Life’s better where the garlic grows

Letter by Eugene Lorig

Moving – July 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Life’s Better Where The Garlic Grows

Ed and Martha:

Another year gone by already? You aren’t fudging my subscription ahead by a couple of months, are you?

I wonder how those New Yawk-type bastards who shill for US West, and who have probably never seen this country except when flying over it on their way to L.A., know that “Life’s better here.”

But it is. No Interstate 70, no Mega-Vail. Nobody, it seems, has too much money or too little.

After spending most of my life in the subarctic zones of Eagle, Gunnison, and Telluride — to say nothing of the alkaline desert of Rangely — I find it a luxury to put things in the ground and have them grow. Our son-in-law gave us some garlic last fall and I put it in the refrigerator and forgot about it till last week when I noticed it was sprouting. I stuck it in the ground and I think I will have garlic for every Italian in Somerset.

At 65 (Margo) and 71 (me), we are almost the kids on the block, and definitely in the junior set at Senior Luncheons.

I am not a senior; I consider myself a geezer or dirty old man. What did Hitler call the old people when he consigned them to the ovens? And why a luncheon and not a lunch? Do you have luncheon with the CEO of US West and lunch when the whistle blows when you are digging a ditch? Due you use lunch and utilize luncheon?

Congratulations on wading through J. Anthony Lukas’s book Big Trouble. I thought only myself and Lukas had done that, and he killed himself when he was through.

I’m a Telluride boy who still has dirty fingernails from grunting at the Smuggler Mine, and the book took me back home.

I enclose a copy of the wage scales when I went to work at the mine in 1943. I was a kid working summers and living at home, so I could blow my money in the fleshpots of Gunnison in the winter. For me, Rate 5 as a laborer and Rate 7 as an aerial tram slave represented big money. But men were raising families on those wages.

We did work seven days a week with overtime besides. Some of the contract miners did very well, and a few of them even managed to live to be 60. Maybe someday I’ll write about it, but then again, Samuel Johnson said that nobody but a blockhead writes except for money.

Big Trouble pictured Clarence Darrow as a mortal. That’s good. One’s heroes should all have clay feet.

Eugene Lorig Paonia