David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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Modern Conveniences

 

In 1920, summer in the mountains had a leisurely pace which has long since disappeared. No electricity, no radios, no records, tapes or compact discs, no television, no fast cars.

My grandfather’s cabin, with its long screened porch, the little stream and foot bridge, presented a setting in which relaxation and the quiet pursuit of building projects, crafts, reading and writing might fill the entire summer.

On a typical morning, eggs, bacon and milk would be fetched from the little house built over the stream which kept foods cool, since even ice-boxes were not available. Grandfather was fortunate as a professor, author and lecturer, in being able to spend much of the summer here and to have such amenities as a maid who cooked, cleaned and did the washing in a tub. Like many other ministers and professors in the valley at that time, he had purchased the land for what Katherine Garetson called a “summer estate.”

After breakfast, Edward might walk up the hill to the one room cabin where he wrote his books and articles. Or he might gather some firewood, which everywhere lay around the cabin and had only to be picked up. He and Sara might walk up the stream to the beaver dams, gathering flowers for an afternoon bouquet on the tea table.

After lunch it would be time to fetch the mail, delivered in a large canvas bag and hung on a convenient tree branch, read it, and spend an hour or two writing letters to friends and relatives. Late in the afternoon friends might arrive for tea, or one might have a nap on the screened porch after having read a few pages from a favorite book or from the pile of unread magazines which had accumulated during the busy winter and had been brought on the three day automobile trip from Iowa.

Dinner was often served at Edward’s cabin on the hill, which he called The Study. It had a magnificent view of Mt. Meeker. Edward and Sara would sit on a bench in front of the cabin and admire the sunset.

After dinner Edward might work with the decorative tin scrollwork which adorned the cabin walls and doorways, but with only kerosene lamps, bed-time came early. The soothing sound of the stream some 50 feet from the cabin, the occasional hoots from the owls and far-off cries of the night hawks provided the perfect setting for sound and uninterrupted slumber.

Twenty more summers went by and as each passed new additions were made: running water, an indoor bathroom, an additional bedroom. Still, Edward resisted the encroachment of the outside world; radios remained banned. Then Sara died, World War II broke out, and the cabin fell into ruin. Today all that remains are the outline of the foundation, a few boards, the stub of the sewer line, and the chimney. Still, when one looks through the guest book, one can feel the tranquillity and gratifyingly serene routines that filled those summers. One can sense that while there were spirited conversations during those teas on the porch, there were also many long moments marked only by long sighs of contentment, as they listened to the rush of the stream and the zephyrs through the pines.

It’s easy to sentimentalize those times and to ignore how hard it was to keep food from spoiling, how difficult it was to have hot water and to do the washing and ironing, using flat irons heated on top of the wood stove. Living here in the winter, without central heat, insulation, or triple-pane windows was harsh indeed, and few remained more than a few years. Indeed, John Grant, from whom Edward bought the homestead, stayed only four years; just long enough to earn the deed.

Still, I hear the jets, the helicopters, the cars and trucks, the ATVs and motorcycles, the chain saws and the barking dogs. I contemplate the need to run down to Estes Park to get a Big Mac or a pizza and a video tape for this evening’s entertainment, and I wish…I wish…

 

 

Columns

© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:

Introduction

Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]

Electricity

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]

Hiking

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

Elevators

The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]

Visitors

Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird

Garbage

A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]

Weather

Fences

Commuting

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

June

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

Visitors

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

“Whiteout”

The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley

Infestations

On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]

Walking

Rumors About a Visit by the Pope

Progress?

More About Fences

Woodpeckers

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

Risks

Airports

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

Carpentry

Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House

Waving

The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?

Dogs

Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving

Garbage

Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”

Spring

An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins

Summer

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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