Meet Westside Pioneers!
Ron & Jerry Decker
Ron and Jerry Decker are brothers who grew up on the Westside. Their family background includes their father, Everett Decker, who in 1949 was a conductor on the last Midland
What kind of career have you had?
Ron – I’ve been a carpet-layer and I’ve owned several foreign-car repair shops (the Bug House, Foreign Car Specialists and Ron’s Foreign Car). As a hobby, I’ve raced off-road cars and worked with the Colorado and Pikes Peak hill climb events.
Jerry – Just out of high school, I worked at Daniels Chevy and returned there four years ago as a back counter and dispatch assistant. I have also been an Air Force mechanic and a manager with Haliburton Oil, did heating and ventilation work at Colorado College and was the manager at True Value & Do It Best Hardware in the Red Rock Center for 14 years.
Can you tell us about your marriage?
Ron – I was married for 28 years.
Jerry – I met Mary while she was vacationing in Manitou from Chicago in September of 1966. We kept in touch by phone and letters. When I joined the Air Force, I was assigned to Chanute, Ill., which was 128 miles from Chicago. I’d take the train up and see her. We got married in May 1969 in Chicago. We’ve been happily married for 39 years.
Did you have children?
Ron – a son, Greg, 37 who lives in Dallas.
Jerry – Katherine, 36, and Michael, who would have been 33 this year.
Jerry – Katherine’s daughter, Grace, 21 months – a 4th generation Westsider.
Any of your family members still here?
Ron – brother Jerry and niece, Katherine.
Jerry – brother Ron, daughter Katherine and granddaughter Grace.
Can you tell us about your parents/grandparents?
Ron/Jerry - Alan and Bertha Decker came from Kansas in 1910. Alan worked for the Missouri and Pacific Railroad as an engineer. Bertha was a homemaker. Our dad, Everett “Pop” Decker (also known as “Peewee”), was born here. Our mom's name was Lorene (“Rene”). Her family came from Missouri (the Ozarks) when she was young. Pop worked for the Midland Terminal Railway until it closed (he was on the last freight train in 1949), then the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and Fort Carson Civil Service. He was also a musician and played piano, clarinet and ukelele. He played with a band in Crystola and Brazenhead. Mom worked for Bell Telephone for 35-plus years.
What are your best memories of growing up on the Westside?
Ron – Hanes Popcorn Stand, Merri-Laine Restaurant, Schoch’s Hardware. Skipping school and going fishing in Camp Creek that ran along 31st Street. Breaking my thumb in a motorcycle wreck on Red Rock Avenue when it was a dirt road . Climbing the rocks and getting in trouble because it was private property. Working at Johnson Pontiac when I was a teenager. And being on the last run to Cripple Creek to pick up gold and back to Golden Cycle Mill with my dad.
Jerry – Hanging out at the original Cy’s Drive-In on Colorado Ave. Walking down to Cross & Sons for a soda. Playing at Thorndale Park.
What is gone from the Westside now that you wish had stayed?
Ron – Schoch’s Hardware and Cross & Son’s Soda Fountain.
Jerry – Patio Drive-In, Maria’s Mexican, Stowell Variety Store, Hanes Popcorn.
What has stayed that wish had gone?
Ron– the tourists.
How about the way things have changed? Ron – I went to Whittier Elementary and West Junior. They’re probably better now. Traffic is unbearable. I like my neighborhood, it’s nice and quiet, and I like the way everyone keeps up their yard.
Jerry – Too much traffic, too many adobe haciendas being crowded into open lots.
Overall, is the Westside better or worse than when you were a kid here?
Ron – I think it’s worse. There’s a lot more people. I had more freedom as a kid.
Jerry – Hasn’t gotten “worse,” but we’ve lost too many mom-and-pop places and gained too many galleries and boutiques. Also, the vagrants are a definite problem.
“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.