The combination of Victorian mores and styles with the Wild West that was Durango in the 1880s and 1890s makes our town’s history fascinating and fun.
This year marked the second annual Durango Heritage Celebration, and it was a hit on all counts.
It was originally Suzanne Parker’s brainchild, and the idea couldn’t have occurred to a better organizer. A founder of Mrs. Camp’s Town Ladies and Gents, she recruited fellow history enthusiasts Carol Bruno and Ricci Dawson, along with every other friend and acquaintance in town, to help organize the events.
On Oct. 9, I had fun giving a trolley tour as Durango’s first newspaper publisher, Caroline Romney, who forded icy streams while bringing her printing press from Leadville to put out her first paper on Dec. 29, 1880. Romney encouraged women to go for the career they wanted without waiting for permission from a man; told City Council that La Plata County had to take care of itself because it couldn’t count on the cities on the Front Range for help; and wrote a memorable editorial saying, “We need girls.” She went on to say we needed fat girls, thin girls, funny girls, serious girls, industrious girls … well, you get the picture. Romney understood that to be a civilized town, a leavening female presence was needed.
The next day, Niles Bruno took on the persona of another one of Durango’s colorful newspaper publishers, David Day, a Medal of Honor winner from the Civil War. He put out a truly Democratic paper, the Solid Muldoon, and I bet his tour group had a lot of fun as well.
At a time when this town needs every tourist dollar it can bring in, the celebration attracted a third of its participants from as far away as Texas, Missouri and Montana.
As if Parker hadn’t already done enough organizing three days worth of activities, she threw a tea for a key group of participants, and I lucked into an invitation.
Parker dressed in pristine black and white maid’s clothes from Victoria’s era and served delicious finger foods such as curried chicken with chutney in phyllo dough, cucumber and other sandwiches, mini-lemon tarts, truffles and freshly baked shortbread cookies.
Guests will most remember, however, the sense of accomplishment that comes after a project comes to fruition and their trip to Parker’s Victorian fashion closet, full of hats, fabric and outfits for every occasion imaginable, most of which the hostess and champion organizer made herself.
After a little decompression, Parker and her cohorts in crime will start planning next year’s festivities.
Happy Libra/Scorpio cusp birthday wishes go out to Betty Calkins, Brandon Gross, Larry Brown, Kevin Heckman, Austin Volz, Debbie Williams, Kim McCarl, Meg Fontenot, Nancy Phillips, Jo Weger, Dave Ehrig, Molly Stuntz, Fred Whitehurst, Barbara Larson, Megan Edwards, Carly Pierson, Hunter Houle, Rege Leach, Kerry Tichi and Linda Geer.
Many happy returns go out to Robert Beers, who celebrates the august age of 95 today.
The Manna Kitchen Soup Supper was delicious and successful Saturday night.
More than 350 people enjoyed a veritable cornucopia of soups, including potato and corn chowder, Manhattan-style fish chowder (complete with mahi-mahi, shrimp, cid and salmon), nuclear chili, hunter’s stew and green-chile-chicken soup, all prepared by soup-kitchen chef Warren Smith; roasted-winter-vegetable-cream and white-bean-with-bacon soups made by Lauren Slaff; traditional Polish cabbage soup prepared by Julie Mackiewicz; and posole by Strater chef Dave Cuntz.
Jean-Pierre Bakery donated fresh rolls; and a number of people contributed desserts, including baklava, rhubarb crisp and other yummies.
This year, Manna added a live auction to raise more money in a year when more people need help with food than ever before. Calvin and Pat Story were running their own Treasure Auction events on both Saturday and Sunday, but still came out on Saturday night to share their talents for the cause.
The big money raisers in the live event were a scooter from Handlebar Motorsports worth $2,200 and a Honda snow blower from Ted’s Rentals, but there were a number of great items, including quilts from Durango Quilt Co., a $1,000 golfing/lodging package at Tamarron Resort and the Glacier Club and a table designed and made by Jim Doubek.
As people dined, they enjoyed the music of the newly created bluegrass band Animas City Slackers. They also perused and bid on all kinds of silent auction item, including propane, jewelry, gift certificates to everything one can imagine, art, golf, tequila, four-wheel alignment service and eye exams. And that’s just for starters.
The bottom line is what matters here, and the evening’s take was $11,500, which is $5,200 more than last year. Manna Executive Director Sarah Comerford is glad the evening is over and is grateful locals appreciate how important it is for everyone to have enough to eat.
If you missed the soup (and I’m sorry if you did, because it was a treat), you can still support Manna Soup Kitchen in its work of feeding the more fragile members of our community.
Mail your contribution to Manna Soup Kitchen, P.O. Box 1196, Durango, CO 81301; or drop them off at the soup kitchen at 1100 Avenida del Sol.
It started as a brainchild of Brad Cochennet and Molly Martin, and now, 10 years later, the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado has become a centerpiece of area giving.
The foundation serves nonprofits, service clubs and individual family trusts by providing financial management services. Board of Directors President Sheri Rochford uses the analogy that United Way is the community’s everyday checkbook, and the foundation is its savings account.
At a luncheon Tuesday to celebrate the foundation’s first decade of doing good, Rochford introduced her board members and acknowledged what they bring to the table.
On the financial side of things, Wachovia Manager Susan Cross, Chuck Fredrick of FredrickZink & Associates, Cheryl Wiescamp from Fort Lewis College and Herb Brodsky do the heavy lifting.
Community members John Anderson, Richard Ballantine, Cochennet, Martin, Shirley Isgar, John Loftis, Sydney Morris, Mary Nicholson, Annie Simonson and Tim Walsworth bring their passion, creativity and energy to the board.
Isgar, her husband, David Alford, and Jennifer O’Donohue from Blue Lake Ranch catered a delicious lunch of chicken enchiladas and all the fixings, with, of course, birthday cake, a choice of lemon, carrot or chocolate.
As is always the case at these things, the testimonials from folks who depend on the Community Foundation for managing their money and administering their grants had the most vivid stories to tell.
Tim Kroes, the executive director of the Adaptive Sports Association, talked about how his organization had decided to come on board before the foundation even had its paperwork together for its Internal Revenue Service 501(c)3 designation. Was it a matter of faith? You betcha, as a former vice presidential candidate would have said. But faith well founded, given the people associated with the foundation.
Shannon Brown, the executive director of Fathers’ Voices, talked about how his organization was coming together at the same time it was working to raise money to start its services working with fathers in Ignacio and Durango to be a stronger lynchpin for families.
Both the Bill and Liz Anderson and Bryan and Jaquelyn Dear families have donor funds at the foundation. Bill Anderson said he and his wife created their fund because they believe the spiritual law of “It is better to give than to receive” is as reliable a law as gravity. As an estate-planning lawyer and a municipal court judge in Pagosa Springs, he feels each generation is becoming more me-centered, and his family’s goal is to work with its next generations so that they become givers.
Bryan Dear reassured people that they don’t have to be millionaires to create a family fund at the foundation.
As a matter of fact, the three-page form to start one is far easier than creating an independent fund, and all the givers have to do is donate and decide where they want their money to go.
Their family fund is currently providing scholarships to single-parent students at Fort Lewis College.
B.J. Boucher is the executive director of the Women’s Health Coalition, which has the foundation handle the bulk of its financial affairs, leaving the coalition’s members free to work on the organization’s mission – to educate area communities about breast and reproductive-health issues, provide educational outreach to underserved individuals and promote prevention or early cancer detection through screening services.
Lon Erwin, the Community Foundation’s executive director, is modest about his skills, but when the community needed an emergency fund after the fire in the 700 block of Main Avenue, he used his connections and energy to get the fund up and running. We (that’s right, you, me and our neighbors) raised more than $100,000, which helped about 100 employees of the businesses that burned, and left enough to help those hurt by the Newman Block fire this year.
To learn more about the foundation, call its office at 375-5807, visit www.swcom munityfoundation.org or e-mail Erwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rain (or snow at higher elevations) and love are in the air for the anniversaries of Leo and Jean Smith and Don and Sally Haynes.
As I write this, snow is falling in the high country, which means winter sports are just around the corner. And one of the most fun ways to enjoy winter sports is by volunteering for the Adaptive Sports Association.
The organization started offering winter recreational activities for people with physical and mental disabilities 26 years ago, and every year it makes a big difference in the quality of people’s lives – both the volunteers and the students.
And if you ask anyone who’s involved with ASA, they will say volunteering with clients and hosting athletes is one of the most joyful things they do all year.
No experience is necessary, but to actually work on the mountain, you must be at least an intermediate skier or snowboarder.
Training is free, and volunteers can earn free and discounted lift tickets. (Internships for college credit are also available.)
Interested volunteers, both new and returning, should attend one of two orientation meetings, which will be held Nov. 9 and 11 at the Durango Community Recreation Center. Returning volunteers will meet from 6 to 7 p.m., and newbies will meet from 7 to 8 p.m.
For more information, call the ASA office at 259-0374 or e-mail coordinator Ann Marie Meighan at AnnMarie@asadurango.com.
Whether you end up in the Wounded Warriors program, helping folks who have suffered a traumatic injury or working with students hoping to compete in the Special Olympics, I guarantee it will be an unforgettable and rewarding experience.
For information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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