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Still friends after all these years

Post Independent/Kara K. PearsonChildhood friends Bud Gardner, right, and Ralph Coryell stand near the Roaring Fork River in Glenwood.
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Through thick and thin, through smelly and sweet, Bud Gardner and Ralph “Peewee” Coryell have been friends. The two men, longtime employees of the Glenwood Springs sewer department, grew up together, and the friendship continues today.Theirs are familiar faces around town – Bud in his signature felt ten-gallon cowboy hat and Peewee – well let’s just say he’s the sorter of the two – in their large white city wastewater truck fixing blocked lines and waving to friends.Bud is the taller of the two, with a full white beard that sweeps down to his chest, and twinkling eyes under the brim of the big hat. Peewee is short and compact, his face marked by years outside under the sun, with a ready welcoming smile.Bud grew up on Cooper Avenue but spent a lot of time, as much as he could, on the family ranch up Cattle Creek. Peewee lived on Pitkin Avenue “by the flood ditch.” Both men now live in New Castle. They went to grade school and high school together, and together honed their love of the outdoors and mischief. As Bud tells it, some of their favorite pastimes were “throwing rocks” and “getting in people’s apple trees. We raided gardens for vegetables,” he said. “We were not very good.”According to Peewee, another favorite prank was to sneak into the Hot Springs Pool and skinny dip, “especially in winter” when the steam from the water hid the boys from view. But, the fun was over when “the police would come and pick up our clothes and ask how many of us were in there,” Peewee said. That didn’t deter them, however. “We’d wait two weeks then do it again,” until the police started fining the trespassers.

Not that they were always looking for way to get into trouble.”We used to ride bikes,” Bud said. They hunted and fished and hiked together, and rode down the Colorado River on inner tubes, Peewee added. “It was nice to grow up here. Everyone in town knew each other.”In high school, Bud went out for football but didn’t get to play in all the games because “my grades weren’t very good.” Peewee went out for wrestling.Bud’s time on the ranch was well spent. At 15 he was guiding hunting parties to the Flat Tops. “I don’t do it no more, I don’t get along with people,” he chuckled. “The four-wheelers have taken over.”He learned to trap as a kid and still plies that skill. According to Peewee, people plagued by nuisance animals such as skunks and beaver call on Bud to trap and remove them. He also traps coyote, bobcats and raccoons and trapped for the government for a time in Basalt.Bud’s wife of 23 years, Verna, turns the pelts into moccasins which she beads in the Indian style. He also has three grown children – Taj, 31; Amy, 30; and Shane, 29 – plus two grandchildren.

Peewee is divorced and has two kids adopted from Korea: Sabrina, 18, and Dustin, 17.Bud’s love of the outdoors is legendary among his friends. “He knows every tree from here to Wyoming,” said co-worker Benny Tipton, who operates the city wastewater plant.Peewee grew up in a big family, with six sisters and two brothers. His is a pioneer family that came here to work the area’s coal mines. A great uncle worked at the historic town of Sunlight. His father was a coal miner. Peewee now lives in historic Coryell Town, or Seventh Street, in New Castle, named for his family.After high school the two went their separate ways, Bud to work for M and M Construction putting in water and sewer lines, Peewee working as a roofer, and at the Hayden and Craig power plants, pouring concrete.Bud had hoped to stay on the ranch. “I liked it on the ranch. I was free to do what I wanted; I went fishing every night,” he said. But there wasn’t a living to be made there.Bud started with the wastewater department 23 years ago and Peewee, 15. They knew a good thing when the jobs came up. “I like the people and the hours, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Peewee said. “In the summer that gives you a lot of time to go fishing,” he said.



He admitted it took him three years to get used to the smell of sewage in the plant on the river behind the funeral home and below the railroad tracks. The friends still enjoy fishing together. One of their favorite spots is Deep Lake on the Flat Tops. They fish there even in winter, by snowmobile. Bud admitted they’d been stuck up there a number of times, but someone always shows up to bail them out.They also hunt together. “I haven’t shot him,” Peewee laughed. After all these years working together at the wastewater department, the two men have remained friends, although they do have their moments.”We’re just like old ladies sometimes. We get over it in an hour or two,” Bud said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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