Grace Baker Larson was born in Hot Springs, Montana in 1940. A midwife assisted with her delivery. She grew up on a large sheep ranch where she learned to do all kinds of work. This prepared her to undertake jobs that, in the 1970’s, were usually filled by men. Grace loved horses and riding. She would frequently ride 8 miles to Polson, across the hill, tie her horse behind the Theatre, and watch the movie. She would ride home afterwards arriving in the middle of the night.
Grace has worn many different hats. She owned and operated a Day Care Center in Minnesota. Supporting her 5 children was not easy so she learned to paint and became a Journeyman Painter, a job that paid a decent wage. Grace missed Montana every day of the 13 years she lived in Minnesota. When she was able to move back to Montana she “ kissed the ground” ;she was home.
She was able to find jobs as a self employed painter and house cleaner. But when the opportunity came up to work in the woods Grace took it. She skidded logs with a Pettybone skidder and was able to skid 200 logs a day. It did take her 2 hours longer than it took the men to skid that many logs, but she loved the work and delighted in the smell of the timber.
In the 1970’s, in spite of her fear of stepping into a man’s world, she found work as a painter working for large construction companies. Grace had always been self employed so this was a big, scary step. She also worked for the Anaconda Company, and was the first woman hired in the trades in Anaconda Company history. When the Anaconda Company’s Arbitor Plant shut down she went to work for a private contractor in Butte as his foreman. While working in Butte she also sandblasted the large combustion pit for the MHD generating plant. After her work in Butte ended she went to work at the Montana State Prison at Deer Lodge. She was hired as the inmate paint crew supervisor and had as many as 11 inmates on her crew. The wages were low in comparison to what the Anaconda Company paid, so when a job for a painter came up at the Anaconda Company Smelter she took it.
The Anaconda Company was shut down permanently in 1980. Grace decided to go to college and became a Chemical Dependency Counselor. She started Adult Children of Alcoholics groups finding that “turning back to the list”, and working through resentments, as noted in the Big Book of AA helped clients maintain sobriety. Grace retired from counseling in 2002.
After Grace retired from counseling she and her husband raised horses, and she also sold horses for others over the internet. She was able to sell horses for their owners throughout the United States, Canada, and even to The Netherlands, and Israel.
Camping trips to the Big Horn Mountains with their horses were frequent. New foals and the smell of sagebrush are what Grace misses the most now that she has retired and moved to Kalispell. Her husband, the “Love Of Her Life” passed away in December of 2013.
Not wanting her Grandparent’s history to be lost , she wrote her first published book, An Immigrant A Homesteader And Sheep. That was published in 2014. A second book about her beloved husband entitled Once In A Lifetime Comes A Man was published in 2015. When Grace was in college she had completed a manuscript, a true story of one of the men on her crew when she worked at the prison. She reread the manuscript and that book, The Making Of A Con will be out soon. Another book she is working on now is for children. It is a true story about Bum Lambs .
This is not the story of an ordinary criminal but rather the story of a man caught up in a world within which he could not function; boyhood naïveté did not prepare him for a society that inflicted stark reality. This true-to-life story is told in his own words, with minor editorial adjustments. The first twenty chapters are told before he found out the facts surrounding his father’s death. I am sure the reader will be as intrigued as I was by the circumstances that propelled this man inexorably onto his destructive path, a man without goals and who hated prisons as much as he depended upon them.
The hard work and dreams of An Immigrant, A Homesteader, And Sheep are alive in family memories even though there’s very little evidence the ranch had existed as a busy, happy place. Kids and grandkids , the bleat of several thousand sheep , the bawling of cattle , and the neigh of the horses as well as the beautiful views , the orchards , and that smell of sage ; all are in the past but my hope is that this book will record my family’s history for generations to come.
Fate was a blessing when a dream brought Lyle into my life once more. He was fortysix years old and had never married. It had been eighteen years since we'd seen each other. I was almost fortytwo with three adult children and two ready to graduate high school. It is only once in a lifetime that a person is lucky enough to have true love. I had that with Lyle, and it is only with writing this book and reading his letters that I fully realize the depth of his being and his love for me. I heard this on a news program on marriage: “It is rewarding to know someone has been a witness to your life .” I am that witness to Lyle's life. “Our song will endure through eternity.” I hope that in reading this, you will appreciate the soft heart, humor, intelligence, and love that was Lyle. The love he had for his family, animals, and creation. He was a man of integrity and fine character and a good listener. The mark of a man is how a man lives his life and my husband was that man-a good man who had a great mother and father.
by Grace Larson (Author)
My Grandpa let me help him with his sheep so I learned from him, and I am grateful that he had a lot of love and patience as he taught me about sheep and Bum Lambs. When my Grandpa was a boy in Romania he had to chase a bear away from his sheep with a stick. He loved sheep and when he came to America he had his own sheep ranch, and I was lucky enough to be his granddaughter. Have Fun and enjoy …… Bum Lambs…