Vail Valley Voices: In memory of Ardyth Calhoun
July 4, 2010
When I read Ardyth Calhoun’s obituary, I couldn’t help but feel such a huge sense of loss. I was blessed with knowing this remarkable woman. She was born and raised on the Calhoun (Hyde) ranch.
Ardyth was born in the old Victorian house on Lake Creek Road and is the survivor of three siblings who died before age 12. She told me of many stories of the Edwards area. I’d like to share them with you.
In the spring, she said, she and her mother would go out flipping over old boards and looking in warm spots for any possible sprigs of dandelion leaves or other fresh greens coming up, because they had to survive the winters without greens and they really craved them.
She remembered the train would come through every now and then and bring oranges and other fruit, and boy was that a special treat.
She remembered she had to go to school in Gypsum, and her dad would hitch a team of horses up and take her to the Edwards station so she could hop a train and go to school during the week. She couldn’t wait for Friday to come so she could go back home again. During the Depression, she didn’t know things were that bad because they always had meat on the table and a garden on the farm.
One day, she and a friend wanted to go to the store. Her dad let her take the crank-up car. Well, there was a bull standing on the river crossing in Edwards, and it wouldn’t move or let them by. They sat there for hours until he moved off, but they were afraid to get out of the car and crank it up again for fear of the bull returning.
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She told me how the chefs from Leadville would come down on the train especially to pick up some of the Hyde’s sweet cream, because they had an ice house and were able to keep cream from their milk cows fresh and cold.
And how her dad would go out and cut out huge chunks of ice from the river in February and pack it in saw dust, and they’d have ice all the way into August, and people came from all over to have ice tea. The ice house is still on the ranch.
It just so happened her dad was fishing in the winter with Mr. Brett, and he wanted to cross the river on foot to come home. Her dad said it wasn’t solid enough, and they took different paths. Mr. Brett fell in and froze both of his feet and had to have them amputated. His homestead still stands, and a beautiful rock wall is built around it to this day that he built himself by crawling with the rocks under his arms one by one. She remembers his beautiful gardens that he built without any feet.
She told me that she’d go to dances, and these two bachelors would always come from Beaver Creek. She didn’t know what gay meant back then. But she said all the women loved dancing with them the most.
In the summer, they’d have picnics with all the Squaw Creek people, who she said were really poor. The Lake Creek people would bring fried chicken, and the Squaw Creek people would just bring bologna sandwiches. There was a rivalry between the two creeks.
Yes, I will always remember all of these stories and many more and hold them dear to me. This is the Ardyth and Edwards I like to remember.
She gave me special recipes, beautiful cuttings of plants, lots of garden tips, great meals, a few margaritas and puffs off of cigarettes. She was joyful, cunning, witty and loving.
Part of her history has been passed on to me, so her memory and stories live on. May we all live to be storytellers and share like she did with me. What a blessed treasure.
My regrets to the whole Calhoun family and friends.
Linda Buckley lives in Crawford.