Meet a Westside Pioneer!
My first job, other than babysitting, was as a carhop at the Manitou A&W when I was in high school. I also worked in retail at Gibson's, K-Mart, and Ray's Hallmark. My “career” began at the Broadmoor Hotel in the accounting department, when I was sent to school to become a programmer. After 14 years at the Broadmoor, I began working for Enterprise System as a programmer/analyst. After a number of corporate mergers and buyouts, Enterprise came to be a part of the Harris Corporation broadcast division. My career ended last summer as part of a corporate restructuring and downsizing. Now I own Cy's Drive In and often find myself carhopping.
My husband, John Micci, is a native Westsider. His family owned Micci's Grocery across from Sacred Heart Church. His father, Vince Micci, attended Buena Vista Elementary, West Junior and Colorado Springs High School. John and I married in April 1986. John and my brother, Clark Stidham, were friends in high school and worked together at the Craftwood Inn.
Did you have children?
I had five children. Ben, the oldest, passed away in 1999. His favorite pastime was hiking in the Garden of the Gods. Kristi, an Apache helicopter pilot for the Army, is stationed in North Carolina. She loves Colorado and still enjoys visiting Santa's Workshop and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Kat works here at Cy's. She is a new mom with a beautiful baby boy named Camden. Steven, who had worked at Cy's and Snow White, recently joined the Army and will be stationed in Georgia. He married a Westside girl, Sarah, and they have a beautiful blue-eyed 8- month-old daughter, Mia. Emily is employed at the Broadmoor Hotel and has a 22-month-old daughter we affectionately refer to as Hurricane Audrina.
Any of your family members still here?
My mother, Elinor Stidham, was born and raised on the Westside. She and my dad, Hurstle Stidham still live in their Westside home. My two youngest daughters are Westsiders. My brother, Clark Stidham and his wife, Barb live in the Pleasant Valley area and enjoy hiking in the Garden of the Gods. My sister, Karen Osborne lives in Virginia but returns for her “Colorado fix” as often as she can. My cousins Les Jeffery, an avid fisherman and Linda Garner still reside in Colorado Springs.
My granddad, Willard McDaniel, was born in Colorado Springs in 1899. He married Martha Frances Waldie in 1912. My grandma was born in Minden, Missouri. Her family moved to Colorado Springs in 1896 or 1897. The Waldie family owned a truck farm in the Fontanero/ Chestnut area and sold produce to local grocers. Granddad and his brother-in-law, Rufus Porter, also known as the Hard Rock Poet, mined in Cripple Creek, Leadville, Colorado Springs and many other mining sites across Colorado in the 1920s. Rufus and his mule posed for the original “Yonder lies Cripple Creek” sign in Divide. Granddad was a carpenter and worked on numerous buildings in Colorado Springs including the Broadmoor's North-eastmoor. He built custom kitchen cabinets for my 4'9” grandma. She worked at Colorado College and was a very talented artist and a fabulous cook. My mom, Elinor McDaniel was born in Colorado Springs. She attended Bristol, North Junior and Colorado Springs High School. She returned to school when I was in junior high to fulfill her lifelong dream of being a nurse. She worked many years at Penrose hospital and later for Dr. Worlton and Dr. Samson as an ophthalmology technician. She and my granddad enjoyed fishing in the many Colorado lakes and rivers, My dad, Hurstle Stidham, was born in Chickasha, Okla. He and my mom married in 1950. He spent his career as a member of the Colorado Springs Fire Department. As a child, I remember how handsome he looked in his dress uniform. My mom remembers going with her dad to pay the rent only to find the landlord raised the rent from $10 to $12 per month. My granddad decided it would be less expensive to buy the house. My husband and I bought that house from my grandparent’s estate and restored it. We loved being able to take our children to Monument Valley Park by just walking across a couple of bridges. Unfortunately, our family home fell victim to the I-25 expansion project.
My brother, sister and I all had many friends in our neighborhood. There were two other fireman families on our same block. We rode our bicycles together, built tents in the willow trees, and played baseball, jacks, “hide and seek” and “kick the can.” We sailed our homemade boats in the gutters, waded in the alleys and played in the mud. We stood lookout for the older kids on the block who raced their go-carts in the street. It was a safer time, and our parents didn’t worry about where we were or what we were doing. I think the worst thing we ever did was to raid the local apple orchard. The gym teacher at Buena Vista would give us a quarter for each home run we hit to buy a milkshake from the Colorado Creamery with. Spot, our family dog, often accompanied us to the Creamery and got his own ice cream cone. My sixth grade teacher, Jim Rasmussen, took us on field trips in search of fossils and geodes on the hillside now occupied by the Uintah Gardens Shopping Center. My favorite place was the Garden of the Gods. We went on picnics, breakfast cookouts, and hiking and bicycling expeditions there. As a teenager, rock climbing in the Garden of the Gods was my passion.
What is gone from the Westside now that you wish had stayed?
I wish I still had the house we lost due to the I-25 expansion. I miss the undeveloped land on the Westside. Our bike trails and sledding hills are now occupied by houses and apartment buildings. I wish we still had the little neighborhood grocery stores. I miss Roger’s Frontier Tavern, Schoch’s Hardware Store and the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
What has stayed that you wish had gone?
There have been a number of things added to our Westside community throughout the years that have stayed that I wish wouldn’t have ever been added. Traffic, big chain stores, drivers that haven’t learned to negotiate the hills during snowstorms are a few of these things.
How about the way things have changed? Traffic on the Westside has increased dramatically, but the traffic controls haven’t changed proportionately. A light to allow children to cross Uintah at Thorndale Park is long overdue. It’s dangerous. A left turn light at 19th and Uintah would help the flow for Uintah Gardens. I would like to see more people support their local independent businesses. The recent news of the school closures is heartbreaking. Neighbor-hood schools promote a sense of community, and that may be seriously compromised. My neighbor’s child was looking forward to riding his bicycle to school next year, but with the closing of Buena Vista that will not be an option for him.
The Westside is still a great place to live and raise a family, but I truly loved the smaller community and miss the way the Westside was when I was a child. It was a kinder and friendlier community.
“Meet a Westside Pioneer” interviews people who were born, raised and still live on the Colorado Springs Westside. If you meet that criteria (or know someone who does), please give us a call at 471-6776.