A journey that began last Christmas rolled its final rail Aug. 24. The students at St. Columba School wanted the Rev. Jim Koenigsfeld to have something special for his holiday gift and settled on something sure to delight.
They bought one of the first "Be a Train Engineer for a Day," (that's what I call it) packages from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for the man who celebrates Mass with them every Friday and is a frequent visitor in their classrooms.
Koenigsfeld was completely kitted out in an engineer's overalls, gloves, bandanna and cap for the adventure, made even more special by St. Columba parishioners. St. Columba Middle School students lined the Animas River Trail behind the Durango Public Library with handmade signs wishing him bon voyage - and luckily, the train runs slowly enough through there that he might have had time to read a few.
As the train made its way through Trimble Crossing, parishioners rang cowbells, another group was gathered by the Hermosa crossing, and there was even a welcoming committee letting out a cheer or two when the train pulled into Silverton.
I don't know what the tourists riding the train thought about all the fuss, but I'm sure it made for some great stories when they returned home.
Because anything happening in the parish or school can be fodder for a lesson, Koenigsfeld wove some of the tales of his excursion into his children's homily at the first Mass of the school year Aug. 28.
My thanks go to Kathrene Frautschy for serving as my correspondent on this story and to Chuck and Patti Muckenthaler for the great photo.
September is in full swing for the birthdays of Katie Burford, Josh Spaeder, Harold Jackson, Peggy Sharp, Clyde James, Greer Bohan, Valerie Beaudette, Jim Clair, Charlsie Nygard, Chris Safran, Susan Stanes, Tom Townsend, Heather Gain, Kevin Jenkins, Clayton Wayland, Kay Neal, Barbara Dunne, Rap Dunker, Norma Jean Engman, Steve Sproul, Anika Nelson, Dallas Reynolds, Field Blevins and Valerie Mangrum.
What's the secret to staying happy together for 70 years of marriage? Peryl and Ernie Schaaf's daughter Tammy Schreiner said that for her parents, "They never took themselves too seriously, but took their relationship very seriously."
The Schaafs celebrated their momentous anniversary at CJ's diner, next door to their home, on Aug. 15. (The actual anniversary was Aug. 20.)
It was a family affair, with son, Wayne Schaaf, and his wife, Jo, of Cortez, his son, Shad Schaaf and his wife, Cheryl, of Fort Collins as well as daughters Lavon Schaaf and her granddaughters Ashley and Kourtney Aarvold of Durango, Schreiner and her husband, Kip, and their children Bailey, Darby and Devin, all of Durango and Sherri and Larry Gaugh of Durango and her sons Ryne Waggoner of Fort Collins and Nolan Waggoner of Durango filling the diner for the party.
The marriage actually happened on a lark, not what one would ordinarily consider an auspicious beginning. The couple served as witnesses for Mildred and Frank Kelley, who eloped to our neighboring town south of the (state) border, Aztec. I learned a few years ago that the reason many lifelong La Plata County residents got married in Aztec was because there were no blood tests required, so it was less expensive.
Anyway, the newlywed Kelleys dared the soon-to-be Schaafs to get married, and as they had been dating quite a bit, they decided to go for it. Needless to say, her parents, in particular, were not thrilled with the sudden nuptials.
It wasn't until they were home and driving down Florida Road that Ernie Schaaf thought that his new in-laws' dismay might have something to do with his bride's age. He asked, and learned that she was 15 to his august age of 21. Luckily, there wasn't as much traffic on Florida Road then as there is today, so his slamming on the brakes didn't result in catastrophe. You can imagine his shock.
Peryl Schaaf was the youngest of a large and extended family, so she always hung out with the older kids. He just assumed, and we all know how well that usually works out.
Durango High School authorities decided that a married girl couldn't go to school and kicked her out, but eventually she was readmitted and graduated.
They may have been young - and a little lacking in personal information about each other, apparently - but they had each found a partner for what have turned out to be long and loving lives together.
Many happy wishes to both of you as you celebrate seven decades together.
The more I read about the importance of music to learning and life enrichment, the more proud I become of this community, which includes programs such as Music in the Mountains Goes to School, Jeff Solon introducing students to jazz and the San Juan Symphony family concerts as well as talented music teachers at most every school.
About a year ago, I picked up a pamphlet for The Stillwater Foundation, which is dedicated to providing opportunities for young people, including the disabled and disadvantaged, to enjoy top-quality musical experiences, from learning to play a wide variety of instruments to booking gigs and handling the finances of a band.
The foundation was founded by attorney Bob Gasaway after he moved here in 2005 with his family. It's led by musical director and performer Steve Dejka, who first crossed my radar with his phenomenal steel drum band at Excel Charter School. Composer, arranger, singer, teacher and performer Lawrence Nass brings his prodigious talents to bear, as well.
This is by way of introduction for those of you who are planning to attend the Durango Coffee Festival on Main Avenue today. The foundation is going to have a booth with information and baked goods for sale. Stillwater's Steel Drum Band, Rock Band and the Groove Casters will be playing throughout the festival.
I know I'll be stopping by to learn a little more.
Enjoying a bit of fall crispness in the air for their anniversaries are Jim and Susie Robertson, Neil and Karen Johnson, Clyde and Dianna Fassett, Thomas and Diane Ridings, Jimmy and Jean Robinett, Jim and Dorothy Gore, Bill and Valerie Mangrum, and Gary and Cathy Jones.
For information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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