David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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As a summer person, it was easy to rationalize the hiring of various people to do things like fixing the plumbing or putting on a new roof. After all, this is my vacation, and I deserve the rest. This also holds true for women, which accounts for the large number of thriving restaurants in the area.

As a youngster, I provided some of that labor. Now, however, as a resident, if I want to renovate a garage, I have no excuse for not doing it myself. It isn’t as though I don’t have the time.

So, with the help of the friendly folks at the local lumber company, I’m restoring a 60-year-old garage, and turning it into a workshop where I can do even more creative things with wood, stain, paint, glue and other artsy-craftsy things which will probably include stained glass if I live long enough. As a novice builder, however, I’m in a lot of trouble.

For example, did you know that a one-inch thick board is only 3/4 of an inch thick? True! When I pointed this out to my friends at the lumber company, they said, “What do you want, native lumber?”

“Sure,” I said. “Where can I find some?”

I was replacing a few rotten boards in the roof of my otherwise sound roof, and the originals were one inch thick. A full one inch thick. I seem to be alone in wondering why a one inch thick board should be 3/4 of an inch thick.

“What the heck happens with a 1/4 inch board?” I asked the man at the lumber company.

He wasn’t amused.

The problems I’m having with the garage are minor compared to what I’ve gone through to get a telephone and I can’t get any sympathy from anyone, least of all Mountain Bell.

When I tell people about my problems they just roll their eyes and tell me about their problems. They don’t seem to understand that I don’t care about their problems; Mountain Bell insists on putting me on a four-party line and charging me more to call Estes Park from my house than it costs me to call my dear old Mom in California.

When I pointed this out to the telephone company they said, “Yes, that’s probably true.”

Gee whiz, I know it’s true. What I want to know is why the rates defy all the laws of common sense? They can tell us all about tariffs and the FCC, but they can’t tell us why the phone rates don’t make any sense. The other interesting thing is that they keep telling me that a private line isn’t economically feasible.

When I asked when it might become feasible, the man said, “Never.”

A long time, indeed.

I suppose it makes more sense, feasibility-wise, to employ all those people who ask me for my phone number whenever I call anyone other than the 200 folks who live in and around Allenspark. It also strikes me as odd that a fellow not one-half mile from me has a private line, and he’s only here a few weekends out of the year. But he’s a biggy with an insurance company which probably insures Mountain Bell and that may make a difference.

The other thing about party lines is that you can’t use any of the new equipment. Charles Eagle Plume has a portable phone, which is a good idea for a man of Charlie’s age when he lives alone. But you can’t use a portable phone on a party line.

I suppose the phone company would suggest that Eagle Plume should move. I would like to suggest that the phone company move, out of the l9th century and into the 20th.




© 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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