At a national high school yearbook conference last summer, the moderator asked if anyone in the room's high school
was celebrating a 10th anniversary this year.
When she asked if any of the high schools represented in the room were celebrating a bigger anniversary, Durango High
School Toltec adviser Tammy Schreiner tentatively raised her hand. How many years? 100, Shreiner said.
Oh, wow!" was the response.
You just can't let a centennial go by unremarked. So this year's Toltec staff decided to take a look at all
the yearbooks gone by and collect stories from DHS alumni. On Tuesday, they took over the Durango School District 9-R
board room in the Administration Building and got out all those previous editions for perusing.
Shreiner is missing two editions of the Toltec from the last 100 years - 1934 and 1999. If you have one you
would be willing to donate, call her at 259-1630, ext. 2215.
The Toltecs varied widely in style, with early versions featuring watercolor and oil paintings along with
photos. Permanent-wave hair, bobs, bouffants and '60s-style long, straight hair and '80s big hair - all hairstyles
were represented. In the early books, on
ly the seniors' faces were recognizable: Everyone else was in miniature.
Wondering where the name Toltec came from? The Toltec Gorge, a dramatic bit of scenery along the route of the
Cumbres-Toltec Railroad just over the New Mexico border east of Chama. (Although my personal opinion is that
archrivals Cortez High School had all that Aztec mythology to pul
l from as the Panthers in Montezuma County, so the Durango kids wanted something that sounded equally fierce.)
The verbiage in one of the descriptions of the book said that Toltec was chosen to reflect the steadfastness
and loyalty of heart exhibited by DHS students.
Many students these days complain about having to go to school. But for decades, students and their families made
major sacrifices so young people could get an education. Many rode in on the train on Sunday night from their rural
homes to board in town
all week and go to school, returning home Friday night.
During a period of discord with Animas City during the Depression (the area north of 25th Street that was annexed by
Durango in 1948), students from the neighboring town were charged $30 a month to attend DHS, more than most families
had to pay all of their monthly bills. Animas City teachers tried to present high school-level classes, but it was
far from a success.
Only about 20 people stopped by Tuesday, but they ranged in graduation dates from the 1930s to 2008, and there were a
lot of good stories.
Betty Loffer, Class of 1961, had both her own memories and those shared by her parents. Her dad, Joe B.
Peters, was a football coach as an adult, and her mother, Edna Bruce Peters, was valedictorian of the
Class of 1935.
After I ran a short item last week inviting people to go and share their memories, Barbara Cornelius called to
let me know that her husband, Myrle, has a copy of Volume 1, Edition 1. As I was looking at the school
district's copy of that edition, there was Myrle Cornelius' father mentioned as the business manager of the
Other folks who stopped by included
Ernie and Peryl Kelley Schaaf (Shreiner's parents) who graduated in the 1930s and early 1940s, respectively, and
Juanita Jaramillo, Class of 1944, her husband, Ray, from the same era, and their grandson coach Mike
Jaramillo, Class of 1989.
Shreiner was particularly touched by Fred Stephenson, Class of 1972. He had been drum major of the marching
band and neatly kept newspaper clippings about the people from his class in his Toltec. The most poignant one
was of a classmate who died young, so he had her obituary and the piece about the engagement of her son many years
Martha Carman Simpson, Class of 1942, Suzanne Matis, Class of 1960, Carla Hotter, Class of 1969
and Daryl Tomberlin and Kristi Rodri, Class of 1971, all stopped by. There was even a nonalumnus
visitor. John Dennis of Plano, Texas, who stopped by because he figured it was a good place to learn about the
The memories collected will be presented in a special section of this year's
Blowing into their birthdays on spring gusts are David Tabar, Yvonne Carlyon, Wanita
Christensen, Nancy Custer, Greg Wiley, Joyce Erickson
, Don Haynes, Brad Cartwright, Emmet Stottlemeyer, Sharon Hayes, Brian
Hondru, Mark Chambers, Janet DeLeo, Zeke Longwell, James Fulton, Nicholas
Bastin, Leslie Slater, Grace Appleby, John Ogier, Lori Brouner, John
Folk, Richard Gjere, Loreta Beam, Tamara Volz, Kathie Bowers, Geri
Mulligan, Elena Breed, Dale Rodebaugh, Conor Nelson, Annemarie Nobman, Dan
Hopper, Mary Richards and Crystal Gunkelman.
Special greetings go out to Sarah Sumner.
If, like me, you look forward to the La Plata County Historical Society's Historic Durango, which is inserted
Herald in early May, you may want to help the organization publish the section this year. You may know that
among city of Durango budget cuts in these tough economic times was a 73 percent cut to the society and the Animas
Museum, which the society runs.
That kind of cut is devastating, so the society is looking for our help to continue publishing its award-winning
The focus this year is on homesteading in La Plata County. The museum has numerous items
in its collection that hail from that time, so the subject and the section are a match made in heaven.
The society is asking that people make tax-deductible contributions of $43 so they can publish Historic
Durango. (Of course, more would be greatly appreciated.) Make checks payable to LPCHS and mail them to P.O.
Box 3384, Durango, CO 81302.
The museum and Executive Director Robert McDaniel are a tremendous resource to this community. I can't count
the number of times I have called with a question and received an answer that made a story come together.
My colleague and friend
Judith Reynolds always drops me a postcard from her travels around the world, greatly appreciated in this time
when it's a big deal for me to go to Farmington. So I knew she'd had a tremendous trip to China last fall, but not
too many details about it.
I was delighted to join about 185 other people for her lecture A Tomb of One's Own: The Terra Cotta Warriors" on
March 11 at Fort Lewis College. The lecture was part of the Lifelong Learning Series put on by the Professional
Associates of FLC - a series that Reynolds created that is celebrating a decade of satisfying intellectual curiosity
and stimulating lively conversation on a wide variety of topics.
Reynolds is fascinated by funerary art, and as the obituary writer for
The Durango Herald
, I find myself more than a little curious about subjects like that myself. She cautioned listeners to try to see the
warriors in a historical light rather than through the lens of Hollywood, where they have shown up in films such as
Ocean's 13" and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor."
Initially discovered in 1974, the warriors were found by four nameless farmers who were digging a well. They come in
a variety of forms, including standing and kneeling archers, cavalry complete with horses and chariots and infantry, and were posed in b
Like virtually every conqueror ranging up to Hitler in modern times, China's first emperor, Quin Shi Huang (Quin is
the word basis for China) was obsessed with immortality and had the warriors made to protect him for eternity. Except
for the Imperial Gu
ard, who face each other along a hallway, they all face east, but scholars have not determined the reason for that.
The thing that most impresses everyone is that there are literally thousands of terra cotta warriors, with excavation
continuing. Reynolds said it's like walking into the Superdome, with warriors stretching out as far as the eye can
There are as many questions about the warriors as there are answers. Do they each have individual faces, as was
originally thought? Or are there about eight faces, altered by hair, mustaches and other accessories?
In an ironic twist, the museum where the terra cotta warriors are displayed sells playing cards with the warriors on
them, and the emperor whose hubris led to this massive use of resources is shown on the joker. Some immortality!
A number of audience members, including Ann Flatten and Bud Poe, had visited the museum over the 30
years since it opened. All were amazed then and are intrigued about the new things discovered about the terra cotta
warriors since their visits. Several want to go back and see them again with the new insights gained from Reynolds'
talk. The rest of us, those who haven't made it there yet, are making travel plans as you read this.
And if you can't make it to China, there is an exhibit through the end of March at the National Geographic Museum in
Sheri Rochford, new executive director of the Durango Arts Center, and Scott Hagler, who served as the
interim director and continues to help market this heart of the arts" in our community, are helping the DAC make a
DAC supporters are doing what they can to help. On March 10, Don and Judy Hayes sponsored a fundraiser
for the DAC at their lovely Shenandoah home. The guest list included neighbors and friends from throughout the
community. And because it's never too early to make new friends for the arts center, the Hayeses invited two
newcomers, Drs. Heather and Scott Wickless, who recently moved here from Chicago. Heather Wickless was
a fine arts major as an undergraduate.
The Hayeses made a substantial donation to the DAC that night, and Herald Publisher Richard Ballantine
and his wife, Mary Lyn, who were on hand for the festivities, matched it. Other guests, already inspired by
that, were touched even further when Terry Swan, president of the DAC's board of directors talked about how an
afterschool art program turned his life around when he was young.
Rochford, who is one of the most talented fundraisers in town, made the close, as they say in sales, sharing what she
has learned in her almost three months on the job about how important the DAC is to not just our arts community, but
to the quality of life for everyone in the community.
Sari Brown of The Yellow Carrot provided catering for the event. In keeping with the subject at hand, the
presentation was as artistic as anything that has ever hung in the arts center's gallery. The menu included lump crab
cakes with ginger-blood-orange buerre rouge, wild smoked-salmon quesadillas, lobster-and-tarragon-stuffed baby
portabello mushrooms, sweet-potato chips, red-beet chips, sweet-potato-crusted shrimp, gazpacho shooters, wasabiaki, also known as crusted ahi tuna with avocado-wasabi butter and lemongrass-and-coconut beef tenderloin.
And because no meal by Brown is complete without some of her scrumptious desserts, she provided chocolate-dipped
strawberries, tri-chocolate cups filled with toffee mousse, strawberry-cream-cheesecake truffles and an assortment of
petits fours, including lemon-poppy, vanilla, hazelnut and chocolate-caramel.
The hostess, Judy Hayes, is an accomplished artist who has a studio in the Smiley Building. She and her husband had
previous lives and successful business careers in Austin, Texas. The DAC was one of the things that inspired them to
move to Durango, and Don Hayes is a former DAC board member.
The couple has volunteered to help with fundraising efforts to get the DAC back on its feet, and if this evening is
any indicator, the DAC is going to be just fine.
The crocuses are peeking out for the anniversaries of
Richard and Uta Carleno, Blake and Pat Chatfield, Jerry and Sara Davis and
R.L. and Joy Hawks.
For information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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