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We are particularly fortunate to be a part of such a historic area. Plaques, signs, and structures dot our landscape like markers in a book. These markers save our place so that we can come back later and read the next exciting chapter in our history.
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What cannot always be seen are the people who were here to witness these guideposts to our past. Those people that lived the events we read on the plaques and those that were a part of the creation and re-creation of this area. These grand individuals are full of volumes of the tiny details that are being lost to time and age. These seniors hold in their minds the living, breathing past and that past needs to live on in us.
One such individual is Joyce Neece Maulis. In a recent conversation with Joyce, I asked what she remembered most about growing up here. I settled in with my notebook to capture what I could of her precious memories, and she began to produce well-worn photo albums and weathered newspaper clips. As she began to speak, I could see the light in her eyes grow brighter and the lilt in her voice slip into an ease of bringing back times long past and of those dearly departed. We stepped into the ancient fog together…
Joyce’s family was drawn to this area by a fire scorched picture of the Georgetown Railroad that adorned the wall of her mother’s office in Texas. After a short stop off in Denver while on their way to California to look for work, the family took a weekend trip to Georgetown and Silver Plume. These intrepid travelers were smitten and decided that they wanted to be a part of this mountain area.
“My parents bought a cabin that was an old miner’s cabin built around 1890 on a hill in Silver Plume in 1937,” she said. “We (would) go up there every summer.”
One story that truly captures the innocence and joviality of small mountain life back then is Joyce’s recollection of an incident at the Silver Plume band stand.
“It was 1940 and I was 10 years old, and my sister Barbara was 8,” she said. “One day mom said, ‘Let’s go fishing at the swinging bridge.’ That was one of our favorite places to have a picnic and fish.”
Joyce recalled that they were not going to the bridge until 11 a.m., and since it was only 9 a.m., she and her sister decided to go down to climb on the Silver Plume Band Stand. Her cousins Bev and Bill were visiting, and they all walked to town and climbed the band stand.
Things did not turn out to be just an innocent side adventure. Walking along an eight feet high railing, Joyce’s sister Barbara fell to the ground below.
“She didn’t have any broken bones but did have cuts on her hands and knees. We knew Mom would not let us go to the swinging bridge is she knew that Barbara had fallen. There was a lady we called Miss Alice that lived a few doors nearby. We took Barbara to Miss Alice, and she cleaned up her cuts.”
When they all returned home, they didn’t dare mention that Barbara had fallen for fear they would not get to go to the bridge. This little omission backfired on them the next day when while shopping at Buckley’s Store, Miss Alice asked their mother how Barbara was after her fall from the band stand! The punishment unfortunately was not the spanking they had hoped for but something much worse. Considering they did not have running water or an indoor bathroom, they were assigned to empty the chamber pots for a week!
Quietly here among us sit these marvelous, gracefully aging treasure troves of simple mountain memories. The joy I felt after being in the mist of Joyce’s memories paled in comparison to the delight I observed in her eyes as she showed me the pictures and clippings to accompany her stories. Sharing in each other’s memoirs can be a positive energy generator that can spread happiness and help to start the new year with hope.
While we move into a new year, let us not let these memories and tales go unheard. Stop by Project Support Senior Center and you will find Joyce, sitting at the front desk or out under the trees with her faithful and ever friendly dog, Helena, and ask her to tell you some of her timeless tales of Silver Plume and Empire. If not there, stop the senior center, nursing home or assisted living nearest to you and talk to the seniors. Volunteer your time to be a part of their memories. They would love to share, and you will be all the better for it. You may even be the one to help preserve our history.
Christy Recke MS, RN, CWCN is currently the manager of Project Support Senior Center and Housing as well as their thrift store, Queen’s Wardrobe, all located in beautiful, downtown Idaho Springs.She has been a nurse for 25 years and holds a Master’s degree in Complementary and Integrative Health.
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