Archive for the ‘Modest or alternative living’ 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:


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?


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!


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.


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.


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.


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


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

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In 1915, Lewis Wickes Hine came to Fort Collins for a day as part of  a project to document child labor in America. He photographed the Rommel house at 430 N. Loomis. It was boarded up in this October photo because the family was away harvesting beets. They would return to Fort Collins in the Winter to work at the sugar factory. This photo is now in the Library of Congress:


More recently, Joe Manning, of Massachusetts began looking for descendants of Hine’s subjects. He found and interviewed the grandchild of Jacob Rommel. From Massachusetts, he couldn’t get a good 2009 photo of the house. So I took these for him. It hasn’t changed much.



In this one, I'm trying for the same angle as Hine used in 1915.

But this is all just teaser. To meet the Rommels, go see Mr. Manning’s interview plus additional family and Hine photos: www.morningsonmaplestreet.com/jacobrommel1.html


Special thanks to Lesley Drayton at the Museum archives for passing this one to me.

By the way, you DO know about the museum’s blog, don’t you? It combines history and the Discovery Center. It’s here and will keep you up to date on Museum doings and other interesting stories: http://fcmdsc.wordpress.com/

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Maggie Kunze’s farkled bus is about 3 feet over the line.  That is, the property line over which the people next door  want to build a privacy fence. And according to Kunze, they want to build the fence  so nobody will have to look at her bus anymore.

Maggie's bus

Maggie's Joy Bus

But Kunze says the bus isn’t going to budge.  She says it sits in  a driveway the two properties have legally shared since 1924.

Besides, she says, if the owners next door, investors who live in another city, would talk with her, she could suggest several solutions for screening the bus that don’t include fencing her in.

Kunze  lives in a 1900 shotgun house whose  once generous lot was carved up in the 1920s, leaving  her only a 10-foot-wide panhandle  of a backyard. The shared driveway doubles the width of that part of her property.

The bus has been there for years, but property owners next door want to hide it now, says Kunze, because they’ve been  unsuccessful at selling their property for the past year. They think Kunze’s farkle art may be part of the problem.

Farkling is the process of taking ordinary objects and making them “fun” and “sparkle.”  Like this:

farkle 1

Farkled mirror and bust

And like this …

Farkle carport

Farkled carport

And like this …

Farkle William Shatner shrine

Farkled William Shatner shrine

Kunze’s house on North Washington is farkled inside and out (she’s a must see on your yard art tour…along with North Wood street, but that’s another post).

While many people enjoy her art, Kunze says she understands that farkle isn’t for everybody.

But she’s still not moving the bus.

So, the neighbors started the fence anyway, planting all the fence posts except for the one that would go directly under the bus’ radiator. They might have resorted to towing the bus off  the property, but Kunze got a lawyer.


So what happens next?

The fence-building neighbors have turned down mediation. So,  everybody goes to  court– August 20th.

And, as you might guess, if that fence is ever built, Kunze plans to farkle it.

farkling manniquin butts

Farkling manniquin butts


Big thanks to well-connected  Kate Forgach (whose Tattle Tales blog covers all Fort Collins arts doings) for alerting me to this one!

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Before vinyl, before aluminum, even before asbestos, Fort Collins covered up its old houses with asphalt siding.  Rolled asphalt siding.

The first of the maintenance-free building materials,  “lick and stick brick” was popular from the 1930s through 1960s. 

You could cover a small house with the stuff for maybe a hundred dollars, and many frugal homeowners in Fort Collins did. 


Detail of house with asphalt siding

And why not? Depression-era hardware store ads promised “complete weather protection, added insulation value, plus a pleasing appearance.” It could last decades.  Look:





But not every house aged so well.  In fact, in urban areas, it came to be known as ghetto brick.  

Here in the West, in our rural areas, we  slapped it  over buildings without good bones to begin with.  The effect was tar paper shack: 


Some people think that’s kind of cool.

But most did not. And with easy credit and a nationwide remodeling boom, Fort Collins got most of ours to the landfill well before the refi money ran out.


Have I given enough credit to Norm Cook lately for sharing his memories and his enthusiasm? Not sure Lost Fort Collins would be much without him. Thanks Norm!

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Imagine you build a house out of local and renewable materials. And you build it only 500 square feet for the whole family, in walking distance of your job. The yard is big enough for a significant garden, and you raise chickens and hang your own laundry on a clothes line.

Nobody gives you a tax credit or even an energy star.

You don’t ask for one. You grow up with your neighbors, know each other’s kids and grandparents, and for the most part keep to yourself.  Although once in a while you’ll ask for a school or paved roads long after everyone else gets them.

It goes like that for generations. 

The factory closes. A new factory comes to the neighborhood. A craft brewery that draws national attention for it’s feel-good business practices. But when you walk through the front door, it’s clear none of these workers have ever topped a sugar beet. 

Another big employer tries to come to the neighborhood, a SuperWal-Mart.  But from the other side of the tracks they  scream “corporate domination!!!” and fight like hell to keep the jobs away.

The sustainability fair raises its tent just next door to show the city about living in harmony with the earth–although ironically nobody notices you’ve been treading lightly since the beginning. Amy Goodman comes from New York City to wring her hands about injustice on the other side of the world. 

You don’t say anything.

The crowds grow as everyone wants to throw world-class parties in your backyard. And when you complain, they whisper, “Maybe you should just move to Greeley.”


I’m not Mexican, and I have no business pretending to know how it feels. But I do know there’s more to this town than bicycles and breweries. And I do think our neighbors in Andersonville, Buckingham, and Alta Vista want you to know who they are.  

The Museo de las Tres Colinas in Andersonville is open on the third Saturday of each month from 12:30-3pm, and every Saturday in April from 12:30-5pm.


Lost Fort Collins now has a Flickr page for additional photos, some related to posts, some not.  See the Beyond the Blog link at right.

You can see a snapshot of Betty Aragon-Mitotes there. This post came as a result of my conversation with her yesterday.

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“… And how about that guy who lived in a car?”

When I first read Chuck’s comment in response to an earlier post, I thought, “there was no guy who lived in a car.” He was making fun of me. Had my interest in low-brow gone too far? 

Could be.

Then I heard about  Wesley Young–a Laporte resident, sometimes called The Hermit of 287. 

Only Wesley didn’t live in a car. He lived in two cars: a 1947 Plymouth and a 1957 Ford, both parked in a field owned by family along old Highway 287.


In a bigger city, Wes would have been a nameless homeless guy, an addled WWII vet with an inconsistent story.  But this is Fort Collins, so the papers wrote his story and people worried about him.

He told the Triangle Review that he started living in vehicles (a sheepherder’s wagon in Bellvue) after his father died.  But some say his father had the gas station just down the street in Laporte and outlived Wesley. 

In some articles Wesley says that homelessness was not his choice. In others he says he’s an ecologist following a “higher part of life,” refusing charity and welfare. People said he was the original hippie.

You could see him walking along Highway 54 between the American Legion and downtown Laporte throughout the 1960s and early 1970s–always against the traffic. He lived on candy bars and milk.

 “A man needs inspiration to recover from the beatings [life] gives you,” he said. “And I just haven’t found it yet.”

I hear he died in the late 1990s. He would have been near 80 years old.

(Special feature: Click on the street scene to take a virtual walk in Wes’ shoes down Highway 54.)

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The Green Bay Packers trailer home doesn’t belong on a Lost blog so much as a Hard-to-find blog. It’s hidden in plain site on our busiest street.  

I think it’s symbolic of our tremendous tolerence. Because if you painted up your trailer home in Bronco Blue and Orange and perched it above mainstreet Wisconsin, you might have different results ….


It’s real hard to get a good picture of the trailer, even with the leaves off the trees. So, if you’re a fan, best you make the pilgrimage yourself to South College for the full effect. It’s a Lambeau leap from the city limits sign.

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