Cottonwood

Cottonwood, Sherrie York, linocut

by Jacque Fisher

The ancient cottonwood had stood alone for a century or more on the valley floor, its roots pushing deep into the arid soil in search of water. The venerable tree had weathered drought, storms, and time. Anchored to the earth, it stood as a solitary sentinel, greeting passersby for decades and outliving them. Perhaps the Utes had paused beneath its shade and blended their soft voices with the dry rattle of gray-green leaves. Maybe a farmer, tired from the morning’s plowing, had sought the coolness the expansive tree offered and eaten his lunch in the cottonwood’s company. Red-tailed hawks, hungry and sharp-eyed, had perched imperiously on the great tree’s outstretched arms, waiting patiently for the next mouse or rabbit whose belly was full of the warm sweet grass that sprang from the same hidden source as its towering cousin.

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Dissecting Prop. 101 and Amendments 60 and 61

by Jeff Donlan

What do you do with the anger of others? It’s hard not to get angry back. There may be a lesson in that, but when face-to-face with rage, what do you do? In this case, you vote.

You vote No on the jumble of angry anti-tax, anti-public-sector measures contained in Proposition 101 and Amendments 60 and 61.

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How bad can it be?

by John Mattingly

What’s the big political issue of the day?

“It’s The Economy, stupid.” – a phrase used by Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign against George H.W. Bush.

But what is The Economy? As my previous three articles that touched the elusive hide of the economic elephant should indicate, I haven’t the foggiest idea what politicians, talking heads, experts, analysts, and especially economists mean when they force these two words together.

When we talk about The Economy, we’re usually talking about our favorite person, ourselves. We tend to compare our present situation to more favorable times or situations in the past. We seldom compare ourselves to desperate times, with the notable exception of a few old timers who lived through the Great Depression. Those folks have perspective, but they are a dwindling minority, now being somewhere north of their 80s. And when was the last time an octogenarian ran for office, wrote an economic non-fiction best seller, or appeared on CNBC?

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About Those Sponsors …

The sponsors of Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101, also known as the “Dr. Evil Initiatives,” had to endure some uncomfortable questioning as well as fines after it was discovered they may have had ties to TABOR author Doug Bruce who has denied any hand in the budget-strangling measures.

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From the Editor

The hard drive on my computer decided to call it quits early this September and boy, was I relieved.

For the less tech-savvy readers the hard drive basically stores all the data on the computer, which in our case includes advertisements, current and past articles, back and current issues, graphics, photos, etc. – basically everything a publisher needs to produce a magazine. In addition, the hard drive stores the application programs – the tools actually needed for the layout and design of this magazine. Hard drives are not invincible and can cause catastrophic results when they break down. Data is irretrievably lost, production schedules grind to a halt, and the machine is rendered virtually useless.

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Bat Masterson; Buena Vista Marshal? Part 2

by Charles F. Price

The murder of Buena Vista Policeman Tom Perkins and the fate of his killer William H. Canty made big news around Colorado. The Boulder News and Courier reported on May 14, 1880 that when the train bearing Canty to Denver reached Como, “a gang of men appeared” bent on releasing him. However, “the officers … stood their guard and declared that the prisoner should die before they gave him up” and the “would-be rescuers desisted.” Canty later made a desperate effort to escape through a car window and when prevented by officers cursed and declared “he was a highwayman and a murderer, and that he made a business of it.” If Masterson was one of those guarding Canty, the news accounts of the time fail to mention him.

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Politics 2010: Gunning for One Another

By Martha Quillen

I vaguely remember a time when politicians shook hands and held babies; when they promised us better roads, schools, and lives. But it’s been a long time. Now they’re promising to “take out Harry Reid,” “take back America,” and repeal the fourteenth Amendment.”

Currently, Republicans are eagerly campaigning to reduce government budgets – no matter what those budgets are for. In Colorado, Proposition 101 and Amendments 60 and 61 threaten to slash funds for schools, prisons, libraries, hospitals, medical programs, road maintenance, water treatment, county offices, and much, much more.

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“Luck” Takes Hard Work

By Susan Tweit

“You are so lucky,” wrote a reader in response to one of my recent columns. “Most people don’t live life in the full way you do.”

My initial response was cranky.

It’s hard to see the “lucky” in Richard’s brain cancer, and his second brain surgery in the past eleven months. (And in the radiation and intensive chemotherapy he weathered in between the two surgeries.) It’s very hard to see the lucky in the pathology report on the latest tumors: Grade 4, as bad as brain cancer gets, with a prognosis I have no wish to invoke.

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REGIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP (and other items of interest)

Historic Theater Update

SALIDA – The saga of the old Salida Opera House continues. The structure, which was built in 1889, was deemed unsafe in 2007 and has been the focus of much debate and consternation. Known locally as The Unique Theater, many locals are concerned that the negligence of the current owner will lead to its inevitable demolition and are trying all methods to avoid that scenario.

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The caboose

by Forrest Whitman

Fun Fall Train Trips

Fall is a great time of year to take a train trip anywhere … crisp fall mornings add a little zest, and when those steam whistles blow you step right along the platform. Rail history buffs enjoy train trips just for the chance to retrace old routes from a century and a half ago, and hear those steam whistles scream. But you don’t have to be a history buff to ride the Georgetown loop railroad or the San Luis and Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. Those rides are just plain fun. AMTRAK riders have some news this fall too, which I’ll get to in this column.

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News from the San Luis Valley

by Patty LaTaille

Potential Tragedy Not Quite Averted

The “San Juan Express #216” passenger train westbound from Antonito collided with an Antonito track “tie crew” motor car, injuring two Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad on Aug. 31. The crash occurred at mile post 311. Both men are expected to fully recover. The railroad is continuing to deal with the change to operating out of Chama due to the fire that damaged the Lobato Trestle, a few miles from the depot in late June. Chama passengers are currently being transported by motor coach to Cumbres Station, at the high point of the 64-mile line, for the rest of the trip to Osier or Antonito, both in Colorado.

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A Leadville Family Tapestry

by Matt Hakala

Editor’s note: Matt Hakala spent his early childhood in Leadville and Buena Vista. He attended the same elementary school as his parents (where his paternal grandmother was his mother’s third grade teacher). But it wasn’t until years later that he would discover just how much of his family history sprung from the Upper Arkansas River Valley. Below, Matt weaves together strands of that family tree.

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There’s something in the water

By Hal Walter

When you buy a home in the mountains, there’s the notion you’re on top of the world, the food chain and even the watershed.

You drill a well into the ground and out pours clear, sparkling “Rocky Mountain Spring Water.” Snowmelt filtered through ancient stone. That sort of thing. There’s a certain irony when someone who analyzes the ingredients list on just about anything he eats doesn’t even question what might be in the water. But that’s what happened here.

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Tales from the Road

By Mark Kneeskern

I’m not afraid to play the fool. This is an advantage to a hitchhiker. To hit the road in the attire of a jester would not be inappropriate and is preferable to a clown outfit, which would probably scare the pants off at least seventy percent of motorists. I’d much rather make them laugh. Thus, I have employed a number of elaborate and amusing thumbin’ gestures. I’ve personally driven past hitchhikers who are slouching by the asphalt, hanging out their appendages limply, a sour expression on their mugs. They get pity rides, I guess. Personally, I prefer people picking me up because I look like a fun and interesting character, or someone with good stories to tell.

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