Old Salida Opera House Faces Demolition

opera house, salida, theater

A landmark building in historic downtown Salida is in imminent danger of demolition unless drastic steps are taken to save it.
The building, known locally as the Unique Theater was built in 1889 to replace the original Salida Opera House which was destroyed by fire. The Opera House was part of the “Silver Circuit” which helped bring high quality shows, theatricals and operas across the nation.

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Blues from Another Planet – The Lazy Alien Blues Band, 29 Years Later

By Mike Rosso and Elliot Jackson

It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon at “The Vic,” or the Victoria Tavern, in Salida – early for barflies, although there are a few of them buzzing quietly over their beers and shots. It’s quiet, mellow, but the atmosphere is about to change. By twos and threes, calling greetings to the owner, the patrons and each other, a group of about ten guys and attendant entourage come sauntering into the bar with the breezy assurance of favored sons – which, it could be argued, they are. Probably no other group of musicians has played the Vic as much as the Lazy Alien Blues Band – going on for thirty years, if some of the lies can be believed. Deke, J.N., Denny, Ernie, Jimmy, Chris – as they cluster around the pool table, invoking a pose from a long-bygone photo shoot, a voice suddenly rises in song:

Going to the hot tub and we’re … gonna get laid …

We recognize the tune: isn’t that “Chapel of Love”?

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Reintroducing the Tabors: A Series

Baby Doe Tabor, 1934.

Part 7: An “afternoon interlude”with Baby Doe

by Francisco A. Rios

Note: This is the last in a series of letters chosen from hundreds from the Tabor Collection at the Colorado Historical Society and cataloged by Dr. Rios, a retired professor from the University of Colorado at Denver.

An exchange of letters in the summer of 1951 between Edgar C. McMechan, Curator of the Colorado History Museum, and Mr. Deck Wilmoth of Tulsa, Oklahoma, induced the latter to write a delightful narrative of an afternoon spent in the company of Mrs. Tabor in the late years of her life. In the same letter he discusses a snap shot that he had taken of Mrs. Tabor in the late winter of 1933 and one photograph of him and Mrs. Tabor together. Mr. Deck wonders if the pictures “have any historical value.”

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Hal Walter – Packing it in

This story is an excerpt from Hal Walter’s forthcoming book, “Wild Burro Tales.” The book includes pen-and-ink sketches by Westcliffe artist Lorie Merfeld-Batson, and should be available in May through local booksellers and amazon.com. Check out www.hardscrabbletimes.com for news about the book’s release.

Early day prospectors combed the West looking to strike it rich. I would venture many also were searching for something other than monetary reward — intangible things like freedom, independence, and a close bond with the land. Matching strides with these adventurers were trusty pack burros carrying their gear and food, and providing invaluable companionship.

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The Walden Chamber Music Society

Walden Chamber

by Mike Rosso

Area fans of quality chamber music need not journey to the big city to hear consummate performances by world-class musicians. They can be found right here in Central Colorado, thanks to the efforts of pianist Jo Boatright and her husband Harvey of Buena Vista, along with a dedicated board of directors who make up the Walden Chamber Music Society (WCMS).

A Colorado native herself, Jo and Harvey Boatright retired to this area from Texas where he was a flutist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) for forty years and she was the co-founder and artistic director of the modern music ensemble, Voices of Change, a Grammy-nominated group who presented concerts of chamber music written by living composers.

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REGIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP (and other items of interest)

Leadville Deputy Charged After Jailing Fire Captain

LEADVILLE -A Leadville sheriff’s deputy was charged with three crimes stemming from his earlier arrest of a Leadville fire captain who had been treating a victim of an emergency call.

On March 27 Fire Capt. Dan Dailey responded to an emergency call at the sheriff’s office in regard to a woman there with a neck injury. Deputies Steven James and Arin Hart ordered him and another firefighter to leave and when Dailey refused, he was handcuffed and thrown in jail.

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Q & A with Colorado-based author Craig Childs

Craig Childs is a writer who focuses on natural sciences, archaeology, and mind-blowing journeys into the wilderness. He has published more than a dozen critically acclaimed books on nature, science, and adventure. He is a commentator for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Men’s Journal, Outside and Orion. His subjects range from pre-Columbian archaeology to U.S. border issues to the last free-flowing rivers of Tibet.

We caught up with Craig last month while he was between adventures.

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Highway Haiku: Writing While on the Road

by Susan Tweit

In April, Richard and I traveled from a spring blizzard that buried our valley under almost a foot of wet snow to sun-warmed red sandstone cliffs dotted with wildflowers in far western Colorado’s remote canyon country.

In between trips, we were home for just long enough to do the laundry, re-pack the car, and water the kitchen garden. By the time we headed west on Highway 50 for distant Nucla and Naturita, I felt a bit dizzy from the abrupt change in worlds.

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Quillen’s Corner – My Chronic Condition

by Ed Quillen

Martha tells me that people have come up to her at work and whispered something like “I saw Ed at the hospital. Is he okay?”

I don’t know why they don’t just ask me that, because when I lost some weight a few years ago, I got many inquiries along the lines of “Are you all right?” In general, I was, and I told them so, but perhaps my protestations back then made people reluctant to ask me directly now.

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Less “Gumment?”

by John Mattingly

I caught this headline last month: “Americans Want Less Government, Fewer Services.”

Indeed. A recent poll revealed 68% of U.S. citizens have exhumed Ronald Reagan’s famous claim, “Government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem.”

I spoke with a few agricultural folks about this survey, and they agreed, pretty much unanimously. No big surprise. As a group, farmers and ranchers have a chronic distrust of government programs and meddling. Especially out here in the West, where we’re all rugged as the Rockies and don’t need no “gotdam gumment” stiffs hangin’ round, right?

Well, maybe.

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Book Review

Representation and Rebellion: The Rockefeller Plan at the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company: 1914-1942
By Jonathan H. Rees
Published in 2010 by University of Colorado Press
ISBN 978-0-87081-964-3
344 pages, paperback, $34.95

Reviewed by Virginia McConnell Simmons

The Ludlow Massacre near Trinidad was attracting national outrage in 1914. Leading up to it, labor unrest was widespread, and violent incidents had been escalating, not only at Ludlow but in the coalfields of the whole region. With mine owners pitted against union organizations throughout Colorado in the early 1900s, as well as throughout the nation for decades, public sympathies came down on the side of the workers after Ludlow, with John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the largest single stockholder and member of the board of directors of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I), becoming a special target of public anger.

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Down on the Ground with Water Again

by George Sibley

Next month – June 7 to be exact – there will be a water-related meeting in Salida that could be kind of historic if there’s a genuine effort to make it so. It’ll be a meeting of the Gunnison Basin Roundtable and the Arkansas Basin Roundtable. The purpose of the meeting is to see whether it’s possible to cut through the B.S. shielding a couple Colorado Water Cliches.

Cliche One: Urban growth just can’t be stopped, so it has to be accommodated.

Cliche Two: There has to be at least half a million acre-feet of Colorado River Water left for Colorado to develop.

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State House Update

by Christopher Kolomitz

With a majority of the hot topics finalized, state legislators are eyeing May 12, the scheduled end of the Colorado legislative session. As of the middle of April, more than 100 bills await signature by the governor and close to 600 bills had been introduced into the house and senate.

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News from the San Luis Valley

by Marcia Darnell

Can’t Fight City Hall

A coalition of Alamosa residents was unsuccessful in convincing the city Council not to build a new city hall/library/firehouse complex. The council voted to move forward with the bidding/building process. The anti group was successful at garnering enough signatures on a petition to force a vote. The issue of funding the new complex will be on the primary ballot this summer.

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Colorado Rail Facts

The original Del Norte rail depot was a wooden structure built in 1881 to service the freight being generated in the Summitville mining district. It was replaced in 1911 by the depot shown above which was used until 1970 when it was taken over for town government offices. Photo by Mike Rosso

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