MISSOULA - Jim Tripp’s Montana roots run deep; he’s lived here, worked here, watched his family grow here, and now he’s showing his appreciation for some of the people who keep this place up and running -- firefighters.
Why he’s saying “thank you” is simple, but how he’s showing his appreciation is unique — and it all started with a hunting trip.
“I had an uncle -- Gene Tripp -- who had a hunting camp up in Belmont, and we used to hunt up there for years, and we couldn't find a good cribbage board, so I made one,” Jim said.
With an amazing talent for woodworking, Jim says he’s crafted at least a thousand cribbage boards since that day.
“Well, I have a template up there, it’s made out of stainless steel I can show ya, it’s on my drill press, and I put it on the board and drill,” Jim said. “And I get my wood from Superior Hardwood because it’s all nice wood, I’ve got Myrtle wood from Oregon. I got oak, cherry wood, we got coffee wood, we’ve got sycamore.”
Now when it comes to making a good cribbage board, it takes a good eye for the wood itself, then you have to cut the wood, sand the wood, router, drill and make the pegs.
It’s a process and one that Jim says he can’t do alone. Scott from Superior Hardwood cuts the board to 18”, Bear from Whitedog Woodshop routers the wood, and Titleist the dog keeps him company.
Jim sells some of the boards, but most recently, his cribbage boards landed in the hands of some first responders. “I wanted to do something different and give them to the fire department.”
“They’re there 24/7, you know, and I'm sure it gets a little boring at times sitting down here and then I found out that a lot of the guys play cribbage,” Jim explained.
For this Montanan, acts of kindness are second nature and there is no need to make a fuss about it. After all, “a lot of people know how to play it, it’s just hard to find a good cribbage board,” Jim concluded.