Our First Summer
Looking now back across the years I see with great clarity the closed world in which we lived; which means I succeeded in a very important undertaking, I made my escape from it. How did we ever survive that harsh, small, remote town in the Colorado Rockies? Now the sights and the sounds of those long ago dead hours seem almost like a dream in my mind. Memories of our past can invoke many emotions, some are good and bring a smile while others bring a lump to your throat. I have many such memories our first summer living in Yampa Colorado.
My eldest brother Jim was born ten years before me. Ten months later that same year, my sister Sandi came along; there are twelve months between she and my brother Dan. Three years after Dan came Susan; there are five years between her and John. I am the baby of our family. I was born in the late summer of nineteen-seventy-one. When I was born, we lived on Fifty-Second Ave. just off of Garrison Street in Arvada Colorado. In nineteen-seventy-three my parents had come to the conclusion they didnít want to raise six Children in the city. We started our great move at the end of the school year to the ranch where I would spend the next 16 years of my life.
My family didn't really know
what the small town of Yampa Colorado had instate for the eight of us
but we were about to find out. Shortly before we moved there was a mysterious fire that burnt the
house we were moving into. Because of the fire we had to live outside for several
months. Next to the burned out house was an early American log cabin,
which had been being used as an animal barn. While my father
undertook the tremendous task of remodeling this log cabin into a
three bedroom house. We played, lived and slept under the stars through
the months while my father was working on it.
One of the most spectacular
memories I have of this rural home was in that first summer while we all
slept outside under the stars. With the brisk night breeze nipping across
my face, most any given night, you could find me gazing at the sky.
Looking at the billions of stars in the sky and dreaming of those far off
places. To describe such a site, as though an inky-black curtain is draped
across the landscape of the night; then suddenly there is an explosion!
Billions of tiny little lights dancing in the heavens, and the Milky Way
cutting across it as though a rip across the fabric of the universe. My
and I slept on the front porch while my older brothers and sisters slept
in sleeping bags scattered about the yard. My parents slept in a small
camper set to the side of the yard. One morning as we all sat down
for breakfast at the picnic table, mom was flipping pancakes when suddenly
a magpie swooped down out of the cottonwood and grabbed the pancake in mid
Anyone who has dealt with these birds understand, they are a real pest,
sometimes known as flying skunks because of their markings and scavenger traits.
Anyone who has dealt with these birds understand, they are a real pest, sometimes known as flying skunks because of their markings and scavenger traits.
I can still see the peach and
cream wood cook stove standing in the middle of the front yard as my
mother cooked. She had pulled it out of one of the rivers on the ranch.
With its small chimney, which was keenly tucked between the two upper
warming ovens, large cast iron cook top enclosing the fire box on the
left, a large baking oven in the center and a water reservoir off to the
right side, it was a site to be seen The smoke would swell out it' stack drifting lazily upward pausing only as it danced through the
tops of the cottonwood trees towering over us. Little did we know this
stove would be our source of cooking as well as heat for our family for
the next thirteen years.
It wasn't until after the start of school
that we were able to sleep inside. We had
another family the Nothnagels living with us. Larry, his wife and
their two daughters lived with us through our first winter. Larry was an
employee of my fatherís small construction company and had moved up with
us to help my dad set up his business. The little cabin had three
bedrooms the largest being my parentís room. It faced west in the front
of the house. The back bedroom was no more then 6 feet by 8 feet and
the ceiling dropped down to 6 feet high to the back of the house.
That room was where my sisterís slept until they graduated high school. The center bedroom
was about the same size with a door way to the hall and a door to the back
room was on the opposite wall; John and I shared this room. It
had room for only a bunk bed and a small
dresser. My father had some old army bunks that he mounted into a closet
and that was my older brothers room until they left home. Their room was
the closest in the hallway to the