After my mom’s sophomore, junior, and possibly senior years of college, she worked at the E/L Ranch in Montana (read: E Bar L). Every time we’re together she tells an E/L story. They’re good. She describes it as a culmination of her girlhood fantasy of being a cowboy. Not an easy desire to fulfill for a young woman in the 1950’s, whose family pressured her to return home summers in order to take a job and ‘support’ her mother on pennies per hour wages. Mom bowed to that pressure after her freshman year and then did the right and brave thing: She took care of herself.
My eldest daughter calls mom weekly. Recently she relayed an E/L Ranch reminiscence her grandma shared with her. She also let me know she’d searched for them online and found very little. As it turns out, E/L Ranch doesn’t have an internet presence of their own. But there’s enough out there to find out that the ranch is still a going concern, including an address and phone number.
The grandson of the original owner, who has spent his entire life on the ranch, set up a conservation easement in 1998 for the 4000 acres that comprises the ranch. It will protect the land in perpetuity from development. My father was a charter member and board member of their county’s land preservation trust. It’s amazing to me that the ranch owners and my parents have land stewardship in common. The world is indeed small.
I called the ranch today to inquire about taking mom there as part of an 80th birthday celebration. I spoke with a woman who has been at the ranch since 1955! She didn’t remember mom and then apologized. I assured her that I completely understood if she didn’t remember every college kid who worked there over the last 60 years… She refered me to her daughter-in-law and excitedly said she hoped she’d see us this summer. So do I.