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«Dr. Lyn Olsen Chapter 1: 3 Sisters Tried and True Recipes Page 3 TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter 1: History of Butte Chapter 2: Appetizers/Others Chapter ...»





Dr. Lyn Olsen

Chapter 1: 3 Sisters Tried and True Recipes Page 3


Chapter 1: History of Butte

Chapter 2: Appetizers/Others

Chapter 3: Main Dishes

Chapter 4: Sides

Chapter 5: Breads

Chapter 6: Desserts

Chapter 7: Hints Chapter 1: 3 Sisters Tried and True Recipes Page 4 Chapter 1 History This is a collection of hundreds of recipes tested over many years from friends and family in Butte, Montana, which are just as vividly delightful and colorful as the history of Butte. The history is flavored by an enormous variety of ethnicities who came to work in the highly profitable copper mines at the turn of the 20th century.

These legacies are evidenced in the magnificent homes of the rich and huge brick uptown buildings, the widow makers dotting the existence of the underground mines where men plunged deep into the darkness of the earth and where some never returned from, and later the world‟s largest open toxic mining pit, but just as most importantly in the food.

Growing up in Butte, you learned well that food brought people together and made friends for life perhaps necessitated by the harshness of living conditions and a passionate need of the Butte people to live life to the fullest. Nobody was better at making friends for life with food than my family, especially my grandmother Lil, mother Myrna, and Aunt Donna who were known locally as some of the best cooks but even more importantly as some of the best company fully celebrating holidays and enjoying late-night poker games though the stakes were never high.

The history of Montana could not be told without telling about the vividly colorful and sometimes sordid history of Butte and the treasures that still remain there within the buildings, the people, and their food. This book unfolds those treasures of Butte through the sharing of the most sure way to make to make lifelong friends and good neighbors– food with unequalled notoriety.

Chapter 1: 3 Sisters Tried and True Recipes Page 5 (miningartifacts.org) Though a reputation as tough and stark as the arsenic that once consumed the nylons on women‟s legs, leaving them bare as well as the landscape dotted with widow makers, Butte remains a hidden historical treasure with a highly colorful past wherein its secrets are hidden in the underground mines and under their old monstrous buildings but even more so in the tales of and by its colorful people.

Butte truly earned its reputation as a “town too tough to die” despite many great odds against it.

This tough reputation was clearly described by David in the movie, „Sabrina”, when he descries that if he misbehaves he will be exiled to Butte.

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Some of Butte‟s tough reputation is well earned because the town has bred through generations tough people who had to be to survive bitter cold winters with temperatures dipping to 40 below and a living etched out of the mines far underground and the toxic air above polluted with the sulfurous smoke from the Anaconda smelter, and not least of all, the scandalous and seedy lifestyles and politics which earned Butte the title of “the Sodom of the West” by Walter Winchell (Les Rickey, ). Later, Butte earned the title of “a mile high and a mile deep” due to its high altitude and

the vast open mining pit. (Picture:

montanakids.com) Chapter 1: 3 Sisters Tried and True Recipes Page 6 THE PEOPLE They came to Butte from everywhere, beginning with the Cornish followed by the Irish, Italians, Serbians, Finns, Germans, and many others ethnicities. They maintained their ethnic and cultural roots through living together in their own sections known as Finntown, McQueen, Meaderville, Walkerville, Centerville, Dublin Gulch, Chinatown, Corktown, and Parrot Flat. Parts of these cultures remain alive today in Butte in the foods, buildings, customs and celebrations with St. Patty‟s Day being one of the biggest holidays still with bars, such as the infamous M&M, packed with people.

These immigrants and their ancestors embodied the toughness of Butte. Boys were known as Tiny and Tank which was not necessarily due to size but to their strength and toughness; perhaps it is this that instilled fear about Butte and a reputation as a tough town, but then they always won whether it was a football game or a fight.

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in the world (over 10,000 miles of tunneling), more wealth per citizen than any other comparable place up to that time” and a population of over 100,000 in the early 1900‟s.


–  –  –

Copperkingmansion.com The parasitic nature of the distant rich and the federal government, and in particular the War of the Copper Kings, fueled the politics of Montanans who have always begrudged the distance between them and those who controlled their lives and stole their riches with a long-lasting underlying fervor to become their own country. “Almost all Montanans resented the farremoved national government” (Toole, 97). In all of this politics, Butte was a primary player from the beginning in the early 1900‟s when most political power came from Butte, even unto today where many call it Butte America.

I remember growing up in Butte in the 60‟s and 70‟s that life was tough with the townspeople never able to get out of debt because just when they got out of debt, as predictable as ever, there would be another strike and once again the people were without work or money. K. Ross Toole, the foremost historian and writer on the history of Montana, (1959) described it well, “For every sudden rise, a sudden fall. Optimism has alternated almost monotonously with despair” (p.9).

Butte‟s perseverance to exist truly earned it a title of a town to tough to die.

Chapter 1: 3 Sisters Tried and True Recipes Page 8 Even into the 60‟s and 70‟s, Butte‟s seedy politics and corruption continued. Because of the great inter-generational history and familiarity amongst Butte families in a town that had dwindled down to about 30,000 people, it was very disturbing when several Butte cops (Sullivan, Labreche, Markovich and others) who we had grown up with were robbing and threatening us at gunpoint including my grandfather and brother who worked the Wells Fargo Armored truck which was robbed early one morning in November 1973. Many Butte families experienced similar threats by these cops which included a staggering rate of three burglaries per day in 1975 (Les Rickey). These families included Hannifin‟s Jewelry store, Buttrey‟s, Christie‟s, Skagg‟s Drugstore, Brinck‟s, Perino‟s, Trevillion, the Corner Bar, and Golden Rule Store, the people and places all very familiar to anyone from Butte.


Nowhere is the triumph of the Butte spirit more evident than today in which the townspeople have brilliantly remodeled and restored through their own sweat and perseverance many of their magnificent and historic buildings earning them the title of the second largest National Historic Landmark District in the country.

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BARS: Bars have always been a standard fixture of the history of Butte including underground bars with endless tales and drinking, particularly on St.

Patty‟s. Nowhere in town was this more celebrated than at the infamous M& M Bar with sordid tales of how rough and dirty it was with people passing out and being swept up off the floors after the bars closed at 2 am, so I was told.

Jack Kerouac described well the people in the M&M: " What characters in there: old prospectors, gamblers, whores, miners, Indians, cowboys, tobacco-chewing businessmen! Groups of sullen Indians drank rotgut in the john. Hundreds of men played cards in an atmosphere of smoke and spitoons. It was the end of my quest for an ideal bar..."

–  –  –

COLUMBIA GARDENS: Nearest and dearest to the people of Butte was the gift to the people from Copper King Clark in 1899 known as Columbia Gardens – the most elegant of amusement parks with magnificent and glowingly white buildings including a dance pavilion, wooden roller coaster and handcrafted carousel “which was considered the „crowned jewel‟ since it was designed by Allen Herschel in 1928” (www.rollercoastersofthepacificnw.com).

Kids would pile onto the city buses during the hot summers in the 60s and 70s and be transported to a most magical throwback to the days of elegance and charm that Columbia Gardens was since its origins.

(lemonymommy.blogspot.com) Even as a child we could understand that the old-fashioned charm remained priceless and we savored every moment there including the unique horse swings and umbrella swings whose sole purpose was for all of us kids to swing around as fast as we could in hopes of throwing everyone else off but in fear that we would be the one who flew off and ended up seriously hurt as the swing gained extreme momentum for Chapter 1: 3 Sisters Tried and True Recipes Page 10 our playgrounds were not built for safety but for bravery. In amongst this, the immaculately white grandeur of the buildings shone amongst the beautiful gardens where we first discovered as a child that they shape greenery into animals and flowers abounded everywhere; where we thrilled at the creaks of the old wood of the buildings and walkways as well as of the huge roller coaster; where we pondered for long times as to which handcrafted magnificent horse we would hopefully get on the carousel.

FIRES: In the 70‟s, a great community event became the many convenient fires that consumed the old historic buildings in uptown Butte including the Pennsylvania Building, Penney‟s Store, and the Medical Arts Building.

These fires were so frequent, costly and assuredly arson-related that insurance companies left town and Butte was assigned an unheard level 5 rating for fire risk as well as having the dubious distinction of being the city with the highest number of fires per capita at that time (Les Rickey, “The Bad Boys of Butte”, 2004).

Chapter 1: 3 Sisters Tried and True Recipes Page 11

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groups. One of those most affectionately valued groups was The Petticoat Patrol of which Aunt Alice was a member and the Sheriff‟s Posse of which Grandpa Ted was a member.

With my aunt‟s great involvement in the Saddle Club, all of us kids as teenagers spent much of our time there as well including attending the dances where John Raymond‟s band of teenage friends played, the mucking out rain-soaked manure from corrals, and the frying and selling of hamburgers during the rodeo, the smell of both which remained in our noses and on your clothes for days. Most memorable were the rodeos where we did many things including when Cousin Duane helped our grandpa with watching the fence during the brahma bull rides so the bulls couldn‟t get out, except sometimes they came very close and one time a bull did get out and began chasing my cousin and grandpa.

Many thanks to the clowns who could sway a bull away from any interest he had focused on.

As you journey throughout this book into the historic buildings, people and recipes of Butte, Montana, the one thing that will be undeniable is that David in the movie “Sabrina” and all of the others who never gave Butte credit were wrong for they didn‟t know Butte because they had never lived there - for its color in its history, buildings, and people but particularly in its food which are all unforgettable and worth cherishing.

Chapter 1: 3 Sisters Tried and True Recipes Page 12 This Book is dedicated to my cousin Devvi Morgan, my sister Rebecca Johnson, and the Three Sisters, Alice, Donna and Myrna Miller, and their mother, Lillian with thanks for the pictures and recipes in this book.

Copyright December 2, 2011, by Lynette Olsen, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

The Three Sisters Educational and Administrative Services www.tseas.wordpress.com This material may not be duplicated for any profit-driven enterprise.

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