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It's A Great Life: 33 - Back To Work

Jack Merewood here's of Buffalo Bill's funeral.

The new project was well under way when we returned. Hutchinson Homes turned out houses like a production line. First they razed everything, be it farms, old houses or trees. All were flattened and the ground levelled. Even the courses of streams were altered should that be necessary to fit in with the plan. When this was completed they laid out the streets, putting in the sidewalks, then along came the diggers to excavate the holes where the houses were to stand.

Next came the footings crew to lay a concrete foundation. They were followed by the crew who poured concrete into a wooden framework set on the footings. When this had set the framework was removed and these formed the basement walls. The flooring crew followed, and after them the wooden walls of the house were raised. The bricklayers came next followed by the roofers. Then work was started inside. The walls were covered with sheetrock then plastered and painted. The kitchens were fully fitted with a choice of colours for sinks all with waste dispos¬als. This is just a rough idea, but it means that as the lines grew, there were houses in every stage of construction.

Last came the house cleaners. It was their job to clean the kitchen cabinets, remove paint which may have been splashed on the window sills and window frames, and scrub the tiled kitchen and bathroom floors. The rest of the house had polished wooden floors. These were sanded first by machine, then followed by a man staining and polishing them. The cleaners made sure there was no dust or dirt around, and while they were doing this, tractors were grading the gardens outside. Often when houses were finished on Friday night the people moved in on Saturday morning. Not the slightest bit of cleaning was necessary.

At the last project the cleaners had been Sheila and myself, but here at Bear Creek, Hutchinson's couldn't build the houses fast enough. Often at 7.30 a.m. queues started to form, waiting for the show houses to open. Sheila and I now had to have help. Over the next week or two we cleaners numbered seven, and one day Art Olson said they needed to have someone in charge of the cleaning crew, would I take the job? It would be a promotion and a rise in pay. I had no hesitation in accepting. Sheila and I still locked and unlocked the houses, so for some considerable time our employment felt secure.

Our landlord, Art, was a wonderful man, and we thought the world of him. He was a bachelor, in his early fifties, and taught physics at the School of Mines. Art was born in Golden. Generally, whoever you met or knew in any town always seemed to have been born somewhere else, so Art was an exception to the rule. He and his father had lived together on Ford Street but his father had died a few years before we arrived in Golden. He rarely spoke about his mother, and we felt that she had either died when he was young or had left Art and his dad. Art's father was the architect of the Lariat Trail on Lookout Mountain, and near the top of the mountain on a large rock is engraved - 'CEMENT BILL WILLIAM WILLIAMS 1868-1945 PLANNED DESIGNED AND BUILT THIS HIGHWAY 1912-I913'.

Art told ua that when he was fourteen he had watched Buffalo Bill's funeral on its way up the mountain. Gene Fowler, who was a reporter on the Denver Post, wrote of the funeral:

I attended the burial of the lusty old Colonel on Lookout Mountain less than a year after that interview. He had lain for some months in a mortuary vault. It was a remarkable funeral, with thousands traveling the long trail to the summit of the hill. There was a circus atmosphere about the whole thing. A lot of us drank straight rye from bottles while speeches were being made by expert liars. Six of the Colonel's surviving sweethearts - now obese and sagging with memories - sat on camp chairs beside the grave of hewn-out granite. The bronze casket lay in the bright western sun. The glass over the Colonel's amazingly handsome face began to steam on the inside. You could not see the face after a while, on account of the frosted pane.

One of the old Camilles rose from her camp chair, with a manner so gracious as to command respect. Then, as though she were utterly alone with her dead, and while thousands looked on, this grand old lady walked to the casket and held her antique but dainty black parasol over the glass. She stood there throughout the service, a fantastic, superb figure. It was the gesture of a queen.

Art had a lot of lady friends - in the nicest possible way - and took care of them, and us, like a mother hen looking after her chicks. In the apartment underneath us lived Helen Fairbanks, an unmarried teacher, and in the bottom apartment lived another teacher, a spinster too, by the name of Rose Hudson. We all entered the apartment by the same front door. We went upstairs, Helen stayed on the middle floor and Rose went down the steps to her apartment, from there she had a door leading out to a garden. Two more friends of Art's were Dorothy Campbell, another teacher, and Irene Vogel who worked in Denver for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. There were several other ladies in his brood, but we along with Art soon became friendly with these particular ones. Irene and Dorothy were both in the Thespians. At that time they too were single but were later to marry.


To read Jack's vivid account of his wartime experiences To War With The Bays please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/to_war_with_the_bays/


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