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I got a suggestion this morning from a listener named Claudia to maybe write about something from my past that maybe folks didn't know about me. So I set about the business of trying to figure out which photo on my current phone was the oldest.

And the winner is this one. This would have had to be taken somewhere around 1970 or 1971.

Mom always dressed up nicely as you can see, and that was impressive because mom was a bartender and waitress and didn't make a lot of money. She was the first female union bartender in Great Falls, she claims.

The location of this photoshoot was in my grandparents' living room. I know this because Grandma Jane and Les' was the place where all of our family gatherings were held. Also, that star clock in the background is in a couple of hundred pictures taken at assorted Easters, Birthdays, and Christmases.

A few years back my mom got all of the reels of super 8 film and got them put onto a cd. When we got to the part of our family story where Mark, the first grandkid arrives, there's a shot of me sitting next to the Christmas tree when I was only nine days old. As the camera pans around the room, every relative was smoking cigarettes, except for my grampa, Les. He had a pipe. Kids today don't know how tough my generation had it.

In the early seventies, my grandparents would buy a small piece of ground west of Great Falls and built a house. I don't mean that they PAID somebody to build it. They did it all themselves. Most of the construction was done by my grandfather using NO power tools of any kind.

All of my great uncles were carpenters. All had lost a finger or two to power tools and Ol' Les wasn't going to take any chances.

Because this was in the seventies and because they did all the work themselves, they were able to build a three-bedroom house for $4,400.

I need to stop by there one of these days when I'm home and see if mine and my sister's handprints are still in the cement of the sidewalk that they poured.

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