Thanks for the letters

Essay by Martha Quillen

Correspondence – September 1994 – Colorado Central Magazine

Yes, we do get letters. In the first six months of publishing, however, our letters were primarily letters of support. And although we certainly appreciate all of the encouragement, good wishes, and flattery we’ve received, modesty has kept us from including much of our correspondence.

Yet many of those letters also included some stimulating commentary, entertaining stories, and questions. So we thought we’d print a few excerpts, sans subscriptions inquiries and most flattery — we couldn’t resist sharing a wee bit of the flattery.

The first letter comes from Dr. Walter Stewart, who was once head of the journalism department at the University of Northern Colorado — frankly I’m amazed he still speaks to us, since as I remember it, Ed and I more or less majored in tardiness and absence.

Nonetheless, Dr. Stewart has been corresponding with us for years, and has during that time shared much of his research on the history of Colorado journalism with us. This time, however, he has a question we can’t answer. If any of you can help, we’ll forward the answer to Dr. Stewart.

Attention Mining Buffs

Ed and Martha:

Your Colorado Central for June is top-notch. It must be a huge job, to write, collect ads and co-ordinate all the work. But you’re on top of it.

The articles interested us, and one especially was intriguing, the one about Leadville, because I’ve been trying to locate a Moffat Mine about 1.5 miles south of Stringtown. It was named for railroad and newspaper magnate David Moffat Jr.

Still trying to take photos of things which recognize Colorado newspaper people. But we’re sort of cautious about getting out in that area as who knows where a person will step into one of those mining holes.

Walter Stewart

And Firefighters

Here are some more questions from a Denver subscriber. Although I don’t have the answers to all of his questions, I can answer the last.

We definitely don’t think fire fighting is a mundane topic. Indeed, after this hot, dry summer, it’s becoming clear that fire fighting may be the most important issue facing this region.

Several years ago my wife and I were having dinner at the downtown café in Salida next to the fire station. The firefighters were having a meeting and the apparatus was on display. What impressed us was the age of the engines — including a beautifully preserved antique pumper which returned to the station with a steaming radiator after a short drive.

I have wondered ever since why Salida had such old apparatus and if any of them have been since replaced. I remember when the firehouse in Leadville was an old two-story building on the main street, but I note that they have a new building with at least one much newer engine.

Would a story on fire protection be of interest? Do the departments work together on such things as having standard hydrants? Are there mutual aid agreements, and are they effective considering the distances involved? Would Buena Vista help Salida if the Chaffee County Courthouse burned?

I appreciate that this topic is mundane, but it would be less so for someone whose building burned to the ground.

Laird Campbell

The following excerpt comes from a letter by Phil Klingsmith that was written after he pulled out of the Colorado’s governor’s race, a day after our interview with him hit the stands.

Ed now says he will never interview a politician again — since right after our interview with Linda Powers, assuring everyone that she planned on staying in the state senate, she declared her candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives.

And no, as journalists we don’t think all politicians are dishonest — but they sure are indecisive.

When I called Ed to tell him of the news, he elicited a commitment from me to write this explanation, with assurance that it be fraught with hyperbolic apologies, solemn oaths of self-inflicted recriminations, and the like. But frankly, after sixteen months of beating my head against the proverbial campaign wall, I’ve never felt better.

Colorado’s political scene has grave challenges ahead of it. High stakes politics is truly a game for the rich. Electable politicians are no longer representatives of the people. Rather they are entrepreneurs for business interests who are unconcerned with “the people,” other than the interest of getting into the people’s pocketbook. DIA and E470 (as currently structured financially) are the two worst examples of political entrepreneurship I saw as our campaign traveled Colorado.

As we wind down, the process of political healing continues. I’ve been angry, frustrated, resentful, but only in mild doses. Now I’m emerging from the incredible work of a campaign, “rested, tan and ready” to teach a little school, practice a little law and raise a couple of kids with JoAnn.

I still believe, however, that Colorado needs a 1990’s version of Davis H. Waite, Colorado populist Governor. But the people aren’t ready yet!

Here’s a very short excerpt from a letter by Virginia Sutherland, who helped me with my story on the Saguache County Museum.

When I talked to Virginia on the phone, I told her about some research on ranching and grazing I was collecting, and she shared some of her experiences. Right away, I noticed Virginia avoided the term “grazing” altogether, but not until later did I realize how right she was.

“Grazing” is something cattle do, not ranchers. Yet many of the articles I’ve collected refer to ranchers as grazers.

I hope we can avoid that mistake, although sometimes wisdom does desert me at the most inconvenient times — like when I’m editing. Anyway, I’d like to say thanks to Virginia for making me aware of a journalistic faux pas I’d never even thought of, and for her help on the museum story — which I couldn’t have done without her.

Lest the “environmentalists” forget that we Ranchers and “Grazers” have been mainly improving the grant lands as well as our own — now if I get mad and decide to remunerate a “dissertation” on 100 years on the same lands article — “Still here holding the little communities together” etc., I’ll know where to send it, huh?

Virginia Sutherland

The following are a few paragraphs from Wisconsin.

To get the real story out about living in the mountains to those who do live there and to those who do not will be a great service as well as an interesting periodical. Some years ago, a Kansas farmer remarked to me about a piece of mountain property I owned near Westcliffe that the land didn’t look like it was worth much. After all, what could it possibly grow?

Those who live in the mountains and those who at least have visited them for a period of time know there are many values to the land other than raising wheat. I am thankful that I was exposed to mountain living. It determined where we would live in later life. We went to Colorado graduate schools, lived in Denver, and lived in Pueblo (when I purchased the five acres near Westcliffe) before coming to Wisconsin. Once one experiences this life, one cannot shake it. It owns you, and you might just as well enjoy it, which is easy to do. Soon, my wife and I will be moving permanently to a home near Buena Vista, thereby completing our dream to return “home” at last.”

James F. Forrest

And here are a few paragraphs from Crazy Camp:

We have only lived in the valley five years, but have become very protective of our privacy and tell all of our friends how miserable life is here, if only to stop the growth. We love the area very much and came here to escape and feel it is exactly as we want it. We do play golf up here in “Crazy Camp,” but with sticks and rocks so we find ourselves uninterested in the golf course improvement. The ski season brings with it a fear of driving to Salida on Highway 50. For a real adrenal stimulus try the drive mornings and evenings from “Crazy Camp” to Salida.

We do want to encourage your magazine and were thrilled with the first issue and are sending copies to many of our friends.

Well, back to my sign painting. “Welcome to Chaffee County, enjoy it, now go home.”

Thanks again, and good luck,

Fred E. Brown, M.D.

And a final message from Crestone.

Dear Quillens and Other Also-Multi-Faceted Members of the C2 team.

I started with C2 issue No. 5, found it so informative, intelligent, pungent-witty, that I sought out back issues.

[Here the author talks about a subscription before he concludes]

One suggestion, please no more small print, as found in the “Letter from the Editor” in issue No. 5.*

Otherwise, the spacing and clarity of your type found on the other pages is great.

Your magazine helps make living here just that much more enjoyable.

Best to you all,

Lance Grolla

* You had a space problem? But don’t devalue your insights by cramming them into a small space. Give yourself full and equal credit.

Our thanks to everyone who’s written. Whether your words are included herein or not, we appreciate the time you’ve taken and the kind words you’ve sent.

In conclusion, I’d have to say the type-size of the Letter from the Editor in our July issue has aroused about the only negative commentary we’ve received — and for that I’m truly grateful.

But on the other hand, now that we’ve been in business for a while, I suspect we should take some knocks. So if you’ve got suggestions, by all means let us know.

— Martha Quillen