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Archive for the ‘Colorado State University’ Category

Cunningham Corner is a condo complex on the corner of Horsetooth and Shields in Fort Collins. It’s also the name on the barn that sat at that corner before the condos (the barn has since been declared a historic landmark and moved elsewhere).

And in the early 1970s, it was the name of one of the hottest bands in Fort Collins.

Kevin Donnelly, founding member of Cunningham Corner, the band, sent the Lost Fort Collins blog the story. With pictures:

CUM CORNER1

Cunningham Corner plays CSU

I was the only band member who lived on the [Cunningham Corner] farm, but the band rehearsed there all the time and it became a haven for the local artistic community which at the time consisted of painters, [such as the legendary "Gorpf"], musicians, sculptures, poets and writers.

I don’t know if “hippies” would be the right word to describe the group of people who lived there.  We were just young kids, mostly from the city, who discovered a new way of life in Colorado.

At night, at that time, the area was very quiet and peaceful and all our musician friends would sit around the campfire in the garden and play music into the night.  The area is not quite so isolated nowadays, is it?

CUM CORNER3

625 Remington

In later years, the band all moved into the same house together along with various other artists and musicians.  We built a recording studio there …

There was a “Der Weinerschnitzl” across the alley and we lived off of those dogs! There wasn’t a lot of money, but all we really needed was to make sure that our guitars had new strings on them by opening night!

65720013

Outside 625 Remington Street,2005

Early band days at CSU

Scott Galbraith and I  started playing our acoustic guitars in the common area at the Student Center.  That was the beginning of Cunningham Corner.  There used to be this area where students could stretch out on couches and tables. It became an area where musicians could just bring in their instruments and play for everyone.

CORNER 4

Playing at CSU

The sound, the scene, and the Jade Urn

It was the time the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Poco, Randy Meisner, Pure Prairie League, John Denver, Michael Nesmith and Michael Martin Murphy. Cunningham Corner had 4 part harmonies but the band was more than that.  It was more like an experimental orchestra.  We played many instruments and all original music that crossed over from jazz to rock to country rock and rhythm and blues and to funk and to even classical and show tunes.

A good friend of the Cunningham Corner band at the time was the poet and musician Charles John Quarto who was a mainstay in Fort Collins and who wrote the lyrics for  “Geronimo’s Cadillac” for Michael Murphy.  Charles was kind of a spiritual advisor of the band and even used to read poetry before our sets at the old Jade Urn coffeehouse.

…I have great memories of playing all night at the Northern Hotel in Fort Collins and then walking home in the cool evening to 1625 Remington Street.  Fort Collins was at the time, and I understand still remains, one of the best places to live in the country.

Cunningham Corner [toured throughout the southwest and] was the only non-recording act to headline multiple times at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas, which was one of the best music venues at the time. [The home of Willie Nelson].  We also played various fund raising and charity events in Fort Collins.

There were other popular hometown bands as well, and twice a year we would all rent out a couple of ballrooms at the student center and hold a big concert where all the bands would play on stage together.  It was a very tightly knit community of musicians.

2

Publicity for Spring Jam

After the Spring Jam, we all gathered at “The Town Pump” which was then owned by our good friend Ron Heard, and played music all night.  Ron also had an ownership interest in the Rams Inn.  Back then, if you wanted a really good hearty breakfast the Rams Inn was the place to go.  I don’t imagine it is still in business.

RON (1)

Ron Heard at Town Pump

Where are they now?

The members of Cunningham Corner eventually landed in Los Angeles and pursued musical careers.  There were many successes and countless stories.

As for myself, I developed an interest in the law.  I have been practicing law for the last twenty-five years in Los Angeles.  In 2000, I married the love of my life and we now reside in Redondo Beach CA.

09230005

Jimmy Davenport, David Fuog, and me

We lost some friends along the way.  Our original drummer, Gary Brittingham, who is seated next to me in the Cunningham Corner barn photo, was accidently electrocuted while working at the old pickle factory in Fort Collins about 1972.

Our  piano player, Rod Seeley, who I understand remained a musical staple in the La Porte and Fort Collins areas until
recently, passed away a few  years ago.

Another great singer and songwriter who lived in Fort Collins at the time and a good friend of the band, Scott Bruning, passed away some twenty years ago.

Peace, Kevin

CUM CORNER5

Final version of the band. 1973. Chester Terwey, David Fuog, Jimmy Davenport, Scott Galbraith, Richard Lee and Kevin Donnelly.

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sigma-house1

2008, after lions removed

In one of Lost Fort Collins’ earliest posts, I talked about the Sigma house on Laurel.  The boys lost their charter afterserving alcohol to young girls during a party. Gossip around town said they would paint those lions at the entry stairs red to signal when a brother had bagged a virgin.

The old house is now, finally, a hole in the ground.

Frat House

June 2009

Or maybe it always was ….

hateWomen

Sigma house from the 1972 CSU Yearbook

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Funny how some scandals and characters become part of the local canon. Prostitutes, horse thieves,  and bootleggers make the Senior Voice and “I remember when …” columns year after year.

But others never pass the quaint test, no matter how much time passes. Which is why you’ve probably never heard about what happened at CSU’s Music Department in 1952. 

In that year, four men turned up gay. The details are sketchy, but one of my sources says all four were music faculty and generalizes that “the whole department was gay.”

Another source says maybe not the whole department. At least the department chair, Gregory Bueche, was straight. In fact, he was horrified to find his faculty teeming with men who do with men.

I can’t tell you how the scandal surfaced, or even if anyone admitted to being gay. But I do know it went to court, with Fancher Sarchet representing the defendents. His daughter, Doris Bice, remembers that the men were charged with homosexuality.

“In those days that was against the law,” she says.

She also remembers Sarchet’s personal view. “He said they were good as any other upstanding citizen,  and their preferences were nobody’s business.”

But others in town remember differently. Some say the men were innappropriate with their students.  Kids who took lessons would remember a touch on the shoulder and wonder if it meant more.  Parent’s began to warn their children about a new kind of danger.

To find the truth, you would have to dig up the court records–something I may do yet. 

“Did Sarchet win the case?” I asked Doris.

“Yes,” she says. But winning in those days meant that instead of jail, two got to leave town and a third was committed to a state mental hospital in Pueblo. 

Yearbook before and after

Before the scandal, the band director would sit in uniform every year with the CSU band honor society, kappa kappa psi,  for a college yearbook picture.

CSU kappa kappa psi's, 1952

CSU kappa kappa psi's, 1952

In the years after their director left, the kappas still sat for the photo, but now in ordinary suits and ties and with the newly appointed director Mr. D.N. Peitersen,

And in those first years, a picture of Mrs. D.N. Peitersen also appeared,  just a few inches away.

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Correspondence from a reader: 

 Dear Lost Fort Collins,

Dorms under construction 1967

Dorms under construction 1967

Thank you for your site – As I sit many miles and years away from the “Fort” it’s almost like traveling back in time – A couple of things that a lot of people will remember is where Moby gym and the 10 story dorms are in the 50’s were the city’s Little League fields. We lived near the fields so it was easy to get to practices and games in a hurry – the number of foul balls that were hit across Laurel is amazing—when they decided to build the gym I remember going every Sunday with my dad and “checking” the status of the building.

I get home about once a year but it seems like everything has changed so much since I graduated in 1969 and left town to travel the world—

 John Tobin


Dear John,

 

Norm Cook, whose memories make up much of the content of Lost Fort Collins, tells me that he got his first speeding ticket from a judge with your name.

Cat


CSU, 1975      

 

Cat,

That would be my dad—my favorite story about the Judge is around 1964 65 when the HIPPIE phase was just starting up at CSU—dad had a guy in court and told him to either cut his hair or come back to court with pink ribbons – he of course did neither — but heard the case because he at least cleaned the hair mess up.

Tell Norm he is not the only one—I was going to school at Adams State and was told by the judge and police chief not to come into town during College Days or I would be arrested and held all weekend – needless to say I found something else to do that weekend

Photos from http://www.fcgov.com/archive

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What do we do when the flu comes to Larimer County?

In 1918 the Spanish flu arrived here, via WWI servicemen, with our first cases presenting at CSU (Colorado Agricultural College in those days).  Surprisingly, it wasn’t the elderly and sickly who died from it. Rather it was those with the strongest immune systems–teens to 30-year-olds.

inthehospital

"In the hospital," from CSU archives, 1917.

To keep the disease from spreading, we closed public schools, theaters, lodges, and halls from October through December of that year. To manage those who were already sick, a temporary hospital was set up in the engineering building at CSU.

Then we forbid loitering downtown.

By November, we required masks worn at public indoor gatherings.

By December,  “the number of customers in business houses was limited to eight or one each 100 square feet,” according to the Fort Collins Express. “Violators fined $300 plus costs.”

Finally, we enlisted the new infirmary over at the County Poor Farm to take our sick. (After the epidemic, the infirmary, on what’s now Lemay, went on to be our current hospital).

So how bad were we hit? In Loveland, which had a population of 5000 at the time, about 1.3% of the population died from the flu according to Larimer County Health.

lovelanddeaths

From Larimer County Health

Strong immune systems were prone to overreact to the virus,  something the health community calls a “cytokine storm.”  With the current swine flu,  that same cytokine response worries some at the Centers for Disease Control most.

But before you get too worried, I think you and everybody else should download this 2005 powerpoint presentation from the Larimer County Health Department.

Written in more level-headed times, the presentation explains how the flu progressed in 1918. But more importantly, it explains what measures we had to fight it then, what measures we have now, and why we are in some ways less prepared now, but in most ways, more so.

annaabbott1

Anna Abbott May as a small girl, died during influenza epidemic at 18.

Credits:

Hospital photo: University Historic Photograph Collection, http://lib.colostate.edu/archives/historic_photos.html, Colorado State University, Archives and Special Collections

Anna May Abbott photo: Fort Collins Museum Archives. http://history.fcgov.com

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Fort Collins adds one or two festivals to its calendar every year. Music, warm beer, sticky food.

But for beauty and grace, none match the May Fete at CSU in the 1920s–an annual display of “pristine femininity.” 

 
pan-pipes

 “From the shrubbery, the fairies stole forth…Pan and his dancing nymphs, the four winds, moonbeams, and Neptune’s mermaids floated across the waves.”  

These next 3 photos all merit a click through to see larger views:

 

Hope

Hope

Grief

Grief

Love

Love

After hours of genteel dancing, “Chanticleer sent forth his cry and the fairies were banished by the coming of the Dawn.” –Rocky Mountain Collegian

3 Dianas with Horsetooth

3 Dianas with Horsetooth

All photos 1920s, used by permission:  University Historic Photograph Collection, http://lib.colostate.edu/archives/historic_photos.html, Colorado State University, Archives and Special Collections

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im001162

Real pop art in Fort Collins? You betcha! An Andy Warhol soup can is now on display right in front of the old high school on Remington.  See? We’re not a bunch of hicks.

Here’s how we got the lawn art:

“The soup can was part of a (1981) exhibit of Warhol’s work at CSU, and was painted by university student  Bruce Conway,” says the University Center for the Arts. “The artwork was painted onto sections of donated construction pipe following Warhol’s specifications that it look like something ‘right off the supermarket shelf.’”

Then Warhol showed up and signed it.

im001160But Warhol brought more than his pen to Fort Collins. He also brought big city artistic irony–way before that kind of thing was everywhere.

I wonder who “got it” when he agreed to come to Fort Collins only on the promise of getting to stay with John Denver. Or invited a cow to come to the signing. Or showed extra fascination with bovine semen extraction methods at CSU.

Hey! Was Andy Warhol implying that we’re a bunch of …?

warhol-and-can

Warhol in Fort Collins, 1981

Visit his can on the lawn of the University Center for the Arts (Formerly Fort Collins High School) on Remington Street for a close up look. And for gawd’s sake, change out of yer Carhartts before you go.

Credits

This story is largely a retelling of Museum Cache, a weekly broadcast from the Fort Collins Museum that airs on KRFC 88.9 every Monday during the news (7:30 am and 5 pm). The museum folks just handed the script over to me. All I did was edit and take photos of the can.

I’d like to point out that museums and history associations in every town are not always thrilled about these “lost” city blogs. That’s why ours is the best ever–they treat their archives and knowledge like a community resource/service so anybody can become a local historian.

A shout out also to Beth Flowers of FlowersontheTable, who first told me about the soup can.

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Fort Collins currently uses the tag line: Where renewal is a way of life. We’ve also used Fortunate Fort Collins and Fort Collins…..Midst Colorado’s “Horn of Plenty”

But if you’re an old timer, you know the real tag line–the unofficial and enduring Fort Collins, Wide Streets, Narrow Minds

That’s because, until recently, this town was hell on the enlightened.

Nobody articulates the cultural oppression of mid-century Fort Collins better than the unfortunate Bertram Wyatt Brown, a Baltimore academic who took his first job in 1964 at Colorado State University:

 The Fort Collins restaurant scene consisted primarily of the International House of Pancakes (“IHOP”) and a Chinese establishment run by a Jewish New Yorker. 

It gets worse …

Hotels? I cannot recall a single major chain or first-class set of accommodations.

Much worse.

While pontificating about the rationale for the American Revolution … I was somewhat disconcerted by the seemingly endless parade of Union Pacific Railroad freight cars rattling and screeching under the lecture-room windows. Crossing campus, the passerby could sometimes hear pigs squeal as they were getting slaughtered in a nearby Ag building. 

Class sizes sucked. The pay sucked. The CSU library sucked. Only one thing didn’t suck:

On some weekends, we junior historians … took R & R trips to Denver’s Brown Palace …. The excursions, sometimes through heavy snows, helped momentarily to shake off the parochialism of Fort Collins. There the churches far outnumbered the mediocre eateries and movie houses.

But Wyatt Brown just didn’t get it. While he was sulking in Denver, we were figuring out that we could park 17 cars, side by side, across College Avenue. Look!

 

Wide streets, narrow minds. Seriously wide streets

Wide streets, narrow minds. Seriously wide streets

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 I went to the Barack Obama rally today. I don’t stand in lines when I can avoid it, so listened from the railroad tracks that run by the Oval. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t get to have a moment:

Crowds gather on railroad tracks

Crowds gather on railroad tracks

I heard a woman ask, as she passed, “what happens if a train comes?” My companion assured me the secret service made sure no train would come. I expect a convoy of angry freight trains are gearing up to pass through town now. You know they’re angry because they lean on their whistles for the entire, slow 4-mile trip through town.

Vote in the best interest of my kid, not my plumber

I vote what's best for my kids, not what's best for my plumber

McCain supporters in a sea of blue

McCain supporters in a sea of blue

Finally, I tried to take pictures of the motorcade coming north on College as Obama drove away. But Lost Fort Collins had to make a tough decision: Barack was standing in the front of his bus. Should I try to get a great photo for YOU, or put the camera down and wave back at Barack?

I put the camera down and we smiled right at each other.

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Sigma alpha epsilon at CSU lost its charter. I think it was for getting teenage girls drunk–like, go to the emergency room drunk. Now the 1926 frat house is being replaced with something else, says the Coloradoan.  

 

See those crumbling walls beside the stair? They used to hold the golden lions.

And sometimes those lions were painted red –  local gossip has it that red lions signaled that a brother had bagged a virgin.

Tear it down.

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