Archive for the ‘Book reviews’ Category

On a bleak December day,  Mr Foster and Mr Fleming were at a lodge club on Linden Street drinking beer. A terrific snow storm was raging. About midnight, Ed and Russell left the club for their homes. They made their way through two feet of snow for a block from the club to College and Mountain Avenue, then another block south on College to Oak Street; then they floundered through the snow west on Oak three blocks, which brought them directly across the street from Russell’s home. Here, for the twentieth time, they stopped for a breather.

When Russell caught his breath and could speak, he exclaimed, “My God,  we are never going to make it. We are going to have to go back to the club.” –Murder and Mirth, Fancher Sarchet, 1956

Murder and Mirth is my favorite book about Fort Collins, past or present. Sarchet was a prominent trial lawyer who wrote about hunting, drinking, women in the courts, and sundry trials in Fort Collins from about 1903 to 1956.

His children, grandchildren, and great grand children still live in town.

Although the book is full of intrigue, most historians especially recall the drive by shooting that took out Sarchet’s eye and the bitter oilman thought to be behind the crime. Very serious stuff.

Of course some family members remember a different Sarchet.  “I remember when I was little,” says his great nephew John Tobin. “He  scared the crap out of me when he took his glass eye out in his room at the Brown Palace in Denver. ”

That was Sarchet being funny. “He pulled the glass eye out and cupped it in his hand then opened his hand slowly …”

I recommend this for every fan of Fort Collins history. You can find it at the library, or used copies online (I use Abebooks.com).


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There was nothing for the buckboard occupants to worry about–nothing more serious than planning what they would do at the fair. Ginger had never attended a County Fair and must be prepared in detail for the delights she would find when she arrived.

“But this isn’t the kind of place I expected Fort Collins to be,” she exclaimed in dismay as they trotted down a pretty, shaded street at ten o’ clock. “I don’t see a single drugstore Indian or hitching post and there’s not a rough-riding cowboy in sight. Just nice houses and automobiles.”

“Why, this is a thriving town,” Vance told her proudly. “It even has quite a few paved streets.”

“Heck, I can see pavement in Los Angeles,” Ginger answered. “I want atmosphere.”

“Cheer up, you’ll get plenty of that at the fair.” –Back to Buckeye, Esther Greenacre Hall, 1934

Author Esther Greenacre Hall was the daughter of Allen Greenacre, a promising politician in Fort Collins and rancher in Buckeye, about 20 miles north. But he died young from a disease that slowly paralyzed him. Maybe ALS? Esther was a teenager at the time. She and her mother moved to Greeley soon after.

As an adult, Hall wrote books for teenage girls, some around a character named Holly Daggett. In this installment, Holly comes home from California to help her brother run the ranch. While here, she endures the same challenges we all still face: Flood, draught, irrigation troubles, and a perky friend from Los Angeles who thinks we’re a bunch of hicks.

You can still find this book from used bookstores online. (I use Abebooks.com)


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[July 26, 1890] It was a very pleasant morning. Papa, Grandma, Aunt Louisa went to the trial. Aunt Louisa went home in the afternoon–her home is in Greeley. In the afternoon about 5.40 P.M we went swimming down to the river. Papa went downtown in the evening. –Edgar Avery, 12 years old.

Edgar Avery  live blogged the year 1890.  Of course, if he’d have been a modern blogger, he’d have written six entries in January, two in February, one in June, and then forgotten his password and abandoned.

But not young Edgar. He wrote orignal content, one page a day, in pencil, all year, usually beginning with a weather report.

[May 4, 1890] The sun is shining, but it looks as if it would rain.

[June 4, 1890] The wind blows a good deal and it is very disagreeable because it is a chilly wind.

[August 24, 1890] It was not so warm this morning as it was yesterday morning.

And so on. Edgar Avery’s 1890 diary is comicly dry, until you  remember that the trains his family caught in and out of town were stopping just downtown here  (maybe they will again soon). And the swimming hole was the Poudre. And the wind storms and the afternoon rain…just like here and now. But then.

The trial to which he refers was a criminal proceeding for the poisoning death of Edgar’s Uncle Will. And if you want to know how it resolves, you have to go ask at the Avery House … it’s not in the diary and I’m not going to tell you.

This is a fun read with the kids. You can buy a copy at the Avery House (Open 1-3pm Sunday and Wednesday) for $5.00.

From the Fort Collins Museum Archives

Aspiring blogger and meteorologist, Edgar Avery. From the Fort Collins Museum Archives

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