After leaving California in 1959, we moved to Colorado. We lived in five different towns in the center of the state. Actually, we lived in five different locations. Not all were in town. Some were in the country.
Our first place was located east of Castle Rock, almost to Franktown. How this house was every found is a complete mystery to me. The house was about a quarter of a mile off Highway 86, on the north side of the highway. The drive was a swallow rutted dirt road, which rose up a little hill, above the highway and led to the lone white wood framed house. It was fairly non-descript, with the exception of a bright green grass lawn in front of the house. It was apparent that the house had not been occupied for some time. The clearing for the house, was encircled with small cider trees. The trees created a wind break. The long drive ended on the east side of the house. The door to the kitchen was on this side of the house. We used it as our main entrance. I’m sure it had a front door, but it was never used.
The first morning, after moving in, we awoke to see that it had snowed about three or four inches during the night. It was very quiet and peaceful there. Looking out our front window, we saw two white tail deer. They were eating the green grass of the lawn, having moved the snow with their noses. I had never seen deer or snow before, especially that close. It was very exciting for me. We also had two magpie birds, which visited us often. They were large black and white birds who were very vocal. We call them “Heckle and Jeckle” based upon the cartoon series of the time.
After settling in, we began to explore the area around the house. With the snow still on the ground, Larry, Brenda and I began our trek. Larry would point out rabbit tracks, deer tracks, and some tracks he said were bear. I’m still not sure he was telling the truth about them being bear tracks or if he just wanted to scare us. Either way, it was time to head back to the safety of our house. When the weather was bad, Highway 86 would be closed because cars could not make it up the ascending curved road to the west of us. This provided a great opportunity for us to hike out to the road and slide down the road without fear of traffic for an afternoon of sledding.
We then moved to Elizabeth. This house was on a small ranch or farm. Apparently, part of the rental agreement was to care for the cattle on the property. There were a couple of horses that were available to ride the fences. Being from Texas, I think Mom really enjoyed riding the horses. We also had a Guernsey milk cow. We had an old green Studebaker Champion sedan. When it was time to milk the cow, I would get on the front fender of the car and we would drive out into the field, find the cow and lead her back to the barn. I felt like Rowdy Yates, from Rawhide, on a cattle drive. We would milk the cow and separate the cream. We had a glass jar with wooden paddles with a hand crank to make the butter. We would churn the cream and let it set up overnight. We would sell the butter to the local Safeway store. I guess that doesn’t happen anymore. I remember a special breakfast treat from this house. We may have had it at other places, but this is where I remember it the most. Normally for breakfast, we would have Quaker Oats (not instant or one minute, it had to be cooked) or Cheerios. It was here that I remember the wonderful smell of cinnamon toast. The broiler of the stove was turned on; white bread was spread with butter and placed on an aluminum foil covered pan. Then before the bread was placed into the oven, granulated sugar and cinnamon was sprinkled on top of the bread. The white oven door was closed and the anticipation began. I wouldn’t walk away from the oven. I stood smelling and watching to make certain the toast would not burn. When toasted, the hot bread was divided for each of us to enter our own sphere of delight. I would gulp the cold milk from our cow. The outer edge of toast would be a little hard and crunchy. As I ate inward, toward the center of the bread, the soft pools of butter covered with cinnamon awaited me. What delight! What a great way to start my day.
Being alone on this property, we created our own forms of entertainment. We liked to walk through the forest exploring. We would see porcupine and other animals. We also liked to play “pickle”. Pickle is a baseball game consisting of three players, two were baseman and one was a runner. The premise was to teach a player, offensively, how to steal a base. Defensively, it was to learn how to fake out a runner creating an out. On one particular day, Larry and I were the baseman. Brenda was the runner. As we were throwing the ball between us, I made a throw that hit Brenda in the back of the head. I put a knot on her head. Looking back, I must take responsibility for her craziness now. Apparently, that one little throw was enough to tilt her intellect in future years. If I had only known it was that easy. Actually, Brenda turned out to be an intelligent woman, except for that Ethel Merman, theater thing.
Writing these words, sitting in my study, listening to classical music, I was thinking of how much I loved and enjoyed my family over all these years. How much they meant to me then and now. We didn’t have much money, but God provided for us. How blessed I have been to have a close family. As I have gotten older, I have learned other families didn’t have what we had. While Dad was working out of town, I know now he was trying to provide for us. Mom could have a quick temper, but she work hard every day. She showed us love. I have a big brother who took on the responsibility of shepherding a little brother and sister, when Mom had to work. When discipline time came, we were lined up sitting in chairs, like at the doctor’s office, waiting for our appointment with the belt. Larry was always the first one in. He would take most of the heat. I owe him for making it easier for me. I was next on the leather merry go-round. Dad would grab my left wrist and propel me in a counter-clockwise direction. Brenda owes me for taking the rest of the heat. I never really knew for certain, but I always suspected she was given just a “talking to”. I have a little sister, who was always someone to play and explore with, who on many occasions, was my only friend.
Well, there is more to tell. Look for “On To Colorado Part 2”. Perhaps this story has stirred a memory for you. Please let me know. I appreciate your comments, likes and shares.