Sunday, July 31, 2011

Living The Big Sky Life: Bulldogs With A Bone To Hide

Memorable Bulldogs With A Bone To Hide,
a continuation of "It Takes A Village"...

When I read about Enrico Ponzo, the Boston mobster who’d managed to create a new identity and fall off the grid for 17 years in a remote tiny town in Idaho before the law caught up with him last February, I could only shake my head and repeat what I’ve been saying for the last 18 years about Big Sky Country; namely, that the Unabomber lived in Montana for a reason.

I know my geography, and yes, I’m fully aware of the fact that Idaho is not Montana; however, let me elaborate further by saying that there’s no doubt in my mind that at least half of the participants in the witness protection program end up in Montana, Wyoming or Idaho simply because this tri-state territory offers dogs on the lam the ability to go underground and stay there with relative ease.

And contrary to popular perception, it’s also worth mentioning that this territory has historically shown itself to be a preferred mafia outpost. In Montana alone, gambling is legal, there’s no sales tax, and big bucks can be efficiently laundered through outlying ‘ranch’ operations strategically situated along the Canadian border.

If all of that isn’t enough, then let’s get to the scary part …. like when fugitives named on the ‘America’s Most Wanted’ list come sniffing around places like Whitefish on their hunt for a quaint community to call home, similar to Ponzo in Idaho. Or when you nervously realize that you’ll never really know (or want to know) who’s standing next to you in the check-out line at the grocery store because you’re living in the land of the Montana Militia; neo-Nazis and white supremacists; and a host of other secretive paramilitary and anti-establishment groups brimming with unbridled intolerance.

A small bungalow at 2710 Thomes Avenue in Cheyenne, Wyoming may be home to the shelf corporation capitol of the United States, but Montana, by its very nature, can attract more displaced bad dogs than a dog in heat.

Take Doc, for example. By the time I moved to Whitefish in 1992, Doc had apparently been working at Nelson’s Ace Hardware on Central Avenue for a few years. He was friendly, helpful, and considered by the towns folk to be an all-around great guy …. until the night his dated mug shot showed up on “America’s Most Wanted”. A couple of regulars were bellied up to the bar in the Bulldog Saloon one night when they recognized Doc’s face on the muted television screens playing behind the bar. They stood up and yelled to everyone in the bar, “Hey, isn’t that Doc?” They even alerted the local police chief who basically dismissed the allegation because Doc was such a great guy, and the man who did the vile and violent things they said he did on the television just couldn’t be the same old man the town knew as Doc (obviously not his real name). Suffice it to say, the county sheriff was eventually alerted and by the time the law showed up at Doc’s door in the morning, Doc had cleaned house and vanished like a thief in the night. He’s probably been living in Idaho or Wyoming under a new alias ever since.

Then there was Chas Hickey - the building contractor who left scorched earth, nasty litigation, and unpaid bills behind in Oregon and Washington before showing up in Whitefish about the same time I did. Hickey was a cunning dog who figured out that if he served on the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce Welcome Wagon committee, he could be first in line to sniff out the new arrivals looking to build a dream home in ‘the last best place’. And since construction loans were critical to his grand plan, Hickey wasted no time in making an ally out of the Whitefish Credit Union and its Crony King MOWB. I suspect Hickey eventually burned that bridge, and every other bridge in the Valley for that matter, before moving on to greener pastures in, say, Idaho.

The Flathead County seat of Kalispell made headline news about five years ago when it managed to attract a notorious new resident in neo-Nazi activist and white nationalist, April Gaede, and her "Prussian Blue" twins, Lynx and Lamb Gaede - and presumably everything that they stand for. All I can say to that is "like attracts like".

Up next, “Bulldog Patrol”…

Living The Big Sky LifeTM
© by DK King

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