Family crisis alters Doll’s path |

Family crisis alters Doll’s path

Shirley Welch
Vail, CO Colorado

So young Frank spent his youth in the Colorado mountains, enjoying all the things that such a life could bring.

After high school, Frank received a partial scholarship to Colorado School of Mines in Golden. However, his acceptance was conditional on passing solid geometry, which his high school did not teach.

So that summer when he was seventeen, he went to Denver and lived with his aunt and uncle while studied and passed the exam in geometry. In the fall of 1938 Frank entered the Colorado School of Mines. His cousin also attended the school, so Frank joined the same fraternity as his cousin and lived in the frat house.

While Frank loved geology and anything to do with rocks, he struggled with some of the other courses. He was required to take two years of basic military training besides his core classes.

In Golden, Frank found himself in a new place, in different circumstances, and surrounded by city morals and lots of strange faces. He longed for the days on the ranch and was attacked by homesickness. The semester dragged by and Frank did not enjoy much of it.

In October of that year, his brother, Morton, came down with infantile paralysis. He was admitted to Colorado General Hospital and stabilized. His mother and father hovered by his side. He was then transferred to Children’s Hospital, and the family rented a house on 14th Street so they could be close to him.

In mid-December Frank went to Denver and met with his dad. It was a solemn meeting. Frank’s father presented his son with the set of circumstances facing the family: there was not enough money to support both Frank in college and Morton’s medical bills.

Frank was given the choice of going back to the ranch to work or accompanying the family to Southern California where they would spend the winter with Morton, who would be placed in a medical facility that specialized in treating polio patients. If Frank wanted to accompany his family to California, he was told he would have to find a job there to look after his own needs. Frank weighed his options.

The ranch was a comfortable place where he felt at home. However, it was wintertime, and he did know enough geography to know that southern California in mid-winter was preferable to western Colorado with its frozen ground. Frank decided to go to California.

The family found a house to rent in La Jolla. The house was 50 yards up the hill from the main road around the peninsula. One day soon after they arrived, a green Oldsmobile convertible cruised up the hill to the house and promptly stopped out front.

From the car, a man dressed in fancy boots and a leather jacket climbed out and leaned against his car, right next to the Colorado license plate that read, “44-10”.

Frank’s dad came out of the house and took in the scene. He sure did like the car and recognized Colorado licence plates. “Hello,” he said as he climbed down the front steps.

About that time Frank junior came out of the house and watched the two men. The stranger extended his hand. A large gold ring glittered in the sunlight. “Hello, yourself. I saw your car down below, recognized the licence plates, and figured it belonged to the people in this house.”

“That’s right. That’s my Chrysler.”

The man broke into a generous grin. “I’m Crocker Brown and I’m from Aspen, Colorado.”

“Is that right? Hey, my father knew your father. I remember him talking about the Browns from Aspen.”

“Small world,” Crocker said with a chuckle.

The men exchanged small talk, Frank explaining what brought the family to California, and Frank then introduced his son to Crocker.

Crocker shook young Frank’s hand and said, “I manage that big hotel down the way, Casa de Manana. I can always use help. If you need a job, come and see me.”

So Frank did go and see Crocker Brown and landed himself a job at the swankiest hotel in La Jolla, California, where at the time the nicest room could be had for $35 a night.

E-mail comments about this story to

Support Local Journalism