In this, her second memoir, New Prairie Woman is Susie Rosso Wolf’s depiction of her journey from Los Angeles to the historical town of Three Forks, Montana. On these pages you will discover the grandeur of “The Last Best Place” through her writing, poetry and photography, the challenges of living in a twenty foot trailer in sub-zero temperatures and how love, perseverance, and the miracle of faith can lift a soul up from the depths of the deepest, darkest waters.
Born in Santa Monica, California, I was raised in the small bedroom community of Sunkist Park that borders Culver City, Playa del Rey, Mar Vista and Venice. I attended Venice High School, West LA Community College and California Institute of the Arts. My studies included English, English Literature, Poetry, Creative Writing, Choir, Classical Voice, Shakespeare, Musical Theater, Television and Film Acting and Art History. In 1980, I relocated to the Pacific Northwest and in 1982 I married Kurt Wolf in Corvallis, Oregon. During the course of our long journey together, I have remained devoted to not only my husband, but to my friends and family, and the arts. What defines me most is my passion for expression through art. I’m an avid reader, writer and poet.I also enjoy painting and photography. Additionally, some folks consider me a pretty good cook.
New Prairie Woman Susie Rosso Wolf Chapter Seven, con't
As we headed towards Helena from Three Forks on Highway 287 the sky above began to darken and I predicted out loud that rain was on its way. Robert reminded me that in Montana you can drive twenty miles or wait twenty minutes for the weather to change. True enough to the folk lore rule twenty minutes post prediction sheets of rain pelted the windshield of Robert’s silver GMC pick-up truck making it difficult for me to view the countryside I had been longing to see for several days while I waited for Kurt’s ankle to heal and for him to stop Indian walking all over barren virgin prairie land. But an hour later the hard rain became a soft rain making it possible for me to see a bit of the town of Helena as we looked for a place to stop and have some lunch. Driving around was fun because Kurt and Robert were communicating on a male level, kind of leaving me out of the conversation which was fine with me because it was more fun listening, and they talked about everything from guns to jobs in Montana and what Robert was planning for his future.
Eventually Robert drove into a driveway of a pizzeria and we sat for over an hour sharing an extra-large pizza topped with pepperoni sausage ground beef and jalapeno peppers. Kurt drank a Budweiser, Robert had a Coke and I had a root-beer. The pizza was delicious and the atmosphere was great, just perfect for our little private family luncheon with classic Italian music playing and the sound of laughter and talking blending with pots and pans clanking and yelling orders out to the pizza maker in the kitchen. I loved this friendly place and didn’t want to leave but the men were growing anxious to get back on the road to head back to Three Forks. We pulled out of the driveway of the pizzeria and turned the corner. Straight ahead we could see a blue and white sign on the side of a huge gravel driveway that said MONTANA HOMES OF HELENA. Robert pointed to the sign and said “That’s the company I bought my house from.”
“Really?” Kurt asked.
“Yeah, they have these offices all over Southwest Montana, there’s one in Belgrade where I did my business from. But basically they all sell the same stuff.”
“Are you satisfied with your home or do you wish you would have had a stick built?”
“Oh no way, manufactured housing is the way to go these days. Much more affordable, you get what you want and it doesn’t take a year or two or even three while you wait for it to be ready to move into. I’m completely satisfied with my house.”
“Rob, turn around and go back there, I want to take a look at those houses they have on the lot.”
“I’m just curious, humor me.”
“Okay, whatever you say,” and with that, Rob turned right at the next light to head back to Montana Homes of Helena. As he pulled into the gravel parking area the rain continued to fall and it was rather chilly so we dashed into the office across the parking lot. Immediately we were greeted by a salesman with a friendly capped tooth smile and a hopeful glimmer in his eye. He reminded me of a used car salesman with his gold pinky ring pressed gabardine work slacks and crisp white shirt. But the difference between this used car salesman and one you would see in Los Angeles is that his slacks were western style boot cut legs with a pair of beautiful cowboy boots underneath the hem and a gorgeous turquoise bowler tie around his western style white shirt and his sharp black cowboy hat with its elegant hat band covered in turquoise stones and mother of pearl. The hat was very beautiful and his mustache was expertly trimmed.
“How can I help you folks today?” He greeted in a Montana accent slightly tinted with a touch of North Dakota.
“Yes, I was wondering if you have some kind of brochure of your homes I could look at and possibly take with me,” Kurt inquired while shaking the man’s hand.
“Well sure I do, what are you interested in single wide double wide or triple wide? ”
“Oh, I don’t know I’m just looking in general.”
“Sure, sure,” the salesman said as he was walking over to a desk where he gathered some sales material to pass onto Kurt. “Would you like to see some of our models? I’d be happy to walk you around on the lot.”
“Oh I don’t want to drag you around in this rain,” Kurt answered.
“That’s just fine, I don’t mind, why don’t you let me show you some of our homes and that way you can ask me some questions you might be curious about.”
“Sure, okay if you don’t mind.” Kurt looked over at me to see my reaction and I’m sure the look on my face was confusion.
“No, I don’t mind at all this isn’t much of a rain anyway.” He led us all out the door and locked the office behind him as we headed out on the gravel towards the first house on the lot. We walked through it then went on to the next, and the next and the next. Two hours went by and I was exhausted so I went back to the truck while Kurt and Robert picked the brain of this poor salesman who was also growing weary from my husband’s critical-thinking brain and non-stop technical questions. It didn’t take much time at all for the salesman to discover that Kurt was a skilled man who worked with his hands and very knowledgeable about many things. Kurt gave him a run for his money and I’m sure he was extremely pleased when he and Robert finally walked out the door and stepped into the GMC where I was snoozing with a cramp in my neck in the back seat. I woke up the moment I heard the doors open.
“Hi sleepyhead,” he said to me in a happy voice.
“Hello, what took so long? What in the world are you doing Kurt?”
“I was just looking at possibilities.”
“Wouldn’t you love to get out of that hell hole we live in?”
“I don’t know, what about our friends and my sister and my ocean?”
“Yeah, your ocean that’s covered in tourists and freaks and criminals and gang bangers.”
“Well, it’s still my ocean and I love it. I was born there, it’s my home.”
“Susie, I hate to tell you this, but your home hasn’t been your home in a very long time,” Robert chimed in.
“Maybe for you Rob, but for me it’s the only home I have and even though it has all of its problems I love my house and my friends and my sister and my rose garden and everything that means so much to me. It would be very difficult for me to make a move at my age now.” They both began laughing and making fun of me, picking on me, telling me that I’m not an old lady yet. “Well, no, I’m not an old lady yet but I do have medical issues you can’t relate to or understand that would make it hard for me to move anywhere.” Robert sighed deeply.
“I think you can do anything you want to do,” Kurt said. I didn’t answer him, I was quiet the rest of the way back to Three Forks. When we arrived back at the house Kurt walked across the little trail and traipsed around in the mud on that ankle. I was so angry that he was risking another injury but knew my anger was futile. Nowhere to direct my frustration, because Kurt was across the road, I sat quietly on the edge of the bed in Brenda’s room and meditated while the old man did whatever he was doing out there on the prairie.