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Archive for October, 2009

One hamburger joint Norm may remember:  Morrie’s “In and Out” on South College. It was a little before my time but I know it was popular with a lot of FCHS students because it was relatively close to the old high school building on Remington.” Jim Burrill

Morries

1611 S. College. Photo from history.fcgov.com

“I remember Morries In & Out – the owner was Morris Teel who was a neighbor of my parents. Morrie was a very good golfer and in the 50’s and 60’s gave “Spike Baker” some good competition-by the way they lived next door to one another.   -Captain Bevo

“Morrie’s In-and-Out was located just south of Prospect in the approx location of “Chucky Cheese” It was a popular High School eatery in the fifties and had no inside service. You ordered into a mike and drove up to the window. A foot-long hot dog and a root beer was 35 cents. Beyond that to the south was all farms until you reached Trilby and the popular nightclub “Clancys” on the East side of the road. It later became the Cow Palace etc.” -Norm

norm_profile[What happens when you ask the Lost Fort Collins blog a question? Typically, I just go ask Norm for the answer. Norm Cook has lived in Fort Collins since the mid 1940s, and he remembers EVERYTHING!

Now, you can cut out the middle man and ask Uncle Norm yourself. Just write Norm@lostfortcollins.com.  Answers appear here on the Lost Fort Collins blog]

[This edition of Ask Uncle Norm was taken from recent discussion on an earlier post. If you just can’t get enough of fifties fast food at the fort, read (and contribute to) the comments here]

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Hell Tree

Road sign

I think the corner of Horsetooth Road and CR7 should be declared a monument to historical ignorance in Fort Collins.

Look to the Northeast and see what’s left of the Strauss cabin. One of the earliest cabins in the area, restored in the 1990s, and then burned down by some teenagers soon after.

Strauss Cabin Ruins

Que lastima.

But watch your back. Turn around and you’re looking right at the abandoned goat farm where grows the Hell Tree. The HELL TREE!!!!

That’s where a goat farmer used to hang his workers, until they rebelled and hanged him from the same tree. And now you can see ghosts swinging from the limbs after dark, they say. (Or maybe that’s goats, and the story is just a big dyslexic mix up.)

How do I know about the hell tree? Not from any old timers. Not from the museum archives. They’ve never heard of it.

I got the story from the Internet! On a web site about supernatural phenom. I’m not sure if the story was written by a  local, or whether someone far away made up the story in hopes of selling ads for local hotels on his ghost story web site.

It doesn’t matter. The Collegian parroted the story last October, and then  some accounts located it on CR7 (though others put it off North Overland, see comments below), and now College students and the internet savvy (or gullible as the case may be) are making the most of its retelling.

But if you know Fort Collins history at all, you know the story is crazy. We NEVER overlooked serial murder.  Oh, we could wink at vigilantism and we could bypass the law when struck by moral outrage. We were especially prone to moral outrage.

But hanging the help?

Not on our church-going, temperate watch.

And a goat farm? Goats=Satan. Get it? Maybe if he’d have raised sheep like everyone else, he wouldn’t have gone mad.

The story of the hell tree seems completely improbable to me.

But I will admit, the abandoned farm  and that cottonwood do look sinister, don’t they?

Hell Tree

Credits

Kendra Spanjer, author of Aldo Zelnick fame, encouraged me to look into the Hell Tree story. From what I can tell, the property was turned over to the county in the early 1970s. It’s surrounded by gravel pits and such today.

Thanks Kendra! It made for a very fun afternoon of exploring.

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There once was a boy from a desolate  town that had only one girl worth dating. And when she left him, he came to Fort Collins to float his broken heart in Fat Tire, because you couldn’t buy that where he came from.  Before long,  he discovered O’Dells IPA. It was even better. Probably because she had never even heard of it.
One night, we were at Road 34 disagreeing about whether you can believe in love but not in God, when I realized I’d let him get too drunk.
“I’m going to buy you a burrito,” I said.
“Do you have McBurritos here?” he asked. “The only girl worth dating–we always ate there.”
I put him in my car and drove right past McBurritos, and he was too drunk or too new to insist on it.  Instead, I took him to Big City Burrito.
There wasn’t a line, so I didn’t tell him the rules for ordering…
(The tortilla guy doesn’t want to know what kind of burrito you’re having. Just tell him what kind of tortilla…he’s only pretending to listen to the rest. The filling guy will ask you…never mind. OH, unless you’re getting potato, you have to tell the tortilla guy if you’re going to get potato.)
The boy from a desolate town ordered a potato burrito, and then turned down the Ranch dressing. “Nobody turns down the Ranch dressing with potato,” I said.
“What?” he asked.
“Nevermind.” It was his Big City Burrito and I knew better than to think I could save him from his own bad decisions by now. So I poured us both an iced tea. He found us an unelegant table in a room with sobering lights.
The burritos and the tea did their work. When I was nearly done, I went to pee.  When I returned he was talking to a girl with a damp table rag about John Cage, and she was leaning toward him.
That potato burrito with no Ranch started the cure. Within days, he stopped talking about the only girl worth dating. And he stopped talking about where they ate.  And he stopped talking about love all together.
But he kept eating at Big City. Every day.
And he never stopped talking about God.

BigCityWindow

There once was a boy from a desolate  town that had only one girl worth dating. And when she left him, he came to Fort Collins to float his broken heart in Fat Tire, because you couldn’t buy that where he came from.  Before long,  he discovered O’Dells IPA. It was even better. Probably because she had never even heard of it.

One night, we were at Road 34 disagreeing about whether you can believe in love but not in God, when I realized I’d let him get too drunk.

“I’m going to buy you a burrito,” I said.

“Do you have McBurritos here?” he asked. “The only girl worth dating–we always ate there.”

I put him in my car and drove right past McBurritos, and he was too drunk or too new to insist on it.  Instead, I took him to Big City Burrito.

There wasn’t a line, so I didn’t tell him the rules for ordering…

(The tortilla guy doesn’t want to know what kind of burrito you’re having. Just tell him what kind of tortilla…he’s only pretending to listen to the rest. The filling guy will ask you…never mind. OH, unless you’re getting potato, you have to tell the tortilla guy if you’re going to get potato.)

The boy from a desolate town ordered a potato burrito, and then turned down the Ranch dressing. “Nobody turns down the Ranch dressing with potato,” I said.

“What?” he asked.

“Nevermind.” It was his Big City Burrito and I knew better than to think I could save him from his own bad decisions by now. So I poured us both an iced tea. He found us an unelegant table in a room with sobering lights.

The tea did its work. I went to pee.  When I returned he was talking to a girl with a damp table rag about John Cage, and she was leaning toward him.

That potato burrito with no Ranch started the cure. Within days, he stopped talking about the only girl worth dating. And he stopped talking about where they ate.  And he stopped talking about love all together.

But he kept eating at Big City. Every day.

And he never stopped talking about God.

My day job is interfering with my blog this week. That’s why I’m offering something more creative than historic. Something I wrote in the middle of the night recently. More relevant posts to come when the real work is done.

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Old bins (middle) and new (right)

Old bins (middle) and new (right)

Recently, the city of Fort Collins adopted changes to ordinances that, among other things, require trash haulers to offer new, larger recycling bins. This as part of a larger plan to meet “diversion” goals that will send 50% of our city’s waste to recycling rather than the landfill.

Great idea. But what do we do with the old, smaller recycling tubs?

“I have 15,000 tubs out [in the community],” says Mark Glorioso, from Gallegos Sanitation. And while many customers are choosing to keep the old tubs for storage containers as they upgrade to the newer bins, plenty are sending the old ones back.  Glorioso estimates he currently has between 100 and 200 on hand.

The old tubs are, themselves, recyclable. But not really. “They’d have to be shredded or pelletized before a recycling facility would accept them,” Glorioso says.

So, that leaves potentially thousands of excess plastic recycling tubs as a byproduct of our new and better recycling policies.

But let’s talk about solutions.

Gallegos has at least one: The hauler is talking to Poudre Schools about donating the tubs for worm compost bins.  The repurposed tubs would house worms who would eat your food scraps. The resulting worm poop is as fine a gardening amendment as anything from a pricey nursery. I think it’s an excellent idea.

Although I will say that worms can’t take the Christmas and summer off. And that might mean that instead of babysitting Otis the Turtle during school vacations, families can expect to foster the 3rd Grade Worm Farm.

But that’s just me speculating. Glorioso says that if you’ve got a great re-use situation for a stack of has-been recycling tubs, contact Gallegos Sanitation at 484-5556.

recycle-old

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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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This past Tuesday, Fort Collins City Council voted to “support …a future Amtrak passenger rail service stop in Fort Collins as part of the national ongoing study for possible reinstatement of Amtrak’s Pioneer route. ” (See Coloradoan story).

The Pioneer route ran 1977-1997 from Seattle to Chicago, via Denver. Last year, the Federal Government ordered Amtrak to study returning the Pioneer to service. That study should be finished next week, October 16, 2009, according to the website http://www.pioneertrain.com.

The original train never passed through Fort Collins, but rather rolled along the highway 85 corridor from Cheyenne to Denver.

TrainThruAult

Pioneer passing through Nunn, Colorado

The folks at PioneerTrain.com  have been urging cities along the 287 corridor to show Amtrak support for bringing the Pioneer through the more populated areas of the front range. Boulder, Longmont, and Loveland councils have already signed on.

The thinking is that more people = more passengers = better chance of success for the Pioneer.

routeguide

Old Pioneer Route Guide. Click for readable size.

But other train fans note that rerouting the train will add more than an hour to the timetable as the train slows through city after city. The original train took 2 hours to run from Cheyenne to Denver. If it goes through Fort Collins/Loveland, it will take more than 3 hours, they say. And that could lower overall ridership.

That’s not the only barrier to Fort Collins’ dreams of seeing Superliners on Mason Street. According to Pioneer Train.com, “Amtrak’s current position is that the law requires Amtrak to look at the Pioneer as it was operated in the past, rather than as it might be in the future.”

Sounds like a long shot, huh? I plan to root for it nonetheless.

Credits

Big thanks to Jim Burrill for his Amtrak Pioneer photo and Route Guide.

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Well, I know at least some of you went looking for the calaboose (see original post here), because local merchants contacted me to ask about people with maps in their alleys.

I think the calaboose site is in the alley right next to LeRoy’s LockSafe Systems (326 Walnut). That’s why, in the first story, I told the unrelated story about the woman killed near LeRoy’s and the lynching that followed at the county courthouse. I was trying to creep you out.

And if you went there on Friday or Saturday, some of you encountered the extra creepiness of running into these guys from the haunted house loitering in the alley:

scary guy

When I first heard about the calaboose, it was suggested it was this white building on the right of this photo (using passive voice to avoid saying outright that I disagree with a local historian who has much more credibility than I do):

calaboose alley

But the map doesn’t back it up.  Matt from LeRoy LockSafe Systems, who got involved because he got curious about LostFortCollins readers loitering around his shop with maps, agrees:

On the map, you can clearly see a building on the “326” lot – that’s our shop. There have been a couple of additions since then, in the 1920’s and again in the 50’s, but you can still see the original stone work from the outside of the building. The square labeled calaboose is pretty clearly where there is now just an alley (near some transformers). Unfortunately it’s simply gone 😦

Matt illustrates his point here on his web site: http://www.locksafesystems.com/hist.htm.

I think he’s right. It’s gone. What’s there now? This patch of asphalt and these uneasy, something-baaaad-happened-here sheep! Click the picture for a bigger view of their fluffy rainbow paranoia.

IMG_0474

Baa!

Post script

LeRoy’s has a neat history page with a picture of the old stone house, before the store fronts were added. Look:

http://www.locksafesystems.com/hist.htm

The Sheep mural was painted by Ren Burke, and I like it a lot.  Especially in that spot.

What about the blue drunk tank?

Many people reasoned the calaboose was the blue drunk tank one block west of the calaboose site, in the same alley. I think that’s a block from the calaboose in the map, but I  hear Carol Tunner is researching its history as well. I’m looking forward to seeing her findings and will share whatever I can.

——————-

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