Conceived at Climax

Letter by P. Geoffrey Feiss

Residency – June 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

No carpetbagger; indeed, he was conceived at Climax

Dear Mr. Quillen:

One of my oldest friends, Doug Brady, who now lives high on a terrace above Buena Vista on the flanks of Mt. Princeton, sent me a copy of your grand article on the naming of Mt. William and Mary from the May edition of Colorado Central. Your favorable spin on this effort by my faculty member, Ken Kambis, is most appreciated.

Lest you think that all us easterners with an interest in this matter are carpetbaggers, I should fill you in on my connection. My father was an underground engineer at Climax from about 1936 to 1942 when he left to enter the service. To my lifelong distress, they left Climax in late 1942 so that I had the miserable and prosaic fate of being born in Cleveland, Ohio. But, my sister was born in Denver in 1939, and I can say that I was conceived in Climax — not a statement many can make.

So, you see, William and Mary has many a connection with the Colorado high country and I will share your wonderful article with my 90-year-old mother who still remembers her nearly five years living at 11,000 feet as the best of her life (maybe because I was not yet born). She will often tell the story of meeting, some time in 1942 with a group of fellow Climax wives, a troop train at dawn in Leadville to provide coffee and doughnuts. One presumes the train had been in the plains at dusk. A flat-land-bred GI with a Brooklyn accent reminiscent of Casey Stengel stuck his head out the open window in the sub-zero air, took a look at the snow-capped Sawatch, and said to my prim and proper mother, “Jesus Christ, Lady, where in the Hell is this?” Lake County always casts its spell!

Thanks again for the great article.

P. Geoffrey Feiss Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences William and Mary College