In defense of La Veta

Letter from Ryus Coffee Club

La Veta – October 2005 – Colorado Central Magazine


This letter is in response to the letter from Mr. Daniel G. Jennings, published in the July 2005 edition of Colorado Central. While most of us agree that the average price of residential real estate seems to be spiraling out of the reach of the ordinary citizen, especially in large cities, there seemed to be much in the letter that left us shaking our heads in wonder: in general, the idea that people in the service industry (sales, publishing, banking, artistry) are part of some “hype and speculation” conspiracy and in particular, that Mr. Jennings used our home town of La Veta, Colorado, as a prime example of what he seemed to think was wrong with America.

Mr. Jennings seemed to have overlooked two key elements in the economic and property value foundations of our great nation: “supply and demand” and “location, location, location.” When you have built too many toasters (or automobiles or refrigerators or table saws, etc. etc. or houses), made them of low quality and/or priced them too high, the public will quit buying – the industry will improve or it will indeed go bankrupt. The same can be said of art, books or even stocks and bonds. It’s called capitalism.

As to “location,” let me introduce you to the real LaVeta and to a new concept: it’s called the Baby Boomer Retirement Industry. The co-writers of this response come from a wide variety of backgrounds. We have come from or lived in a variety of places (from Kansas to Great Britain, from Michigan to South Africa, from New Jersey to Rwanda). Most but not all are college-educated, have owned their own businesses or worked in a variety of industries, vary widely (believe it!) in political persuasion and have an estimated average age of 60.

Most of us have lived here less than ten years. We are not by most people’s standards considered wealthy. We did learn to save (and invest!) our money and to not get over our heads into debt. We do number among our group a few native sons and daughters who have been nice enough to accept us into the community – though “newcomer” is sometimes muttered with a headshake and a smile.

Why did we choose this place to spend what we feel are the best years of our lives, and what do we give in return? La Veta does have eight real estate companies in the phone book; most of us have used one or the other of them – must be why they’re still in business.

We also have five churches, two bars, five “restaurants” (counting the Main Street Diner, great breakfasts, and the Pub and Grub, hey, can’t miss Taco night), a hotel, several bed and breakfasts and two gas stations (one of which does indeed have a convenience store). La Veta is also home to “Gran dote,”one of the top golf courses in Colorado (which lies just north of beautiful Cuchara where the ski resort is still not open but makes for great hiking, and at the base of the Spanish Peaks which you can view from almost any house in town, and just east of the magnificent Sangre de Cristos – truly God’s country). La Veta also has a Tru Value hardware store and “Charlie’s,” an amazing second-generation grocery store where it seems they have everything you can find in a giant superstore plus you can get $1 ice cream cones. This store is so much a part of the community that in front of the local school (grades 1 – 12), there is a park with an amazing sculpture of Charlie (he’s sitti

Ah, yes, the artists. We have many: authors, painters, fibre artists, musicians. And we do indeed, no kidding, have a quilting retreat center. Mr. Tims has won many awards, travels the United States and the world giving seminars and has sold pieces in the five figures.

Mr. Jennings seems to imply that this isn’t “industry.” Well, it’s certainly “commerce” and “supply and demand.” Thanks to e-commerce, Mr. Tims is able to book his seminars and sell his art via the web and he still gets to live in a community he cherishes. And gee, we get to pop into the studio and see his amazing work any time we want! I encourage you to go to to verify our assessment (these ain’t bed quilts, people). We have other award-winning artists in town who travel around the U.S. but always return here. They give free concerts and art shows; one renowned musician and composer and his artist wife give concerts here for a donation to a local charity. We have heard a jazz pianist and a Russian string quartet, among others. We have an amazing native-American flutist who can literally soothe your soul.

What do we give? The age-old industry: time and money. We buy from our local stores, donate to the local charities, eat at the restaurants, volunteer at the library or the fort museum or the local theater (actual plays, no movies) and buy the art. And of course, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, you can find us at the local bakery drinking coffee, eating muffins, buying bread or pie for dinner, and generally catching up on news, both local, national and personal (hard to keep track of all the grandchildren!). We do travel – to our children’s homes, to Europe — even to Orlando? But we all have in common that we can’t wait to get back.

Maybe Mr. Jennings should come visit. We think he would find something he obviously is not expecting – not a “dying ranch town” but a truly happy American place with the latest in “industry.”

The Ryus Street Bakery Coffee Club

La Veta, Colorado