Monday, October 26, 2009

Know where this is? And When?

Back in the last century - in my Air Force days (or years) (I spent a tour of duty at Lowry Air Force Base. I loved Colorado and it was nice to be back there this past summer.
However, since 1952 and 1953 a lot of things have changed in the Denver area.
There is no Lowry AFB anymore. It was closed down a number of years ago and most of the base facilities are gone.
However, the humongous hangar (or hangars) are still there and are the core of the Air Museum of the Rockies - well worth a visit. I've wondered if the old Base Headquarters building has been retained - it was a beautiful building with a Spanish
touch to its architecture. Looking at air photos of the area on
Google shows the huge "Brick Barracks" still there - not far from Hangar One. It held several squadrons including my 'open bay' instructor squadron, a small base exchange, and a dining hall. Even the facilities of the summer White House of Eisenhower's day, and remains of the earliest days of the Air Force Academy are no longer there. Most of the base has been done away with to allow building of new subdivisions. But memories of Lowry stay with me and good memories of Denver.
I remember a New Years eve when I went downtown to take pictures of all the Christmas lights on the Civic Center from the steps of the State Capitol. The next day we were driving around Denver in a Pontiac convertible with the top down. Weather in Denver was hard to predict. I roller skated at a rink in Englewood not far from the Gates Tire Company factory. I filled in occasionally as an announcer at KGNC - a country music station. I skied weekends on the base ski team and ended up on Sunday evenings in snake dances down the main drag of Idaho Springs or at a pub atop Lookout Mountain, looking down over Golden, Colorado. We had great times at Lakeside Park and Elitch's Garden where they had big bands of the time at their dance pavilions.
And we would take trips to other places in the area. Like the picture above where several of us spent part of a day at Royal Gorge. I couldn't easily handle crossing the Royal Gorge bridge today because of a problem with vertigo but in those days I had little fear (if any) of heights.
As I suggested earlier, a lot of what I remember is gone. Stapleton Airport has been replaced. Elitch's has moved closer to downtown. The electric buses no longer run the distance from downtown Denver to Aurora. Time changes a lot and Denver has become a big town and really sprawls. It has a problem with smog. It has problems with traffic. But in a lot of ways, Denver will never change. And some of us who lived there many years ago remember it as a special place with special memories. And that is good.

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