Kight column: An interview with … let’s call her ‘Stella’
It’s About Time
In this month’s column I interview 114-year-old Stella about life in Glenwood Springs.
Me: Stella, thanks for contacting me and requesting this interview. May I ask … why did you do it? And why now.
Stella: It’s the only way I could think of to let people know I might be in mortal danger!
Me: Danger? Please, tell me everything.
Stella: Earlier you agreed to let me tell my story my way.
Me: Fair enough. I understand. Start wherever you like.
Stella: I was brought into existence in 1905 by Dr. Marshall Dean. He seemed like a nice like a nice enough man.
But I look at it differently now. In less than a decade he sold me just like an afterthought!
Imagine how wrought I was. I became sort of a recluse. I pulled the walls in around me. And now I fail to remember who bought me. I saw a note in a file once that said it was perhaps a Mr. Julius Wulfsohn.
Then the Edingers bought me in 1912. And in 1945 their daughter Stella and her husband Churchill Shumate ended up living here.
Sadly, the Shumates were never blessed with children for those upstairs rooms. So when Mrs. Shumate passed, she bequeathed me to the Frontier Historical Society for safekeeping. I liked her. That’s why I wanted you to call me Stella.
Now, there’s no one left from the old days who I knew and cared about. I may not be long for this world myself. I have lots of aches and pains and some days feel like I’m coming apart at the beams!
One of my problems starts at my very foundation. That thing they call Glenwood Brick is my basement. When those things get wet, they start to crumble! I near about drowned the first flood; thought I was a goner.
In June 1971 the Historical Society moved in. And people just kept bringing things to the museum — things they didn’t have the heart to throw out. And pretty soon, it looked like an emporium and I’m not exaggerating.
My pipes froze in winter of ’74.
This is what the Glenwood Post reported about me:
“… winter ended in catastrophe: all plumbing, pipes and unions all broken and leaking. The entire place was in shambles with walls, ceilings and floors damaged. It looked like the museum might never open again.”
I don’t blame the historical society. They’ve done their best to make do since they started in ’60s. And I still have to hand it to them for my recovery that time. Neighbors showed up with tools and supplies to get me well and back on my footers again.
In May 1980, my front started to settle, what with that leak in the city water line out front. But in this part of town everyone experienced the same thing.
Me: You have an amazing memory.
Stella: I remember a whole lot; what’s been heard and felt within my walls.
By 1989, the historical society said there was no more space to place artifacts. I had gradually been changed from a house to live in to a house to look in, as more and more museum visitors came to see me.
So, a building expansion program converted the garage (that was added on to me in the 1950s) into a museum office and photo storage space.
In the ’90s, the society hired engineers to shore up my foundation with a dozen yards of grout.
That’s most of the story. But not all. I’m a centenarian as you know, and right now I’m plum tuckered and need a rest. Come back real soon for me to finish my story and tell you why things are so urgent for me now.
To be continued …
Bill Kight is the executive director of the Glenwood Springs Historical Society and writes a monthly column about history. He can be reached at 970-945-4448.
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