Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Leadville Colorado "On Top of the World"

Journal Cover
Moods & Memories
Code 2794
Current, Inc.

Colorado


I am a Colorado Girl.I was raised at the foot of the beautiful Pikes Peak.I like to think it was the first thing I saw as I left the hospital after I was born.


Mountains, I loved them all of my life.


Memories of A Colorado Mountain Girl

I recently came across a journal I had started in my thirties. I remember buying the journal when I lived in Utah.  I saw the Colorado State Flower on the cover and I had to have the journal.  I missed my home state so much at the time.  

No one knew back in the 80's that the beautiful flower, the Columbine, would someday be linked to one of the worst school tragedies in history.  For me, at that time, the Columbine symbolized a time of innocence and of beauty as I would recall the many times I saw it growing wild in the mountain during my childhood and youth.  On the inside of this particular journal, I wrote, "Memories of Leadville, and of my youth."  In my heart, I still associate Columbines with innocence, but it is now more about lost innocence.  Yet despite the grief, shock, and pain that Columbines symbolize because of that fateful day at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999, I continue to love this flower and think of it also as a symbol of not only a day of innocence, but also as a symbol of hope for all that is good in youth.

Leadville ~ The Setting for My Youth

That Means I am a true mountain girl.  Anyone who has lived two miles high deserves that distinction.  Some of the best years of my life were lived in the shadow of Mt. Massive.  Living in Leadville, Colorado is an "On Top of the World Experience."


When I was just beginning my senior year in high school, my father moved us from the flatlands of Colorado, Pueblo, Colorado, to the rarified air of Leadville, Colorado.  I was heartbroken when he did this.  Little did I know how much Leadville would figure with such prominence when I recall the happiest times of my life.  

One of the first entries in my new journal was a recollection of my time spent as a young girl in Leadville.  I wrote:

This picture brings back memories of Leadville and the many pines out on the road toward Turquoise Lake.  It must have been February and we were decorating for a school dance - "Winter Wonderland."  We went out collecting pine branches & tumble weeds - the tumble weeds to be sprayed white and decorated with tiny lights.  We must have gone after school - it was cold! The world was white and glittery, the sky was black, clear, and starry as only a Leadville night can be.  I still remember crunchy footsteps in the snow and dragging branches and tumble weeds along the snow.  It was perfectly quiet except for this sound and the laughter from the excitement of being young and gathering natural decorations for a dance.  

I remember: the cold, my feet felt like they were frozen to the ground, the peaceful beauty that surrounded us, and the freedom of youth.  Also, I remember the power and the faith that I felt at that age.  

Nothing is more beautiful than a Colorado blue spruce being covered with soft, thumb nail size snow flakes in a light snow storm in early evening.  

February, 1963, I turned 18.  I wanted to stay there forever.  The future seemed bright.  The past was happy.  I had nothing to regret or sorrow about.  The present was perfect.  I was living in a small mountain town.  In fact, I was new in town, and everyone had been so friendly.  I was popular and had many friends who were fun and intelligent.  

The entire town was ours to roam. It had a colorful past, and it fascinated me.  There were old houses that were from the silver boom days.  Some of the sidewalks were still wooden.  The hardware shop, the barbershop, the church, the school were all functioning museums.  Up on the hills were abandoned mines.  At night we would go up there and tell ghost stories about them.  They were pretty scary too.

The scenery was out of this world...

For those of you who want to see a short video about the place that I called home, the place I love so dearly, the place that hold such wonderful memories, I have included this wonderful video.  I hope you take the time to watch it.  Enjoy.





If you ever get the chance, visit this wonderful mountain town.  You will love it.  By the way, I did work for the Chamber of Commerce in Leadville one summer while I was in college.  

32 comments:

becca said...

what a beautiful place

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Sally, I grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota that was defined by the iron mines. I can see a lot of similarities. But Leadville definitely wins in the category of distinctive architecture. That gives the town a lot of visual character and I'll bet it carries over into several facets of life in Leadville. Nice post!

Grandmother said...

Such a happy, innocent time in such a lovely spot. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Beth said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful place with us all.

DJan said...

Since I lived in Colorado (Boulder) for more than three decades, the 15-minute-long visit back through those pictures was pretty darn wonderful. I visited many of those places and have been to Leadville a couple of times, too, mostly on my way to another part of the beautiful state. Thank you for this, Sally. I enjoyed it thoroughly! Oh, and your sweet journal entry, it was really nice to read it. :-)

rosaria williams said...

All that snow! Our hometowns have special places in our hearts, don't they?

Olga said...

I have been to Colorado, but never made it to Leadville. It is a beautiful and varied state, for sure.

Jackie said...

One of my dreams is to go to Colorado and to Pikes Peak.
How beautiful!!!
Thank you for sharing this with us...
I look forward to viewing the video tonight.
Hugs and love,
Jackie

Jackie said...

I came back after viewing the video. I'm so glad you posted it.
Colorado calls my name! My husband retires at the end of June and we are going to travel. Colorado is on our agenda...definitely.
Beautiful scenery...absolutely beautiful. (I love Colorado's state motto and Colorado's state tree.)
Hugs,
J.

Jeanie said...

I love your descriptions of the cold and the snow, and of course, the wonders of that time in your life. I have been to Leadville many times but not for a long time. This is a great reminder to me to venture out more to enjoy the beauty of our state.
Thank you for sharing these memories.

LC said...

The eloquent way that you as a teen captured that hopeful, joyous, moment of innocence and beauty, plus Denver and the photos all added together choked me up. If nostalgia can be piercing, that is what I felt. Thank you for sharing your thoughts now and then and the video of Leadville!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

You may not believe this, but my favorite Christmas ornament is crystal columbine as you pictured in this blog. My sister-in-law gave it to me many years ago. We both moved to Denver from the Midwest i our 8th grade year. I have not until this moment associated it with the horribleness (is that a word?) of the high school Columbine. I always hang it near the top of my tree as it is most fragile. Most beautiful.

Also, have spent many a harrowing hour on Independence Pass. So, Leadville. Been there. Everyone needs to visit.

Linda Reeder said...

I have visited Leadville, way up there at 10,000 feet, with all of the Fourteeners around! We spent a night in a B&B there, in one of the old Victorian houses, and we walked the town, seeking out antique shops and interesting places. We loved it!

Arkansas Patti said...

Your vivid descriptions make me want to climb higher. The Ozarks looked like giant peaks when I left Florida but now I realize they are beginner mountains.
Maybe someday.
Sad how these days, Columbine means only one thing.

KathyA said...

It's easy to see why such pristine beauty affected you as it did. I haven't spent much time in Colorado, but you've really whet my interest in it!

Friko said...

Unfortunately, the video is not available for me, but you have described your home so beautifully that it has become a picture for me and your love for the place shines through. It is wonderful when we remember our home with love and pride and perhaps just a little tinge of sadness that we had to leave and grow up.

Nothing ever stays the same, except perhaps the mountains.

Chatty Crone said...

IT does look like a beautiful place. And you are a mountain girl - I didn't know that - or that Columbine was a flower. I do remember that tragedy! Nice memories here Sally. Sandie

troutbirder said...

The sweet memories of youth in a beautiful place. Very nice. My memories of Colorado are limited to the few years my youngest son and family lived in Evans, Windsor and Greeley. We often took the kids up camping in the mountains and also Estes Park parades etc. I like the mountains better than the flatland though Boulder seemed nice.... :)

Linda Myers said...

We'll be taking a road trip to Colorado in the next couple of years. My grandparents lived in Pueblo and then Denver, and I was there a couple of times many, many years go. These pics make me think about putting the road trip higher up on my list.

Barb said...

Hi Sally, Catching up with you. I visit Leadville a couple times a year. The new bike path is wonderful with awesome views of the mines and the high peaks. You are definitely a born and raised CO gal! PS thanks for the tip on Desert Pearl. Mary & I had a fabulous stay.

Linda said...

What a gorgeous place! I love the way the music changed on the video and the food shown at those diners looked divine! Thank you so much for sharing this, Sally.

Sandi said...

What a treasure you found in your journal. The writing was so eloquent, what voice you had as a teenager! I absolutely loved the video and I want to visit Colorado, especially Leadville!

I have always loved columbine, as my mom had them in her garden. It is sad that those lovely flowers are connected by name to such a tragic event.

The photos of the columbine flowers were exquisite, as were so many of the abundant wildflowers.

Absolutely gorgeous post, through and through!

"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

Lovely memories... Thank you for sharing them.

“If people are good only because they fear punishment,
and hope for reward,
then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

~Albert Einstein

Belle said...

I love the brick buildings and the main street. The large multi-colored homes were lovely. I'd like to have a beer in the Brass Ass Saloon! I'm glad you were happy about moving after all!

Heidrun Khokhar said...

Seems many have memories of some time in a small town and maybe mountains too. Mine took place in the Alps and the area was Trimmis. in Saliet.
It is a wonderful to go back to a past time. It is not easy to put experiences into words so others share them but you did thanks.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

How special that you have your memories written down and at your fingertips, Sally. I have only been to the Denver airport, but now I want to go to Leadville!

We used to have Columbine at our home in Leaburg, Oregon and I loved it too. I like how you are reminding us to think of the flower and not of what happened at the school.

Kathy M.

Tracy said...

How cool that you came across the journal and your words speak so typically of youth; the town was ours to roam...didn't we think the world was ours to have and hold? I think it's wonderful to have those memories. I too love Columbine and never before the tragedy did I say this flower with any negativity...now I say it and that's my instant thought. great post...

Joyce said...

Colorado is also dear to my heart. My dad was born and raised there and we spent many a summer on my grandparent's farm in Broomfield. Broomfield back in the 70's was not what it is today : ) I love the mountains and the big sky.

Dee said...

Dear Sally, I'm sorry to have been away for so long; I've been remiss in visiting your blog because I keep trying to catch up with everyone whom I've missed.

I'm glad to return to find this wonderful post about Leadville. I'd heard of it before because of the mining, but the video really captured my attention. The architecture appealed to me. And your text was evocative as were the photographs. Thank you. Peace.

Vagabonde said...

It seems I am always playing catch-up after going on trips, but catching up I do. Your husband certainly gave you a beautiful ring, and from Tiffany! Your wedding anniversary is in June? Ours too and my friend in New York said I need to write a post on it – our 45th wedding anniversary.

Your post about May was very moving. Yes we need to do more in this country for mental health. It is so hard for the families of those who hurt.
Your post about your mother was so sweet – she is quite an accomplished woman. I loved the old photographs. I have traveled widely but never been to Colorado. Your Leadville looks like a lovely town. It must have been wonderful to spend your youth there and feel part of the community. I am sure it is quite different to have lived in a smaller town. I love my hometown, but it is a capital, certainly not a small community. I have to share Paris to the world so I am sure it is not the same – I wish Paris was smaller and not so well known. I enjoyed the video and John Denver has always been a favorite in our house.

Relyn said...

Oh, I do love reading old journals. I loved reading about yours, too.

Jeanie said...

What a treasure, Sally -- and how fortunate your children are that you recorded these thoughts so long ago. I always think of Molly Brown when I think of Leadville. You share something much bigger -- and much more intimate.