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Reminisces of the old Pioneer Club

Letter by Jim Ludwig

Local Lore – December 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Bats, the old Pioneer Club, and much, much more

Ed and Martha:

I found your November issue, with the exception of one piece of correspondence, to be the best that I have seen. The choice of subjects, the book reviews and regional comments were excellent. I realize that I may not be your mainstream reader, but thanks for a great issue.

But seeing that it would be completely out of my character not to comment on specifics, here goes:

Gunnison country: Allen Best missed the real reason Gunnison remains little affected by New Age development. The last seven newcomers were found frozen to death when the spring thaw came in July.

Yes, I do support Charlie Green’s Bats. However, our particular part of Buena Vista does not have good mosquito breeding stagnant water, and we try to keep it that way. The Tree and Violet Green swallows that nest in our boxes beat the bats to a lot of their food, but any warm summer evening will have bats if you are patient enough to sit in the dark to watch and listen.

The water war continues, and your rag has been a most helpful vehicle of reasoned discussion. It was almost shameful to see the TV ads in the battle to influence voters. Pictures of beautiful trout and ranchers in hayfields will influence the majority who do not understand the complexity of the situation. I guess we can only wait and count the votes, you have done your part.

I have the dubious distinction of visiting the Pioneer Club on the last night it remained open 24 hours a day. I believe it was in the summer of 1953 when they first put a lock on the front door. Jake Lister, Lonnie Lacomb, and I came off graveyard shift on the Storke muck crew and went down to catch the end of the all-night party and see the carpenters tear out the swinging doors.

Ma Brown spent most of her years running the next door Bank Club until it burned down. I recall that she was known as the miners’ friend. It was sort of a shame when the “law” came to Leadville and made it just another fading mining town.

Martha, as a fellow who always kills spiders as the first impulse, yet who always, on reflection, agrees with your reasoned argument for their survival, I commend your discussion of religion, politicians and moral judgment. We ordinary citizens are faced with a dilemma. Most of us have never had anyone shake their finger at us, lie to us, admit to the lie, ask forgiveness, swear to reform, then lie again to us by saying he will save social security, help education, reform HMOs, and reform campaign financing. If we turn to the law for definition, another lawyer has a different opinion. If we turn to the scriptures, we are told to separate church and state. If we turn to our God, we find we don’t know him. If we turn to our friends, they are as confused as we. Soon we become just another spider on the wall, hoping to be found by you and not by me.

A thoughtful piece of writing. Thank you! Ed on Old Fences, New Neighbors convinced me I must buy the book because in spite of much thought and research, I do not have hard opinions on growth in the West. Maybe we really have the best situation when much of new growth is from people with no obvious means of support that is generated locally. It is interesting that Decker, who tried ranching, has moved to the Sand hills of Nebraska. Disneyland West, that is what we are. Please come and leave your money.

I’ve been in Creede’s Mining museum. It is also a Disneyland of misinformation because a real mine simply is not made for tourists. Nice try, but it is like going to the Zoo to learn about ranching. But still better than nothing, hope they continue.

Various articles on big game; I bet many will find Hal Walter’s article offensive. I know that I have forty-year- old kids who could not under any circumstances butcher a chicken. This old farmer, who does not consider animals to be human, thought it was just fine.

Wapiti, Road kill, etc.: In spite of all the “destruction of habitat” there is so much more game, big and small, than there was 50 or even 25 years ago that it is almost inconceivable. A problem is that most people think animals should be always visible as if they were caged for display, like in a zoo. In fact, there is a current furor over a fellow who is displaying animals just outside of Yellowstone Park and doing land office business. The problems of animal conflict with man have turned a corner where today man is defending himself and his property against wild animals, instead of animals having to defend themselves from man. Strange turn of events.

Again, thanks for a great issue!

Jim Ludwig Buena Vista