When Sandy Knapp opened her front door after our interview, she said, “It wouldn’t have been uncommon to open your door and see someone walking by on a horse. Often times, it was a little girl.” Born and raised in Montana, she explained that she and her girlfriends used to take their horses and go into the mountains for five days or so–something her parents approved of because that meant that they weren’t with boys or drinking beer.
Below are portions of our conversation:
MM: Can you describe the place that you come from? Whatever that means to you.
SK: Okay, literally? Oh, okay. The mountains, the sky, actually I was born in Helena, came here in 6th grade, but you know… the outdoors, that’s what it’s about. I mean, I have to be outside. I’ve been outside my whole life. So if I’m not outside, I’m not alive. So I guess outdoors, with mountains and sunshine and blue sky. Playing. Playing outside. I guess you could say playing outside.
MM: Did your parents also play outside? Did you grow up doing that in Helena?
SK: Yeah. Actually, my Dad… his business owned a ranch. It was a working ranch outside of Helena and we did not live there but we had a cabin that was, you know, shared by other families. But we were the ones that were the primary users of the cabin. It was just 20 minutes from where we lived. So we would spend a good part of the non-winter months hanging out in that cabin. We had horses. So, I had a horse from the age of four. And just being at that ranch—it was a cattle ranch, small, like 400 acres or something—but there were actual cattle for the market. So it was a real ranch. That’s like some of the best memories. It was just part of life. But see also in those days, and I don’t know if you had this because of all the circumstances of where you lived, but playing outside is what you did. You got up, if you didn’t go to school, and you went outside with your friends. And there were vacant lots and you would build forts and do imaginary play and every yard had a swing set, and you would just create and play and turn cartwheels and what we now do in yoga, what we force our bodies to do because we stopped. Um, it was just that. That’s just how it was and you took it for granted. Then moving to Bozeman, I got to bring my horse and that was 6th grade. Bozeman was a horse town.
MM: That’s how it was known, as a horse town?
SK: It was a cow town. Yeah, and it was very…. It was so behind the times.
MM: What was it like for you to move?
SK: Really awful because, um, because I had never had the experience of having to make friends really. It was more like you just grew up and everybody was already there, in place. And believe it or not, I was really shy. I was like overprotected and pathologically shy. So then in the 6th grade I was six feet tall, 90 pounds, buck teeth, pointy glasses, permed hair. I was like the geek, the Queen of all geeks, entering the 6th grade. And these kids had grown up together and I was just …. So thank god, I had my horse and my cousin and some kids in the neighborhood. That was my world of security because also my parents’ marriage was falling apart so that was really ugly. That was a bad time. Really bad time. Yeah. But, it passed.
MM: So did you, your mom and brother stay in Bozeman through highschool? Continue reading