Will Call: The rest is history
Someone was always here first.
As a native, I’ve been known to gripe about how crowded things are compared to when I was growing up here. I’m sure some of the old-timers had similar complaints when my parents arrived in the ’70s and ’80s. Walter Devereux, whose descendants I had the pleasure of tagging around with last week, came and went before some of those folks were born. Another generation before that and you run out of settlers and find yourself in Ute territory. It’s impossible to say who first cast their eyes on Sopris, so that line of reasoning peters out.
Still, I must confess there’s an intimidation factor when folks have generations of history here. When Devereux was building the Hotel Colorado, my ancestors were down in New Mexico, out in Illinois, or way up in Quebec. Of course, in a state of transplants, I’m far from alone in lacking roots that deep.
I also think that sense of place comes from more than genes. Sometimes I catch myself talking about local events from before my birth as if I was there. It comes from spending too much time poring over the bound volumes of The Valley Journal and conversing with the folks who experienced it.
The further back you go the hazier the past gets, with a sort of event horizon where living memory disappears and second-hand and written accounts are all that’s left. That’s where the generational history comes in. As striking as it is to read the journal of an early settler, it’s something else to stand by their grave with a descendant.
As a reporter, my first priority is now and the immediate future. Sometimes, though, taking a step back provides a better view. We struggle with the same things.
Some folks have told me I ought to get away from where I was born for more than a few years of college and find myself somewhere new. I don’t think they realize that I mostly dream of someplace smaller, where the trails aren’t so trodden and the biggest event on Friday night is still the high school football game. Then I realize that’s all still there, underneath or, at worst, trickling downvalley.
Besides, if I moved, then I’d be the interloper. What’s more, if folks are wise enough to move here, I’m likely to like them. I certainly haven’t found anywhere better.
Will Grandbois wonders what his great grandkids will think of him. He can be reached at 384-9105 or email@example.com.
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Christina Cappelli described playwright Steven Dietz’s “The Nina Variations” as providing a couple with a reset button, the ability to repeat conversations and say something differently and see where things will end up this time.