Monday, August 16, 2010

The business portion of town of Pagosa Springs Co. was all on the north side of the San Juan river. The business’s that I remember the most are the Morehart Chevrolet , Citizens Bank, Roy’s Liquor, Pagosa Bar, La Cantina Bar, Hershs’s Mercantile, Ace Hardware, Jackish Drugs, Metropolitan Hotel, Mesa Theater (Liberty), Liquor Store, Goodman’s Dept. At side walk level of the hotel was a set of iron steps which lead to a pool hall in the basement level.
The pool hall was a favorite hang out for all the high school boys and retired old men. Curly Nelson ran the place and always had card games such as rummy going ‘till late hours in the evening. Young boys could enter and play pool only with the permission of parents who had to give that consent in writing. Knowing how my Mother felt about men hanging out in a smoky pool hall or the “Devils Den” as she referred to it, I knew she would never approve of me being there. I came up with the bright idea of forging my Mother’s name on a permission slip and worked for a long time cleaning and racking balls until one day I had to explain where I was getting spending money.
The local theater was sold to Albert Petry along with the hotel and liquor store. Dad continued working as the projectionist and everyone in the Willett family worked there at one time or another. The art of running the projectors was
passed on to the oldest son Ronnie, Inez worked the ticket booth, Jerry, and Butch took tickets and did janitorial duties.

Changing Employment:
The west side grocery was sold to Jim and Gay Whitfield. Jim was the founder of the Baptist Church and held services in the grocery isles on apple crates. He eventually was able to purchase property to build a church on highway 160 near the town park. I am proud to say that the corner stone of that building was done by the author of
this text. The Whitefield’s changed the store into a Gambles Dept. store.
Frank Brown purchashed a house just west of the old building and across McCabe creek where he once again opened a small grocery. That property was sold to Harry Cole and Frank then opened a new business next to the court house. A fire destroyed that business and when it was rebuilt a five and dime store was opened in its place. Ira Rupp was the proprietor and Inez (Mother worked for them).
Mother and Dad tried making plaster of paris figurines in our kitchen. They seemed to sell quite well in the local gift shops. Frank Brown built a store building on his property for Dad to open a novelty store and the rear of the building housed the local newspaper “The Sun”. As the building was going up, passers by would stop and ask,“What’s it gonna be?” The curiosity gave Dad the idea to name the store “The What’s It Shop.” It wasn’t very profitable so Dad went back to painting signs and buildings. He painted just about every house and road side advertisement.

Winter Time:

Winters in Colorado were long and cold. If all the chores had been done properly and the wood and coal put away, then playing in snow could be a lot of fun. there were Igloos to build to play in, sledding, skiing, or ice skating. Many a skinned knee was had from tying a rope to the back of a car and being pulled along the icy road until the sled flipped over. Ice skating parties were always fun, smelling tires burning to keep warm as we skated the San Juan or the pond at a place called Catchpoles Mistake. Old tires were gathered and burned along the river bank for warmth.
Earaches were a common occurrence for me; it was nothing for Dr. Thompson to bundle up and come to our house in the middle of the night to give shot or a dose of some awful tasting medicine.
Somehow the old school was always having frozen pipes from someone leaving the water on. That always resulted in the school having to close for a day.
Like any youngsters in America, a favorite season is fall when Halloween was celebrated with a much mischievous vigor and imagination as one could muster. Like the time we managed to put an old “out-house” in the middle of main street. The next morning a sign was found hanging on the door saying “Dr. Anderson’s Office.


  1. How interesting and thanks for sharing this information. Boy I would love to be able to visit a town in years gone by. Simple things back then and I think it would be fascinating to see. Did Dr. Anderson get many patients that day? LOL. Excellent post my friend :)

  2. Dad, I didn't know you worked in the pool hall! Grandma Willett must have had a fit when she found out, and I'll bet she gave you a really good what for when she did. :)

    You need to put up some pictures of some of the signs Grandpa Willett painted or maybe some of those gorgeous Christmas decorations he made.