Bill Jones says, “Miriam Simpson used to be Two Dot activist. Now, she’s a Harlowton activist.”
But Miram soundly objects, “I am not an activitst. Activists stir things up and get things started. That’s not me. I help where I can. I’m just a volunteer.”
Simpson went on to say, “I did the books for the Two Dot Water Users Company, but I wasn’t a volunteer. I got fifty dollars a years.” Miriam was their Secretary/Treasurer for ten years.
Two Dot Water owns the town’s well and distribution center. It acts as a Montana corporation, keeps up its water rights, and does regular testing. “The work wasn’t hard, but it had to be correct.”
Miriam and husband Jack bought a house in Harlowton about a year ago. Jack plays golf most every day and Miriam finds other projects to her time. The Simpsons lived in Two Dot for 15 years before moving over to Harlow.
Jack had discovered Two Dot years before. It was his favorite fishing spot. He moved there five years before Miriam’s mother introduced the two in Billings. Miriam had returned to Montana from Washington in January 1990 to care for her mother. She met Jack in May and they were married in October. “A whirlwind romance.”
Mrs. Simpson lived in western Washington, for 25 years. At some point during that time or before, she developed a “Why not? Attitude” which led to one of the most interesting times in her life. She lived and - later worked - on her 55-foot boat, The Arrow. The Arrow was a 13-beam wooden yacht built in 1918 to be a fishing boat.
For a time, she just lived on her boat and worked in Port Townsend. But one day, “A man asked if he could hire the boat for his anniversary. I said, ‘Why not. I’ll fix crab.’” And, she did.
The Arrow was a beautiful boat, with distinct lines. A great ship on which to have an intimate dinner of dungeness crab cooked by Miriam (then) Gray. From 1980 to 1985, Miriam cooked and booked intimate and exclusive dinner cruises on Puget Sound or no more than four. She hired out the duties of captain while she managed the galley and serving.
How much did she charge? “Oh, about $30 a head.”
But, she couldn’t make any money at that rate? “Well, I didn’t. The charge almost covered my expenses. But, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had a lot of interesting people. They found me by word of mouth.”
Well, Miriam didn’t have to make money on the dinner cruises. She managed rentals, bought and sold houses, and did books for an antiques mall. She also had her own antique shop for a time.
One one cruise, Simpson recalls, “I did rescue a diver. At first, I thought I saw a seal in the water. But, it was a diver. We hauled him onto the Arrow and waited for his boat to show up.”
Miriam Simpson grew up in Billings where his father worked for Chevron Oil Company. He traveled all over the Rockies on his job. “So by the time I was twelve, I had been in every western state.”
After high school, Miriam went off to Bozeman. “It only took me a year to catch a husband. He joined the US Air Force and we traveled everywhere.” Simpson has been in every state in the union except South Carolina. “I like Washington best - next to Montana.
Miriam has two beautiful daughters in Richmond, Virginia, and Chicago, Illinois. She also has two grandsons in Illinois. Her daughter in Virginia cares for and shows 36 champion dogs.
Back in Port Townsend in 1984, “Somebody asked if I would run for mayor. I said, “Why not?’”
She didn’t win, “But, I had a good time. I lost by 200 out of 4000 registered voters. I didn’t go door to door, or I might have become mayor.”
Mrs. Simpson was a member of the Port Townsend Chamber of Commerce in those days and is a new member of the local chamber. While living in Two Dot, she was a volunteer for the Upper Musselshell Museum for 13 years working for four different curators: Dolores Guillen, Joyce Massing, Sue Fortune, and Vonda Hammon. “When I moved to town, I quit.”
“But, I volunteered at the Made in Harlo Shop. I’m setting up Diana’s books.” Miriam learned bookkeeping many years ago at Charron Williams College in Miami, Florida. That training has come in handy many, many times over the years.
Along with volunteering at the shop, Simpson is getting her sewing and cutting equipment organized. Teddy beears and dolls and the like are about to be created from her hands. “I like to sew, embroider, and do needlepoint. But, I never knew what to do with what I made. Now that Diana has the Made in Harlo Shop, I can have her ‘store’ what I make.”
Miriam Simpson is one of a rare breed of volunteers who volunteer without being asked. She joined the local chamber and immediately helped out with ticket sales at the 4th of July Rodeo. We know whom to call on at the Chamber because she is likely to say, “Why not?”
Except we won’t be able to find her in the winter months when the Simpsons are off to El Centro, California. Jack will be golfing and Miriam will be volunteering. Why not?