Fort Collins, Colorado 1965-1967
After much discussion with Jack, we came to the conclusion that one more winter in Poudre Canyon was not the most feasible and practical way to live. The house was hard to heat; the water froze in the river in the winter so we hauled water and we took our baths at grandma and grandpa’s.
I drove the snow packed, ice covered, curvy roads in the wintertime, five days a week. I spent Saturday and Sunday getting ready for Monday through Friday, sometimes Friday morning or Thursday night I packed up all the dirty clothes and after work on Friday I spent the evening at the Laundromat in Fort Collins and the kids spent a few hours with grandma and grandpa. But sometimes I would pack up the dirty clothes on Saturday and the kids spent time with grandma and grandpa while I washed clothes at the Laundromat and shopped for groceries. Going back up the canyon at 7 or 8 at night in the dark, in a swirling snow storm was most nerve wracking.
More than once there was a knock at the door, someone telling me there was an accident on a curve and could I call the State Patrol? One time I opened the door to see one of my school friends, completely covered with dirt and gravel with her right arm and thigh bleeding from falling out of her car while she was driving down the canyon. She leaned on her door and it popped open and she fell out, the car went in the river and she walked a half mile to our house. I never knew who was at our door needing help. I usually knew them!
Sundays were spent getting ready for Monday and traveling the dreaded roads another week in my old four-door green Dodge. The routine was grueling at times and I was wearing down. So once again we decided to move closer to schools, babysitters, grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, Laundromat, grocery stores, water, bathtubs full of hot water and my work at the hospital
In March of 1965 I began searching for a small house for us to move into, close to the hospital and to the schools in or near Fort Collins. And of course I needed running water! After three weeks of looking after work, dragging kids from house to house, to find a house that would fit our pocketbook, my sister-in-law Joyce called and said there was a pink log house about three blocks from them on Summit View. It also was about four blocks from grandma and grandpa! And it was not very far from the hospital! I could not wait to get off work that evening, gather up the kids and go look at the pink log house.
Joyce gave me instructions on how to find the house. Just drive down Summit View until you see a pink log house. It was not hard to find. Sure enough, it was pink, pink painted logs. The owners lived next door. Oh I have not idea why it was painted pink. Never got an answer from the owners either.
The driveway was lined by two elm trees. This steep stairs into the house were new and as the owner opened the door into the kitchen, it was sparkling clean, clean, clean with a new kitchen sink with running water and faucets that said hot and cold!
The stove and refrigerator were sparkling clean and the linoleum on the floor was waxed to a high shine. I was sold the minute I walked in the door. The living room had carpet, clean and very spacious. The bathroom was shiny clean with a tub and shower AND it had a washer and dryer!! Oh my I was sold again! The two bedrooms were small but I did not care. Plus she said she had teenagers that loved to baby sit. I could hardly get my $25 fee out of my pocket, to hold the place until we moved in. The rent was $75.
I drove over to grandma and grandpas and called Joyce. I told her I was so thankful for her finding such a nice clean house. She said she would baby sit when I could not find babysitters especially in the summertime and clean my house on Saturday. What more could you ask for? That meant that I could change my hours at the hospital from all day to 6 to 2 in the morning. That way in the summer time I could be with my kids the whole day and have a babysitter at night. I was excited and so thankful for all the help that was extended to me.
The move down the mountain canyon took two weekends with the help of friends and relatives that had pickups. We moved in on the second weekend. I went back up one more time the third week end to clean the little house on the side of the mountain and tell it goodbye. I still love that little place but BOY was it hard to live there with three kids and no water in the winter.
I put the bunk beds in the little bedroom. The kids were used to sleeping in the same room but Gail had learned to tell “bedtime stories” that scared Susan, David out of their wits. More than once I heard screaming kids telling me that “MOM she’s doing it again!!” That never did change!! It still makes me smile.
Right across the street was a swamp and a big ditch that had frogs of every size and color. Next door was goats. Behind our house was a wheat field. Next door to the north was our neighbor Larry who had a German Mom with a big heart, laugh and booming voice that carried a heavy accent. Many many times we would hear the mom holler or scream “LARRY!” (Yes, another Larry!)
One summer afternoon, Larry and David came screeching into the house, yelling “the field is on fire!” Except David said it first and Larry was still stuttering and stammering long after I dialed the fire department. And Larry’s mom was screaming at the top of here lungs, “Where are you, Where are you?? LAARRRRREEEE! WHERE ARE YOU?” He was hiding in our house!
I grabbed a broom and headed out behind Larry’s house. By that time the fire (actually just a little patch) was beaten out by Larry’s Mom and she was madder than – you got it – a wet hen!! Still screaming for Larry!
Poor Larry got an awful beating and if David had stuck around she would have given him one too. She made me promise to beat his butt when I got home, but he was so terrified by the time all the to-do was over, he just got a bad scolding. It could have been a horrible fire as there were out buildings with houses all up and down the road and the wheat field had about 80 acres of stubble and straw on it.
Larry was special and he was a great playmate for David and Susan that summer. The two girls of the owner baby sat and the kids loved them. They had a Missouri accent and were soft spoken like their mother. They played and read to them. Joyce would baby sit on Saturdays and cleaned the house. She even did the laundry! And her daughter Regina would play with Susan. I was forever grateful. And I got a raise at the hospital!!
In the fall the kids were all going to school, so they caught the bus that stopped in front of the house. Larry would come over so he could get on the bus with my kids. He was so polite. Every morning he would knock on the door, I would say ‘Come In Larry’ and he would say “GGGGGooddd MMMMMOOORRning MMMMSS BBBBBAAAATeman! We loved being around Larry!
When I baked cookies, I am so sure that Larry smelled them at his house, because he would politely knock on the door, I would say Come in and he would say before I could offer him a cookie –“ Cccccccoouuullld IIII haaaaave a cccccoookkie?” I would hand his two cookies and he would tell me he only could have one…so I would put the other cookie on the edge of the table, and Larry would come back, after knocking and ask in his painful stutter, for A Cookie... Makes me smile thinking about how Larry thought!
I had time to sew. I had time to relax in a hot bath. We had time to spend with grandma and grandpa. I had time to shop for groceries and the laundry was done at home. And I did not have to worry about the coming winter and the snow, ice and winding roads up the canyon. I did miss living in the mountains, going to Marie Beans house to play Yahtzee and eat ice cream sandwiches. I still miss that!