Friday, December 6, 2019

Under an Elm tree from Massachusetts


“All our wisdom is stored in the trees.”
Santosh Kalwar

Local tree story has long and twisted roots

going back to the Father of our Country


By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

The stories have been around for at least two centuries now...
Here in Loveland, for almost a hundred years we have staked our own claims of arborific celebrity and renown.
Beginning as early as the 1830s, legend has it that the Father of our country, George Washington, first took command of the American Army on July 3, 1775, supposedly reported in the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, under an Elm tree in Cambridge, Mass.
At 205 E Eisenhower Blvd. in Loveland, The Washington Elm Tree in the Walgreen's parking lot between Lincoln and Cleveland avenues, a sickly sprout of the tree first arrived in Loveland in 1932. Root shoots from the original Cambridge tree were sent to DAR chapters throughout the nation, including Loveland's Namaqua Chapter, and the tree was planted in the yard of what was then the Lincoln School. The tree is one of the few Washington Elm offshoots still thriving in the nation, but another DAR member is working to carry on the tree's heritage. Corrine Yahn, who teaches geology at Front Range Community College, works with Front Range laboratory coordinator Susan Brown on micropropagation. For about a year, Yahn says they've been using samples from the Loveland elm to essentially try and clone the tree.
For the original Cambridge tree, publication of the fictional "eye-witness" journal The Diary of Dorothy Dudley in 1876, furthered the legend and although George Washington did take command of the army on July 3, 1775, there is no official documentation stating that this event took place under the tree.
In 1923, the Cambridge Elm tree was very fragile and diseased. Workers from the parks department of Cambridge were cutting two of the remaining limbs. Upon cutting the second limb, the entire tree fell over onto its iron fence and brought the Boston Elevated Railway cable to within 15 feet of the ground. The tree was divided up into approximately 1000 pieces, and these were distributed to all states and their legislatures. The cross-section of the tree was sent to Mount Vernon. About 150 pieces were given to locals in Cambridge, a few hundred were mailed throughout the country, and some fraternal organizations received pieces as well.
In 1925, the legend was openly discredited at the Cambridge Historical Society (CHS), when Samuel F. Batchelder read a paper he later reprinted as The Washington Elm Tradition: "Under This Tree Washington First Took Command of the American Army" Is It True? Batchelder asserted forgeries occurred in the stories told about Washington and the tree.
Today, a plaque embedded in the pavement of Garden Street (at its Mason St. intersection) in Cambridge marks where the tree used to stand. The Cambridge Historical Commission (CHC) has called the association of Washington and the elm a "myth" but stated that "the image of the tree remains a symbol of patriotism in Cambridge.
According to Loveland historian Zethyl Gates, in an August, 1983 article for the Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald, a Loveland woman, Mrs. William Ward was regent of Namaqua D.A.R. Chapter and chair of the National Conservation Committee at the time, and through her efforts, a sprout of Cambridge tree was sent here to Loveland. "Only two other descendants of the original Washington Elm are in Colorado —one in Washington Park in Denver, and the other in Monument Valley Park in Colorado Springs."
"The Loveland D.A.R. received the elm sprout with much misgivings," wrote Gates.
"It was such a sickly looking sprout, barely as thick as a person's finger and only 15 inches long. Twice, it died down after being planted in the school grounds, only to have leaves reappear each time and finally show growth. The janitors of the old school took extra care of the sapling, and it thrived in spite of rough treatment from many scool children playing around it. Pranksters reach as high as they could to tie knots into the ends of the pliable young branches, or to braid several boughs together; young Tarzans would swing from its more than sturdy branches and still the tree grew."
In 1948, the Namaqua Chapter place a marker in a public ceremony and more than 300 local children took part. Later, the 58-year-old school was declared unsafe and then, demolished. Plans for a grocery store were announced and plans for removal of the tree, at the hands of progress were outlined but a community backlash "Saved the Tree."
"At a City Council meeting in March of 1966, three recommendations for preservation of the Washington elm in Loveland were voiced by City Councilwoman Lucile Erwin on behalf of the citizen's committee, and they were approved by council action... So the tree was saved.
"Albertson's is gone; so is the Sears store which occupied the site briefly. Yet the beautiful Elm tree remains, approximately 90 feet tall, with the typical urn shape for which these trees are noted. Perhaps we could say of Loveland's Washington Elm as we say of some people, suggests Gates.
"The rugged individualist grown strong through hardships can no longer be swayed by passing winds. His battered but firm frame and weather-beaten mein have a dignity that commands our admiration and respect."



###

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

More than 1,200,000 men already have graduated from the "University of the Woods."

CCC enrollees give themselves heart and soul

to the welfare of the Nation


By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com


The State of Colorado experienced a 'late spring' in 1933, with the deepest snow in the winter falling in May, but that didn't set back the formation and organization of a 'Forest Army' in woods of Colorado by the end of the year.

Major General Frank Parker, U.S. Army, the Commanding General 8th Corps Area, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, described the announcement to commanding officers of Regular Army posts under his jurisdiction that the President had delegated to the War Department the duty of enrolling, clothing, feeding, quartering, transporting to work camps, furnishing medical service for, paying, keeping records of, and responsibility for the control and welfare of some 275,000 young Americans. Units for administration were to consist of approximately 200 men, and were to be called companies.

These men were not to be under military discipline, as are soldiers, would be subject to civil law only. The name of the new organization was to be the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Col. Sherwood A. Cheney, commanding the 2nd Regiment of Engineers and Post of Fort Logan, was one of the post commanders notified. He was directed to help organize and administer the Civilian Conservation Corps in Colorado. Thirty-five CCC companies began forming in the summer of 1933 and were located in the National Forest and Parks of Colorado. The intention was to compose nearly 50 percent of camps of Colorado men, with the remaining being enrollees from Oklahoma and Texas.

Clothing, tents, blankets, cots, cooking utensils, mess equipment, food and medical supplies were gathered for 7,000 men that were transported to the camps. Some of the camps were 85 miles from the nearest railroad and many of the camps were 400 miles from Fort Logan's command structure. That structure was small at the time, made up of 16, or so, officers, and 480 enlisted men.

The CCC groups were often 200 men in each camp, and spread out all over Colorado. Officers and enlisted men converted from duties that had earned them a strong, capable reputation in WW I as an expeditionary forces in France in 1917 and 1918, and tasked with running the CCC camps.

"The best non-commissioned officers and specialists of the Regiment were selected to act as first sergeants, cooks, and company clerks for the new CCC companies," reported military publications. Much of the clerical work of camps were performed by Fort Logan regulars. Additional officers were sent to help from Fort Warren in Wyoming, and For Sill, in Oklahoma, to help administer the Fort Logan Reconditioning Camp, until the CCC contingents could break off into the work camps.

Nearly 900 men from Denver and surrounding counties were fed, clothed, and quartered while awaiting weather conditions to move to the forests and parks, to new camps at 7,500 to 10,000 feet altitudes.

"The unusually heavy snows during May, 1933, prevented a May 1 occupation. By the middle of the month, occupation of camps began."

"With the exception of the medical service in the work camps, the District was organized, and was administered and supplied until the fall of 1933 by Regular Army personnel," according to History of The CCC in Colorado, produced by camp enrollees in 1936.

"By December 1, 1933, the great majority of Regular Army personnel had been relieved from companies, and had returned to their normal duties. Thereafter, companies and work camps were administered by reserve officers, with enrollee assistants."

"Slightly more than three years ago the Federal Government, in its desire to relieve hardship resulting from unusual economic conditions and conserve the natural resources of the Country, authorized the organization of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The undertaking of this giant task was made the duty of several government agencies, the principal ones being the Department of Agriculture, Interior, Labor and War," wrote Major General Frank Parker,  in a letter to outlining the accomplishments in July 27, 1936.

"From the very inception of the movement, there were many people who were somewhat skeptical as what could be accomplished by the Civilian Conservation Corps. From my personal observation, I know that the results which have been accomplished cannot possibly be over-estimated.These phenomenal results were due to some extent to the coordination and cooperation of the participating Federal departments. However, the credit for the success of the movement must be shared by the enrollees that make up the Corps. The determination with which the enrollees set about to perform the tasks assigned them is indicative of the spirit of young American manhood. It shows that they not only realize and appreciate the fact that the Civilian Conservation Corps affords them an opportunity to assist their families and themselves in a financial way, but gives to the Country, as a whole, lasting benefits," Parker noted.

"Since the beginning of the movement in April, 1933, more than 1,200,000 men already have graduated from the "University of the Woods." Not only have these men derived great benefit in the way of physical development through outdoor life and healthy living: but they have been afforded opportunities for improving themselves for return to normal walks of life, and make themselves better citizens," he said.

"It has been my experience that the members of Civilian Conservation Corps have accepted every responsibility thrust upon them, and have accomplished all their duties, in general, in a signal manner. Not only this, but they have been eager to take advantage of the educational opportunities in the camps which the government has so generously provide. All this shows clearly and unmistakably that the American youth has lost none of the strength and virility of his forbears, and that the members of the Civilian Conservation Corps can always be relied upon to give themselves heart and soul to the welfare of the Nation," General Parker recalled.

Photo Information:

Photo 1:
Civilian Conservation Corps workers shovel roadbase at Mesa Verde National Park. Some wear coveralls; another is shirtless. Floyd Boardman wears a white short-sleeved shirt, fedora hat, and tall laced boots.

Photo 2:
Clothing, tents, blankets, cots, cooking utensils, mess equipment, food and medical supplies were gathered for 7,000 men that were transported to the camps.





Thursday, November 14, 2019

Work feeds artists in Colorado Post Offices


Loveland mural by Russell Sherman.

"I realized the bohemian life was not for me. I look around at my friends, living like starving artists, and wonder, 'Where's the art?' They weren't doing anything. And there was so much interesting stuff to do, so much fun to be had ... maybe I could even quit renting."
__ P. J. O'rourke

Art murals go "Postal" in the 1930s

By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

If you wander into any of 15 select post offices in Colorado, you can still see the remnants of a 1930s "New Deal" project to diminish artists' stress at the time — namely, the 'starving' part.

Here in Loveland, Iowa-born artist Russell Sherman painted it as he saw it at that time, "as a farming community in the shadow of Long's Peak, where bumper crops of golden grain was harvested; where sugar beets nourished by snow-fed mountain streams turned into irrigation canals, were processed in the sugar factory; where beef cattle munched their way to oblivion; where barns and farm houses spoke of the goodness of life," wrote local historian Zethyl Gates in the Loveland Reporter-Herald in 1979.

While painting the mural, Sherman and his wife lived in a cottage near Estes Park. He also painted a mural for the Rocky Mountain National Park agency in Estes Park, and later illustrated books and created a number of murals and lithographs representing the Western Scene.

"Sherman loved the West and his style compares favorably with that of other artists of the Regionalist movement championed by Thomas Hart Benton, himself and active naturalist who depicted small town rural life. It is interesting to note that Kenneth Evett studied under Benton, and painted a similar mural in the Golden Post Office," says Gates.



"Throughout the United States—on post office walls large and small—are scenes reflecting America's history and way of life. Post offices built in the 1930s during Roosevelt's New Deal were decorated with enduring images of the 'American scene,'" wrote Patricia Raynor, more than two decades ago for Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

"In the 1930s, as America continued to struggle with the effects of the depression, the federal government searched for solutions to provide work for all Americans, including artists. During this time government-created agencies supported the arts in unprecedented ways. As Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt's relief administrator said in response to criticism of federal support for the arts, "[artists] have got to eat just like other people," Raynor said.

Often mistaken for WPA art, post office murals were actually executed by artists working for the Section of Fine Arts. Commonly known as "the Section," it was established in 1934 and administered by the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department. Headed by Edward Bruce, a former lawyer, businessman, and artist, the Section's main function was to select art of high quality to decorate public buildings—if the funding was available, Raynor wrote.

Edward Bright Bruce managed the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), the Section of Painting and Sculpture and the Treasury Relief Art Project, New Deal relief efforts that provided work for artists in the United States during the Great Depression.

Ned Bruce was a successful lawyer and entrepreneur before giving up his career altogether at the age of 43 to become an artist. However, like most artists during the Depression, he found it impossible to make a living making art, and grudgingly returned to business in 1932 as a lobbyist in Washington for the Calamba Sugar Estate of San Francisco. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt received a letter from the American painter George Biddle, who suggested a New Deal program that would hire artists to paint murals in federal office buildings.

Roosevelt liked the idea, and brought it to the United States Treasury Department, which oversaw all construction of federal buildings. Bruce had by that time made some connections in Washington, and he was asked to help organize the effort. By the end of 1943, all of the New Deal art programs had been shut down following Bruce's death. 

 Murals produced through the Treasury Department's Section of Painting and Sculpture (1934–43) were funded as a part of the cost of the construction of new post offices, with 1% of the cost set aside for artistic enhancements. Murals were commissioned through competitions open to all artists in the United States. Almost 850 artists were commissioned to paint 1371 murals, most of which were installed in post offices; 162 of the artists were women and three were African American.

The Treasury Relief Art Project (1935–38), which provided artistic decoration for existing Federal buildings, produced a smaller number of post office murals. TRAP was established with funds from the Works Progress Administration. The Section supervised the creative output of TRAP, and selected a master artist for each project. Assistants were then chosen by the artist from the rolls of the WPA Federal Art Project.

The Colorado Post Offices that once sported "Section" murals includes Colorado Springs, Denver, Englewood, Florence, Glenwood, Golden, Grand Junction, Gunnison, Littleton, Loveland, Manitou Springs, Montrose, Rifle Rocky Ford and Walsenburg. Two murals that were in the Colorado Springs post office (NRHP-listed, but NRHP document does not mention murals) were removed and installed in the Federal Building in Denver.



Section of Fine Arts mural entitled “Hunters, Red and White” painted by Archie Musick for the Manitou Springs post office in 1942.
A plaque near the mural reads: “Depression-era public art programs coincided with the heyday of Colorado Springs’ art school, the Broadmoor Art Academy: Its students and teachers painted murals in federal buildings nationwide. For Manitou’s post office mural competition, my father, Archie Musick, depicted the legend of Manitou’s springs: ‘the God Manitou in a fit of rage clubbing a quarrelsome chief.’ His frieze of Indian-trapper life across the bottom of the submitted sketch was so popular with ‘the brass in Washington…they told me to dump the main design and blow up the frieze to fill the entire space.’ Painted when many federal murals were nationalistic – just months after Pearl Harbor – this mural’s ambiguity and unusual dry-pigment/glaze technique are distinctive: ‘Hunters Red and White” embodies some historical suggestions from his friend, author Frank Waters – Manitou’s first cabin, explorers Pike and Fremont – but mostly Archie’s own inspiration from fantasy, pictographs, artist friends (including Japanese-American artists sheltering here), and the beloved local rocky landscape.”


Boardman Robinson’s “Colorado Stock Sale” mural still occupies most of a wall in the Englewood post office lobby. The post office was threatened with closure in 2010 but was saved after an outcry from local residents and preservationists.
Image by Broadman Robinson, Date:1940



Walsenburg mural.


Glenwood mural.


Littleton mural.




Thursday, October 31, 2019

Fear's power and the threat's proximity

  
“If you're not haunted by something, as by a dream, a vision, or a memory, which are involuntary, you're not interested or even involved.”
Jack Kerouac, Book of Sketches

 Close calls in our own back yard

 By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

We tend to measure fear by how close it comes to us. If some thing threatens — especially in our own backyard, next door, or even down the street, we pay attention. That applies to the street near my house, on which I drive everyday to work.

"This town, known as Colorado’s Sweetheart City, had a little more sweetness than it could handle Friday," read a wire piece in the Los Angeles Times February 16, 1990, when the large storage tank exploded sending Molasses into the neighborhoods around the the Western Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado.

"A molasses storage tank sprang a leak before dawn, spilling its gooey contents onto city streets and an industrial park. The molasses, stiffened by near-zero temperatures, flowed slowly and more than a foot deep about one-half mile down a city street. City officials estimated that about 100,000 gallons spilled from the tank, which was at an old sugar factory."

 It called to mind a much more devastating accident in the Boston area nearly 100 years ago.

"Around lunchtime on the afternoon of January 15, 1919, a giant tank of molasses burst open in Boston’s North End. More than two million gallons of thick liquid poured out like a tsunami wave, reaching speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. The molasses flooded streets, crushed buildings and trapped horses in an event that ultimately killed 21 people and injured 150 more. The smell of molasses lingered for decades," wrote Emily Sohn for the History Channel.

"Already pinned down by fallen buildings, some victims then became stuck in molasses. The liquid was a foot deep in some places. At least one person died by asphyxiation hours after the accident, Sharp says. Rescue efforts would have likely been easier, she speculates, if the accident had happened in the heat of July and the molasses had been able to spread further out from the tank."

Seems like an uncommonly cruel way to go, to me. 

Fortunately, the Loveland spill was not nearly as catastrophic. On February 16, 1990, when the large storage tank exploded sending Molasses into the neighborhoods around the the Western Sugar Company in Loveland, Colorado. It was a sticky mess even covered by the national news but no reported deaths.

Though, we are not always so fortunate. 

"On Sept. 26, 1973, an explosion trapped workers atop a grain elevator in Loveland, Colorado. Authorities summoned a helicopter to help rescue workers from the roof of the Big Thompson Mill and Elevator. The explosion destroyed a section of the "Big T" structure from levels three to seven. The section measured 25-feet in width. The Loveland Fire Department received mutual aid from the fire departments in Berthound and Fort Collins." according to Loveland Fire Rescue Authority archives.

“Loveland elevator blast kills two, injures five," read the Greeley Tribune at the time.

“A devastating explosion ripped through the Big Thompson Mill Grain Company Elevator in downtown Loveland Wednesday afternoon, killing two men and injuring five. The explosion, which occurred at about 1:45 pm, Wednesday, blew out the concrete side of the 90-foot structure and large chunks of concrete and other debris were thrown a block away. …" reported Mike Peters, Tribune Staff Writer.

" F. J. (Bud) Westerman, owner of a clothing store located less than 50 yards from the elevator, at 565 N. Cleveland Ave, said he thought the blast was an earthquake at first. … There was concern for a while that the 70-year-old elevator would collapse, and spectators were cleared from the area. The building was leaning toward the west, but Westerman said it has always “listed” a little. ….” Greeley Daily Tribune.  September, 27, 1973. 


Photo 1:
Big T explosion in Loveland.

Photo 2:
Rescue worker looks for survivor of  molasses spill in Boston.

Photo 3:
Tank collapse near Madison Avenue in Loveland in 1990. Loveland Reporter Herald photo.


Thursday, October 24, 2019

Outlaw, God's Problem Child in Centennial state


Colorado Has a Story to Tell

Willie and Colorado: To all the states I've loved before


By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

Songs come easy to him, says Country music legend Willie Nelson.
"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around," says Nelson's hemp-infused coffee beans as his first product in a recent health and wellness line called, "Willie's Remedy."
 According to Nelson's website, the coffee is infused with "certified organic, full-spectrum hemp oil grown in Colorado" and the coffee is sourced from smallholder farms in Colombia.
Nelson's brand is aimed at selling "non-intoxicating hemp-based products." His current wife, Annie, helps in the curating of the brand that will roll out more "hemp-based health and wellness products." 
The couple introduced "Willie's Reserve" in 2015. The cannabis brand helps tap licensed cultivators for their legal, medical, and adult-use cannabis products. The company claims when brewed properly, each eight-ounce cup of Willie's Remedy coffee will contain seven milligrams of hemp-derived CBD.
According to Willie Nelson himself,  his family's foray into Colorado and other connections started out as a remedy for several things.
In his recent autobiography "It's a Long Story, My Life, Willie Nelson,"  he explains.
"To take a break, Connie (another wife) and I went on a skiing trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This was the winter of 1975. Because I didn't want to rush the vacation, I decided to drive. The skiing was invigorating and the cold mountain air did me good. On the long haul back, I got to thinking it was time to get serious about pulling some new songs outta my feeble brain."

The result was his album "Red Headed Stranger," which features the song "Denver."

The bright lights of Denver are shining like diamonds
Like ten thousand jewels in the sky
And it's nobody's business where you're going or where you come from
And you're judged by the look in your eye

She saw him that evening in a tavern in town
In a quiet little out-of-the-way place
And they smiled at each other as he walked through the door
And they danced with their smiles on their faces
And they danced with a smile on their face


Later, his wife at the time, Connie, talked him into relocating here in Colorado.
"Connie was convinced  I was helping too many friends and neighbors. After she and I enjoyed some great vacations in Colorado, she argued it would be the perfect place for a permanent escape," Willie said in his book.
Though he said he was not all that sure. Connie prevailed.
"If Connie wanted Colorado, well, let's move to Colorado. Colorado has fresh mountain air. Colorado has beautiful Vistas. Colorado has small towns where no one would find us. Connie found a hundred -acre ranch with a twelve-room chalet right there on the property," Willie said.
"She said it was perfect.
I said it was too far from Austin.
She said, if I had my own jet, Austin would only be an hour away.
I got my own jet.
We got the property in Colorado," says Willie Nelson's account.
"Once a Nashville renegade, later a favorite son of Texas, Willie Nelson boasts a popularity that has elevated him to a stature approaching that of a contemporary national folk hero," writes G. Brown in Colorado Music Connection.
Brown serves as podcast moderator, curator and executive director of the Colorado Music Experience. He has navigated the Rocky Mountain musical landscape for decades, both as a journalist and as a radio personality. He covered popular music at The Denver Post for 26 years, interviewing more than 3,000 musicians, from Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen to Bono and Kurt Cobain. He is published in numerous magazines including Rolling Stone and National Lampoon, Brown also covered music news and hosted and programmed for a myriad of Denver-based radio stations. He is the author of five books, including the award-winning Red Rocks: The Concert Years, Colorado’s Rock Chronicles and Telluride Bluegrass Festival: The First Forty Years.
"In the 1980s, the venerable country singer maintained residences in Texas, Malibu Beach—and a mountain home in Evergreen, Colorado, described as a two-story, 4,700-square foot Swiss chalet on a 116-acre estate. It included a large teepee. Nelson also found the Little Bear, a nearby bar that gave him a place for his music," Brown writes.
“I had lived down in Texas for a long time,” Nelson explained to Brown. “I wanted to get away for a little while just to check out the rest of the world. My nephew, Freddy Fletcher, had a little band, and they were traveling around. He was coming up to Colorado a lot. So one day I took my daughter Suzie and we drove from Austin up to Evergreen, up where Freddy had a little cabin. I thought, ‘Well, this is a spot to come to.’ The first place I had was up on Turtle Creek; then we bought a place over in Evergreen, on upper Bear Creek.
“But I only had a few days to spend at either Colorado or Texas because I was touring so much. I had a place in Austin with a recording studio and a lot of other different things—a golf course, for one—that were calling me back there. I had a run of bad luck with the weather in Colorado—every time I’d fly back home, it would be snowing! So I got to thinking, ‘Wait a minute, it’s snowing here, there’s a golf course over there—what do I really want to do?’
“So mid ’80s, I decided to head back and spend most of my time off down in Texas.”
Nelson owned the house in the Colorado mountains until November 1990, when it was seized by IRS agents who nabbed him for $16.7 million in “unpaid back taxes” for the years 1975 through 1982.
“I wrote a lot of songs while I was living in Colorado, had a lot of fun, did a lot of nice things that you can only do there,” Nelson said. “It affected me a lot of ways. I sure hated to leave, I know that,” according to Brown.






Thursday, October 17, 2019

Long view from high in the Cottonwood tree

Wrapped up carefully in a bison robe or blankets and placed in a fork of the tree or tied to a heavy branch


By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

 A huge gnarled Cottonwood tree, 100-feet-tall, and more than 16-feet-around the trunk, looked out from its sandy perch on plains — with a long view all the way from the mouth of the Cache La Poudre River and south, to Big Thompson Canyon. The tree positioned northwest of Timnath for nearly 100 years in northern Colorado, was strategic because of that long view and Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes found it a convenient meeting place for councils and more.

"Mrs. A.K. Yount, a pioneer lady of Larimer County was the first to give an authentic account of the tree," According to Loveland historian Zethyl Gates. "She was acquainted with Chief Friday of the Arapahos, and he told her, 'We meet there.'"

"Another pioneer woman, Mrs. John Rigden, who lived near the Council tree as a child, told of playing under it. She recalled seeing pieces of cloth tied to the top branches, where at one time, the body of an Indian woman had been placed on a burial scaffold in the tree," Gates wrote in "The Pioneering Past of the Thompson Valley."

"Not long after the Indians had been removed to Wyoming, a party returned and took the body of the squaw, together with other bodies from burial trees near La Porte, Colorado to Wyoming. The pieces of the cloth remained until the storms of passing years broke the thongs holding the platform together and whipped the strips of cloth to shreds. Branches bent down in growth by weight of the platform were still visible, (years later) according to Mrs. Rigden."

A number of Native American tribes used a burial tree as the last resting place for a dead relative, either as a regular practice (along with a scaffold) or as an alternative to other methods, such as a ground burial.

The corpse was wrapped up carefully in a bison robe or blankets and either placed in a fork of the tree or tied to a heavy branch. Both grown persons and small children were laid to rest in this way.

"Early settlers of the valley noticed the custom of placing the dead on platforms in the tall cottonwoods," wrote Gates.

"In 1860, a massive cottonwood tree stood in a broad, lush meadow near the Cache la Poudre River’s banks and served as a meeting place for Chief Friday and his band of Northern Arapahoes. It would later become a symbol to white settlers of Native American life, and known to them as the Council Tree. Also in 1860, George Robert Strauss settled about a thousand feet downstream from the tree. At that time, the area along with all the land between the Arkansas River and the North Platte still belonged to the Northern Arapaho as determined by the 1851 treaty," according to the The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area's site about the nearby Strauss Cabin and the Council Tree.

"Today, the cottonwood is long gone. The Great Western Railway bisects what used to be the flat, lush meadow. Directly to the west is a gravel-mined pond. To the south are more gravel-mined ponds. Just beyond the Poudre to the east, four lanes of Interstate-25 traffic whines, whooshes and roars. All that seems to remain of the former valley of 1860 are the river and the view of the white-capped Rockies," says the Cache La Poudre NHA site.

In such a transformed landscape, what can written descriptions of the early explorers and settlers tell us about the landscape that the Native Americans enjoyed before being forced off the land.

Ansel Watrous of the Fort Collins Express Courier tells the story of the times.

“The waters of the river were as clear as crystal all the way down to its confluence with the Platte. Its banks were fringed with timber not as large as now, consisting of cottonwood, boxelder, and some willow. Its waters were full of trout of the speckled or mountain variety. The undulating bluffs sloped gently to the valley which was carpeted with the most luxuriant grasses. … In coming up the South Platte River they struck the mouth of the Cache la Poudre River at noon, and on the evening of the first day’s travel on that river they camped. Game was plentiful, herds of buffalo were seen on the plains, as well as deer, elk, and antelope. To the travelers the Poudre Valley appeared to be the hunter’s paradise. Trout were caught then along the Poudre River from its mouth to the foothills, and the small streams in the mountains were alive with them," according Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

Northern Arapaho chiefs White Wolf and Friday, and their bands, gathered in the Cache la Poudre River Valley in the summers of 1863 and 1864, as tension grew.

“Chief Friday implored the U.S. government to set aside land for his people on the north bank of the Cache la Poudre, extending from Box Elder Creek to the South Platte River and reaching as far north as Crow Creek. U.S. Indian Agent, Simeon Whitely advised against this, as it would have required relocating sixteen non-Indian families living along the river in the proposed area. As the government negotiated with the Indians, homesteaders were busy excavating ditches, buildings shelters, planting crops, and transforming the land,” writes Lucy Burris in People of the Poudre: An Ethnohistory of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area AD 1500-1880.

“By 1869, Friday had joined the rest of the Northern Arapahos under Medicine Man in Wyoming, giving up hope for a reservation on the Poudre. In January 1870, Washakie, the Shoshone Chief on the Wind River Reservation, allowed the Arapahos temporary accommodation. By 1878, a permanent place was made for the Northern Arapaho at Wind River. Friday died on the Wind River Reservation in 1881,” says Burris.




Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Cripple Creek haunting story is one for the books


Mysterious talking, singing, laughing and music 

By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

Local historian and publisher Leland Feitz sometimes would pop in on us afternoons, at the large office downstairs at the Courier, and tell a story or three. At times it was about history, or hauntings, or possibly both.
A favorite of mine, was about the house he once owned and later sold to bestselling American astrologer and poet, Linda Goodman. She is notable as the author of the first astrology book to make The New York Times Best Seller list.
Goodman, (real name Mary Alice Kemery) who died in 1995, but published multiple astrological and metaphysical books during her lifetime —to the point of being described as responsible for accelerating the growth of the New Age movement through the unprecedented success of her first astrology book Linda Goodman's Sun Signs in 1968 — told stories of apparent psychic manifestations from the first night she rented the house on Carr Avenue in Cripple Creek from Leland in the summer of 1970.
"... The Carr house, which she later bought and renovated, from local publisher and historian Leland Feitz, and while the night time streets of Cripple Creek seemed eerily quiet compared to those of Manhattan, the situation inside the house was just the opposite," according to writer Chas Clifton, in his account "Ghost Tales of Cripple Creek."
"When Ms. Goodman tried to sleep, she kept being awakened by the sounds of music, by voices of people singing and talking, in particular a man and a woman singing duets. She was convinced that Feitz, her landlord, had left a radio playing somewhere in the house. She checked the laundry room, the kitchen, even the basement, but the sound always seemed to come from somewhere else in the house," wrote Clifton, author and historian who specializes in the fields of English studies and Pagan studies and holds a teaching position in English at Colorado State University-Pueblo, prior to which he taught at Pueblo Community College.
"I was getting aggravated," Goodman is quoted. "I went outside to see if the neighbors had a TV or stereo on." They didn't. "On my honor to God, when I went to sleep I had to put a pillow over my head to muffle the sound."
She reported later that she and her house guests had heard the mysterious talking, singing and laughing and music as many as six additional times. At least a dozen people told her of hearing a baby crying in the middle of the night, while one guest told her of seeing an apparition of a man in military uniform in the living room.
The house at 315 Carr Avenue was built in the 1890s as a replica of a two-story brownstone row house by a Jewish business man who came from New York City to open a dry goods store. In addition to being a private residence, it served as a mining company office, and later, for a short time, a brothel, associated with a Bennett Avenue hotel following the demise of the red light district. Recently, it was known as a Bed and Breakfast Inn called the Last Dollar Inn.
Goodman's books also reference what she referred to as the "disappearance" of her eldest daughter, Sally Snyder in the 1970s, and the mystery around her reported death. Linda Goodman spent much money and many years trying to find Sally, long after police closed the case as a suicide or accidental suicide. Goodman never accepted the official police report and continued to search for Sally for the rest of her own life, according to reports.
Feitz died back in February of 2013, but was a real, down-to-earth Colorado native, born in La Jara, Colorado on Saint Paddy's Day in 1924 and was a resident of Colorado Springs since 1942, when he came to Colorado Springs to attend Colorado College. Feitz followed a career in public relations and advertising. He worked for 18 years for the Alexander Film Company, a Colorado Springs firm prominent in the field of movie advertising. Feitz as a young man held top jobs in agencies of New York City and Chicago. Later, in the Springs he worked for several advertising and printing firms, the last being Graphic Services.
Feitz's real interest was history and in 1967 at the advice of a friend began to write and publish concise history booklets about Colorado people and places. His Little London Press was established in 1973 and published over forty Colorado history booklets by various authors, including Chas Clifton's "Ghost Tales of Cripple Creek." Twenty of the titles were written by Feitz himself, several about the Cripple Creek Mining District. Colorado titles included books on Victor, Creede, Platoro and the Conejos County. And there were popular pictorials on Cripple Creek, Colorado Springs and Pueblo as well.

Photo Info:
Linda Goodman in the house on Carr Ave. in 1970.

Photo of Leland Feitz, from his obituary in Colorado Community Newspapers in 2013.


Sunday, September 22, 2019

Ain't never been to heaven, but been to Oklahoma

By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

I think it was Mae West that postulated that “Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.” Along those lines, one of my favorite characters from the 1960s and early 1970s was
American folk music singer-songwriter, guitarist, and a film and television actor Hoyt Axton.
I was drawn to coincidence, and surprised by how often the fellow's name popped up when I found something that I liked — when I was just a kid.

"Joy to the World," for example, is a song written by Hoyt Axton and made famous by the band Three Dog Night. The song is also popularly known by its opening lyric, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog." 
The song, which has been described by members of Three Dog Night as a "kid's song" and a "silly song," topped the singles charts in North America, was certified gold and has since been covered by many different artists.

The song is featured prominently in the film The Big Chill. It is sung by a child character at the beginning and the Three Dog Night recording is played over the end credits.

For Colorado ties: It is also played at the end of every Denver Broncos home victory. Notable playings of this song after Broncos victories included then-Chicago Bears head coach Abe Gibron's singing along with the song in 1973; and at the end of Super Bowl XXXII, played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. It was also played at the end of Super Bowl XXXIII at Pro Player (now Hard Rock) Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida and Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California.

Other songs notably written by Axton include "The Pusher," made famous by the 1969 movie Easy Rider which used Steppenwolf's version, Ringo Starr's hit "No No Song", and Kingston Trio blockbuster "Greenback Dollar," "Della and the Dealer", and also "Never Been to Spain," also by Three Dog Night.

Louis Weltzer, writing for Ralston Creek Review notes that Hoyt Axton was born on March 25, 1938, making him 31 years old when My Griffin Is Gone was released.  He was old enough and smart enough to understand that he needed to overcome his problems with substance abuse, and it was during this period – the late 1960s and early ’70s – that he wrote some of his best anti-drug songs.  Here, in Colorado, we run into a relative obscure offering on the subject of getting and trying to stay clean,  “On the Natural.”

Shortly before recording the album, Hoyt lived for a time in Crested Butte, Colorado.  It was a slower paced lifestyle than he was used to on the road or in California.  He seems to have realized that if one just catches his breath and looks around, Nature (especially in the Colorado mountains) is miraculous and a better and more lasting “high” than is possible with chemicals.  He tells us that in “On The Natural.”

In the liner notes to the album, Hoyt himself wrote,  “Someone once told me in a dream that truth was a great white bird. Here are some feathers I found.” "On the Natural," was listed as one of those feathers.

“On the Natural”

Would you like to go to Colorado?
Heaven’s there I’m told, in Colorado.
Well I’m leavin’ in the morning
And I’d like to take you with me,
I feel that Colorado is a place we could be happy
In the mountains,
La-da-da-da-dum
Rocky Mountains
La-da-da-da-dum.
Everybody talk about the place of their dreams
Where they can find peace of mind
I’m not sure but I think it seems
I’ve finally found mine.
In the mountains,
Rocky Mountains.
Up on the mountain
you don’t need your little blue pills,
And there’s a golden light
In them thar hills.
On the natural,
On the natural,
La-da-da-da-dum,
La-da-da-da-dum
Would you like to be in Colorado?
Something’s drawing me to Colorado.
You can leave all of the hangups
Of the city in the city
And the crystal morning sunshine
Is so pretty
In the mountains,
La-da-da-da-dum,
Rocky Mountains,
La-da-da-da-dum
*********************************
[I cannot understand all the words to this verse]
Where have all the buffalo gone?
Up on the mountain you don’t need to blow no grass,
And all the tea you need is sassafras.
On the natural,
On the natural,
La-da-da-da-dah,
La-da-da-da-dah.
Everything is real in Colorado,
And real is how you feel in Colorado,
I’m tired of plastic people
With their neon souls aglow,
So I’m going to Crested Butte, babe,
I’ve just got to try once more
In the mountains,
La-da-da-da-dum,
Rocky Mountains,
La-da-da-da-dum


Axton however continued to struggle with cocaine addiction and several of his songs, including "The Pusher", "Snowblind Friend," and "No-No Song,"partly reflect his negative drug experiences. However, he was a proponent of marijuana use for many years until he and his wife were arrested in February 1997 at their Montana home for possession of approximately 500 g (1.1 lb) of marijuana. His wife later explained that she offered Axton marijuana to relieve his pain and stress following a 1995 stroke. Both were fined and given deferred sentences. Axton never fully recovered from his stroke, and had to use a wheelchair much of the time afterwards. He died at age 61 at his home in Victor, Montana, on October 26, 1999, after suffering two heart attacks in two weeks.

In 1965, he appeared in an episode of Bonanza, then followed with other TV roles over the years including credits in McCloud, I Dream of Jeanie, Dukes of Hazzard, The Bionic Woman, Murder She Wrote, Different Strokes and many more. As he matured, Axton specialized in playing good ol' boys on television and in films. His face became well known in the 1970s and 1980s through many TV and film appearances, such as in the movies Liar's Moon (1982) playing poor-but-happy farmer Cecil Duncan who is crushed to death when a stack of metal pipes falls on him, The Black Stallion (1979) as the main character's father, and Gremlins (1984) as the protagonist's father.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Black Forest Fire left a mark on us


“Unless we are willing to escape into sentimentality or fantasy, often the best we can do with catastrophes, even our own, is to find out exactly what happened and restore some of the missing parts.”
Norman Maclean, Young Men and Fire 



In the aftermath of Colorado's most destructive wildfire


 By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

I could see the black plume of smoke, up in the general direction of home, when I left the printer that early afternoon.
"Oh no," I thought to myself, "Not again."
The Black Forest Fire began near Highway 83 and Shoup Road in Black Forest, Colorado around 1 p.m. on June 11, 2013. When it was completely contained nearly ten days later, on June 20, 14,280 acres (22.31 square miles) were burned, at least 509 homes were said to be destroyed, and two people had died.
There was really no way to prepare for a heartbreaking trip touring the burn area on June 21, when they finally deemed it safe enough to let reporters in.  Widespread devastation, twisted landscapes, disrupted service roads, and downed power lines — surrounded by the the charred remains of the forest and unrecognizable remnants of residents' dreams and promises. Many of the photos from that trip, I still struggle with viewing today.
Historically, this devastating fire leapfrogged over two other nearby fires I had covered as a newspaper guy, as the most destructive fire in the state's history, surpassing the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire which also began near Colorado Springs, and the Hayman Fire, which began years earlier near Lake George.
The evacuation area covered 94,000 acres acres, 13,000 homes and 38,000 people. Three shelters were established in the area, including Elbert County Fairgrounds, which accepted humans, pets, and large animals. Two other shelters were designated for large animals only.
By June 13, nearly 500 firefighters were working the fireline, including agencies around the fire, the Colorado Air National Guard, and select personnel from fire suppression teams on Fort Carson and the nearby United States Air Force Academy. Governor John Hickenlooper addressed Emergency Managers at the command post on June 12. U.S. Northern Command assisted with fire fighting efforts.







“Probably most catastrophes end this way without an ending, the dead not even knowing how they died...,those who loved them forever questioning "this unnecessary death," and the rest of us tiring of this inconsolable catastrophe and turning to the next one.”
Norman Maclean, Young Men and Fire

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Cannibal dwarfs, the dangerous curse, and a Left Hand legacy for Chief Niwot.

 In Arapaho legend, the Hecesiiteihii, (sometimes Hantceciitehi, and possibly other spellings) are Cannibal Dwarfs, and dangerous man-eaters making them particular enemies of the Arapaho tribe. Their name is pronounced similar to heah-chass-ee-tay-hee (the first syllable rhymes with "yeah.").
Descriptions of the cannibal dwarfs vary but they are usually said to be the size of children, dark-skinned, and extremely aggressive. Some storytellers say that they had the power to turn themselves invisible, while others say they were hard to spot simply because they moved with incredible speed. Some suggest that the dwarfs' warlike temperament comes because they must be killed in battle to reach the dwarf after-world. Others believe that they were gluttons who habitually killed more than they could eat, just because they could. According to most versions of the story, the race of cannibal dwarfs were mostly destroyed in an ancient war with the Arapahos and other allied Native American tribes. 


Left  Hand warned early arrivals of the curse


By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

In the fall of 1858, just as the beginnings of the Colorado Gold Rush started to take shape, Arapaho leader Niwot (Left Hand) rode to meet the first white intruders at the confluence of Boulder and Sunshine Creek. Captain Thomas Aikins and fellow prospectors, riding in from Fort St.Vrain some 30 miles to the East, camped in Boulder Valley and planned to search for rumored-gold.

Niwot planned to ask them to leave, and warn them of the curse. The leader had learned English from his trapper brother-in-law John Poisal, (married to Niwot's sister,) and is said to have told them of the curse of the Boulder Valley.

"People seeing the beauty of this valley will want to stay, and their staying will be the undoing of the beauty."

As the conversation heightened, he proceeded to threaten them with a visitation by War Party if they did not leave.

The visitors were encamped at what the Arapaho considered to be a sacred site, Valmont Butte, some four miles to the north east of what is now central Boulder, Colorado. Niwot and his closest elder braves, Bear Head and Many Whips, had ridden out to the site where the new arrivals had decided to camp, near the place where Boulder Creek releases from the Front Range onto the Great Plains.

Some see the Curse as portentous of the settling of not only the Boulder Valley, but of the entire Western United States

According to the city of Longmont, Niwot had a lasting legacy:
"We have Left Hand Brewing Company, Left Hand Creek, Left Hand Greenway, and Left Hand Creek Park, and in Boulder County there is Left Hand Canyon. All of these references to ‘left hand’ refer back to the southern Arapaho tribal leader, Chief Niwot. Niwot means left-handed, so even the quaint town of Niwot, Colorado (7 miles west of downtown Longmont) and everything with the word Niwot in it (Niwot Mountain, Niwot Ridge) also means left hand."

Most recognize Niwot played an integral role in Colorado’s state history.
"He and his people lived along the Front Range, often spending winters in Boulder Valley. In the fall of 1858 during the Colorado Gold Rush, early prospectors were welcomed by Niwot and his people to the area, even though it was Arapaho territory. Chief Niwot was an intelligent man, not only urging his tribe to coexist peacefully with the white man, but also learning English, Cheyenne, and Sioux, which allowed him to communicate with white settlers and other tribes.

Peaceful relations between the southern Arapaho and the white prospectors, however, did not last."

Following the 1862 the Sioux Uprising in Minnesota and the Battle of Little Big Horn, against U.S. Army troops,  It was a tumultuous time in U.S. history between the white man and Native Americans across the Plains, and tensions ran high. Tribes raided wagon trains, and settlements along the Front Range.

When the Hungate family was murdered 25 miles southeast of Denver in June of 1864, Colorado Territorial Governor John Evans said he believed all Native tribes were responsible and decided to get rid of the “Indian problem.”

"He then ordered the peaceful southern Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes to relocate to Sand Creek, an area in southeast Colorado north of Fort Lyon, a United States Army fort at the time. Governor Evans then ordered the Third Colorado Cavalry, commanded by Colonel John Chivington, to patrol the land for hostile Indians," according to Longmont's site.

"Colonel Chivington and his men had patrolled Colorado’s eastern plains for months without finding any hostile tribes. Frustrated, they headed to Sand Creek. Despite Major Edward Wynkoop, commander of Fort Lyons, stating that the Native people at Sand Creek were peaceful, Chivington and his men attacked the Araphao camp the morning of Nov. 29, 1864.

There are no exact statistics on the number of people who were killed that day, but most historians believe approximately 180 people were killed during the Sand Creek Massacre, including Chief Niwot, and mostly women, children, and the elderly."

At the behest of men like Wynkoop and Captain Silas Soule, ( Who was in command of Company D, 1st Colorado Cavalry, which was present at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864,) the story of the massacre came out over time. Soule had refused an order to join the Sand Creek massacre.

President Abraham Lincoln, bogged down by the Civil War, called for a Congressional investigation into the tragedy. Congress ruled the “gross and wanton” incident a “massacre” rather than a “battle.” Chivington was reprimanded for his actions and lost his commission, Governor Evans was removed from office, and Colorado was placed under martial law. Soule, during the subsequent inquiry, testified against the massacre's commanding officer, John Chivington, and soon after, was murdered in Denver.

The Sand Creek Massacre site is now designated as a National Historic Site.




Photo Information 1: September 28, 1864, Group portrait of the Camp Weld Council, Denver Colorado, shows white and Native American (Arapaho and Cheyenne) men arranged in three rows. Identification: Left to right, kneeling: Maj. Edward Wynkoop and Capt. Silas S. Soule; seated: White Antelope, Bull Bear, Black Kettle, Neva, Na-ta-nee; standing: unidentified, unidentified, John Smith, Heap of Buffalo, Bosse, unidentified, unidentified. 
 Source of identification: "Halfbreed : the remarkable true story of George Bent : caught between the worlds of the Indian and the White Man / David Fridtjof Halaas ; Andrew E. Masich (2004), photograph on page [6] of plates.

Photo Information 2: Native American (Arapaho) men pose outdoors with white men, about 1890. The Native American men wear moccasins, leggings, breechcloths, vests, and hats. Some men wear blankets.


Friday, September 13, 2019

Hollywood's first "King" from Colorado

Yeah, but now I'm gettin' old, don't wear underwear
I don't go to church and I don't cut my hair
But I can go to movies and see it all there
Just the way that it used to be

That's why I wish I had a pencil thin mustache
The "Boston Blackie" kind
A two-toned Ricky Ricardo jacket
And an autographed picture of Andy Devine
__ Jimmy Buffett 

Had to do you own stunts in "talkie" era

By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

"The King of Hollywood," of course, learned the trade in Denver.
Silent film star Douglas Fairbanks began acting at an early age, in amateur theatre in Denver, performing in summer stock at the Elitch Gardens Theatre, and other productions sponsored by Margaret Fealy, who ran an acting school for young people in Denver, at the time.
Though he started high school at Denver East High School, he was expelled for cutting the wires on the school piano.
In the spring of 1899, when he was 15 — and variously claimed to have attended Colorado School of Mines and Harvard University — but neither claim is true, he joined the acting troupe of Frederick Warde, beginning a cross country tour in September 1899.
Fairbanks later became a founding member of United Artists. He was also a founding member of The Motion Picture Academy and hosted the 1st Academy Awards in 1929. 
With his marriage to Mary Pickford in 1920, the couple became Hollywood royalty and Fairbanks was referred to as "The King of Hollywood."
Though widely considered as one of the biggest stars in Hollywood during the 1910s and1920s, Fairbanks' career rapidly declined with the advent of the "talkies."
"Swashbuckled in Zorro, duelled exuberantly in Robin Hood, and soared magnificently in The Thief of Bagdad, " wrote Pamela Hutchinson recently for The Guardian, he often described as one of Hollywood’s founding fathers. In 1919, together with his best friend Charlie Chaplin, his bride-to-be Mary Pickford, and director DW Griffith, he started the United Artists studio, which is still, despite some recent uncertainties, a Hollywood player.
The silent-era film stars like Fairbanks, risked life and limb doing their own stunts.
"In 1927, Fairbanks was a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As the host of its first prize-giving ceremony in 1929, he handed out 14 awards to his peers, though he was never to receive an Oscar in his lifetime.
In 1929, he was involved in the establishment of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California – one of the first film studies faculties – and gave its opening lecture, on “photoplay appreciation.”
"Today, film studies courses are unlikely to linger on Fairbanks’s work: it’s considered generic Hollywood product, with little more to it than dazzles the eye. That’s a shame, because the man and his photoplays were anything but ordinary," says Hutchinson,
A new biography, which Hutchinson describes as "doggedly researched and sharply written" by Tracey Goessel, and is called "The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks" It gives readers a chance to consider the star in a new light, not least because it persistently interrogates much of his own myth-making.
"Discarding Fairbanks’s own merry tales, Goessel straightens out the facts about his education and early career, details the injuries caused by his daredevil stuntwork and, with reference to the blizzard of messages sent between husband and wife, gives an intimate and moving account of his marriage to Pickford. "
For example, Goessel shows that Fairbanks demonstrated markedly progressive attitudes to race. In other films of the era, offensive racial terms and characterizations are depressingly familiar, but Fairbanks scoured his scripts (notably, those otherwise witty inter-titles penned by Anita Loos) for all such terms before production began. Revealingly, Fairbanks never chose to make public the fact that his father, H. Charles Ullman, was Jewish, constructing a smokescreen figure called “John Fairbanks” instead; this name even appeared on Fairbanks’s death certificate.
"It was impossible not to notice that Fairbanks was devoted to fresh air and exercise: his athleticism on screen and deep tan attest to it. But while he was more than comfortable with public nudity, his Hollywood neighbors were not."
Goessel reveals that when he and Pickford built their studio complex in the early 1920s, complete with a fully fitted gymnasium, exercise yard and steam room, Fairbanks requested an underground running track, so he could jog, naked, between scenes. The concrete-lined trench ran parallel to Santa Monica Boulevard for about two blocks, but six feet below the road. "It’s a typical Fairbanks solution: breezily practical, but undeniably eccentric."

Hollywood's first "King" from Colorado



    • Yeah, but now I'm gettin' old, don't wear underwear
      I don't go to church and I don't cut my hair
      But I can go to movies and see it all there
      Just the way that it used to be
      That's why I wish I had a pencil thin mustache
      The "Boston Blackie" kind
      A two-toned Ricky Ricardo jacket
      And an autographed picture of Andy Devine
      __ Jimmy Buffett

       Had to do you own stunts in "talkie" era

      By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com
      "The King of Hollywood," of course, learned the trade in Denver.
      Silent film star Douglas Fairbanks began acting at an early age, in amateur theatre
      in Denver, performing in summer stock at the Elitch Gardens Theatre, and other productions sponsored by Margaret Fealy, who ran an acting school for young people
      in Denver, at the time. 
      Though he started high school at Denver East High School, he was expelled for
      cutting the wires on the school piano.
      In the spring of 1899, when he was 15 — and variously claimed to have attended Colorado School of Mines and Harvard University — but neither claim is true,
      he joined the acting troupe of Frederick Warde, beginning a cross country tour in September 1899.
      Fairbanks later became a founding member of United Artists. He was also a
      founding member of The Motion Picture Academy and hosted the 1st Academy
      Awards in 1929. 
      With his marriage to Mary Pickford in 1920, the couple became Hollywood royalty and Fairbanks was referred to as "The King of Hollywood."
      Though widely considered as one of the biggest stars in Hollywood during the
      1910s and1920s, Fairbanks' career rapidly declined with the advent of the "talkies."
      "Swashbuckled in Zorro, duelled exuberantly in Robin Hood, and soared magnificently in The Thief of Bagdad, " wrote Pamela Hutchinson recently for The Guardian, he often described as one of Hollywood’s founding fathers. In 1919, together with his best friend Charlie Chaplin, his bride-to-be Mary Pickford, and director DW Griffith, he started the United Artists studio, which is still, despite some recent uncertainties, a Hollywood player.
      The silent-era film stars like Fairbanks, risked life and limb doing their own stunts.
       "In 1927, Fairbanks was a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture
      Arts and Sciences. As the host of its first prize-giving ceremony in 1929, he handed
      out 14 awards to his peers, though he was never to receive an Oscar in his lifetime. 
      In 1929, he was involved in the establishment of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California – one of the first film studies faculties – and gave its opening lecture, on “photoplay appreciation.”
       "Today, film studies courses are unlikely to linger on Fairbanks’s work: it’s considered generic Hollywood product, with little more to it than dazzles the eye. That’s a shame, because the man and his photoplays were anything but ordinary," says  Hutchinson,
      A new biography, which Hutchinson describes as "doggedly researched and sharply written" by Tracey Goessel,  and is called "The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks" It gives readers a chance to consider the star in a new light, not
      least because it persistently interrogates much of his own myth-making. 
      "Discarding Fairbanks’s own merry tales, Goessel straightens out the facts about his education and early career, details the injuries caused by his daredevil stuntwork and, with reference to the blizzard of messages sent between husband and wife, gives an intimate and moving account of his marriage to Pickford. "
      For example, Goessel shows that Fairbanks demonstrated markedly progressive
      attitudes to race. In other films of the era, offensive racial terms and characterizations are depressingly familiar, but Fairbanks scoured his scripts (notably, those otherwise witty inter-titles penned by Anita Loos) for all such terms before production began. Revealingly, Fairbanks never chose to make public the fact that his father, H Charles Ullman, was Jewish, constructing a smokescreen figure called “John Fairbanks” instead; this name even appeared on Fairbanks’s death certificate.
      "It was impossible not to notice that Fairbanks was devoted to fresh air and exercise: his athleticism on screen and deep tan attest to it. But while he was more than comfortable with public nudity, his Hollywood neighbors were not."
       Goessel reveals that when he and Pickford built their studio complex in the early 1920s, complete with a fully fitted gymnasium, exercise yard and steam room, Fairbanks requested an underground running track, so he could jog, naked, between scenes. The concrete-lined trench ran parallel to Santa Monica Boulevard for about two blocks, but six feet below the road. "It’s a typical Fairbanks solution: breezily practical, but undeniably eccentric."

    • Harold Lloyd, Charles Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks in 1932. Hollywood legends 
    • … Harold Lloyd, Charles Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks in 1932. 
    • Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis