Thursday, March 16, 2006

Geraldine, Montana

Geraldine Metropolis
Originally uploaded by mdt1960.
Attending a high school football game in Geraldine, Montana has been on my list of “must-do-before-I-die” for years, but my first call on this small Montana town of 280 didn’t materialize until early November of 2002 when the Tigers hosted Belfry in the quarterfinals of the Montana Class “C” Six-Man playoffs. Not long before I departed for my first visit to Geraldine, I told one of my colleagues about the upcoming playoff game there and his only comment was in reference to the town’s name. “So, what happens in Geraldine,” he asked me? “Does the team take the field dressed up like sixties comedian Flip Wilson in his Geraldine outfit yelling with high-pitched voices at their opponents, ‘The Devil made us do it!’” However, there’s nothing to laugh about when the Tigers take to the field.

Over the years, they have built up a great program that is respected by all in the ranks of Montana six-man football. They are a well-oiled machine of young men showing all the signs of good coaching and self-discipline attributed to head coach Rod Tweet who has been Tiger head coach since 1982.

Geraldine was established in 1913 as a grain depot and is located in the central region of Montana favoring the north-central localities. Named for the wife of William Rockefeller, a major investor in the Milwaukee Railroad, which created the town. Today it is primarily a farming community where wheat is the main cash crop—the rows of grain elevators that line the railroad tracks skirting the town’s perimeter testify to this attribute. The banks of the Missouri River are less than a half hour drive to the north while the nearest motel coming from the south is 38 miles away in Stanford.

In Geraldine’s heyday, it had up to 85 different business operations including two barber shops and three lumberyards. Today it has been whittled down to the bare necessities—a store, a bar/restaurant, one bank, one elevator company, one fuel and feed store, two garages, one hair shop, and one crop spray flying service. The public school is the town’s largest employer and the center of the community. Enrollment has been declining gradually over the years, but the town’s citizens are determined to keep the school in operation.

Some thirty miles on the other side of the nearby Highwood Mountains by way of a winding dirt road is the town of Highwood—Geraldine’s arch-rival in six-man football. Together, these somewhat obscure little towns with only a mountain between them and the great vastness of the country’s fourth largest state (in area) surrounding them have claimed 14 of the last 19 state titles in Montana six-man football.


daimon said...

I was part of the Tiger team in the mid-90s, when we lost two straight championship games to Highwood. Losing was bad enough, but it's even worse when you lose to your rival, one of the closest geographic schools you play, in the biggest game.
I don't know how long the town can hold on. I do know this - in 1994, we were very likely the smallest football team in the country. We only had nine players on the roster, and only eight were eligible at any time that season.

It's good to read the impressions of someone who travels to the venues of my youth simply to watch football. Keep up with the photos and the stories.

Anonymous said...

My fiance was a Geraldine Tiger! i was excited to finally see something about them, thats awesome thanks!

Peter said...

My husband is looking at a teaching job at the school in Geraldine, and I want to thank you for your article - there is very little about Geraldine on the web!