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Robert Kirby: Those amazing and confusing Tetons

By Robert Kirby

Tribune columnist

First Published Jul 19 2014 10:38 am • Last Updated Aug 11 2014 10:34 am

Attached to this story is the senior class president photo of my father. It’s from the 1950 Tetonian, the yearbook of Teton High School, in Teton County, Idaho, in Driggs, which is near Tetonia.

All of that Teton stuff is located on the west side of a set of mountains in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that early French trappers named "Les Trois Tetons," or the "The Three Tits."

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Note: Yes, I know that sounds vulgar. I could have used breasts, teats, bosoms, etc. instead, but we’re talking wilderness-addled French guys who probably hadn’t seen a woman in a while. I’m betting these trappers didn’t say, "Mon Dieu, those look like trois mammary glands!"

I asked the old man what it was like to be the senior class president of Teton High School in 1950. Did the student body make fun of the name? Did it shock people who spoke French?

Me: "Was your mascot a giant —?"

Him: "I’m not saying anything. You’ll put it in your stupid column."

About the same time I was admiring mountains officially named for breasts, Mount Logan Middle School Principal Mike Monson was gearing up to catch hell over real ones.

Another note: I have no idea if "Logan" is a French word or what it means if it is, but you definitely don’t want me guessing.

Anyway, Mike got into trouble with militant breast-feeders after attempting to mediate a problem between a woman performing a natural act and people who didn’t like seeing a woman breast-feeding her baby during lunch without covering up.

Mike did the best he could with a touchy situation. He wrote a letter to the woman and asked her to be a little more considerate of others’ feelings in the future. He offered to provide her and other nursing mothers a private place to nurse.

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It was the wrong thing to do. Mike was inundated by outraged nursing mothers, including a bunch who showed up and tanked their kids in full view of the next lunch crowd.

That’s America for you. While it’s OK for the federal government to name a place Grand [Teton] National Park for the mountains and charge people money to look at them, it’s not OK for regular people to say they’d rather not watch a woman bring hers out to feed a kid in public.

For the record, both are perfectly fine with me.

Fellow Tribune columnist Paul Rolly quoted one Facebook poster, who wrote: "Why are some Americans so obsessed with breasts? It’s a body part! Why is it OK on a billboard but not when it’s serving its purpose to nourish a baby?"

The poster was obviously a woman. No guy — especially one who had just spent a lot of time in the wilderness — would ever wonder about such an obsession. You not only put them on billboards, you also name mountains after them.

Even most women don’t see their breasts as just another functional body part. How many women do you know who have paid good money to augment their elbows?

I have no idea what the solution is to this social problem. Maybe it’s because I’m descended from a genuine Tetonian (one of their former kings, no less), or because I simply like irony.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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