Sunday profile: Ron and Margery Martin are all about community
Ron Martin helped build the Grand Avenue Bridge. Not the one completed in 2018, the one built in 1953, which replaced the 1891 structure. Martin, a skilled equipment operator, filled in the bridge’s dirt berms on both sides of the river.
The new bridge is different, Ron said with a laugh in an interview. “It’s a little confusing to get around,” said Margery Martin, Ron’s wife of 60 years.
Most of Ron’s career was spent in excavating, with his father, Theodore “Ted” Martin, and now, at nearly 81 years old, he moves dirt by installing central vacuum systems and repairing upright vacuums in his Carbondale shop.
In the front window of the store, Margery displays her sewing — drawstring jewelry bags with pockets so things don’t get tangled inside, hot pads, tea cozies, cat beds filled with catnip, and what Margery calls “helpful-hangovers,” a portable sewing bag that can hang off of any surface thanks to a weighted pincushion.
The rest of the Martin’s store, on Highway 133 before the Carbondale roundabout, is filled with vacuum cleaners that Ron has repaired or is in the process of fixing.
“They don’t make them to last,” Ron said, walking between rows of Electrolux uprights.
Often he can’t find replacement parts because the appliances are no longer being manufactured, so he does what he can to fix the old wiring.
According to Margery, who does most of the talking, Ron can do anything.
SIX DECADES OF MARRIAGE
Unlike the vacuum cleaners, Ron and Margery’s marriage was built to last.
Ron has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley since his birth and Margery since her family moved from Castle Rock, Colorado, when she was seven.
At first, the couple wanted to live here so their three sons could be near their grandparents. Now grandparents and great grandparents themselves, the Martins stick around to be near the descendants.
Margery wasn’t exactly pleased when one of hers sons moved his family to another state.
“I told them they might meet a bump in the road, and it would be my body,” Margery said.
But move they did, and Ron inherited the central vacuum installation from his son.
He still installs the central vacuums from time to time, though Margery says she wishes she could screen the clients.
“I’m almost at the point where when someone calls, I want to ask them what their crawl space is like,” Margery said.
She doesn’t want Ron, at his age, scrambling through crawl spaces where he has to push himself along on his belly with his toes.
Margery also wants to deny clients with “cute” names like Heidi or Brandy. According to Ron, the secret to their union is summed up in the phrase: “Rather fight than switch.”
“It’s about commitment and loyalty. Love can go up and down, but loyalty will help you stick together until love comes again,” Margery said.
“We’ve had some unhappy days, but all the years have been happy,” she said.
The pair met at a 4-H square dance at a school in New Castle. Ron told Margery he was looking to buy a horse, and she said she had one to sell. But Ron didn’t buy that horse.
‘WE’LL BE FINE IN JULY’
From their front porch, they can see part of the ranch that Ron’s great-grandfather, E. F. Martin, bought in 1907.
The Martin’s ties to the area could fill a book. Ron’s grandfather helped when the Glenwood Hotel burned to the ground in December 1945, “[o]ne of the most disastrous fires in the history of the Western Slope,” according to the Aspen Daily Times report at the time.
His father made many of the roads on Basalt Mountain. Ron himself built roads through the beetle-damaged forests of Pine Mountain.
The land they live on overlooks the original Martin ranch, which later became the Cerise Ranch, by Crystal Springs.
But the Martins generally keep to themselves, keeping busy with their Jehovah’s Witness congregation, and working in their store.
“It’s probably where we’ll always live,” Margery said of the Roaring Fork Valley.
“We might like to move, it’s so expensive here,” she added.
The Great Recession was hard on the couple, but they like the community, even though it’s grown and changed significantly in their time here.
A car accident gave Margery a brain injury years ago, and she still has trouble with her balance. Walking a dog helped her recover, but now the couple has two cats. (Her favorite fabrics seem to be kitty print.)
Margery recalls watching an info on the signs of hypothermia–stumbling, mumbling, bumbling, fumbling, grumbling.
“I told Ronny, ‘we’re not old; we’re just cold. We’ll be fine in July.’”
THE IDIOTS WILL FIT RIGHT IN
The backlash against trans-migrants moving to Colorado from California, Texas and elsewhere, troubled Margery.
“A few years ago, I would see license plates with ‘Colorado Native,’” Margery said. “I heard from people who moved here that it made them feel unwelcome.”
“You can’t stop it,” Ron said of the development in Carbondale.
“When we graduated, a lot of friends moved away because they couldn’t find work. Now, there’s plenty of work but people can’t find a home,” Margery said.
The Martins like to tell an anecdote of a two local cowboys on horseback, years ago, who watched a newcomer driving down the road. All these newcomers look like idiots, said one. “They sure do, and won’t they fit in with the rest of us,” his companion replied, according to Margery’s story.
After the interview, Margery called again to say how much she appreciates the politeness and compassion of the community.
“While I think people have always been kind and concerned for others, I think its more noticeable now that there’s more of us,” Margery said.
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