Priscilla MangnallTHE WAY WE WEREGrand Junction Free Press History Columnist

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April 18, 2013
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THE WAY WE WERE: Life's journey comes full circle

Singer Judy Collins said it pretty good in her song, "The Circle Game": "We're riding on a carousel of time." Coming full circle is also an apropos term for this time in my life.Let me tell you one of my favorite stories, a family classic that goes back to 1957 when I was just 4 years old. The Brown Family was living in Wichita, Kan., where my mother Ruby's family lived and the town where all of us kids were born. My dad, Louie, had a little tavern called the B & B on the corner of Bluff and Kellogg. His little 600-square-foot beer joint sat next to a grocery store and shared the same landlady.Well, as the story goes, the landlady wanted a new tenant, someone with a more family-oriented business. She ended her agreement with Louie Brown and the B & B and rented the building to a couple of Wichita State University students whose parents also ran the grocery store. The landlady showed the young students an article from the Saturday Evening Post about how popular pizza was becoming so they opened up a pizza restaurant.Searching for a name, the choices were limited because the sign only had room for nine letters. While brainstorming, the shape of the little building inspired the name. Pizza Hut was born and the Carney Brothers when on to become wealthy legends. They branched out and created their own signature architectural style and eventually the little brick hut was moved to their alma mater, the campus of WSU, now a shrine to inspire future entrepreneurs. I've always thought: "Damn, that could have been my dad!"In 1973 I was a Mesa Junior College student and went to work for Leo Siler when he opened the first Pizza Hut franchise in Grand Junction at 14th and North Avenue. As I sat watching the training film during new employee orientation, they schooled us on the history of Pizza Hut. To my surprise, up came a photo of that little brick building that we always drove by when we visited Wichita and the story was told again and again.A couple of months ago, I felt that I had come full circle. I received a call from Huber Decorating in Louisville, Ky. They had the contract to redecorate the newly remodeled Pizza Hut at 14th and North Avenue and wanted my help, as president of the Mesa County Historical Society, in obtaining retro pictures of Grand Junction to hang on the walls. Ain't life queer? I'm still on that Merry-Go-Round.My life came full circle again this past week. As many of you might know, my mother, Ruby Brown used to run the Daily Sentinel. She really didn't but everyone thought so. We're kind of alike. She was the switchboard operator, "The Voice of the Daily Sentinel," and worked under three publishers and retired twice.When I was hired by the Grand Junction Free Press in 2008, I had the privilege of the title of Community Relations & Marketing Director, a full-time position working with then-Publisher Michael Bennett, doing everything he didn't have time to do and more. It was a dream job for me. I have lots of skills and this was my chance to use them. Six months after I was hired, the printed newspaper business as a whole went into a panicky decline. Mr. Bennett left to publish a different paper and my job gradually disappeared as did my great salary. I was told if I wanted to stay on I had to sell display advertising, something I openly admitted to never wanting to do, so consequently I was not that good at it. On the bright side, I was given the opportunity to do one of the best things I have ever done in my life, write my local history column. Even after having been relieved of my selling duties, they kept me on as a weekly columnist. I gave them my best."Let the Circle Be Unbroken" sings the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Recently, I was offered a position as the assistant to the publisher of the newspaper across the tracks and I took it. I have always had a loyalty to that paper because of how good it was to my mother and I will always have a certain amount of loyalty to the Grand Junction Free Press. I love the extraordinarily hard-working people that put out an extraordinary paper each week. We will be forever friends. Economics win out, just as it did for the Carney Brothers. I could have been the Pizza Hut Heiress but, no, I got the chance to ride a better pony on the carousel of time, one where I can live and work in the community I grew up in, surrounded by friends and family, both new and old. Thank you for reading my ramblings and loving what I do.I'm not going far, like I said, just across the tracks. You have my e-mail and phone number, don't be a stranger. Say farewell to Priscilla at 970-260-5226, or email Her Free Press column may be retired, but she'll always be around to talk about Grand Junction history.

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The Post Independent Updated Apr 18, 2013 12:47PM Published Apr 18, 2013 12:46PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.