The Sopris Sun

Pages of the Past: Darien reflects on teaching, Corthell on the weather

From the archives of the Roaring Fork Valley Journal, compiled by Will Grandbois

March 24, 1977

Margaret Darien (neé Letey) announced her retirement after a teaching career spanning 50 years. “I’d like to teach a couple more years if I could,” she told the Valley Journal, but the school district – which didn’t even exist when she started teaching – had instituted a mandatory retirement age. A Valley native, “Mrs. D” recalled a time when the school board kept close tabs on teacher church attendance and had to grant permission for her to get married (luckily, Ben Darien was a board member at the time). She admitted to some intimidation when she started as “a little wisp of a girl” teaching big farm boys who, she’d heard rumored, had locked a teacher in the coal shed, but said those boys turned out to be much better behaved than some later students. Although she saw some strides in public education, she thought the one-room schoolhouse had its advantages. “I cannot truthfully say I’ve enjoyed the consolidation and enormous population growth in the community,” she said, though “… we must accept it and live with it.”

In other news… “Ma Bell” (AT&T) announced plans to construct an electronic switching station at the corner of Fourth and Main to replace a town office off Third Street. The building, which bears striking resemblance to the sketch accompanying the article, is still in use by CenturyLink.

March 26, 1987

The Valley Journal took a journey through Joe Corthell’s weather diary, which chronicled local trends all the way back to 1938. Corthell recorded 48 nights below zero that year, alongside notations about snowfall and cloud cover. He also made frequent references to his bees.

“He furnished honey for the entire valley,” Mary Ferguson recalled, “Especially during the war … you couldn’t get sugar.” He kept an extensive garden to support the bees, and was particularly fond of dahlias, which the Carbondale Civic Improvement League named the town flower in his memory – well before the creation of Dandelion Day.

In other news … The Roaring Fork Farmer’s Union met in El Jebel to discuss the future of the industry. Instead of  worrying about drought and cattle rustlers, the article noted, the main concern was the pending expiration of longstanding protections against foreclosure and bankruptcy.

March 27, 1997

Carbondale contemplated taking a leaf out of Silt’s book by expanding its ditch system to reduce demand for treated water. The town had some extra bond money left over after the expansion of the Nettle Creek water plant and some trustees proposed to increase untreated water use by building an underground pressurized system for summer watering. Had the proposal panned out, each house would have been fitted with hose bibs and offered a discount on untreated water without having to live near a ditch or set up a pump system.

In other news … Basalt trustees considered a two-year moratorium on growth after the community grew from 900 to 2,200 in the course of a decade. Staff, they said, were so bogged down with land use applications there was no time left to update codes or to plan growth.

March 22, 2007

“This is just the carcass here. There’s not even enough to make a good soup,” Bill Fales commented as everything from saddles to plows to the anvil were auctioned off at the historic Mount Sopris Hereford Ranch south of Carbondale. Fales, who “hides his hurt behind a worn cowboy hat,” had worked the land for 30 years under  Bob and Ruth “Ditty” Perry. The property had been sold the previous year to Sue Rogers and Tom Bailey, who said they planned to keep the 1,100-acre property intact and eventually place it under a conservation easement. “There’s a lifetime worth of memories here,” noted Perry son-in-law Tom Turnbull, who still runs a ranch across the road.

In other news … While staff recommended against a development option for a Home Depot on the Crystal River Marketplace property on the west side of Highway 133, the Board of Trustees was unable to come to a consensus on how to proceed.