– Up On Cripple Creek –

To this day, the song – Up On Cripple Creek – remains a mystery. No one knows for sure what or who the song writer was referring to. The line, “Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me”, lends one to believe that Cripple Creek must be a place and not a race horse, like some believe, but then…

I’d kinda like to believe it was written about Cripple Creek, Colorado. A small but bustling town set high (9,494 ft) in the Rockie Mountains in the Pikes Peak region. Though not as famous as the gold rush that occurred in 1849 in central California, Cripple Creek had it’s own claim to fame when gold was discovered on October 20th, 1890 by a cowboy and part-time prospector named Robert Miller “Bob” Womack.

As the story goes, Bob had a small shack in the Cripple Creek basin with a pot-bellied stove for warmth and cooking. While prospecting, he had picked up a funny looking, discolored rock. Not real sure what it was, he took it back to the shack and set it on the pot-bellied stove and left it there overnight. The next morning, he went to make a pot of coffee and, low and behold, the rock had changed color. The heat from the old stove had brought out the golden color he had been prospecting for all along.

Once he had filed for his claim at the Teller County Assay Office, the cat was out of the bag, so to speak. The little town grew from a few shacks and a population of 500 or so to a city of over ten thousand year round inhabitants almost overnight. There were 110 saloons, brothels, cribs, two major hospitals, hundreds of lawyers, doctors, schools, churches and, at 9,494 feet elevation, the highest narrow gauge railroad in the world. This was used to transport the gold down the mountain and the supplies necessary to support the community and the growing gold industry back up.

The boom town lasted until the early 1920’s and started a slow decline from there. The hastily built wood version of Cripple Creek had burned to the ground once in 1896, I believe and, then again in 1897. After that, it was re-built in brick. A little more substantial material.

Since Cripple Creek sat in a volcanic crater, it came as no surprise that the gold that was found there were in vertical shafts from the gold being forced up from within the mountain by the volcanic action. Therefore, all of the mine shafts had to be vertical as well, with spur shafts running horizontally. Back in the late 1800’s, there was no real efficient way of ventilating the shafts or of replenishing breathable air. Once they reached a level where the air was too thin or the chance for cyanide gas was just too risky, they would have to abandon that shaft and seal it off, no matter how rich the vein.

By 1918, more than $300 – 400 million dollars in gold had been removed from the Cripple Creek mining district which constituted the last great gold rush in North America.

Later in the twentieth century, when mining methods were more refined and these problems were no longer problems, it was deemed too expensive to extract the gold from the Cripple Creek mining area. Many years would pass before mining was to resume there and, on a much more limited scale. Strip mining is still taking place in the neighboring town of Victor. A short drive from downtown Cripple Creek.

Today, almost as if the old cowboy/prospector had returned from the grave to breathe new life into the dying town, Cripple Creek started in a different but no less profitable direction. It was exactly one hundred years after Bob Womack had discovered gold up there that Cripple Creek was being transformed from a rundown ghost town in 1991 with a population of 425, less than it’s original population of 500 in 1891. It has since been transformed into the gambling and tourist mecca it is today. Cripple Creek, Colorado lives on. And they said Tombstone, Arizona was the town too tough to die.

Robert Miller “Bob” Womack didn’t fair as well. Bob died penniless on August 10th, 1909. Just discovering gold doesn’t guarantee you’ll be rich, as Bob found out.

That gives you a little background of the place my dad, his brother and his mom and dad called home between the years 1895 and 1912. My grandfather John (who I never met) was a miner for hire in Cripple Creek. Grandma Jesse stayed in the shack they called home and raised my dad, Walter and my Uncle Frank, both of whom were born in Cripple Creek. My dad in 1908 and Uncle Frank in 1910. They lived in a little house on 6th St., much more than that, I couldn’t tell you. Not yet anyway.

In 1972, I had been out of the army for four years and working for Western Airlines for three of those years. I had just purchased a brand new Pontiac Firebird. It was a gold one just like the one Jim Rockford drove on the Rockford Files. That was a very popular detective drama starring James Garner as Jim Rockford in the 1970’s. Just for the record, I bought the Firebird because I liked it, not because it looked like the one on TV.

It was such a dream to drive that instead of going on a flying vacation, which I could do quite cheaply since I worked for an airline, I decided to drive to Colorado to see where my dad had be born and where my grandpa had dug for gold. Perhaps, while I was there, I’d see if I could dig into my families background a bit and, perhaps, find some old skeletons. I really wasn’t expecting to find very much but, who knows, right?

I left El Segundo, California for Albuquerque, New Mexico in early April, 1972 and then headed north through Santa Fe, New Mexico up through Durango, Colorado and into Canon City, Colorado. I wanted to see the Royal Gorge and walk the highest cable bridge suspended over that gorge. Oh, and one other thing. I wanted to see the Canon City Territorial Prison. You see, my Uncle Charles spent five years there for bank robbery although he swore he was innocent.

Uncle Charlie was lucky in one respect, he came out with a hobby, leather work and a profession, appliance repair. He never got rich but he supported his family right up until his death.

After visiting the Royal Gorge and the prison, I stopped at a local restaurant for something to eat, something cold to drink and a little help with directions.

I asked the bartender if there was a more direct route to Cripple Creek than going back to the main highway, through Colorado Springs, Manatou Springs, Woodland Park and then, up the winding road through the mountains at night and then into Cripple Creek. He looked at me with that P.T. Barnum look on his face. In case you don’t know that look, P.T. Barnum of circus fame, was quoted as saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” That’s the look that bartender gave me. I should have known.

He told me that there was, indeed, a shorter route. Why, all I had to do was take the old stage route. It ran along a small river and it is kinda narrow in spots. He asked what I was driving and I told him a new Firebird. “Oh sure, he said, you won’t have any problem at all makin’ it up there in one of those.”

I was all ready having my doubts but I figured, what the heck. So, with a few more directions from my friendly bartender, a slap on the back and a mighty High Ho Silver, I was off on my first of many great adventures. Well, that’s the way it felt.

After topping off my tank with gas, I headed for the old stage road. The gas station attendant asked me why I was going the stage road and I told him because it was shorter. He said, “Oh yeah, it’s shorter alright. A little bumpy in spots.” I told him that I expected a few bumps but my new car road like a dream. “Well, he said, you’re gonna need it.” He smiled and I could see him shaking his head as I drove off. Like I said before, I should have known.

The first part of the stage road leaving town was pretty good. It wasn’t paved but it was in good repair. Well graded and all. The further I went the narrower the road got. There was a sheer mountain side to my left and a running stream to my right. The ruts in the road, if you could still call it a road, were getting deeper and deeper which meant I had to go slower and slower. I thought, on many occasions, that I could hear that bartenders laughter echoing up those canyon walls. Probably just my imagination but, I could a swore, ya know?

It took hours of bumping and bouncing from one rut to the next but me and my new Firebird made it to Cripple Creek in one piece, more or less. I saved no time at all taking the shortcut aka the stage road. I left Canon City around 2 or 3 in the afternoon and rolled in the back side of Bennett Avenue (the main street) around 9:30 at night. Everything was shut up tighter than a drum. At that altitude, it was really cold at night and all I had was a California style windbreaker. I saw a pick-up parked in front of a building down the street and decided to investigate. There was light inside so, I went in.

As it turned out, it was a local bar. What else right? I parked my stagecoach, aka the Firebird, out front and went inside. There was the bar owner, a real nice lady whose name I don’t think I ever knew, and two gentlemen sitting at the bar. They all three looked at me with amazement.

“Where the hell did you come from? The road into town is from the other direction.”

I told him and the other two that I had driven in from Canon City via the old stage road. “Hell, he said, no ones traveled that road in twenty years or more. Are you sure you were on the old stage road?”

I assured him that I was indeed on that road. He got up from his bar stool and walked to the little port hole type window in the entrance door and without turning around said, “In that thing? You drove that road in that thing?”

I told him I had indeed and he was welcome to check the undercarriage if he cared to. “No hell, I believe you. he said, Just can’t figure out why you’d do it, that’s all.” I told him the story about the bartender in Canon City and that once I got started there was nowhere wide enough to turn around so I had to keep going.

He looked at the bartender and said, “Boy, did that guy ever see you comin’. Give the boy here a drink. He looks cold and put it on my tab.” He slapped me on the back and said, “Bet you’ll never do that again, right?” he sat down on his bar stool and kinda chuckled to himself.

The nice bartender asked what I’d like and I told her a scotch rocks and a cup of hot coffee. “Comin’ right up.” she said. “Where ya stayin’? Here in town?”

I told her I hadn’t made any reservations so I could use directions to nearest motel or hotel. She said that everything was closed now but, in the morning, the hotel down on the corner was clean, comfortable and reasonable. I told her that was fine but I needed something now.

She said, “Well, there is one place I could try but I don’t think you’ll like it very much.”

I told her as long as it was warm and had a bed, it would do for one night. “Okay, she said, I’ll make the call.”

She was on the phone for a couple of minutes at the most and returned to say, “Okay, you’ve got a room for the night. The old lady’s kind of a grump but she decided to let you in. It’s right out this door, turn right and it’s the next door you come to. Just knock.”

I thanked them all for their kindness and hospitality, said goodnight. Before I could leave, the bartender stepped from behind the bar and said, “Come over here, there’s something I want to show you.” She asked if I believed in supernatural stuff and I replied that I kept an open mind about such things. She pointed to the floor right in front of us and there, in the wooden floor, was the face of a dance hall girl from the late 1890’s. It was covered by a piece of clear plastic to protect it because it was right in the doorway of the barroom and the restaurant side of the establishment.

I said that this didn’t seem like a very good spot for a portrait and she told me it wasn’t a portrait. It simply appeared one night and was discovered by the bartender the next day when he opened up and started to sweep up from the night before. Before the plastic was placed over it for protection, the image was analyzed. It was determined that it was not a photograph nor a painting. It’s origin is still unknown and the face of the dance hall girl has never been identified. The mystery remains a mystery.

Today, that bar or the building is still there. The face in the floor is still there where it’s always been except it’s not a bar anymore, it’s a gift shop. People are still fascinated by the face in the floor and will be for a long time to come.

Reluctantly, I left the warmth of the bar and proceeded into the stinging chill of the Rocky Mountain night. I stepped up on the landing and knocked on the door. “Well, come in if you must. It’s late so let’s get this over with. I’m tired.” Oh, this was going to be fun, I could tell that all ready.

When I opened the door I saw the landlady standing at the top of the staircase.  She had gray hair, all of which was heading in different directions and was stoop shouldered from years of bad posture, no doubt. She was wearing a very old bathrobe or dressing gown, if you will, that was thread bare and open in the front. Underneath she had a flannel night gown that didn’t look in much better condition. In her hand was a glass of clear liquid, in the other, a lit cigarette with a long ash dangling from the end. As I started up the stairs she turned in her well worn slippers and directed me to follow her as she shuffled off to her room. With each creaking step, I felt I was going further and further back in time.

Upon reaching the top landing, I turned, the old lady was standing in her doorway and I followed her into her apartment. The place was a mess, to say the least. There was an open bottle of vodka and a full ashtray on the one small table in the room. A bed stood in the far corner with a single night stand beside it. The bed looked unmade for years and the sheets yellow from age or maybe it was just the light, I didn’t know.

She did have a stove and refrigerator, the kind with the condenser on the top and a single sink hung on the wall filled to overflowing with dirty dishes and glasses. If it hadn’t been so cold outside, I would have slept in the car.

She told me the room would be six dollars a night or she could give me a deal if I was planning to stay longer. I assured her that one night would be quite enough. I filled in the guest card and gave her the six dollars. We got up from the table and she lead me down the dark and dingy hallway to the second room on the left. When she opened the door to the room and pulled the string on the single light bulb hanging from the center of the ceiling, I felt my trip back in time was now complete.

She said, “You should be comfortable enough in here. Let me show you where you can wash up.”

The next door down was the community washroom. She pointed to the door but did not walk me to it. She started to walk back to her room and I asked about the room key.

“Hell, she said, these doors haven’t been locked in years. There ain’t no keys left no more anyhow.” She kind of waved me off as she continued shuffling back to her room. Oh well, it was just for one night. I mean, how bad could it be?

I went down to the car to get my shaving kit so I could clean up after my day on the stage road. When I got back to the room, I dropped my jacket on the bed, took off my shirt and went to the community bathroom. When I pulled the string on the light I was shocked. The tub, toilet and sink, which were originally white at some point in time, were brown with rust, dirt or who knew what. All of a sudden, I felt cleaner than my immediate surroundings. It was time to turn in. I could bathe tomorrow.

I went back to the room and looked around. It was like a scene out of an old western or one of those 1930’s gangster movies. The wallpaper was peeling in spots with one or two holes in the wall exposing the lathe and plaster construction of the time. There was an old throw rug on the floor in front of the bed that was paper thin from wear. On the dresser was a pitcher or ewer and bowl with a small hand towel folded next to it. The bed was the old steel frame type with vertical bar type headboard. It had exposed springs under a very thin mattress. When I pulled the bed spread down, you know the type with those little fuzzy balls every few inches, it revealed the yellowed sheets beneath. Needless to say, I slept on the bed spread, not under it.

I closed the door, kicked off my shoes and lay down on the bed fully clothed, just in case. Before I had a chance to turn off the single light bulb above, there was a faint knock on the door. I told myself not to answer it but, did I listen to me? No, I surely did not.

Standing in my doorway was an old man in a t-shirt and a pair of very baggy jockey shorts both of which were yellow with age or just plain dirty, I didn’t know which and didn’t care. On further inspection I noticed he was standing there on two artificial legs. He still had his knee joints but everything below them was gone.

He said, “Sorry to bother you. I tried to get here before you turned in. Don’t get around so well as you can see.”

I asked the old boy what I could do for him. He said, “Just got my Social Security check. The gal at the bar cashes it for me but I couldn’t make it down there today and that old bitty that runs this place won’t go down there for me. I was just wonderin’, I mean if you wouldn’t mind……..”

His voice kind of trailed off and I said I would be glad to go down and cash his check. The old boy smiled a toothless smile while I put my shoes back on. As he handed me the check, he said, “While you’re down there, would you mind picking up a pint of Ten High bourbon. We can have a drink when you get back.” I told him that wouldn’t be necessary but he insisted. “I’m in the last room on the right. You can’t miss it. I’ll leave the door open.” I thought to myself, “Might as well, you can’t lock it anyway.” Then proceeded on my errand. It was now approaching 10:30 and I was exhausted. I had left the motel in Albuquerque early that morning and had been on the road for a good ten or eleven hours. Six of those on the old stage road.

I walked down the creaking staircase and out into the cold Rocky Mountain air once more. When I went back into the bar, the bartender ask if everything was alright. There was only one guy at the bar now. The one I had talked to had already left. I said everything was fine and placed the old mans check on the bar.

The bartender laughed and said, “I see you met old Mike. He want a bottle of Ten High too?” I said yes and she gave me the bottle and his change.

I asked the nice bartender if I still had time for another scotch rocks. She said yes so I sat down once more.

“So, what do you think of the place? she asked.”

“You mean the room upstairs? Not much, to tell the truth. It’s like going way back in time. Like something out of an old western.”

She laughed and said, “It’s only for one night then tomorrow you can move to the Imperial. You’ll like it there, promise.”

After I finished my drink, there wasn’t too much more left to say except, “See you in the morning for coffee, right?” I asked.  “Only if you’re sleeping in till noon, she replied with a smile, that’s when I open.” It looked as if I would have to make other plans for coffee because I was going to be leaving that time machine I was staying in as early as possible.

When I got back upstairs, I stopped next to my door just for a second and contemplated just going inside and giving old Mike his change and bottle in the morning. Nah, I thought,  might as well get it over with. So, down to Mikes door I went.

When I got there, Mike was sitting on the edge of his bed taking his legs off. This wasn’t something I needed to see after the day I had been through. He said, “Any trouble cashing the check?” I assured him everything went smooth as glass and handed him his bottle of bourbon while placing his change on the nightstand.

As I turned and started to leave he said, “Hey, we ain’t had our drink yet.” He pointed to an old wooden chair behind the door and said, “Sit a spell.” I figured one drink couldn’t hurt. Besides, it would probably help me sleep.

He had swung his legs under the sheet, thank God, and was looking for a glass. There was only one and it looked well used. He said, “I don’t entertain much, only have this one glass. You’re gonna have to drink outta the bottle. You mind?” I said that would be fine.

We sat and talked for a while, about what, I have no idea. He did tell me that he lost his legs in a mining accident years and years ago. Social Security and a small miners pension was what he lived on and up here he could do it just fine. I had maybe three drinks out of Mike’s bottle but it was half or better gone when I left.

In spite of the room condition and sleeping in my close, I was well rested the next day and ready to face Cripple Creek for the first time in daylight. Let the games begin.

As I walked out of the time machine and, hopefully, for the very last time, the true beauty of the Rocky Mountains struck me like a bolt of lightning. The sun had not yet crested the mountains to the east but the sky was already a bright and beautiful blue. It was still cold because the sun had not yet touched the basins floor. It would still be a couple of hours till that happened and then it would start to warm up. It had been too long since I had last visited Colorado and I really missed these mountains. After living in that smog basin called L.A., you come to really appreciate the crisp, clean air of the Rockies. It’s like no other on earth.

I switched my view from the clear blue sky down to the earth upon which I was standing. There, surrounding my car, was a small herd of donkeys. They seemed to be real curious about this new arrival in there town. There must have been eight or ten of them just milling around the car. I walked out among them to check the car for any damage from the previous days journey up the old stage road. They didn’t seem to mind me walking among them at all. As a matter of fact, they ignored me for the most part.

The donkeys are whats left of the old mining days. The prospectors would bring donkeys up here because the altitude didn’t seem to bother them like it did horses and, pound for pound, they were actually stronger. They would haul the ore carts out of the shafts with the pay dirt or walk along behind a prospector hauling his equipment and food.

Over the years, the donkey population multiplied and even after the mines shut down, the resident kind of adopted the donkeys and made them mascots of the town. The donkey population has shrunk a bit but the remaining donkeys still run free and are taken care of by the city of Cripple Creek.

Getting back to the car. With all the bouncing and banging my poor car went through on that stage road, I thought body work was in its immediate future for sure. I looked all around and there were no apparent dings or dents. That’s good for a start. Now, to look underneath. There weren’t any tell tail puddles indicating leaks. The transmission and engine pans were still where they were supposed to be so, all in all, she weathered the old stage road quite well.

Good, now to find a suitable place for breakfast and some hot coffee followed by registering at the Imperial Hotel. Oh yes, and a much needed shower.

I decided to let the car rest a bit more. After all, it was well protected by the herd of donkeys. I started exploring on foot. When I got to the Imperial hotel I just couldn’t resist, I registered immediately. I didn’t want to take the chance of a bus load of tourists coming in and taking all the available rooms. I didn’t know it at the time but, that really wouldn’t have been a problem. I was, pretty much, the only guest they had that week.

As the desk clerk showed me to my room, he asked when I arrived in town. I told him last night. He said, “My, where did you find to stay last night? Everything pretty much closes right after dark or before.” I told him how the bartender at the little bar down the street got me a room above the bar.

He assured me that I would like it here much better. My room was on the first floor with a window looking out on the side street where I would park my car. It even had an entrance off the street side so I wouldn’t have to go through the lobby all the time.

The room was very clean with old, antique like furnishings. I think they’re considered period furnishing. It was a vast improvement over where I had stayed the night before and, it had it’s own bathroom with fixtures of the right color, white. And, they worked just fine.

From the hotel, which I was reluctant to leave because I wanted to go back to bed and between the sheets this time, I proceeded up town to the old train station passed businesses not yet open and some not occupied at all. I found a restaurant there but it, too, was not yet open.

I continued my walk from the train station on down the other side of the main street past more empty and closed shops, till I reached the far end of town where I first entered the night before. On the far corner stood the Teller County Courthouse. It was a three story building and the place where all the records were stored. It was also a place I knew I would be spending a great deal of time.

Directly across the street from where I was standing, was a white single story building that looked as if it were open. I walked across the street and entered. It was another bar. How about that, two in this small town. I went to the bar and ordered a cup of coffee. The bartender asked all the questions bartenders do of strangers. Where ya from,where ya goin’, how long ya gonna be here, whatcha lookin’ to find? The usual stuff.

I ordered some breakfast and while I was waiting, this girl walked up and introduced herself. “Hi, my name is Linda. What’s yours?”

Linda was a very pretty college student who was working at the Cripple Creek Hospital over the summer break. She said that she and her friends were renting an old Victorian house about two blocks away. She pointed to a table occupied by three other girls and one guy. They all waved. I hadn’t even seen them sitting there when I walked in. Guess I was to intent on getting that first cup of coffee.

She said she couldn’t help but over hear what I had said to the bartender about my reason for being in Cripple Creek and asked me to join her and her friends at the table. I gladly accepted. Linda was a dark haired, very pretty young lady who I wanted to get to know better. I didn’t know it then but, she had the same idea as I did.

The six of us talked for a while longer when Linda said, “Have you seen much of Cripple Creek yet?” I told her I had just walked the main street and hadn’t even finished that yet. She said, “Where’s your car?” I told her, in front of the other bar. She said, “Well let’s go then.”

We said good bye to her friends and out the door we went. The thing about old towns like Cripple Creek, when they put up buildings they may have left a little space in between them initially. As space became more precious, those spaces became small shops or mini saloons. Some of the shops were only wide enough for a door to enter through with a narrow pain of glass to display their goods. Very odd indeed.

Linda was a take charge kind of girl. There was sightseeing to be done and there’s no time to waste. She took hold of my hand like it was the most natural thing to do and lead me from one place to the next. It kinda felt that way to me as well, just natural. Like we had been holding hands for ever. Very strange but very nice.

As we continued down Bennett Avenue, we were walking past a very large three story build that occupied almost the whole block. Linda said, “Come on, were going in here. You’ll love this.” Her face was always one of excitement. She simply radiated happiness.

As we entered the front door, they were actually very ornate double doors with etched glass in the upper panels of both doors. The first thing that I saw was this huge mahogany bar. It was elaborately hand carved on the face and around the sides. The back bar was huge as well standing a good nine feet tall, maybe more. The posts and face and base cabinets were all hand carved as well. The mirrors were old but clear as the day they were delivered. Very impressive to say the least.

Linda was holding my hand and leading me from here to there and back again. She was as excited as a six year old in a candy factory. It was, “Oh, look there and and look over here”. I wanted to tell her to calm down but didn’t for fear she actually would.

There was a totally modern stainless steel kitchen. “It’s big but they don’t use it anymore.” she said, “Not enough traffic to warrant firing it up.”

She went on to explain that the second floor were all rooms to rent and the third floor were apartments for permanent guests. But, as she explained, they were all closed now. They needed too much work and upgrading to be profitable anymore.  Still just as excited as when we first walked in she said, “You want to meet the owner? She’s right over there. In the chair next to the potbelly stove.”

I looked to where she was pointing and there sat an elderly but very elegant lady wrapped in a shawl with a light sweater underneath. She was looking in our direction and smiling, motioning for us to come over. We did just that.

As we approached the table she said to me, “Looks like you’ve met Linda. The best ambassador Cripple Creek could ever ask for.” she said smiling at Linda.

Linda gave her a hug and started to introduce me but the elderly lady put her hand up and said, “What’s in a name. Sit down and let’s talk.”

She told me that she hadn’t always owned the hotel we were sitting in. At one time, she performed here. She said that in the rear of this massive structure was a full theater that once had big name performers from all over the world. Shakespear was performed there as well as many of the big name vaudeville acts of the early 1900′ up to and including the mid to late 1920’s. It was still equipped with full curtains and old props and scenes from decades ago. She said she was a actress and singer who came here from Chicago back in the twenties, the Roaring Twenties, that is.

She said things back then were a little looser up here than down at the bottom of the mountain what with prohibition and all. For the most part the Feds left them alone  the better part of the time and if they did decide to pull something, it would take them the better part of one day to get here. Plenty of time to get ready.

She told us that after the hay days were over and the mines closed for good, she decided to buy the old place and retire right here. And, here she’s been ever since. “No regrets at all, I asked?” She said, “What’s to regret? Have you seen how beautiful it is up here? This is my paradise and I’ll die here.”

We bid her farewell with a promise to return soon and, we did, several times over the next week of my visit. Everyone I met there was extremely friendly and helpful. Linda was a breed apart in the friendly/helpful department. We spent the next two days together almost every waking hour. She took me to see gold mines and processing mills that were way off the beaten path. Places that your normal tourist will never see. We went to graveyards and wandered for hours looking for family names and friends of the family. She was tireless and every bit as excited on day three as she was on day one.

At the end of the third day, we were at her house with her friends and she said, “So, what’s your plan for tomorrow, more exploring? Unfortunately I have to go back to work so, you’re on your own.”

I told her that I was going to look through the county records and see what I could find out there but we could catch  up with one another after she got off. I kissed her goodnight and went back to my hotel. I had four days left and then I would have to start back for California and my own work.

The next morning there was a knock on the outside door of my room. I was just barely awake and not yet out of bed, until now, that is. I got up to answer the door and heard Linda’s voice, “Hurry up will ya. We’re burnin’ daylight.”

I opened the door and sure enough, there she stood with a mile wide grin on her pretty face. “I took the next four days off. Couldn’t let you have all the fun without me.”

Over the next four days, we went through countless records, deeds and titles. I found out a lot about my family but only a couple of minor skeletons of little consequence. Mostly it was a great vacation unlike any I’ve had since.

Linda and I became inseparable over the next four days. We would watch sunrises and the most beautiful sunsets on earth. We would lay in fields and count stars for hours or just stare up at them and not say a word. She would hold my hand or we would lay there with her on my arm as her pillow.

I can’t say that we would have been in love forever but for those four days we were. We both knew that when I left, it would be for good so, we didn’t try and lie to each other and say, “Let’s keep in touch.” We simply kissed and said good bye.

The morning of the fifth day, I got into my new Firebird and drove back to California and the real world once more. I’ll never forget Linda nor could I ever thank her enough for what she did. It was the most real, albeit the shortest, relationship I have ever had. For four days in April, 1972, I was truly in love. We never met again.

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6 responses to “– Up On Cripple Creek –

  1. Wow, Ed, what a GREAT story. Your sense of humor is shining through. And all the history, plus a love story! Wow is all I can say.

    Well, one more thing. You can organize longer posts like this into chapters using pages (not posts) that are fixed content. I think you’d better get on that.

    Pam

  2. Oh, boy. I need to explain. I worked for years on an inspirational Young Adult Fantasy novel, sent out over a 100 letters to agents, publishers, etc. and never even got ONE request to SEE the manuscript. Back then I thought maybe I was meant to make a living this way (Ha!) since living on disability benefits is quite difficult. (Not that I’m not extremely grateful that my daughter and I aren’t homeless!)
    Members of my writing group suggested I should write some non-fiction things (because of my fascinating father), too.
    Then I got the idea to blog, and this week I thought, “You know, I think I’ll post a chapter a week of the book on the blogsite, too,” just to share it. I created the book cover–and I’m going to take it as a compliment that you thought it was a published book! And I’m also going to go make sure it says “My Unpublished Book.” I wish I could tell you what it’s like to be published–but I think you’re more likely to find out than me. You may be an untrained writer, but you are a natural and have so much to share. And, when the economy picks up, publishers will again be looking for book materials and some of them love historical memoirs. In the meantime, you can be writing those chapters!
    The business is changing–lots more self-publishing, electronic publishing, etc. but it’ll all get worked out. Honestly, you have a gift, Ed.

  3. Oh, if you go to Support and type in Pages, lots of stuff comes up. The process is the same as posts, just that they’re used for fixed materials like “About Me,” “About Wordwon,” and for Chapters of Books.
    If you have any questions, let me know. I spend half my life at Support.
    Have a good night.
    Pam

  4. poeticdistaste

    l agree, this is definitely a wonderful story. loved the way you told it through out almost the entire thing,a lthough l think the voice changed slightly about halfway through. At one point you had accents etc, that really put you in place, and your sense of humor came through nicely, but l started noticing typos around then.

    this part stood out to me, for example:

    She went ohn to explain that the up stairs, the second floor were all rooms to rent and the third floor were apartments for permanent guest. But, they’re all closed now. They need too much work to be profitable anymore. Still excited she said,

    – l couldn’t tell which part was supposed to be conversation and which one wasn’t. Nothing major, though – just needs a quick edit.
    Anyway, thanks for a fun read, l enjoyed this from start to finish – the visiaul details were wonderful.
    ~Laurie

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