Visiting Steve and Christie Carver’s Gypsum basement is like taking a take a step back in time.
Like taking a trip back to the 1950s to be more specific. And that’s the authentic 1950s with no replicas allowed.
The Carvers can escape to the 1950s anytime they want. Just a few steps from their immaculate kitchen, vistitors descend the stairway to chrome heaven. Their basement is filled with real 1950s memorabilia and you don’t have to be an expert to see and feel how real it all is. The couple even have outfits from the ‘50s. They attended a Sock Hop a few years ago at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, and they also have dressed up for their travels along Route 66.
In the beginning …
The Carvers are well known around the area for lots of reasons. They operate Big Steve’s Towing and Recovery and Steve’s BBQ. Steve serves as Gypsum Mayor and automotive enthusiasts know the Carvers for their amazing car collection. But how did their basement become a 1950s oasis?
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It didn’t start out that way – it started out as a concrete hole, and the Carvers went to work after buying the house in Buckhorn Valley about a year and a half ago. They credit realtor Mallie Kingston for finding the property for them. The couple used all local contractors and purchased all materials locally. That, along with their own elbow grease, turned the basement into what it is today. The couple would get up at 5 a.m. and work until midnight, which meant the place was ready for furniture in just three months. Then they began moving all of the great things that they had in storage into the space.
“We are living proof that you don’t necessarily get smarter as you get older,” said Steve.
Once you walk into the Carver’s basement, you really don’t want to leave. It’s like stepping into a warm, welcoming 1950s nostalgic cloud. Looking at just the photos alone can take hours.
Christie’s creativity comes through in the photos that she has taken and they are displayed with that same artistic flair. There are many photos of Gypsum Daze concerts among some that are even more unique. The 2012 Chubby Checker concert the couple attended is a treasured memory as the now-70-year-old performer played for two straight hours with no breaks.
Another photo that stands out is a photo of a very young Dolly Parton. The story behind the photo is that Christie — as an outgoing 7-year-old —walked right into Parton’s trailer after a concert. She got a photo and an autograph for the effort. Other photos of the couple with famous and not-so-famous people adorn the walls. It’s a sight to behold.
Above the bar is an original Miller Lite lamp that came from the old Prairie Moon Saloon in Eagle.
“Jon Jon Asper got that for us, and we hung it exactly as they did back then,” said Steve. The bar stools came from North Dakota, and across from the bar sits a Christmas tree decorated with all 1950s ornaments. It would take all day to carefully view each ornament – but looking at it makes you want to do just that.
Movie posters, gas pumps and more
Along with the bar area, there is a diner set up in the basement. Opposite the diner tables sits a comfortable sitting area. Old movie posters, an old popcorn machine and a wall full of car trophies decorate the area.
There are so many stories about how the couple got each piece for their space. The movie posters were found by Christie’s mom, who passed away four years ago.
“My aunt is an artist and as they went to remove the backing of some canvases, there the movie posters were,” said Christie. The posters are in near-perfect condition.
Just when you think that’s all to see – and it’s already a lot – you look over and see an old garage door, with an authentic old Texaco gas pump in front of it. That door leads to Earl’s Garage.
Christie’s dad is named Earl and he worked at the Texaco and coincidentally, so did Steve as a young chap. The Carvers have recreated those eary memories with a replica garage. The craziest thing about all of these authentic pieces is that they all actually work, including the old engine that “Carl” — Christie’s Uncle Carl had a station and restaurant back in the day — is working on, along with the all of the tools, machines and parts. Everything is in great shape.
The first thought that comes to mind when you get this far into the journey is that the Carvers are missing the boat by not promoting and charging for tours. The sight of everything, along with all of the stories that go with their artifacts, are definitely worth paying for a ticket.
Out of the garage and into the office there’s an ancient, but still working cash register and log book. Both sit on a beautiful 1950s desk. Across from that is a glass case full of 1950s objects. There is a candy stand full of nostalgic sugary items. The couple is currently waiting to restock their Certs slots.
“They only make Certs every three years, so we are waiting for batches of those,” said Christie.
The ‘50s bathroom in the office has all working fixtures and the Carvers are waiting to add some items to finish that part of their project.
As much as they have enjoyed building their 1950s haven, the Carvers also enjoy sharing their creation.
“We like to entertain,” said Christie.
The Carvers are car show enthusiasts and are members of the Valley Cruisers. They recently fed a group of car fanatics — that numbered around 25 people— a full-fledged breakfast at the house. They plan to host Cars & Coffee this May. They also host numerous cookouts on their deck and have constant visitors staying overnight. The welcoming couple are the perfect hosts.
While the 1950s are alive and well at their home, the Carvers have also found inspiration on the road. They went on an incredible trip along Route 66 last year, and plan to finish that trip – going west this time – this summer.
The stories alone from their first trip are completely captivating, but that’s another story, all its own.