I have a very brief anecdote to share with you today. Short though it is, it was such a cute story, I was sure you would enjoy it.
Down toward Deer Lodge, at a typical country store about 1900, a bunch of men both young and old were sitting on the porch when along came a road crew and posted a sign saying “15 mph”.
The gentlemen sat in quiet contemplation of this notice until another neighbor happened along and asked the question on everyone’s mind, “1 5 m p h, what’s that mean?”
An expert in the group sits a little taller and shares his vast knowledge, “That’s the speed. If you don’t go fifteen miles per hour you go to jail.”
After just a moment one man in the group began to shake his head as he slowly stood, stepped off the porch and untied his mule. “Fifteen miles an hour, I’ll make it if I can.” He swung onto the bare back, still shaking his head. Slapping reins and kicking heels he hit the road still saying, “I’ll make it if I can, I’ll make it if I can.”
Millard Stepp told the story, he was there and this was the first speed limit sign he’d ever seen. He would have been about fourteen years old at that time.
This story, while anecdotal, was told for fact. It made me think about our early use of and dependence upon mules. I remembered the picture above of a young Elbert Hall with a pair of mules he'd bought when he was sixteen years old. How many boys now longing for their first car or pickup truck could even appreciate the value of the team that's pictured here? Elbert Hall is a whole other story and we'll talk about him in detail in the coming weeks.