David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner


We are a strange lot. We live here, sometimes for many years, and still we often know very little about our neighbors.

Like many of us, I have a four-party line, but I’ve never met the folks who share my telephone with me. I don’t have any excuse; it just works that way when you don’t share fences. My nearest neighbors live more than a quarter of a mile away, so we can use that as a reason, but it’s not one that makes a great deal of sense.

So it was a pleasure to get an invitation to a potluck at the Silkworth’s, which brought together most of the residents of Big Owl and Cabin Creek Roads last December. More than 35 people came, including many young children, as well as a number of folks well into their 60s and 70s.

And I got a chance to meet my party line family, who turned out to be very nice, and we whined together about the lousy service. We made promises to visit each other, and I hope we will.

Most of were surprised, I think, to find so many people there. We had assumed there were fewer of us, so the house was more than full, and we had perhaps only 75% of the full time residents.

And, if the others were like me, we spent quite a bit of time looking around and wondering, “Who’s that?” We didn’t have name tags, probably because we didn’t think it would be necessary, but without them I spent most of the evening mystified by my lack of knowledge about this group of people I felt I should know.

What’s most surprising about all this is that in an area where we should be interdependent on one another, we nevertheless know very little about most of our neighbors, and that tradition goes back almost to the beginning. Katherine Garetson was my grandfather’s nearest neighbor back in 1917, and she knew him only as someone who had bought the homestead for “a summer estate.” They did not meet and become friends until many years later, when she no longer lived here full time.

One can only speculate on the reasons why we don’t know each other better. Some of us live here only part of the time. Many of us work down below and have little time for socializing. A few prefer solitude. Snow makes visiting difficult in the winter, and the summer is a busy time for most of us. We have few places to meet outside our homes, other than church and the post-office. And because we don’t see each other across a fence, we have few opportunities to socialize by chance. Or maybe I’ve missed it altogether.

Whatever the reasons, we should probably try to do something about it, as the Silkworths did, because it looked and sounded as though everyone who came had a very good time. This was the second such get-together they’ve hosted, so it’s probably somebody else’s turn, but I’m looking forward to the next one, wherever it is. And this time we’re going to have name tags.




© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:


Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]


Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]


Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders


The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]


Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird


A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]




Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac


Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer


Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon


The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley


On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]


Rumors About a Visit by the Pope


More About Fences


The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government



Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke


The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983


Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House


The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?


Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving


Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”


An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins


The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI



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