‘Women of Vail’ serialization: So many stories, so little time
Women of Vail
Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from “Women of Vail,” by Elaine Kelton and Carolyn Pope. The Vail Daily is serializing the book as Vail celebrates its 50th anniversary. Books are available for purchase at http://www.bookwormofedwards.com, the Colorado Ski Museum, Pepi’s, Gorsuch, Annie’s and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.
We moved from Denver into a condominium at Sandstone 70 in 1968 with our 3-year-old son, a German shepherd, and a turtle. David’s New Jersey family and my Wyoming relatives lovingly and politely thought we might be losing our minds to leave the security of a banking position, new home, and growing metropolis for the wilds of the Rocky Mountains and a place of which they had never heard. “Vail, where?” “You’ll be back,” some of our city friends told us while others sadly said, “I wish we had the nerve to do what you’re doing.” We found the valley already populated by entrepreneurial Europeans, Vail Associates staff, energetic transplants from all over the U.S. and adventurous ski-bum types willing to take a chance on the success of the area or just who wanted to be there.
Sandstone 70 was on the western outskirts of town and provided housing for an eclectic population. The Gartons lived down the row and would sit on their back deck with beers and rifles shooting at an old barn across the creek on the empty hillside. I reminded them that kids were playing in the area. “Oh, yes,” they said, and the firing stopped. They were great outdoorsmen and hunters. They would kill a deer, dress it out and hang it on their back deck to age. One fall the neighborhood dogs attacked a carcass and pulled it down, scattering bones and meat all over the place.
Late another night, there was a huge ruckus down the way at bachelor-at-the-time Steve Boyd’s condo. His very recently evicted (earlier that night) ex-roommate had returned to find his belongings removed from their shared abode and “placed” out on the lawn. He challenged Steve loudly several times and banged on the door. The door opened, a short fight ensued and then ended with a loud smack. The man’s girlfriend raced from their parked car, helped her man off the ground and back to their car and they sped away.
Another neighbor had shared custody of his young daughter. He would get her to sleep some nights and head for a bar in town, relying on Vail’s safety and help from his neighbors if there were problems. Occasionally, she would awaken crying, and we would rescue her. He was actually not a bad man, I think, just inexperienced and a bit clueless. When he noticed my new garden out front he came over to enlist my advice, telling me his potted marijuana plants were looking puny. I went inside, removed the label from an oven cleaner can, brought it out, and told him to give each plant a good spritz.
Bill and Rouene Brown lived across the dirt street separating our two rows of buildings. In the summer, Rouene Brown would come home from work on her lunch hour, quickly don a bathing suit and take her lunch, a cold drink and a good book outside for a fast sunbath in her small deck lounger. Many days, little Dave Jr, who was about 4 years old at the time, would take advantage of a good situation, squeeze in next to her and engage in earnest conversation until Rouene went back to work.
David’s brother, Dudley Holmes, came to live with us while he was establishing himself as a excavation contractor. He dug foundations and pipelines for many of Vail’s early builders and created a long and successful career. There were some bumps along the way, however. Early on, he borrowed our small Jeep to go up Red Sandstone Road and fell trees for firewood. He returned that evening with the cloth top of the Jeep caved in, shredded, and completely ruined. More trouble with trees came later when he was dynamiting boulders out of Evi Nott’s new lot in preparation for her planned home. That particular explosive process was somewhat new to Holmes, got away from him a little, he did some pretty good rock shrapnel damage, and blew the leaves off many of her nice aspens. We encouraged him to drive his backhoe in Vail’s popular Fourth of July parade with a big sign naming his company and displaying the motto, “Your sewage is my bread and butter.” He declined. Holmes was involved with accountant George Crowder and many others in one of Vail’s best attended bar fights at the VVI, where many of the town’s working people gathered at day’s end. He also gained a reputation as a good pool player after taking on and showing up all comers one year at the Slifer and Co. end-of-year party at Reno’s Cafe in Red Cliff. Designated drivers were highly prized for the winding way back to Vail. So many stories, so little time.
“Women of Vail” was produced by a team that includes Elaine Kelton and Carolyn Pope, publishers; Joanne Morgan, designer and production; and Rosalie Hill Isom, writer-editor.