The Boulder Boys
Several years ago I decided to begin a transition from my third to my fourth, and hopefully, final career, creative writing. My previous few publications had inspired me enough to give up my third career and I was excited enough to try one more major career endeavor. Writing is a demanding craft, but I had been practicing virtually my entire life, and I believed I was ready to make the change. I had been a commercial real estate and business broker in Loveland, CO, operating my own offices in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley for over ten years. This period of my life allowed me to work near my two NCU graduates, Krista and Matthew, (we knew it as UNC, our parents knew it as CTC) who remained in northern Colorado after college, and to spend considerable more time with my beautiful wife Bonnie and my four grandchildren, Kirk, Peyton, Lauryn, and Kayla.
Unless you can call working at Tulagi’s on the Hill, serving in the US Army Reserve, or selling clothes a career, my first career was in law enforcement, beginning with the Boulder Police Department in 1971. Like many Catholic descendants of the Irish homeland, I was destined to become a policeman or a priest, and since I had no intention of seeking the blessing of celibacy, I decided to become a cop. It was fun to be a “new centurion” in those years, my former peers on the campus rioted every time Nixon resumed bombing, and the passion of the day gave everyone a chance to express themselves. Some used letter bombs, some used Molotov cocktails, and others just plain old fashioned four-letter words, but I enjoyed a multitude of assignments given me and was humbled to receive a few promotions. My work allowed me to meet a few of my old classmates through various cell doors in those years, but I promise to keep your names secret forever. Other former classmates I’m also vowed to keep secret are those that became the unfortunate victims of crime, or the relatives of such, and I remember you fondly. I pray that all of your past pain and anguish is long forgotten.
During the time I was at Boulder PD I finally received a Bachelor’s degree from “good ole CU” and later, a Master’s degree from Northern Colorado University in Greeley. Later in life when I was supporting two children in college at the same time I was delighted that both of them choose Greeley over Boulder, a substantial cost savings to their father. Nevertheless, in spite of all of our family collective allegiance to NCU, I still cheer for the Buffs and seldom for the Bears. Boulder is special, whether living there as a high school or college student, or working there as a police officer, to this day the sight of those Flatirons in the distance can still invoke a feeling of coming “home.” Perhaps it was the loss of a good friend to Vietnam, some dear friends from the Police Department, my brother’s death (BHS70) much later, or worst of all, the burial of my first born son, that will always endear me to that spirit-filled valley along Boulder Creek or the haunted canyons that flow up to the sky. Or perhaps, it’s simply because I came of age in its classrooms and on its streets.
My second career began in 1979 when I accepted an appointment as City Manager for the small town of Woodland Park, in Teller County, west of Colorado Springs up the scenic Ute Pass, a few years after my last promotion to Lieutenant at BPD. Woodland was my home for the next seven years, and if all goes according to plan, I intend to make it my eventual retirement home. Boulder may always be the family home, Indiana the place of my birth, and northern Colorado the location of most of my offspring, but Woodland Park left an indelible impression of peace on my soul and when it comes time to give up that soul I would like it to be there, riding a horse again, or hiking in the woods, listening to the sounds of silence, watching the snow blanket the Peak.
But like most public administrators I eventually began the process of moving from one community to another, seeking higher pay and ever more responsibility. It seems silly now, but it seemed necessary then. A production company even made a made for TV episode of City Confidential of one of my chosen cities and when I left a few years later the City awarded me a small bronze statue of a cowboy on a horse, rider and animal both bowed to the fury of an imagined rain-filled wind. Larger did not ever prove better.
I closed my second career working in my own, and several other partnered companies, as District Manager for a number of metropolitan and special districts throughout Colorado including Summit, Arapahoe, Pueblo and Douglas counties.
Looking back at my three careers and looking forward to this new exciting chapter I am just learning how to enjoy, I remember my time at Boulder High School as a foundation for nearly everything I eventually did or became. The academic expectations of my teachers, the athletic achievements of our gifted sports teams, or the stewardship of my counselors were undoubtedly important of course, but even more so, it seems to me, were the gifts of friendship and fellowship that never really left me, even from classmates I hardly knew. The quiet character of a friend who had lost his father, the love of a beautiful girl who was separated from her mother, the discipline of a humble coach over-shadowed by his successful predecessor, the friendship of an insightful, intelligent young woman who preserved me from humiliation at her own expense, a joyous, courageous boy who never quit even though his muscles often did, a patient young man later a lawyer, who taught me chess and football, a teacher and a group of determined future leaders who led me to political science, my fellow ethnic Catholics who endured nighttime parochial classes and taught me about brotherhood, along with a countless list of magnificent others, were the gifts I used to develop the stamina to keep trying in a world that would later seem inexplicable. Yes, some of you were cruel, unfair, and immature at times. I was too. But most of you were kind, friendly, insightful and generous, and I am forever grateful.