I remember my own visits to the Stock Show while growing up in Denver. We went to the rodeo several times. It is always held indoors, since this is Denver, Colorado in January! There are three venues near what used to be the stockyards.
I think I got my fill, though, as a teacher of second graders for six years. The National Western Stock Show was a regular field trip for that grade in the Denver Public Schools. We had guides who helped us lead 30 or so youngsters through the throngs of visitors and around the cattle, sheep and horses. Still, I always worried about those children who lagged behind or wandered off. There’s always one! The children I taught didn’t usually attend the Stock Show with their families, so this field trip was a good educational experience for them. Even though they always held their noses with the first whiff of the animal droppings, they came back to the school very excited about the animals and cowboys, trailing an earthy stock show fragrance.
My sister-in-law has visited Dave and me in Denver several times. She lives in Evanston, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. On one of those trips she mentioned her surprise that people from Denver consider themselves Westerners. When Dave told me that, I was surprised. Of course we consider ourselves part of the West—the Wild West even—although throughout my lifetime Denver has been trying to be considered MORE than a “cow town.” Anyone who visits Denver today will see a city that has grown beyond the “cow town” image. Maybe that’s why Connie was surprised that Denver’s citizens consider themselves Western, not Midwestern!
My mother’s family came to Denver from Columbus, Ohio in 1920. My grandmother’s younger brother, Edwin, had moved to Denver for a job opportunity selling mining equipment. My grandparents and family followed a few years later. Eventually, the entire Horne/Rockfield side of the family had settled in Denver. The legends and myths of “The West” were clear in their minds, as you can see by these pictures.
World War II brought my father to Denver. Lowry Field, as it was called in those days, provided technical training for the Army Air Forces involved with armaments, i.e. gun sites and the loading and dropping of bombs from the air. He fell in love with my mother, Denver and the mountains and returned here after 3 years as a Bombardment Officer in the Mediterranean Theater. This is where I was born and my love of Denver began.
A fascination with western lore, the many westerns on TV in the 1950s and early 1960s, influenced Baby Boomers around the country. When I visit antique stores and look at old pictures, people in cowboy clothing prevail.
Last year I wrote a post titled The Code of the West in which I referred to a set of principles developed for a curriculum unit in a local school district. I believe this code applies to our lives today as well in the past, whether we live in the west, the east, the north or the south. These are universal principles.
Happy trails to you!