Dennis Box | Into the Montana wilderness | Our Corner

I spotted a 1966 Chrysler Newport in Enumclaw the other day. Suddenly I was back in the mid-1960s walking around town daydreaming.

I spotted a 1966 Chrysler Newport in Enumclaw the other day. Suddenly I was back in the mid-1960s walking around town daydreaming.

My Dad loved Chryslers and always drove a Chrysler Newport. I remember one had a push-button automatic, which I thought was the coolest thing on earth at the time.

I had very low standards that I have faithfully maintained to this day.

My Dad was employed at the Weyerhaeuser White River lumber mill and worked our farm until we moved into town.

Every time the mill shut down due to a strike or something and Dad had some extra time on his hands we seemed to end up with newer Chrysler. I remember Dad and I would take a ride to Auburn for no particular reason and would wind up at Brewer Chrysler.

We took that ’66 Newport all over Montana, which is where we went most summers.

Dad was raised from about 10 to 16 in St. Ignatius, Mont. His mother had died of the Spanish influenza on Dec. 24, 1918, and Dad ended up in the Montanan Children’s Home orphanage in Helena. He was adopted from the orphanage by Oscar Box and moved with him to St. Ignatius.

Nearly every summer when I was young we would pile into the Chrysler, usually pulling a Traveleze trailer, and head to somewhere in Montana.

I still love going there and I think my favorite city is Helena. I have always wanted to move there, but it doesn’t look so likely these days.

I will say one thing – that ’66 Newport was good car for running around Montana  and for a dumb kid.

When I was 18 and a freshman at the U, which means dumb kid, I came home for the weekend. I got the bright idea I would see how fast I could drive on the Enumclaw fairgrounds road. I think I got it up to 90 before I spotted the red lights.

A cop pulled me over and could tell I was 18 and brain dead, as boys usually are.

I got a negligent driving ticket, which I paid so my Dad would never find out.

He never did, but about 30 years later I began writing for Emerald Downs, which required a racing license issued by the state’s gaming commission. I had completely forgotten about the speeding incident and informed them there were no big tickets or anything similar in my past.

I was wrong. During the span of three decades the state tinkered with the rules, moving negligent driving from a traffic violation to a criminal charge or something.

The racing stewards thought it was a lot funnier than I did. I about had a stroke trying to figure out what was in my past that had been repressed by amnesia. Unfortunately, I remain my same weird self.

I do have proof of one wild and crazy moment in my folks ’66 Chrysler Newport…and some of my best memories are riding with Dad and mom, heading for Montana.

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