Out West

The Adventures of  Gordy, Conny and Dick

Richard Bishop   

© Copyright 2012 by Richard Bishop 


Entrance to the C Lazy U Dude Ranch.

Back in 2005, I received a letter containing comments from an old High School Friend named “Conny about how, while “Wintering” down in Florida, he had seen an advertisement about a Dude Ranch in Granby, Colorado, where we had once worked for a week, while trying to raise money to finish a trip “out West. The “oddity” about this place was that it was now 58 years later and he was surprised (and I was too!) to find out from the “ad” that it was still in business.

That was a really “great” trip made in the Summer of 1947 after High School was all over for me. Conny (18) and I, Dick (16), and a third party (19) named Gordon whom we shall call “Gordy, took Gordy’s 1932 Ford V-8, 2-Door Sedan, on a trip from our hometown (Kalamazoo, Michigan) to “out West. With Gordy’s enthusiastic permission and in honor of the coming trip, Conny and I spent a whole day sanding and scuffing the old paint on his automobile. Then we masked-off the chrome and windows and used the blower-end of my Mother’s Electrolux Vacumn Cleaner to spray paint the car a bright, shiny Chartreuse green. We didn’t have any paint-thinner so we used gasoline! (As could be expected, about 6 months later the shine faded). The 15 year-old Auto was, itself, rather an unusual relic being a representative of the very first year that The Ford Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan, produced a passenger car with a V-8 engine -- a “flat-head eight” as it later came to be known by the Hot-Rodders.

We went as far as Salt Lake City without event. But It took half of our planned trip-days to get that far and so, with great regret, we decided the West Coast (i.e. California) was out and we turned back Eastward passing through Vernal, Utah on U.S. Highway 40. Shortly thereafter, on our way towards Colorado we broke a front Spring on that pot-holed mountain “Highway. After we had paid for fixing that, the Generator went out and were faced with either finding a way to work to earn money or sending home for some. The broken spring was bad enough but the Generator repairs just about wiped out our pooled reserves. Naturally, we were young enough not to be daunted by all this and we figured working somewhere would be THE great adventure! And so we pushed on through Craig and Steamboat Springs to Granby at the junction of U.S. Highways 34 (to Estes Park) and 40 (to Denver) which was located at the South end of The Rocky Mountain National Park. This was about 70 miles due West of Boulder (as the Crow flies).

Looking at Newspaper advertisements and asking at local Cafes, we found out that we had a choice of where to sign-on for work: (1) they were building a Dam at the Willow Creek Reservoir in the Arapahoe National forest or we could work (2) at a Dude Ranch Lodge that was being constructed near Granby, Colorado; it was at a property named the “F Slash Ranch” and with a name change would be called the “C Lazy U Dude Ranch.

We decided it would be more “civilized” to work on the Dude Ranch. We had our sleeping bags with us but we could not see beingforced” to use them each day because of working “out in the boondocks. We found a Rooming House with comfortable and inexpensive accommodations next door to a Restaurant in downtown Granby. We had just enough Cash left to cover the rooms for 7 days. The owner of the Restaurant and Café knew the Personnel at the Dude Ranch and was sympathetic to our plight and agreed to put our food on a “TAB” payable in seven days (they even packed our daily lunch boxes for us with thick roast beef sandwiches, pickles and a boiled-egg, apiece).

I worked with a Plumber called “Red” who also did some routine blasting of the sandstone making a 5 foot deep water-pipe trench down the mountain-side, to eventually provide a steady fresh spring-water supply for the lodge. The hollering of “Fire in the Hole” and the acrid smell after detonation got to be the norm while digging the ditch. Yes, shoveling out a trench after blasting the sandstone was hard work. But we all earned our pay. Gordy pushed heavy wheelbarrow loads of cement into the lodge for pouring the floor and Conny worked with a Carpenter. A Dollar an hour for 10 hours a day and seven days later we were on our way with $70.00 each jingling in our pockets (minus our food expenses which some very nice people had extended on credit to 3 teen-agers without references!). And this was also minus the cost of Engineer Boots and Cowboy Hats which we just had to wear on our ride back.

Then straight back to Kalamazoo, Michigan, because Gordy had to be at work driving a Fuel Truck in his Family’s Fuel-Oil Delivery business. We took turns driving ‘round the clock; two hours behind the wheel, then into the back seat for real sleep, then into the passenger seat up-front to assist the driver by reading Maps by flashlight for two hours.

I really got into lots of trouble on that trip. I was big for my age and had taken along a dress suit of my Father’s in case I needed to wear it “for good. Somehow in the rush of leaving, I forgot it and left it hanging behind the door inside the clothes closet in the Granby Rooming House. I never heard the last of that from my Mother for about the next year. Its odd, but I really don’t know: does that kind of nagging and its accompanying embarrassment do an ex-High School kid any good? (Rationalization: Why I took a “dress-up” Suit and Tie along on such a trip, I’ll never know -- Ill bet my Mom crowded me into it and was sorry as heck later -- No wonder she was so browned-off!).

Well, maybe it did do me some good, because I never lost anything in my 25 years in the Military - but now, at an advanced age, things are starting to get away from me again! I guess it’s time for the Sweatshirt saying on it:

Been there-Done it all.

I just don’t remember it all!

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