In our last segment, we learned that a farming accident resulted in the untimely death of Lester Reeves, Steve's father, when Steve was almost two years old. The bleak months that followed Lester's death found Goldie, Steve's mother, coping as best she could with endurance and bravery. She finally gathered the courage to make some profound changes in her life.
With toddler Steve in tow, Goldie packed up their belongings and headed for Scoby, Montana, where Goldie's family lived on a ranch.
Little Steve took to ranch living and became fast friends with a kindly work horse named "Old Dan." Steve was quite independent for a three year old and quickly learned to ride Old Dan. This was a relief to Goldie who would let Steve ride Old Dan into the pasture every day.
When she wanted to check on them or to call Steve back for lunch, she would ring a loud, clanking bell. At the sound of the clanking, Old Dan would plod back to the ranch house with little Steve on his back. This ritual holds fond memories for Steve.
During the time, she lived with her family, Goldie searched for employment throughout Scoby. There just were not any jobs available in the small town. When Goldie's church friends got wind of her plight, they pooled their funds and gave her the money she needed to journey to Great Falls, Montana, approximately 380 miles southwest of Scoby, where jobs were more plentiful. Soon after arriving in Great Falls, Goldie secured a job as a cook at the renowned Rainbow Hotel.
Steve and Goldie had a little place in town, nearby the Rainbow. In a short time, Goldie gained a reputation as a really great cook and was offered a position as the personal cook for Dr. Porter, one of Great Fall's most prominent physicians. Dr. Porter had room for a single live-in employee, but no accommodations for a child. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity or the money offered by Dr. Porter, Goldie sought out care for Steve.
The Montana Deaconess School, a very fine religious boarding school, was highly recommended to Goldie. After thorough introspection, Goldie enrolled Steve in the school. This was a very difficult decision for both Goldie and for Steve, as the school was more than 90 miles from Great Falls. Steve thrived, gained even more independence, and received a good education at the school. However, he and Goldie only got to see each other once a month and sometimes during the summer over the next four years.
Steve showed his competitive spirit and keen intelligence early at Deaconess. Six year old Steve entered a school Bible contest and, of course, won first place. To win he had to recite from memory ten pages from the Bible. His prize was a special Bible, which he cherishes to this day. Although Steve claims to only have been an average student, he was blessed with a superb memory, as was his father.
Some of Steve's favorite times were the long, warm summer months he spent with his cousins on his uncle's ranch. During one of Steve's ranch visits he was riding his favorite horse, Smokie. All of a sudden Smokie spooked and reared up and Steve ended upon the ground with Smokie on top of him! As Steve struggled to get the horse off of him, he could feel his ribs breaking. He struggled in pain for ten minutes until the horse rose. But, that did not stop Steve, who in true Steve Reeves fashion, climbed back on the horse and rode back to the ranch - broken ribs and all!
Steve performed his very first rescue and heroic act while at the ranch. One day, Steve and his cousins, Violet and Viola, all climbed on one of the ranch horses and trod off in search of adventure.
After reaching a likely looking pasture, the children dismounted and started to play. That is when they spotted a bull! The bull also spotted them and began snorting and pawing the ground. As the bull started toward the trio, quick-thinking Steve grabbed each of the girls with one arm around each of their waists and hoisted them back up onto the horse. Then he quickly jumped on himself and they rode away before the bull could even break into a run. Leave it to Steve to save the day!
During one of Steve's stays with Goldie, he encountered a problem with a car - it hit him!
Just six years old, he was walking back to Go!die's house and attempted to cross a street before the oncoming car reached him. Steve did not even know he had been hit until he realized the car was dragging him as he held on to the front bumper with bare hands.
After dragging him approximately 100 feet, the car came to a screeching halt. The driver, a very distraught woman, rushed to the front of the car, where Steve was still holding on. "Are you okay?" She asked, "May I take you home?" She repeatedly asked him how he was and where he lived.
He refused to tell her because he was afraid his mother would be mad at him for running out in front of a car. But, being a hardy soul, Steve got up and brushed himself off. Then he walked back to where the car first hit him and picked up his sneaker that flew off during the impact. He put his shoe back on and continued his walk home. He was pretty dirty, as you can imagine he would be after being dragged by a car!
When he reached the front door and saw his mother, she looked at him as though he had been run over by a car. "What happened to you?" she asked. Always the quick thinker, he replied, "Oh, I've been playing with this dirty old stick!" It was not until many years later that he told his mother what really happened on the way home that fateful day.
Even now, Steve will rely on the "dirty old stick." When he gets grimy working on his ranch, Deborah often inquires, "What happened to you?" He falls back on his old excuse and, with a shrug of his shoulders tells her, "Oh, I've been playing with this dirty old stick!"
During Steve's boarding school days, Helena, Montana experienced two severe earthquakes. The first hit October 3, 1935, and registered 5.0. Since the area was sparsely populated, damage was minimal, just when everything was getting back to normal, the earth shook even more violently. On October 12th of that year, Montana experienced the results of a 7.0 earthquake! This time, there was significant damage to structures, including the Deaconess Boarding School.
The boys' dormitory, where Steve lived, was on the third floor of the brick school building. Since the jolt hit in the early morning hours, the boys were all sleeping in their beds when it struck. What a way to wake up! Not knowing what happened, the boys quickly filed down the stairs and out of the building. The teachers could account for all of the students EXCEPT STEVE. After calling his name and looking everywhere outside for him, two men decided to search the dorm for missing Steve.
The old brick building had suffered major damage. Some of the exterior walls had collapsed and debris was everywhere. The electrical power was out. Regardless, the two men made their way to Steve's room. The outside wall of his room was gone and his bed was hanging out about a foot through the opening and was covered with fallen bricks.
To the men's amazement, there slept Steve - who never woke through all the commotion! The men very carefully awakened Steve and held him tightly to prevent him from jumping up from the side of the bed and falling out where the wall used to be! Steve was unharmed and proceeded with his rescuers down the stairs and outside to join the rest of the student body.
The school suffered a total loss and had to be rebuilt. When the earth finally settled down, Montana had experienced 1,346 aftershocks from the '35 quake.
These are just a few of the many adventures experienced by Steve Reeves during his formative years. How did he get through them without a scratch? Remember that angel?
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