Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Arline Allen’s Embarrassing Innuendo

Yesterday I got a treat. My publisher gave me a handful of copies of my new book, More Montana Moments, fresh from the printer! You won't find it in most stores for another month or so, but the Montana Historical Society Museum Store does have copies available. Here's one of my favorite excerpts:

The Allen family long operated one of Helena’s most popular livery stables, the Allen Livery at Ewing and Breckenridge. The former stable has a long and colorful history and is Helena’s best-preserved reminder of this vital business. Its many “ghost signs” are also remarkably preserved. By 1867, William H. Allen established the business on his rich mining claim where he picked gold nuggets out of the dirt. Allen’s nephew, Joseph Allen, soon arrived to help out and eventually took over the business. Joseph built the current stone and brick stable around 1885. Contrary to popular belief, the upstairs never in its long history housed prostitution. Rather lodging rooms accommodated the livery’s hostlers and stablemen. Joseph Allen and his wife Lurlie had a daughter, Arline, who grew up around her father’s horses. She and her friends never learned to ride sidesaddle, but rode astride and wore divided riding skirts like other Montana women. Arline and her friends followed the trails all over the hills and had many adventures. But in 1912 when Arline was sixteen, both her mother and father died. Arline went to live with her grandmother in Virginia. She had a hard time because girls there never rode astride, but only sidesaddle. She found horseback riding and ice skating in long full skirts terribly confining and longed to put on her Montana divided riding skirt. Shocked, her grandmother would not allow it. On her first ice skating date in Virginia, Arline said to the young man, “If I could just take this skirt off, I could really show you something!” Arline spent the rest of her life trying to live that one down.

P.S. Remember the scandal caused by this divided riding skirt?

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