In their own words:
Neil Luehring and Bob Edgar – Part 2
This will conclude the interview with long-time Westsiders Neil Luehring and Bob Edgar. Part 1 appeared in the June 30 Westside Pioneer.
Read Part 1
Q - What other things did you do on this side of town?
Bob - You know, there was a lot of things to do down on the Westside. Of course, Neil couldn't come in all the time, but myself and my brother, Jim, and a bunch of us would meet down on the Westside. [Around 1940] there was Dennen's Restaurant, you'd get six hamburgers for a quarter, nickel apiece, they had pinball machines, and then there was Hobbs' Café, just east of where Osborn's was, where Henri's is now. And then they had the Peerless Printing Company, in the 2500 block on the north side, three quarters of the way. Then just beyond the press was the Silver Spur bar. And next door was a place that had what they called duckpin bowling. Just with little balls. We'd go down there, and I don't know what it cost us. Didn't cost much.
Neil - It didn't cost much because we didn't have much. (Both laugh.)
Bob - We'd work for them once in a while: We'd set pins for them. That way we'd get to play for free. As I got older, about west of where Rogers Bar was, there was old Charlie - I can't think of his last name - he had a pool hall. We'd go in there and play pool. Then he moved from there and he was just the other part of Hobb's café to the west; he moved his pool hall down there. Or we played dominos on the domino tables. We'd go in there and pass time for something to do. They had a lot of things going on at Bancroft Park - band concerts and other things - so we'd go down there a lot. Like we say, there was a lot to do. You made things to do.
Neil - They didn't have television in those days.
Bob - You made your own enjoyment. Where King Soopers is on Uintah, there used to be a big hill there. We'd call that the clay banks. And every Saturday and Sunday, they'd get their old cars and their motorcycles and they'd go up and make moons or they'd take their motorcycles and try to get up over the top of this tall mound. And a lot of times they'd roll them things, but you know, people would congregate up there, it was something to do.
Q - Out at Glen Eyrie, what were some of the things you did?
Neil - We'd ride horses, I don't know, we was always doing something, catching fish with our hands.
Q - What's the trick to that?
Neil - Just being fast and not mind getting wet. (Both laugh.) You walk up the middle of the stream and run the fish all up to the end of the hole, and then you get under there and go under those rocks with both hands, come in from both sides, because they go under the rocks and hide, and the first thing you feel is the fish in your hands and you grab hold of him and throw him on the bank
Q - You grab the tail, you grab the head?
Neil - Whatever you want to hold. You don't get too particular. (Both laugh.)
Q - What would happen when you and Bob would ride around on the property?
Neil - I will tell you this much about Bob, he can outrun any rattlesnake that ever was.
Bob - They're thick out there. I don't care for them.
Neil - I've always kidded him about it. We were out there one day and messing around, and I always carry a .22 with me, but we come across this rattlesnake on the road in front of us, and I turned around to say something to Bob, and he was 50 yards down the road.
Bob - I got out of there.
Neil - So then we were up hunting, shooting prairie dogs and come across another rattlesnake and I looked for Bob and he was gone again.
Bob - I didn't care for those.
Q - When you were horseback riding, did you ever see those bighorn sheep that are up there?
Neil - The bighorn sheep did not get loose up there until we were grown up. In the '50s, about the time when I went on the fire department, they had a government wildlife truck break down in Ute Pass with a load of bighorn sheep. So they decided they'd better turn 'em loose because they couldn't leave them in the truck. They thought they'd go south, but instead they went over into Queen's Canyon. This is where they all got their start. When we [Neil's family until the early '40s] were out at Glen Eyrie, there was no such thing as bighorn sheep out there.
Q - So, where would you ride?
Neil - I rode horseback all over the front face of these hills, and even the top of Rampart Range Road from Glen Eyrie. Palmer had something like 75 miles of horseback trails cut up in these hills. Glen Eyrie used to extend clear up to the Woodmen Sanitarium at the time we lived out there and White House [Rock Ledge Ranch] was part of that, and all that was vacant when we were out there. I'd ride up there when they were branding cows up there. Probably being just a kid, all I was doing was getting in the way, but I was trying to help them brand cows. And then Banning-Lewis ran some cows up on top of the mesa. There was nothing up there except a cemetery, where Pioneer Park is now. We'd run cows and I'd have to go up there once in a while on horseback, because Dad was supposed to check on them, and if I saw anything wrong I'd tell him about it.
Q - Was there a way to bring them in from the Banning-Lewis Ranch out east?
Neil - He'd truck them in, usually truck them out (also). One way or the other, he was getting a lot of free grass.
Q (to Bob) - What kinds of jobs did you have?
Bob - When I was 15, I worked for Bill Osborne. He had his drugstore where Garman's is now, then he moved over to 25th Street, where the Chocolate Factory is now. He had his soda fountain and his drugs and his cosmetics and his pharmacy in the back and so I worked for him as a soda fountain person. He was teaching my brother to be a pharmacist. Later on, I went to work in the middle block; you've heard of George Cross, who had Cross & Sons Confectionary. It was a real good deal, because there would be band concerts and different things in the park, and after that was over people would come across to Cross'. They had a soda fountain as you went in, and then there was a candy confectionary, chocolates and all that, cigarettes was over on this side, and then he had booths in the back to serve ice cream and back in this back corner he had an ice cream making room . We'd get our cream from Denver, come in on the 4:30 train, and I'd take his old Ford pickup and it had a grate on the back that you could tie two 5-gallon cans of this cream mix and I'd haul it over there, and then I'd make this ice cream. We'd have these little cups, they call em per-cups, we'd make little cups of ice cream for a nickel a cup (less than a 12-ounce cup. We'd make them by the numbers, and of course we made pints and quarts of ice cream, and then we made 5-gallon deals for the soda fountain.
Q (to Neil) - What were you doing during this time?
Neil - When we got into high school (1942), we moved back into town. We lived down here on Colorado Avenue.
Bob - It was quite a town in the '40s. Only 28-30,000 here in those days. It's changed a lot since then.
Neil - Seen a lot of growth.
Q - (to Neil) - What got you thinking about being a fireman?
Neil - In 1951, there was the Fort Carson fire that came off Cheyenne Mountain in 1951 and destroyed part of Fort Carson. Volunteers from all over town were out there. Us young guys in those days thought we were pretty tough and we went out there. I don't know if we done any good but we went out there and got involved in it.
Q - So that was your inspiration?
Neil - That had a lot of bearing on it. And my dad had a real good friend who died in 1939 of a heart attack. He drove the aerial truck in those days. He was the guy who gave me my first .22 rifle, a real good friend of my family. And while we were at Glen Eyrie, there were three or four of the old-time firemen who'd come out there. And I was wanting a good job, and the fire department was a good job. That was the smartest thing I ever did - getting on the fire department. Now, here, my son's on there, [my wife] Sharon's brother is a dispatcher, my cousin is a dispatcher, my son-in-law was a fireman, a driver. And I got a grandson who just passed the test, who's probably going to make it here in the next year or so.
Q - You really started something.
Neil - I was just looking for a good job. (Laughs.) I didn't mean to start all this, but this will be six or seven of us now who've had a connection with the fire department. But I can remember fires before I went on, when I was waiting to go on. You see, there were two years from the time I signed up to take the test to the time I got the job. Let's see. There was the Robinson grain fire. The Peak Theatre, the Chamber of Commerce building - that whole side of the block - I was on that fire. I was also on the fire at the Miller Music company up there. That was a big fire that hit on Thanksgiving eve, in the 100 block of Tejon. There were a lot of others I can't remember.
Q - How about rescues?
Neil - The chief would call up and say, “Get your tennis shoes on, we've got kids to take off the rocks up there.” We'd go up and make rescues off the Kissing Camels rocks. I've been right up there with the camels many a time.
Q - (to Bob) How did you get into cooking?
Bob - The Navy was where I learned to cook. I went in the Navy in January of '45 and got out in the last of August of '46. There was a big, modern drive-in restaurant across from Duncan's Café in the first block west of Cascade that had just opened a couple of months before. So I went to work there as a fry cook. I worked there till they sold it to Pick-a-Rib, and I worked there about a year and a half, then I went into a restaurant with my folks, then from there I went to the Village Inn (from 1957 to 1979) and then I went to Hewlett Packard (1979-91). That was my jig. (Laughs.)
Q - Is it true that you helped create the Village Inn pancake recipe?
Bob - I worked with the baker. Then there was another chef there at the time. We were all experimenting, coming up with all these different recipes for them, and when we got them we would practice them at the Village Inn. When I started there, we didn't serve breakfast. It was just lunch and supper. When Jim Mola and Merton Anderson bought it in 1958, they came from Oregon, and they had pancake houses up there, so that was what they had in their mind [a chain of pancake houses].
Q - But the first Village Inn was in Colorado Springs?
Bob - It started there (in downtown Colorado Springs), I think, in 1939. Mola and Anderson added the inns in Denver. From there it blossomed out all over the country. I've got all the original recipes for their pies and stuff like that somewhere at home.
Q - What did you do at Hewett Packard?
Bob - I was the building service supervisor. I got out of cooking. I'd been in it long enough.
Q - What do you think of how the town has grown?
Neil - I think it's gotten too big. It's gotten clear out of hand. I used to be able to walk down Tejon Street and know everybody that was coming across. Now I walk down Tejon and don't see anybody I know.
Bob - In our days, you had Manitou and then the Westside, over town, maybe you went out to the east side - Hancock - that was the end of town, except for that strip out on Platte Avenue. From there, you went out to Fillmore and there were a few businesses and the Alexander company that made the airplanes and across the street they had the landing field for their little planes. That was another thing we'd do - go up there and take families and they'd have free air shows. That was the end of town north. Nowadays you hate to get to the east side of town, it gets so congested at times. And we had all our stores downtown, we had our department stores, we had Woolworths, we had Kress', we had Penney's…
Q - Didn't Old Colorado City have more nitty gritty stores then, too?
Bob - You start there in the 2400 block on the south side and there was a jeweler, then there was an empty store, a bakery, Mapes garage, an insurance, coal, a grocery store, and then there was something and the Blue Lantern Café, then there was George Cross', and there was the hardware store, barber shop, shoe repair store, and then Hobbs', the pool hall, Osborne's, then across the street was Ben Hamilton's meat market, and next to it was a grocery store - Safeway came in there at that time and eventually they bought Ben Hamilton out. And you had the bar and the beauty shop and the sanitary laundry, and you go on and on.
Q - Naming store after store like that - that's good.
Neil - Every Friday night we'd come in from Glen eyrie to Osborne Drug and have a soda. My dad loved ice cream. That was our big Friday night deal.
Q (to Bob) - Your mom [Charlotte Edgar] was a native of the Springs?
Bob - She was born here in 1902, lived all her life on the Westside and died at age 98. When she was a little girl, she went out to the castle [at Glen Eyrie, where Colorado Springs founder William Palmer lived until his death in 1909], when Palmer would have Christmas parties. [Note: Edgar's grandfather, Pat Wolgamood was carpenter foreman at Glen Eyrie then.] And she kept some toys, a dog and a horse, an elephant and a little stove that she and my uncle had gotten from Palmer for Christmas. So when she died, my brother and I took them down to the museum and put them in with Palmer's stuff. I was down there the other day, and they've got the stove, and the elephant and the dog are in with the toys and stuff. But they were beautiful toys. They said down there that Palmer paid a lot of money for them.
Westside Pioneer interview and transcription“In their own words” question/answer interviews are an occasional feature in the Westside Pioneer.