DANCE TICKETS & TYPING CHAMPIONS

1927 Kalispell Champion Mabel Fisher remembers...

She might not remember the names of all of her boyfriends, but at 98 years old, Mabel Fisher remembers, and giggles, over all of the favorite fashions from her youth. Going through old photo albums, she can recall exact details about certain favorites. And those favorites were coats not beaus.

            “If it wasn’t one it was another,” she says of a boy whose name she can’t recall, “But that coat had a removable cape, it was very fashionable. That coat had a fur collar,” she exclaims, pausing over the picture. She even remembers the fabric—beige wool with a neutral plaid.

            “If it wasn’t one it was another,” she says of a boy whose name she can’t recall, “But that coat had a removable cape, it was very fashionable. That coat had a fur collar,” she exclaims, pausing over the picture. She even remembers the fabric—beige wool with a neutral plaid.

            These were the more innocent days of dance tickets—when you didn’t want the gent who was a bad dancer to ask you to dance no matter how cute he was.

“You didn’t want to dance with the same guy all the time either,” Mabel recalls, “That would be horrible.”  

            Let’s hope we all have as many fond memories of the Flathead as Mabel Fisher does of Kalispell, the place she called home for almost 100  years. It’s not all fashion, but to look through Mabel’s photo album, full of pictures of women with bobs, bangs, hats and high heeled Mary Jane’s,  you’d swear everyone was a little more dressed up on a daily basis. Maybe it was because it was the roaring twenties—but everyone wears carefree smiles as if they were on sale at the local mercantile store.

            Mabel Fisher’s father was a Kalispell doctor that moved to Kalispell, Montana in 1900. Dr. A.T. Munro (that’s Alonzo Tullock in case you’re curious) was a general doctor and early surgeon (one of the few) for the hospital of the day—the Sisters of Mercy, whom Mabel remembers as the sisters with tall habits a la the Flying Nun.

Dr. Munro and his wife Maud Alberta Munro settled on Kalispell after a job seeking trip to Seattle. He had just finished medical school in Minnesota and thought Washington would be their new home, but after seeing Kalispell, they decided to settle.

            “They thought it was a good place,” Mabel explains matter of factly of the move.

            Within nine years of moving, Dr. Munro was established in town, with three young daughters to complete his family—Helen, Katheryn and Mabel. Their downtown home (“back then everyone built there own homes,” Mabel recalled) would be a town fixture for decades. 

            From her house, the Kalispell Mercantile was walking distance, and she remembers making daily trips to the market with her mother. Back then, the mercantile was a town’s one-stop store—with groceries, hardware, clothing and a glass enclosed candy case where all the kids could see the sweet selections. Back then, most everything was purchased in bulk, and Mrs. Munro stocked up on sacks of flour for bread and everything else that would supplement the family’s sizable garden. During the Depression, Mabel remembers her mother plucking chickens—a common form of payment for doctors when times got tough.

            While women of the household, at least Mabel’s mother, were often home sewing clothes, cooking and generally keeping house, the kids were free to roam Kalispell. And while Mrs. Munro didn’t exactly encourage roaming, Mabel does remember spending lots of time at the skating pond at Woodland Park.

            “We wanted to go skating as soon as we could because it was so nice,” Mabel recalls of the pond that was flooded and scraped by the city. Such smooth skating was a luxury, because without such care ice skating could be a bumpy affair on local lakes.