Colorado, 1957-61

After the nation's warriors from WWII finished rebuilding the military's air fleet, Boeing razed its Witchita workforce and skewered Wichita's economy and population by laying off 25,000 people, my mother, Gen, lost her own Boeing job. Dick didn't have a job worth mentioning, if he had one at all, so it was up to my mom to keep the family afloat. She found a job as an occupational nurse for the Martin Company in Littleton, Colorado.

The Yampa Valley in 1957My first memory of living in Colorado was stopping along the road in the mountains and looking down on a scene that Mom said was the Yampa Valley. It was spectacular. I thought it was a huge jigsaw puzzle, the way the farm fields checkerboarded the landscape in shades of yellow and green and tan.

Mom talked about Yampa Valley and Steamboat Springs and the Royal Gorge a lot as we were getting ready to leave Wichita. She was really gone on the region and it's easy to see why, but why would she have us drive a car and a moving van so far north and west of Denver when our destination was the Denver suburb of Littleton and when she had a new job on her dashboard? She must have had a chunk of time on her hands before she had to report for work. It would be like my mother to travel out of her way to someplace she wanted to see, providing she had the time and resources for it, so I guess that's what she did. Anyway, she gave me an image of the Yampa Valley that I'll never forget--and an image of the way the Valley doesn't look anymore--regardless of the extra day or two it must have taken us to get to Littleton. It's also possible that my Yampa Valley images didn't have anything to do with moving to Colorado. They might have formed during one of Mom's many forays into the Rockies while we lived in Colorado. Young memories can get jumbled.

Next thing I remember about Littleton is living in one half of a duplex house on a street up hill from a little park that had a pond. The park was close to the railroad tracks and Prince Street, where Mom said her office was located, was close by. The duplex was on S. Bemis Street. The family in the other half had three girls and a boy. I never saw their father, but he was around. The family's claim to fame was that their mother had been Queen for a Day. The story was that their mom had just given birth to the youngest child. One night she got up because she smelled smoke. She went into the kitchen and found the stove was a ball of fire. I guess the house must have burned down or something, but everybody survived. Their mom's story was so compelling that the applause meter roared the loudest for her. As a result, they had all kinds of new baby stuff and other furnishings that they said came from Queen for a Day.