Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fort Benton Summer Celebration 4

The highlite of my yesterday in F/B was a play that was put on at the Agriculture Center. It is called "The Coronor's Inquest Into the Death of Thomas Francis Meagher" which is based on the true story of Meagher (pronounced Mayer) who was from Ireland and an American Civil War hero who also hated everything British and worked to free Ireland from English rule. He was a fill in governor of the Montana territory as well as leader in the Fenian Brotherhood , a secret Irish society .
Meagher died under mysterious circumstances --he drowned in the Missouri River near downtown Fort Benton after falling or being pushed off a docked steamboat named the G.A. Thompson. Meagher was a big drinker ("after all he was Irish") and had a lot of enemies on the frontier.
This play was a reenactment of the coroners inquest into his death and much of the script was actual words used at the original hearing, with some artistic license thrown in by the writer , who was at the play.

Anyhow this was one of those deals where they pick "jurors" from the audience beforehand and after all the evidence is presented by both sides the jury retires and comes back with its verdict.
Well I got picked for the "jury" and it was a hoot. Besides getting to sit on stage in very comfortable chairs as opposed to the hard fold up kind the audience had, I got to meet some cool folks. Most of the cast members were actual lawyer, judges, authors, university professors, a psychiatrist, 2 historians and business owners from around the state(I told you these "doins" are a big deal).

This was a play about the Irish and how they were percieved and treated on the frontier, actually that is this years theme for tyhe Summer Celebration "With an Irish Flair".
It was suggested afterwards that I got picked for jury duty because I was the only person in the building wearing an bright orange shirt (compliments of R&R Conner Aviation) which is a big Irish color next to green.

These are some of the actors. That is me second from left. The guy on the far left is a 3rd generation Montana judge who looked and acted so much like Darke County judge Mike McClurg it was scary. The guy on my immediate left is his brother also an attorney. The other guy is another Montana attorney who played Andrew O'Connell who tried to prove foul play was involved in Meagher's death.

These are my fellow jurors . That is me second from right. A neat bunch of folks . The kid was elected jury foreman and holds our verdict in his hands. The guy to my immediate left was great. He complained to the "judge" that after sitting through such a long hot trial the least the court could do was provide some of the same liquid refreshments available in the 1800s. The judge took it under advisement and said we had 15 minutes to reach a decision.

It was unanimous that Meagher was murdered even though he was drunk and doped up on opium. This is me posing with the dirty bastard who organized the hit on Meagher. A real cad. That is me on the right.

A hell of a day in Fort Benton and once again I am prepping to leave at first light for Havre about 85 miles away but plans got put on hold. My fellow thespians (sort of) convinced me to stick around for the "big" day of the Summer Festival and see the parade (featuring Monte, the U.of Montana Grizzley Mascot), the big Duck race, another bank robbing reenactment (different script than yesterday, Chuck Yager an Elvis impersonator and of course the biggest fireworks display in Montana.
So here I am at Arthur's compound again witha must leave in morning thought. I am helping Arthur "tinker" with some broken sprinkler heads in the yard.
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