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‘No’ isn’t the right answer to every question

Letter by Jim Ludwig

Growth – April 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

`No’ isn’t the right answer to every question of change


I beg to differ with Ken Wright. (Just say No)

I, too, am a relative newcomer to Colorado, only forty-nine years ago. But I have been here long enough to have seen the day that he yearns to preserve. To quote Ken, “I say stop it all: Keep the roads a mess, the infrastructure archaic, the water scarce, and the transportation hellish.”

Believe me it was no fun to drive to Children’s Hospital in the middle of the night in a winter snowstorm over the old 285, to save a baby daughter’s life.

But I had no option, the medical facilities in Salida or Buena Vista simply could not care for her. Today it would be routine. There were a lot of grave markers in the Iron City cemetery attesting to a time when there was not even the option I had.

Shop at the old corner grocery, hunt for meat, legally or otherwise, visit the saloon for entertainment. Believe me, I’ll take Safeway, with its modern butcher shop, television, the Internet, and the Rockies baseball team any time.

Hypothetically, back up a few more years. Beans and flour and the cow went dry. Ditch water quit because there was no storage dam upstream. Pa took the train to Leadville to work in the mines, so we could make it through the winter. Not a thing to read around the house, but that’s OK, we ran out of kerosene for the lamp. Romantic as hell!

Making firewood warmed you twice, more or less, when you cut it and when you burned it. Who would say no to a chain saw? Or natural gas and electricity?

I remember when the old nonprofit Salida Hospital board considered the possibility of building a nursing home to supplement the long-term care beds at the hospital. We of that board could not afford such a luxury, and were delighted by outside investment to provide assistance. Now we have nursing homes, extended care facilities, and rent-assisted apartments. Should we have said no?

The esteemed Ed Quillen, in a recent Denver Post column, contemplates the impossibility of being left alone by outside forces. He concludes, “The American way does not allow for leaving people alone.”

Come out of the stars, Ken and help deal with a growth problem none of us like, but which is here and now. Maybe the information age, which is upon us, will once again allow many to work from their home such as they did during a long-gone agricultural age we pine over.

Thank God we didn’t always “Just Say No.” Now we need to choose wisely and promote the best changes, while learning to help deal with a growth problem none of us likes.

Jim Ludwig, Buena Vista