. Forest Service. The view is to the southwest, looking across the Kootenai River and towards the Cabinet Mountains.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Poem on a lookout wall ...

Something a little different today ... a bit of graffiti I found several years ago inside the cab of the Tripoint Lookout tower, up in the Long Pines country in eastern Carter County. It's the easternmost fire lookout in Montana, long abandoned, and a 79-step climb up to the cab. Heck of a view, too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I loved the prairie ...

Not unexpectedly, quotes about the evocative nature of the Montana prairies are fairly common things. Here's a paragraph from a memoir by Pearl Price Robinson called "Homestead Days In Montana," which described 1910s farm life outside of Big Sandy. It was featured in the March 1933 issue of Frontier, a wonderful quarterly journal once published by the University of Montana.
I loved the prairie, even while I feared it. God's Country, the old-timers called it. There is something about it which gets a man -- or a woman. I feared its relentlessness, its silence, and its sameness, even as I loved the tawny spread of its sun-drenched ridges, its shimmering waves of desert air, the terrific sweep of the untrammeled wind, burning starts in a midnight sky. Still in my dreams I can feel the force of that wind, and hear its mournful wail around my shack in the lonely hours of the night ...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Looming ...

We've had a series of very warm, classically-summer days here in Bozeman lately ... lots of sun, and the temperature in the 90s. But yesterday was cooler, and I felt that unmistakable tinge of early autumn -- a feeling that every Montanan senses sometime in August.

So in honor of that, I thought I'd post a photo ... to acknowledge what we all know lies ahead. I shot this a couple years ago, on Highway 89 a few miles north of Wilsall.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lonepine, Montana ...

What? You say you've never been to Lonepine, Montana?

Well, why the heck not?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The least important things about Great Falls ...

In a post here last Saturday, I evoked the name of the author Richard Brautigan, and mentioned that he had lived for a time in the Paradise Valley south of Livingston. Given that connection, Brautigan sometimes did mention the state in his work -- most notably in a 1980 volume called The Tokyo-Montana Express. Elsewhere, our state appears only peripherally, and in sometimes puzzling ways. Here's a small excerpt from Brautigan's 1967 book Trout Fishing in America ... part of a much longer section that talks about the Electric City and an old Deanna Durbin movie:
I cast out again and continued talking about Great Falls.

Then in correct order I recited the twelve least important things ever said about Great Falls, Montana. For the twelfth and least important thing of all, I said, "Yeah, the telephone would ring in the morning. I'd get out of bed. I didn't have to answer the telephone. That had all been taken care of, years in advance.

. . .

"Fortunately it stopped one day without my having to do anything serious like grow up. We packed our stuff and left town on a bus. That was Great Falls, Montana. You say the Missouri River is still there?"

"Yes, but it doesn't look like Deanna Durbin," Trout Fishing in America said.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chief Mountain ...

OK. OK ... just one more Glacier shot for now. This is a cyanotype-tint shot that I took of Chief Mountain on an autumn day in 2006. I was coming down from Canada and shot this not far from the Piegan customs station.

Chief Mountain is one of Glacier's most iconic peaks, and one of my personal favorites ... partly due to the fact that I managed to climb it many years ago.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Glacier reunion ...

Another excuse for a Glacier photograph! As I'm sure I've mentioned, I worked as a seasonal employee in Glacier Park for a number of summers, and every three years a group of my old co-workers gets together in the park for a nostalgic weekend reunion ... always a wonderful time, and the 2009 reunion is happening this weekend.

Here's my favorite shot from the last reunion back in 2006: a group of my friends stopping for lunch at Haystack saddle, on the famous Highline trail.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Livingston Saturday Night ...

The town of Livingston and the Paradise Valley to the south have been favored homes for well-known literary and creative folks for decades, now. That phenomenon was perhaps at its peak back in the 1970s and early 80s, highlighted by the presence of intriguing men like Richard Brautigan and Sam Peckinpah in Park County.

Another person who hung out in Livingston back then was the singer Jimmy Buffet, who wrote a number of songs with definite Montana themes. Here are the opening lyrics for one called "Livingston Saturday Night," which was written for the soundtrack of an under-appreciated 1975 movie called Rancho Deluxe. Buffet re-recorded the song three years later for his album Son of a Son of a Sailor.
You got your Tony Lama's on, your jeans pressed tight,
You take a few tokes, make you fell all right,
Rockin' and a rollin' on a Livingston Saturday Night.

Pickup's washed and you just got paid.
With any luck at all you might even get laid,
'Cause they're pickin' and a-kickin'
on a Livingston Saturday Night.