Sunday, January 18, 2015

Duke's impact and connections to the homeland

Rooster Cogburn (played by John Wayne) confronts the four outlaws across the field.
Ned Pepper (played by Robert Duvall): What's your intention? Do you think one on four is a dogfall?
Rooster Cogburn: I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned. Or see you hanged in Fort Smith at Judge Parker's convenience. Which'll it be?
Ned Pepper: I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.
Rooster Cogburn: Fill your hand, you son of a ...! 

__ From the 1969 version of True Grit, Directed by Henry Hathaway, Written by Margueritte Roberts, based on the novel by Charles Portis.

I just finished Scott Eyman's 2014 bestseller "John Wayne: The Life and Legend" and I am struck by how much impact a figure from the silver screen can have on a person— namely me.
Having grown up in southwestern Colorado, where the actor was almost woven into the fabric of the area, I feel connected, like he was a not-too-distant relative, (maybe  great-granddad or something).
Part of it, has to do with location.
Monument Valley, location for multiple John Ford westerns that molded Duke Morrison from a "B"movie crew member into the larger-than-life John Wayne, and sets him up as an American icon, straddled the Utah and Arizona border. Other films were created near Mexican Hat and it all, was not so terribly far from my boyhood home in Dolores, Colorado. If you followed the streamflows back uphill, to locations of the "Sons of Katie Elder," "True Grit" and other films, it meandered its way up the Dolores River, over Lizard Head Pass and high into the San Juan Mountains of Ridgway, Ouray, over Dallas Divide and into Montrose, where I was born.
Deb's Meadow, near the summit of Owl Creek Pass, with Chimney Peak and Courthouse Mountain featured in background, is where the film scene above took place. Duke used a trick similar to the one he learned for opening scenes of "The Searchers" of Monument Valley fame, in which a customized, sawed-off Winchester Model 1892, could be twirled to cock under his arm with just one hand.
"For his close-up, with reins between his teeth, twirling and cocking one-handed as he bore down on the outlaws, Wayne was not sitting on a horse, but on a saddle mounted on a camera car," wrote Eyman, in his recent book.
The hanging scene early in the movie was filmed in the Ridgway Town Park and Chin Lee's Place was on Clinton Street there. A little bit further up in Ouray, at the Court House, some of the court scenes were in the real thing there. The Ross Ranch, where the aging Wayne did his own horse jump for the freeze frame at the end of the movie, is out, off Highway 62, on the Last Dollar Road.
The truth of the mater was, that the big star was connected to area in other ways.
Today, thanks to the Pauls Family Work, large areas of the forest are accessible, and even that has ties back to Wayne.
Glen Pauls said he first came to the area with his family in the 1970s. After decades of planning, purchasing land, and dreaming, Glenn Pauls, his wife Dianne, and the Pauls family have transferred the first phase of the Ophir Mining Roads Public Access Preservation Project to the United States Forest Service. This transfer includes 109 acres and three building sites in the Water Fall Canyon area. These lands can never be developed and can never be closed to public motorized access.
"From there we came back nearly every year to motorcycle and jeep the trails, and we began to buy land. I now have approximately 1200 acres, almost all, of the mining claims in and around the Ophir Valley my parents and I have purchased since the mid 80s," Glen Pauls described how their efforts took shape.
"It started when I was told of a deal by realtor Bob Forsberg, where I could buy the entire holdings of John Wayne (the actor) and Donald Koll, who had planned to build a silver mine or ski area. The Hunt brothers and Telski dashed their dreams, and we bought them out. The path to preservation was conceived," he said.
Self professed "cowboy hippie" lawyer Dick Unruh, who still calls Telluride home, represented John Wayne and Ed Smart in a land transaction related to East Ophir when he came to the area in 1972.
In 1972, according to Unruh, pre-ski area, only about 400 people lived in Telluride.
And and though I have not been able to verify or prove it, I believe I ran into the Duke up there one year at the annual Fourth of July celebration, as military jets from Pete Field preformed a flyover worthy of the star's enthusiastic military support, and a better-than-average parade snaked down the main street. I think I probably have seen all of his movies, most before his death on June 11, in 1979.
Eyeman says John Wayne became not only Hollywood's most famous and successful actors, but in the process became a symbol of America itself — for better and worse.
It has made me wonder about a great number of possible ties of my home ground over the years and speculate about connections to the early film industry. For example, the most-storied bar there being known as the Hollywood, and the three-storied Del Rio Hotel finished in the early 1930s reportedly being frequented by Clara Bow and perhaps others, but I am also intrigued by the name itself, as Dolores Del Rio was one of the top starlets of the 1920s. With director John Ford (and his biggest star John Wayne) doing a lot of work in Monument Valley in the 1930s it doesn't seem to be out of the realm of possibility. 
At Pacific View Memorial Park, in Newport Beach, California, a stone was placed years after Duke's death in 1979, on his grave and carrying a quote by the legend himself.
"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes to us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Write back where I came from

Write back where I came from
The light is on in the hall
I left the woods and tree stumps
Left the streets and crawl

Folks, they think they know me
They know nothing at all
I was different then and now 
Put all on paper, tack it to the wall

"Sensitive"  they called it.
So angry, I'd start a brawl
Snatches of conversation
Stories of the maul.

Stories were my salvation
For tell-tale, I had the call
Sensed things were to happen
Put it all on paper, tack it to the wall

Write back where I came from
Paint a pictures big and small
Memories true and false
Lady was beauty, fact, she was a doll

"Sensitive" they called it.
The light is on in  the hall
Capture all of their spirits
Put it all on paper, tack it to wall

___ Rob Carrigan

Building was once Gwillimville School

With much fanfare, the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce moved into the Highway 105 location in 1985, but the building itself has quite a storied history. It's been a bit transient.
According to a letter dated March 15, 1985, from long-time Monument historian Lucille Lavelett, the building has been bopping around Monument since perhaps as early as 1869.
"The C.E. (Christian Education) Building was once a one-room Gwillimville School. Gwillimville was once a small, thriving community five miles east of Monument on Highway 105. It was founded by Gwillim R. Gwillim in 1869."
Lavelett relates the following story:
"During a period of a few years, a dozen or more families had come from Wales and several from England, and settled in the community. Church services were held in the one-room Gwillimville School until the Gwillimville Church was built in 1893. This Church was built on the northwest corner of (Highway) 105 and Highway 83," wrote Lavelett.
"On Aug. 6, 1919, Monument School consolidated with three smaller districts which were Pring, three miles south of Monument, Husted, six miles south (Husted is now part of the United States Air Force Academy), and Stout, which was east of Husted. The following year, Gwillimville joined the new district (1920)," she wrote.
"It was in the late 1920s or early 1930s, Rev. R.J. Hassted, minister of the Presbyterian Church, and Earl Thompson moved the little white school into Monument and put it south of the Presbyterian Church to be used as a Sunday School and community services. To help the church, the Monument Homemakers Club in 1938, and 1939, paid for having ceiling and walls re-plastered and painted, built a new flue in the west end, bought a large coal circulator heater to heat the building and put linoleum in the kitchen area. The east end had a cook stove, sink and cupboards. Cook stove did not give enough heat to warm the building, so the new flue was built," Lavelett said.
"In the late 1940s, the church built the new kitchen and Sunday School room on the north side of the building. Also a rest room. The town, at that time, had natural gas, so a gas heater was installed," she said.
At the time of the 1985 move to its present location, Lavelett noted that this was third move for the old Gwillimville School.
"When it was built, its home was about one and a half miles north of (Highway) 105 where the children had to walk through a cattle pasture. Children were afraid of the cattle, so it was move close to 105. Moved then to Monument, and in 1985 to home of the Chamber of Commerce," according to historian Lavelett.
Then County Commissioner Frank Klotz and Chamber President Sandy Smith turned a spade-full of dirt in honor of the new building in February, and actual move took place in April of that year, reported the forerunner of the Tribune at the time. The chamber had been organized nine years prior to spearhead efforts to attract business and industry to the Tri-Lakes area.
The Chamber owns the building itself but not the land on which it is located (property of the Colorado Department of Transportation), and will be looking for a suitable tenant for their former location on Highway 105.
"I love this building," says current Chamber Executive Director Terri Hayes, "But we are just out of space."

Chamber to re-locate to former town hall

Beginning in February, the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce will be relocated to 166 Second Street in Monument, in what was once the town hall, and recently served as Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District's administration building. The move, from the Chamber's first permanent office on Highway 105 just south of the Village Inn where they have been located since 1985, will give the organization more room and access to events.
"We are just out of space," said Tri-Lakes Chamber Executive Director Terri Hayes. "The new space is about four times as large as we currently have. It gives us storage room. We can bring in more volunteers to help us. We have really grown in the last few years and this will allow us to actually have a front desk to greet visitors and conduct meetings without them conflicting with our efforts as a visitor's center."
The arrangement, Hayes says, puts the organization nearby for many of their major events, including the July Fourth Street Fair, Hop Fest, the Labor Day Kinetic Energy Race, and this year's fishing derby.
Town officials see benefits as well, and the arrangement is free of rent.
"It keeps the building from being empty and several groups meet there on a regular basis, so it is important to have some type of 'presence' downtown. The Chamber is perfect, because they work regionally for all of us and they will bring people downtown that might otherwise have never gone off of (Highway) 105," says Pamela K. Smith, Monument Town Manager
Smith says there are a number of benefits to town and citizens.
"Having an active 'business' that drives events and tourists to the downtown area is a win/win for all."
The specifics of the arrangement according to Smith are:
"It is an annual lease that can be broken by either party with a 90-day notice. The Chamber will keep up the maintenance and the Town is responsible for any Capital repairs."
She said the details of the arrangement were mainly worked out by Mayor Dominguez and Terri Hayes from the Chamber.
As far as a time line:
"We hope to have everything remodeled and the building occupied no later than Feb. 1. The Town's Community Relations Specialist, Madeline VanDenHoek will be officed in the building as well, since she works closely with the Chamber on events and with Downtown Merchants. It also allows for an additional meeting space in the Downtown area. It is an initial five-year lease renewable annually, but I think it is an arrangement that will last a long time," she said.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Spirit of George Kobalt lives on in Tribune

"Howdy and good morning," were at the top of the page for the Palmer Lake - Monument News for the Jan. 15, 1965 edition of the paper. It was the second issue.
George Kobolt ran a photo of himself, and a caption that said, "Don't shoot this man, if you see him 'casing the joint' — It's Editor Geo. Kobolt, in a light blue 1962 or a green 1963 Chevrolet (Wagon) and he is probably trying to show a merchant how advertising doesn't cost — It pays!"
Years later, I would listen to ghost stories related of how old Geo. could be heard rattling around sometimes at night at what once was the reinforced basement of the former printing plant at 319 Perry Street in Castle Rock. The stories were most frequently focused on the area that was once under the presses known as the 'morgue' because it was where all the dead papers went.
"To answer the questions that arose from my visit to the Palmer Lake-Monument Post Offices last Friday morning, and advertising calls made Monday by our Bob Shchultz — We are concerned about the success of the new paper," Kobolt wrote.
"Because the Columbine Herald didn't make it, and another paper is having its troubles. Yes, I am familiar with both instances for we printed for another gentleman, the Columbine Herald. In those days, we were platen press printers and in my estimation, no newspapers could be printed economically in small quantities with that method. So, I held off until we purchased our present lithographic press."
Kobolt was proud of the new equipment, and at the same time cautious and distant, about a competitive product sometimes printed in the Tri-Lakes market at the time.
"It is the largest press of its type between Denver and Colorado Springs — even Littleton. The other paper we print when it is brought to us to print. We are the only commercial printers for it, not editors or business managers — wonderful people endeavoring to put it out for the area."
He answered a question about affiliations with other nearby papers at the time. "Are you Geo. Kobolt, connected in any way with either of the Colorado Springs papers?"
"No. I am a printer. Independent as a married man can be, with a 24-year-old married daughter and a 16-year-old son. I have no connections with the papers there — I'm just a little 'feller' competing in a world of tycoons," he answered and expounded upon the things his new paper was not trying to do.
"You will see ads from here and there. That is the choice of the businessmen to make. Please, do not take it as an indication that editor Geo. is trying to change your buying practices — Buy at home.
He noted the presence then of such fine establishments as Higby Mercantile, Glenside Store, McCall Mercantile, Churches including Little Log Church, St. Peter Catholic, Monument Community Presbyterian and others.
In closing, Geo. Kobolt had this to say about the new paper 50 years ago.
"This little Palmer Lake-Monument News is not out to cover the world — just the area of our local interest."
The Palmer Lake - Monument News has maintained that strategy for those 50 years and eventually became, over time and different editors and publishers, the Tri-Lake Tribune. The spirit of Geo. Kobalt lives on in the Tribune. Watch for details as we gear up to celebrate our first 50 years of local publishing history, and the businesses, sources, readers, advertisers, and friends who helped make it possible in coming editions.  And we will offer clues on where we are going for our next 200 years.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The first fifty of the Courier, and more

The Ute Pass Courier announced the winners of the Man of the Year Contest in the Jan. 7. 1965 edition of the paper.
"We were rather dubious about anyone taking it seriously," wrote then publisher Agnes Schupp at the time. "Would any votes reach the Courier office?"
She answered in the next graph.
"Yes, indeed! The Reverend Micheal Kavenagh voted into first place unanimously by a flood of votes. We asked for a 'reason.' Perhaps the best one found lying on the desk one noon;"
"Us kids want Rev. Micheal Kavenagh to be The Man of the Year. We waited in your office but you wasn't here. We got to tell you why. Well — We like father Kavenagh because he is him."
Right behind Kavenagh, is Pete Brown for "going right ahead, not caring if people agree with him or not. He believes is progress and growth of this area and he wants everyone to prosper — not just himself," the paper reasoned.
Not far behind was Bert Bergstrom, of which it was noted "Bert has lent a helping hand whenever and wherever it is needed. Bert never cause much commotion — he is just a good guy."
The paper offer congratulation to these men but identified a possible improvement in the project for coming years. "I still think there should have been a Woman of the Year — and our votes would have been cast for Mrs. Hunter Caroll."
Strangely, this was only Publisher Schupp's first year of year of running the Ute Pass Courier and she was willing to try new things.  In fact, it was within the very first year of existence of the Ute Pass Courier.
That's right, the paper is now in its 50th year. We plan to mark that accordingly.
The first edition of the paper hit the streets on July 23, 1964.
"A morally bankrupt publisher, who was printing the short-lived Woodland Park paper called the Eagle, skipped town with the subscription money from local residents after 10 issues," according to later articles in the Courier.
"Manfred (Monte ) and Agnes (Ag) Schupp saved the paper from scandal and early demise," reported the Courier at the 25th anniversary of the publication. "About one month after he stole out of town, the Schupps put out their inaugural edition of 500 copies. Staff included Tom Bonifield, then owner of Woodland Pharmacy, and M.E. "Pete" Brown, who owned the Browncraft Steakhouse. He was later instrumental in establishing Langstaff-Brown Medical Center."
The paper was first printed in La Junta and was taken there by bus and returned Thursday mornings for distribution.
"The driving force behind the Courier, Agnes (also a mother and free-lance writer) often used her kitchen table as the production room for the paper," the paper reported later. "She suffered from a heart condition which was aggravated by the area's high elevation, and during her failing health she sold half interest to Maureen Jones in the fall of 1965."
Agnes Schupp died of heart attack June 19, 1966, and Manfred and Jones sold full interest to Roy and Carol Lee Robinson Sept. 1, 1966. Publisher, editor and reporter for 12 years, Roy Robinson received many honors and awards from Colorado Press Association for the paper's overall progress. During his tenure, the Courier was published in Cripple Creek along with Cripple Creek Times, then owned by his father, B.G. Robinson.
The paper, later published by notable mainstays of Woodland Park, Gene and Carol Sperry,  and others, (a complete linage will follow in coming editions as we gear up to celebrate over 50 years of serving Teller County and the Ute Pass region). The publication has many locations over the years, finally residing in the building it is in now, since 1984.
The Courier became the Pikes Peak Courier View as the Cripple Creek Gold Rush was merged with it in 2007, and recently View was dropped to reflect its longtime roots. The Gold Rush (with ancestors of the Times, Record, Citizen, and others) traced it roots all the way back to Cripple Creek Crusher, born Dec. 4, 1891, of which this year marks 124 years. To most locally, we have always been the Courier.
Look for details of our first 50 years of history here on the flanks of Pikes Peak, and the businesses, sources, readers, advertisers, and friends who helped make it possible in coming editions.  And  we will offer clues on where we are going for our next 200 years. Yes, indeed!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Miners' Union Hall somewhat disfigured, but still in the ring

In July, after a being struck by lightning, the historic Miners' Union Hall in Victor was nearly destroyed in a fire that started around 2 p.m. July 26. Fire crews from Victor, Cripple Creek, Four Mile, Divide and Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District helped battle the blaze this summer.
Barbara McMillan owns the building and began restoring it once again in October. Built in 1899, after the devastating fire that destroyed much of the town of Victor, the union hall is a critical piece of the town’s history.
On Monday, June 6, 1904, the Union Hall first found it's place in history when two men were killed, three others were gravely wounded, in the lot below the Gold Coin shaft house across from the Union Hall.
A fight broke out that afternoon as Clarence Hamlin, of the Mine Owner's Association called for chasing "these W.F.M scoundrels out of the district," after the bombing of the Independence train platform killing 13 non-union miners that morning, and injuring at least a dozen more. What began as fist fight, escalated into gunfire and some of the fire seemed to have come from the windows of the Union Hall.
"The militiamen surrounded the Union Hall. Sheriff Ed Bell and Postmaster Danny Sullivan entered the club and told the W.F.M. members to come out," wrote Marshall Sprague, in "Money Mountain."
They refused, he reported and "The militiamen aimed their rifles and poured volley after volley into the rooms, wounding four men. The rest surrendered and were led off by the militia. Berserk civilians rushed into Union Hall, wrecked the walls, smashed furniture, ripped curtains, and destroyed membership ledgers. Afterwards, this gang and other gangs roamed the gold camp for W.FM. members and wrecked every union hall and union store. About two hundred men were imprisoned."
Altogether 225 union members were loaded on trains and deported under guard to Kansas and New Mexico locations.
Because of the dynamiting of the Independence, the W.F.M. became extremely unpopular, and mine owners were able to force them out of the district, according to Sprague.
Years later, the Union Hall served a different, yet noteworthy, purpose.
Margaret Whitehill Geddes, in her book Gold Camp Indian Summer, recalls her husband Kenneth being named the new high school principal of Victor in the late1920s. Kenneth and Margaret later became publishers of the Cripple Creek Times-Record, a merger of the Cripple Creek Times and the Victor Record newspapers and an ancestor of the Pikes Peak Courier.
"He was not only the new principal, but we were to have the apartment in Miners' Union building which had been recently remodeled (roughly) to be used as a gymnasium," wrote Geddes.
"Oh that apartment! The second floor of the building was reached by a long staircase with swinging doors halfway up. On the right at the top were tow doors, one leading to the kitchen, one to the dining room. In front of these were the bedroom and living room. Glass partitions divided the dining room and living room, and the kitchen and the bedroom. Each room was square and there were full length windows in the two front rooms. The windows had been replaced but the marks of the bullets of the miners' strike in 1904 were still showing in the bricks and plaster around them," Geddes wrote.
"Outside the apartment a hall led to the big auditorium, sometimes gym, with a stage at one end. The auditorium was heated two stoves at the far end. Two boys came after school to make the fires. Soon after I'd hear the clump clump of feet on those steep stairs as the basketball boys came up for practice. (Not until later was there a football team, and basketball went on for most of the school year)," Geddes said.
"Besides the games, at least twice a year there were plays staged in the auditorium," she noted.
"The plays produced were not the cheap no-royalty shows, but productions that had been successes on the Broadway stage, probably some time before, but legitimate hits, and they were popular and drew good crowds. The Victor Opera house sadly had been torn down about two years before and people said they appreciated having something to take its place, even if it was only a high school play with local young people taking the parts."
After the lightning strike and the fire this year, McMillan expressed dismay and sorrow, citing not only the potential loss but the lack of funds. “I’m out of money,” she said in July.
In October, however, McMillan submitted a plan to the city to start the cleanup and remodel.
The plan includes repairing holes in the wall, removing the flashing as well as the unstable and damaged bricks. “They’re going to monitor that to make sure the walls aren’t moving,” said Deb Downs, Victor’s city manager.
Soon after McMillan submitted the plan, the contractor, Daniel Halbrook Masonry, pulled permits from the city and started work Oct 3. 

Photos: #1 Front, after fire on July 26, 2014. #2 This photo of the Western Federation Miners Union Hall in Victor was taken just a few months before fire nearly destroyed the building in July. #3 Historic photo of the Union Hall early in the 20th Century. #Historic photo taken shortly after it was built. #4 Back of the building after the recent fire. #5 Front window after July fire. Bullet holes are still visible from the 1904 strike violence.