The Depot

23 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Bowers Lites

 

 

 

My parents renovated the old train depot in about 1950. My friend from childhood Patricia Franklin sent me the above photo from the Pueblo Chieftain, and I really appreciate it, and her. The two of us met in our two-room schoolhouse, when she was in first grade and I was in second. She was the only person in her class, so the teacher moved her into second grade where there were at least four students. We’ve been friends ever since.

This is how the house has looked recently. There were no Amish in town when our family lived there and the building closer to the range wasn’t there, but the mountains were, and I think my dad planted the big pine trees on the property when he renovated the house.

 

 

This is the third building from my younger years that is being turned into a museum. The second two were the Westcliff schoolhouse and the original women’s prison of the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City. That was where Granddad worked as a guard for most of his adult life. Being this familiar with the history of historical museums makes me downright ancient.

Mother and Dad along with my brother, David, and I moved to Westcliffe right after dad came back from WWII in 1945. They bought Min’s Café with a low-interest loan from the G. I. bill and money they’d been saving since marriage.

In a small town like Westcliffe (at the time…population about 500) it was a big job to build or renovate a house as building supplies had to be hauled to the valley from Canon City or Pueblo and there were few people who could help. Mother said she never wanted to restore another house. But Mother and Dad were business people and they wanted to live upstairs and make the downstairs into rooms for rent. We ended up calling it, “The White Cloud Motel.”

You can see in the original picture that the station had a boardwalk around it that isn’t there in the more recent picture. I have a rather sad tale to tell about that. When dad lifted the first boards, he found nests of baby rabbits underneath. Dad let me play with one and carry it around for a day, but then I had to give it back because rabbits multiplied like … well, you know like rabbits, and they were overrunning much of the ranch grasslands.

The White Cloud motel was finally finished and we moved into the upstairs apartment. It had the main floor, a cellar, and an upstairs, as well as a baggage room. Dad used the big room for storage, mostly of camping gear for trail rides and as a place for the game to cure.One of the giant shelves he built was open underneath and just the right size for a small bed and a play-house for me. I read, played with my dolls, and tried to keep my brother out. But one thing we did together was to go out the bathroom window on the second floor and slide down the roof until we got to the gutter, then climb back up and do it again.

Here’s someone else who lived in the Denver and Rio Grande Western railroad station.

“Cornelia Caroline Wadleighwas hired (at nineteen) to teach at the Ula School for the 1911-1912 terms…she lived with her parents at their home in the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Station at Westcliffe. She rode the train to the school each day on its morning run to Texas Creek, and caught the afternoon run back to Westcliffe when the school day ended.”*

Because the building was derelict when my parents bought it, I have never once in the sixty-seven years since we moved in the thought of another family living there. I wonder if Miss Cornelia Caroline Wadleigh loved it all as much as I did. And did she slide down the roof? And how would she feel about it being made into a museum if she knew? Does she know? Maybe I’ll meet her in Heaven and we can talk it over.

*Quotation from One Room Schoolhouses, Custer County, Colorado, by Irene Francis.

 

 

 

Author, Poet and Artist

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

2 Responses to “The Depot”

  1. Onisha Ellis July 23, 2018 at 9:05 am #

    Your parents certainly were hard working. That renovation project must have been challenging. I bet you had a lot of fun sliding down the roof!

    Like

    • divoran09 July 23, 2018 at 9:53 am #

      Thank you for a real comment!

      Like

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