Ekalaka — Warts and All

Being a journalist occasionally means walking a fine ethical line between documenting what is really going on without affecting it and being a responsible person. I was presented with just such a quandary last May when I shot this story on the town of Ekalaka in southeast Montana. The car in the above picture wouldn’t start, so I was spared this dilemma, though it came again later. And then I did something I hope my daughter never does and that’s ride in a vehicle being driven by someone who is drinking. I thought you should know.

“Did you set your clock back 40 years?” was the question I was asked by the owner of this antique car. And things did seem to be about 40 years behind — in ways good and not so good. Until very recently, drinking a beer while driving a vehicle was not illegal in Montana. And not too long ago, people all over the state were really this friendly, this welcoming. I thought Ekalaka a very true, authentic and unpretentious place. It was unashamed of being small and quaint, yet humble as well, acknowledging some of the faults outsiders might find. The people there seemed to like their town just as it was, warts and all.

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