Throwback Thursday September 10, 2020

A few weeks ago, Throwback Thursday looked at the the Ungowas, the legendary Western Montana College (WMC) intramural powerhouse from the 1960’s,.

Remember, the Ungowas’ team roster was largely made up of Dillon natives attending Western Montana. Tim Pilgrim was one, but his Ungowa achievements were just part of his WMC days.

Pilgrim, was a string-bean size athlete with speed (his description). That speed was evident in one WMC spring intramural flag football season. Pilgrim scored 18 touchdowns in just six games. Of those 18 touchdowns, 12 were thrown by Jim Lodge. The other third were the result of a lateral pass from Jim Abbas after a pass from Lodge.

Pilgrim was a member of several Ungowa championship teams in different sports. One Ungowa memory was not so memorable. Pilgrim had advanced to the finals of the intramural horseshoe tournament. In the finals, he was soundly thrashed by Bob McChesney, a student from Sidney, Montana. Pilgrim later remarked, “They take their horseshoe game seriously in Eastern Montana.” Interesting enough, Pilgrim’s first teaching job would be in Sidney.

When he wasn’t celebrating his Ungowa triumphs, he was an honor student in the classroom and began laying the groundwork for a successful poetry and creative writing career. At that time, all WMC English majors, as part of their curriculum, served on either the Wescolite or Chinook staffs. Pilgrim worked on both. He also did a bit of freelance writing for regional newspapers.

While on the Wescolite staff, he began the column Face the Muse-ic. He described the column as one that presented either political or philosophical or social commentary. When asked if this is what kick-started his passion for the written word. He said no! It seems that happened much earlier in life. He had received a poetry assignment in the sixth grade and hasn’t stopped writing since!

He graduated from Western Montana College with honors in 1969 along with several of his Ungowa teammates. Coincidentally, five of the 20 WMC Who’s Who recipients that year were Ungowa teammates. Even with his Western diploma, Pilgrim wasn’t out of the classroom yet. He spent the next two years in Missoula at the University of Montana where he received an M.A. in English.

As mentioned earlier, Pilgrim’s first teaching job was at Sidney High School. During his four-year stay at Sidney, he taught English and journalism. He served as the advisor to the school newspaper, the Spokesman. The paper won numerous awards under Pilgrim’s guidance including a Montana High School Newspaper of the Year award. In addition, he kept his personal writing mojo going as a staff writer for the Sidney Herald.

Pilgrim and family moved from Sidney to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho where he taught at North Idaho College (NIC), a two-year college. Pilgrim was the advisor of the school’s newspaper the Sentinel. The paper won many awards in competition with four-year colleges and universities. He took time off at NIC and picked up a second master’s. This one in mass communications.

He added a doctorate in communications in 1989 from the University of Washington. His doctoral dissertation is a book titled Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained (Ablex), an examination of the effectiveness of competing newspapers combining forces. Pilgrim taught part-time at Western Washington University while working on his doctorate. After securing his Ph.d, there were teaching stops at the University of California-San Diego and the University of North Carolina-Willmington.

In 1992, he landed a tenured position at Western Washington. An interesting fact of this story, he was offered two positions on the same day. Pilgrim chose Western Washington over St. Mary’s in California. The reason why he chose Washington over California is something he needs to tell. He retired in 2013 and now holds the title of emeritus associate professor at Western Washington University.

Pilgrim is a prolific and successful poet. To date, he has 490 poems accepted and published. His poem, the Deadhover was nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize by Sleet Magazine. Mapping Water (Flying Trout Press, 2016) is his most recent book of poetry. For all the poems that have found a published home, there are as many more submitted waiting to be published.

A trip through his web site is well worth the journey, His work is exceptional! He is a proud Bulldog alum that all Bulldog alums should be proud of. If Montana Western were to have a poet laureate, Tim would be a serious contender for the title.

Pilgrim lives in Bellingham, Washington. In addition to new poetry, he continues to provide mass media information and documents accounts of how America’s rich get richer and gathers links to alternative media sources. He co-authored Fearless Editing: Crafting Words and Images for Print, Web and Public Relations with his wife Carolyn Dale. Dale recently published her first novel with her second due out soon. Poetry may be Pilgrim’s strong suit, but over the years, he has demonstrated his skills of being an excellent writer whether it be a feature for a newspaper or writing a critical review.

Attached with this Throwback Thursday, are two Face the Muse-ic columns from the 1960’s. One of them deals with Red-Eye. Here is a question for you. What or who is Red-Eye! Make a guess in the comment section, or maybe you know. A correct answer will win you Montana Western swag. The other Face the Muse-ic column fits perfectly into the political arena of today.

The original post can be found on the University of Montana Western Alumni Facebook Page. (Facebook Post with photos)