In the Denver International Airport waiting…

I’ll be back! It will be after 10 p.m. this evening when I land in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, I found a coffee place with two tables, and I’m sitting here taking up one of them, and plan to stay here for a very long time. It’s only 4:30 p.m.

My friend Sonja drove me to the airport all the way from Saratoga, Wyoming, where I’ve been for six days. We stopped off on the way in Centennial, where her late parents had a home. The home is an example of, “The Little House on the Prarie”. Sonja’s “little” brother, Phillip was there with his wife. So we sat for awhile and then got back on the road.

In Saratoga, Mike, Sonja’s son, bagged  an elk. The animals body parts are soaking in water and legs are hanging from the rafters. Everyone is excited. Now they are waiting to hear from Mike’s son, Paul to see what he returns with.

This is cowboys, cattlemen, hunters and  fishermen’s paradise. Everywhere I looked there were stores where you could purchase hunting and fishing supplies and places that will process the meat, treat the skin to use for leather garments or skin with the fur left on for rugs, hanging on walls, or as blankets in very cold times.

On the way down to Denver, we drove through the Medicine Bow-Routt National forest of green pine trees, then onward through plains, and awesome rock formations.

“Oh give me a home where the Buffaloes roam and the deer and the antelope play.” I was right smack dab in the middle of the song.

Sonja, her husband, John; sons, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, brother, granddaughter and friends were such friendly people. I’ll remember this time and the surroundings as warm and pleasant.

P.S. You know those carts that you can put your luggage on? They are free in every country I’ve traveled in. Here in Denver, they cost $5.00!!!!!!

Small town parade: Saratoga, Wyoming: “Go Panthers”

First, let me tell you about the lunch-time entertainment, and then I’ll get to the parade.

A large man, (how large?). He was taller than the tallest man at the Saratoga Senior Center at lunch time. He was also rounder than some. But it all was in proportion with his large personality.

He was dressed in black pants, black boots, and a black cowboy shirt with a dizzying array of embroidery on the yoke. Adding more credit to “the look”, he wore a ten galleon black felt hat and played a big guitar.

His voice filled the room. He may have missed his calling as an opera singer. The songs were those we all know, and then a request came for the song called, “The Dazzler” with the real name, “Devil Woman”.  He gave the name as “The Dazzler” because of the high notes he must hit.

He’d stop, look at everyone, and say, “are you ready”.

“Yes” the audience yelled.

“Okay, here it comes.” Then his voice would hit the high note and everyone cheered.

Turns out the big voice was also the announcer for the homecoming parade later.

The parade, a delightful, small town event, that, not only draws the high school crowd, but has the support of the whole town. Little kids from the lower grades got to the curb and sat down before the parade began. The elementary school principal kept up the excitement until the parade began. He stood on the street, encouraging the yell, “ Go Panthers.”

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I was told the kids looked forward to the candy the kids on the float would throw out to the parade watchers. The Panthers on the floats didn’t disappoint them.

Heck, I wasn’t disappointed either. It was small town fun. IMG_2722

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My friend, Sumi Haru, has died

I met Sumi in 1957 in Denver, Colorado, and stayed in touch with her all of these long years.  We shared a lot of our lives and had good times whenever we met up.

The last time I saw her was about two years ago in her home. I will miss her.

From the Screen Actors Guild:

Sumi Haru joined SAG in 1968 and would serve on SAG’s board of directors for nearly 40 years. She served for many years as SAG’s recording secretary – the guild’s third highest elected office, and in 1995 was named interim SAG president. She also served for many years on AFTRA’s board, and was a member of the SAG-AFTRA national board at the time of her death.

“It is with great sadness that our SAG-AFTRA family says goodbye to Sumi Haru,” said SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard. “Sumi notably represented SAG-AFTRA and its predecessor unions for decades on our local and national boards, and as Screen Actors Guild recording secretary and interim president. Sumi served our members through her lifelong dedication to actors, the labor movement, and civil rights and equal employment. She did that with conviction, passion and grace. Our deepest condolences go out to her loved ones. We will miss her.”

In 1995, she became the first Asian Pacific American to serve as a national vice president of the AFL-CIO, a position she held for six years. Haru was a co-founder and national chair of SAG’s Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee and Western national chair of AFTRA’s Equal Employment Opportunities Committee. Haru originated the EEOC Career Day and helped develop SAG’s affirmative action conferences.

She was a negotiator of “American Scene” language and affirmative action clauses for SAG’s national TV/Theatrical and Commercials contracts and for AFTRA’s national Network Television and Commercials agreements. She chaired SAG’s Legislative Committee and served as a legislative advocate on the national, state and local levels. She was a trustee and former president of the SAG-Producers Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund, and a former board member of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. In 2009, Haru was honored with SAG’s Ralph Morgan Award, which was bestowed upon recipients for distinguished service to SAG’s Hollywood Division.

Few union leaders have served actors longer, or better.

No drug store cowboys in these parts

Yesiree, the cowboys are real in these parts.

I’m still in the heart of cowboy country in Wyoming. But the town of Saratoga has a lot to offer anyone, be they cowboys, hunters, fishermen, tourists, and local folks alike.

cowboyA Cattleman in Saratoga, Ca.

I saw the impressive Platte Valley Community Center, some old barns, cattle, dress shops, western store, arts gallery, river,  churches and a spa and a golf  course connected to a lodge.

saratoga townDowntown Saratoga

Platte Valley Community Center is fairly new, and my friend Sonja sits on the Joint Powers Board. In this building, classes of all kinds are taught in one of the many rooms, board meetings, a huge room for fund raisers and dances, and a 400 seat theater.

Sonja showed me an old barn that’s over 100 years old sits on the property of a cattle ranch, that Sonja and her husband are partners in. The cattle are shiny black and seem to be happy cows from Wyoming.

fenceFencing around ranches

 

There are here and there in the surrounding area, a river, some old farm machinery, and even an old press from the newspaper of years gone by.

I saw a wagon that was used in its heyday to give a place for sheepherders to rest while they watch over the sheep.

IMG_2678Sheep herders wagon

Easy day today

Today was a laid-back day for me, while others had things to do and get ready for.

My friend Sonja’s son, Mike and his son, Paul, got ready for their annual hunt. It’s the season for bagging deer and elk. I’m not certain about the other animals in the mountains, but they’re eager to come back with something.

These two men are experienced hunters and both tell me they aim for the head of the animal, so death is sudden: no suffering.

Mike showed me a gorgeous hide of an elk that he got several years ago.

Like I said in my last post, life here is different from my day-to-day life in California. But, I like the slow moving, with three squares a day, and everyone sitting down at one time to eat and talk.

Sonja and I have been remembering the life we had from our ages of ten through high school. She pointed out a dish on her wall that I gave to her after my mother died. My mother was the Camp Fire Girl leader and Sonja was an active club member. I wanted her to own something that had belonged to my mother.

Now I’m reading a small booklet written by her father, Lou Soreide. He was a great father, and I considered a friend. The family has an Norwegian background, and the stories are fascinating.

It was good to take a break today, read and listen.

 

Western living

Sonja, my lifelong friend and I, got to her home in Saratoga last night, so our time together really began today.

John, Sonja and I had lunch at the Saratoga senior center. I met some very nice people, many living on ranches and some are natives of Saratoga. The lunch was good, and I was introduced as a visitor. After lunch, we dropped John off for his physical therapy session and I went along for the ride, while Sonja completed some errands. She said it was a dimes worth tour, and promises me a longer tour of the town, the museum and other key points of interest in the town with the population of under 2,000. I can’t imagine what else there could be to see other than the museum, but I’m anxious to learn all about living here in this western town.

One funny thing I saw was a note on the wall warning folks to take off their boots. I’ve seen rugged looking hunters, fishermen, ranchers and cowboys galore.

In the grocery store, I got a real feeling of where I am. Elk, moose, deer, mountain goats, wild turkeys and other animal heads were mounted on the wall, along with animals skins with the heads attached. Right in the center of the store, and the first thing you see when enter, is the seven-foot bear, that looks alive. It was alive at one time, but now it just stands tall.

Tonight at dinner, Paul, Sonja’s grandson, and a guide for fishermen and hunters told a story about some guys he took on a fishing expedition in the river. He kept us spellbound about how he worked at helping a fisherman catch a 25 inch fish called a brown.

More western talk occurred when MikeIMG_2658, Sonja’s son had a complication today with a horse he owns and was concerned about.

Well, what I’m saying here is, this is a very different life from the way I live, and I’m loving the experience.

Sonja and I have lots of memories together and we’re getting them told, bit by bit.IMG_2659The church in Saratoga.

 

Sentimental Journey IX

Here I am in Saratoga, Wyoming – where you can see the honest-to-goodness, real, live west. Cowboys, cowgirls, cowboy bars, western clothing stores, and also everything you need for hunting and fishing is right in this town.

My friend from the time we were ten years old, picked me up in Lakewood for the long journey to Saratoga. It was a quick return for Sonja, as we left soon after she arrived. The goal was to get back to Saratoga before night fell, and before any possible storms.

We did get into some rain and later, some snow flurries, and wind, but we made it safely to her home, for she is an expert driver and used to the long drive to Denver from Wyoming. I felt safe in her hands on the wheel.

Sonja, who I haven’t seen, and neither her husband, John, for over 40 years, and I talked the entire five  hours to her home.

It was back in the summer all those years ago,  that my three sons and I spent some time in their home, and now all of our kids are parents of kids as young as we were back then.

Her wonderful son had dinner all ready for us and even had the table set.

I will leave here on the 18th so there will be some time to explore a real western town.

We’ll still have lots to talk about. Photos will come later.

 

 

 

Sentimental Journey VIII

Polly and I took off from Glenwood Springs at 9 a.m. and got on the road, heading to Lakewood. Lakewood, Colorado is where I lived for a few years and next to the Barnum neighborhood where I was raised.

But, the goal, while driving down I 70 around the tall, Leadville limestone, massive rocks of  Glenwood Canyon and along the Colorado River, would be to see my cousin, Beverly. Beverly and her family were there waiting for us with lunch. Beverly has four children and six grandkids.

The part of the Colorado River reminds me of the movie, “The River of No Return.” That movie started Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum.

We passed the Dillon Dam, where a memory of that still lingers in my mind. When I was a tiny tyke, we camped out at a place owned by two brothers. We stayed in a little cabin and enjoyed the homemade swings and teeter totters, and other kids climbing toys. I overheard my dad speaking to one of the brothers, telling my dad that, “all this will be under water when they build the dam.”

I told my mother with tears in my eyes that the two brothers, and the little houses and the garden and kids toys will all be under water, but mostly I was afraid the brothers  would drown. She assured me that the would be re-located and safe.

The dam is lovely with small islands and in fall colors around the water. IMG_2631IMG_2641IMG_2612IMG_2636

Traveling with Polly

marble churchPolly at the Marble Church.

“Hey Polly, would you have ever imagined way back in 1999, when you interviewed me to work for the South County Newspapers, that we would be in a tiny town called Marble in the Colorado mountains fifteen years later?”

We both laughed at that. You never know the twists and turns of life will lead you. And there we were in Marble at a restaurant eating lunch. Marble is a little town where marble is mined. You can see chunks of marble in the river. It came from a train accident when marble was accidentally dumped in the river.

We traveled from Glenwood Springs up the road, through the gorgeous colors, and along the fast moving river, and ended up back in Glenwood, where she dropped me off at the Colorado Hotel.

The historical Colorado Hotel, where Teddy Roosevelt inspired the Teddy Bear, and spent time in the hotel. It was also a hotel where the liked of Al Capone and Molly Brown and other characters stayed.

Then, I walked cross the street and got into the hot sulphur springs pool. Once I got in, I spoke to a large stomached man, with long grey hair. You cannot tell the soul of a person until you talk to them. This gentleman was there chaperoning his three daughters. He, when we discussed our mutual travel experiences, said he went to Haiti and found a unused swimming pool. He got local folks involved, and through his money and the help of a few others, cleaned up the pool and put water in it. That water served many Haitians. Years later it was still supplying water for the small community.

After Polly picked me up from the pool, we went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. After that, I packed to leave in the morning. I’ll be in Lakewood visiting with cousins.

Polly and I have had a fun time together. Marilyn left for Vallecito and arrived safely.

 

 

 

Sentimental Journey VII – Montrose, other places and relatives

WE had a good five days in Montrose and now we’re in Glenwood Springs.

The visit with my sister-in-law, Carol and my cousin Claudia and her husband,Carl and friend, Marilyn was memorable.

Claudia, Marilyn, Carol and I all went to the Western Museum on the outskirts of Montrose the day before yesterday. There was a theatrical guide who took us through the cabins, stores, school house, dentist and doctors offices, bars with honky tonk piano and then told stories in each of the buildings. He was a character and a good actor, even crying twice to make a point.

We saw the home that would be typical for a young school teacher, complete with a tiny bed, a small stove, one rack where her clothing would hang, and the indoor potty place to keep her west museum1museum 2museum pianofrom having to go outdoors in the cold and dark night.

Today I can only describe what I can call stunning. Marilyn and I left Montrose in the morning and drove through the rain that made the already awesome colors look neon bright. The colors of the aspens, oak and sumac were shades of red, orange, yellow, rust, brown, maroon, gold, and green, along the road from Paonia to Glenwood Springs where we are now.