On several occasions through the years, I have been able to rely on the keen memory of Marianne Zagorski to help tell stories about the Tri-Lakes area. I would pull on a thread of history here, and somehow it was likely to unravel a yarn or two, related -- though not obviously.
In one such instance, the longtime resident was recalling how she used the aviator beacon of Beacon Light (Lite) fame at the top of Monument Hill to tell people how to get to her home near Palmer Lake.
“Those directions to which you refer were the start of what I sent expected guests to direct them to our home of the ‘60s south of Palmer Lake – “Pickwick House” on (Highway) 105.”
As often occurs in such pursuits, the side track would be as enlightening, interesting and useful as the original path we started down.
“We had six possible bedrooms as well as summer fresh-air sleeping porches with iron cots possibly dating back to Lord Pilkington. He designed the house on his hundreds of acres of completely self-sufficient ranch in 1909. He needed the night air to recuperate from TB,” wrote Zagorski to me in a letter in May of 2007.
“When we were there, the giant barn, sheds and silo still stood across the creek. A prior flood had taken their small bridge. Before moving from the U.S.A.F.A. (Air Force Academy) to Palmer Lake, we had not had a house large enough for guests.
"Pure luxury – and friends and relatives took the opportunity to visit. That ‘luxury’ referred only to space, not condition. The roof was badly disintegrating and leaks were never conquered. Also peeling plaster, handsome interior wood and brick and tile had all been plastered over, worn-through carpeting and disreputable furniture were what kept the price almost affordable and other buyers away,” writes Zagorski.
“We did not complain about the condition of the furniture as we had little ourselves. Then there was the kitchen – unbelievably bad with original very rusty sink, wood cook stove, etc… Despite all, we loved our acres and view and the creek and Hugh Nevins’ horses galloping by. We five agree, those were golden years. I suffer from the foible of aging – reminiscence! Should not have started on Pickwick.”
Ah, Mrs. Zagorski, we are glad you did. More than a few of us have lived in a place like that, in a time almost forgotten, in way that is no longer possible.
Given the opportunity, most of us would love to take a return trip.