My people for 37 years and what dear people. You were among the finest people, the very best, the loveliest people the world could ever know. I was so lucky to be sent to Baker in 1977.
By Father Thomas Tobin
The people I was with, Big Sandy people, were the finest, noblest, friendliest people any man could meet, and then there was the Mission of Rocky Boy Indian Reservation and what was very intriguing to me was the Indian culture. I got to know them and had no trouble working with them. They were like the “Traveler” in Ireland. We called them “Tinkers”. They lived on the side of the road, they had lots of horses and tents, like the teepee. So I had an idea of what they were like and they were very alike. The young Indian people were fascinating, beautiful children. As they got into their teens they changed.
In June of 1977 Bishop Schuster of Happy Memory asked me if I would go to Baker. I said I will pray about it. The more I prayed the more I wanted to go. Now I didn’t even know where Baker was – it could be in North Dakota for all I knew.
The only reason I thought of Baker in the first place was Fr. Pete Guthneck was hoping to go to Rocky Boy. He was ordained to work with the Rocky Boy Indians, then I shouldn’t prevent him. So I decided to leave Big Sandy, all the people signed a letter to the bishop, all protestants and Catholics, but I said to the bishop, I am going, and that was it (because of Fr. Pete).
So I arrived in Baker Aug 12, 1977, in time for Feast of Assumption, Aug. 15. Did I ever think I would be in St. John’s, Baker, for 37 years? No way.
There was a great Frenchman, Walt Genereux, who took my belongings to Baker. On the way 15 miles this side of Baker, my heart sank to my toes. All that awful country – wow, what was I getting myself into? I stopped and said to Walt, I should keep going till I land in New York. It would have been interesting if I had done so. Wowee! But, coming towards Plevna the countryside flattened out somewhat and I said, “not too bad”.
Got here Aug. 12, like I said, and settled in pretty fast. The people turned out to be the finest in the world. It turned out to be my type of place, too. Sandstone was one of my favorite spots. I would go there on lots of afternoons with my Bible, do my homily, read Irish prayers, etc. The golf course over the years, till the stroke, got the better of me.
Where did I meet the most wonderful people of Baker? In the Baker businesses. At the Bank of Baker where I banked, I could stay visiting there with the bank personnel (will miss you), taking up lots of your time – worth it.
At the grocery store, at the furniture store, at the clinic met some lovely people, doctors and nurses who would ever think that – at the hospital they were almost dying for a chat!! The jail, sheriff, police chief, we had some great chats. The high school, Fallon County Times and the post office, if they weren’t too busy. Baker had great people all over.
Will miss my golfing buddy Johnny; and Reiny who worked with me for all those years. Last of all, the Parish Council. This last one was together for a long time. We met often and we knew each other well, got along great. I will miss you. Will miss you all, will miss Baker, the old place. Praise the Lord.