The Magazine of The University of Montana
A Party to Remember
Counterclockwise from upper left: Left to right: Kate Fraser her parents, Hal and Sharee; Siblings Joe, Kate, and Jason Fraser with Benny the Bull, a.k.a. Monte, a.k.a. Barry Anderson; Mac Fraser ’62, U.S. Senator Max Baucus, and Sharee Fraser; A view of the party at 515 University Avenue; The brewing crew on Frasers’ deck, left to right: Sharee Fraser, Hal Fraser, Carla Boettcher, “Elly” Ellison, and Maureen Ford
On University Avenue, directly across from the Delta Gamma house and the former site of the Phi Delta Theta house, sits a home with white columns and bright green trim. It was known as the Blue Parrot Tea Room in the 1920s and later as Kay’s Dress Shop, but for the last quarter-century, it was the home of Missoula’s Best Homecoming Bloody Mary Party.
For twenty-five years 515 University Avenue, home of UM alums Hal ’64 and Sharee Reardon Fraser ’65, was the spot to enjoy the parade and renew one’s connections to UM. Each year without fail, the Frasers and their diligent, sworn-to-secrecy crew brewed up to forty-five gallons of Bloody Marys to share with whomever dropped by.
“See you at the Frasers’” was frequently overheard in the hours leading up to the Homecoming Parade, while “great Bloody Marys this year” was the annual affirmation on the lawn itself, at tailgates, and even during postgame festivities.
On Fridays before the parade, the crew (California alums “Elly” Ellison ’66 and Maureen and Dick Ford ’64—who had permanent reservations in the Frasers’ front bedroom; Montanans Carla Boettcher ’66, Lynn Sparks Keeley ’64, and Sally Fraser Moskol ’60; and the Fraser kids: Jason ’95, Kate ’97, and Joe ’85) gathered at the home to mix the concoction. From filling just a single pitcher in the earliest years of the party to the whopping nine five-gallon paint buckets in the latter years, the crew dutifully prepared the tomato and Clamato juice and vodka mix. One bucket was kept virgin—“the only thing we ever had left over,” Dick Ford laughs. Other ingredients such as horseradish, celery salt, dill, Tabasco sauce, lemon juice, and Worcestershire were adjusted and voted in or out, depending on the crew’s taste tests.
“The only real secret,” Sharee says, “was to make it all up the day before, and let those flavors marry.” The Marys married all night on the Frasers’ deck.
The price was right, too. Only tips were accepted, which helped cover expenses and paid the Phi Delt and Alpha Phi bartenders hired in later years. (Hal and his son Jason were Phi Delts, daughter Kate an Alpha Phi.) The Fraser kids helped up the tip ante, too, offering special garnishes such as asparagus spears or artichoke hearts at the tables they helped staff.
From politicians to mascots to bagpipers—everyone seemed to drop by, upward of four hundred in the last years.
“We never had any trouble,” Sharee confirms. “We had soft drinks, water, and chips—something for everyone.”
Longtime friend Donna Manley Olson ’65 recalls the group heckling Hal as he directed the parade traffic and the crowds. Hal was the official volunteer parade disburser at the corner of University and Helen avenues for many years—not an easy task.
“It was especially fun to watch his big grin when he directed the Alumni Band straight down University Avenue, in front of his house,” Donna says. “We would all yell and applaud them. We have the Frasers to thank for keeping many of us in close contact for twenty-five years.”
Originated when Sharee’s mother, Kay Thrailkill Reardon ’36—with a Bloody Mary in hand—took to waiting for her granddaughter Kate to march by in the famous Red Wave, the Frasers grew a tradition as large as their hearts.
The last party was held in 2008.
“It was time for it to end,” Sharee says. “It had gotten so big. And we were getting older.”
The memories, however, will live on.
“It was the location,” Dick Ford says about why the parties were so popular. “And the people. Our era of people. It was really special.”
Hal Fraser passed away January 10, 2011.