Thursday, August 9, 2007

Wyoming/Colorado Road Trip

Starting tomorrow, I will be off-line for a few days. My son Matt, my son-in-law Cody, and I are driving down to Denver tomorrow to catch a pair of Chicago Cubs/Colorado Rockies games.

An old photograph of Medicine Bow, Wyoming, circa 1917. This is pretty much how it looked when we lived there, as well, right down to the water tower.

This will be a sentimental trip for us. In 1985, I was hired for my first teaching job in the small town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming (population roughly 700). This was in an oil and uranium mining area of southeastern Wyoming. I absolutely loved my job there, and I fell in love with the rugged beauty of the high plains. Unfortunately, my wife Geri did not like being sixty miles from the nearest larger town. We were sixty miles from Laramie to the east, ninety miles from Casper to the north, and sixty miles from Rawlins to the west. We moved there when my oldest daughter was two weeks old. In 1987, my son Matt was born in Rawlins. We moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho in 1989 and have been here ever since. I'm preparing to enter my 23rd year as a teacher. Medicine Bow was my first four years, and I learned a lot there.

The Virginian Hotel, at one time the tallest building between St. Louis and California on the railroad. It is named for the title character in Owen Wister's famous novel, 'The Virginian'. We may stay here tomorrow night.

We'll drive to Medicine Bow tomorrow, possibly spend the night there, either at the Virginian Hotel or at a nearby BLM campground. The Virginian Hotel is named for the famous Owen Wister novel of the same name. Wister's novel is considered the first great western novel, and he based it in Medicine Bow. In the 1950's, there was a popular television series called 'The Virginian', also based in Medicine Bow.

The next day we'll drive on to Denver. We'll see a game Saturday night and again on Sunday. Also during our Denver stay, I will be visiting Norris King and his wife Marilyn in Arvada, a Denver suburb. Norris was a gunner on a B-17 that was shot down by Swiss anti-aircraft during World War Two, killing seven of the ten men on board. For those who have the Potomac version of my book, Untold Valor, Norris' story is told in detail on pages 177-182.

From the Swiss Internees' Website, here is the info on Norris's crew condensed from the MACR:

B - 17 # 42 - 30126 " Sugarfoot "

Pilot - Lt. Burton English

Attacked by LW Fighters , Badly damaged , on Fire.

Pilot , Copilot , Nav , BB and TG either Killed or Wounded.

As A/C was going down , it crossed Swiss Border and Swiss began Shooting.

A/C exploded

- 3 Crewmen bailed out and Interned. Sgt. Marion Pratt , Sgt. Norris King , Sgt. Joseph Carroll
The remains of Norris's plane 'Sugarfoot', in Switzerland. Norris has a piece of the plane at his home in Colorado, given to him years after the war by the man who shot the plane down.

We'll be returning to Idaho on Monday. I'll make sure to post a story about Norris King and also photos of the baseball game and of Medicine Bow.

Coors Field, Denver, Colorado. Home of the Colorado Rockies. We will be sitting for both games in the 'Rockpile', which are the cheapest seats in the stadium, directly to the center of the photo, behind the pine trees.

Coors Field, Denver. A new stadium with a disinctly vintage feel to it.

I miss Medicine Bow a great deal. If it had been up to me, I'd still be there. It will be a day full of memories tomorrow as we stay there.


Richard Havers said...

I went to a baseball game there once! I'm one of the few Brits you'll ever meet who likes the game. I've been to Boston, Houston (the Astrodome) Dodger Stadium and Atlanta too.

Minnesotastan said...

Thank you for posting the information re the crash of "Sugarfoot" in Switzerland. My uncle, L. Stanley Finseth, was the navigator on that flight and was killed in the crash. I appreciate the information you provided and the photo of the wreckage.

r morris said...

One of the crewmen is still alive and lives in Colorado. I am sending the link to his story.