Posts Tagged ‘Alec’
Bob and Barbara Creighton came to Atwood in search of a town in which they and their children could play a vital role and they found what they sought. They were proud to call Atwood home until the time of their deaths.
Robert Atkinson Creighton and Barbara Lee Wilson made their home in Atwood in 1960. They raised two sons who now have families of their own – Alec, his wife Christie and their children Ben and Rachel of Fort Morgan, Colorado and John, his wife Joni and their children, Emma, Joe and Ada Grace of Longmont, Colorado.
Barbara was a homemaker, mother, grandmother and active in the community. She served as president of P.E.O., Union Club, and Town & Country Guild, was a volunteer reader to Atwood first graders and the 1991 starter of the Lake Atwood Ten Mile race. She served on the boards of the Atwood Public Library, Kansas Quilters’ Organization, and High Plains Banking Group in Colorado. Barbara enjoyed needlework, gardening, genealogy, and was an avid reader.
Barbara stood toe-to-toe with breast cancer on two occasions. She beat the odds and triumphed over the disease in 1987. She was able to enjoy 15 additional years of life and spend time with all of her five grand-children. Barbara passed away on May 28, 2002 in the company of her husband and sons.
Bob was given the opportunity to practice law in Atwood by Forest W. Brown. His law partner when he retired in August 2005 was Charles Peckham. Bob worked with his secretary Margaret (Kanak) Hagler for 27 years.
Bob gave up competitive running in the late 1980s and focused on his law practice, banking and public service. Bob served as president of the High Plains Bank Holding Company based in his boyhood home of Flagler, Colorado. He was appointed by Governor Mike Hayden to the Kansas Board of Regents, which he served as chairman. He also served on the Kansas Hospital Closure Commission, Kansas Commission of Judicial Qualifications, Board of Governors of the KU Law School and to the Kansas University Hall Center for the Humanities Advisory Board.
In June 2005, Bob was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. He always said, “If complaining would help, I’d shout the loudest. But the truth is you get the years you get.” Bob passed away on April 5, 2007 leaving behind his wife Lavina, two sons and their families.
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Submitting to The Rawlins County History Book
Amy (Bondurant) Milton, her husband Steve and their kids spent some time at our house this week. The kids are staying with us while Amy and Steve get settled at their new house in Yuma, Arizona. Steve will be stationed with the Army at a base near Yuma for the next three years.
Conversations about Yuma, Arizona reminded me of a story told by my brother’s classmate Bill Beamgard. We were sitting in the stands in Yuma, Colorado; there to cheer on the Atwood Buffalos in a game against the Yuma Indians. Someone in our area of the cheering section asked how Yuma, Colorado got its name. Bill knew the answer…
“Back in the late 1800s the folks who settled this area were having trouble agreeing on a name for the town. There were many suggestions to name it after this family or that, after this civil war general or that, but no one could agree.
In an effort to calm folks down, it was suggested that the honor of naming the town be given to the next person who rides into town. The settlers agreed that the first words uttered by the next traveler would be the name of their fledgling village.
Later that afternoon, a stranger arrived by horseback. The settlers were eager to hear what the man had to say. They ran out of their stores and homes and gathered around the stranger as he tied up his horse near the saloon. They called out greetings to the stranger but he just tipped his hat without saying a word.
Each morning, the stranger would go the cafe for breakfast. Settlers would attempt to entice hime to talk. But, he’d just cordially nod his head. In the evenings, he’d take a drink at the saloon. Again, a nod or tip of the hat was his only method of communication.
The settlers were getting angry. They needed the stranger to talk so they could at last have a name for their young town. One settler became so angry that he confronted the stranger in the saloon. He demanded that the stranger say something. But, the stranger just shrugged his shoulders and turned back toward his drink.
The angry settler had had enough. He drew out his pistol and shot the stranger in a rage. Realizing the horrible deed he’d just done, the settler rushed to the stranger’s side. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said. ‘But don’t you have anything to say.’
With his last gasps of life, the dieing stranger choked out, ‘You mo…’”
The settlers adapted the new name of their town just a little.
I’ve been knocked out a few times.
We built an obstacle course in our backyard that included jumping over a railing on our back porch. My foot got caught on the railing which flipped me upside down. The next thing I remember is a nun at the hospital emergency room preparing me for stitches.
Alec was chasing me around the “loop” in our house – the halls, living room and dining room made a wonderful oval track. I was going too fast in stocking feet to make the corner through the living room and crashed head first into the coffee table. A butterfly sufficed to close the wound that time.
The knockout blow that garnered the most attention didn’t involve a blow to the head.
Summer time meant water balloons. Water balloons meant water balloon fights. The Curriers, Haydens, Younts, Creightons, Doug Keirns, Jeff Lewis and others were known to engage in battle. The teams were always unclear, shifting more than in the novel 1984.
Our preferred battle field was the downtown business district. It was a perfect place for a simple reason: access to ammunition. Back in the day, there were working drinking fountains on many of the business district street corners – in front of the Masonic Temple, the banks and William Bros. Dept. Store. Summertime drinkers would be sure to notice the rainbow of rings wrapped around the base of the faucets – remnants of balloons filled too full that exploded on the fountains.
We would chase each other down allies and hide behind tree boxes looking for the opportunity to drench an opponent; always hoping not to be the one to cause collateral damage – accidentally getting a grown-up wet.
I rounded the corner of Williams Bros. Dept. Store fully armed only to find myself confront by a wall of three older boys. Unable to scramble back the other way, I was buried in a barrage of balloons including one not quite full and reluctant to burst. It caught me directly in the stomach pushing all wind from my lungs. Then, my world turned black.
I came to with a half dozen pairs of eyes staring down at me, the group nervously checking to see whether any adults were approaching amid whispers of, “Is he okay?” As I sat up there was a collective sigh of relief. My comrades immediately dispersed.
I miss the Tastee Treet.
My family and I went out for summer time burgers tonight. They were good greasy burgers from Five Guys Burgers. But our meal didn’t even compare to my memories of the Tastee Treet.
My mom, Alec and I often ate lunch at the Tastee Treet on summer Thursdays when we were out of school and Dad went to Rotary. I always ordered a cheeseburger with ketchup and onions, fries and a chocolate shake. I dipped my fries in the shake. Mom was an enthusiastic fan of Audrey’s famous Hickory Burger. Sometimes we’d eat on the picnic bench. Other times we’d take the food home.
Saturday nights the whole family would go for ice cream cones. Standing on the red step built so kids could reach the window, I ordered a chocolate-vanilla twist with crunchy sprinkles or sometimes dipped in chocolate. My dad would chat up one of the other patrons while we waited for our cones. I’d watch the spectacle of bugs zooming toward their final zap in the electric charged light that hung just a few feet from the window.
The Tastee Treet was kitty corner from the swimming pool sitting to the south and east. It was in a perfect location for a rest period snack – the ten minutes each hour when the life guards took a break. The trick was making it across the hot asphalt street. We’d run yelping as fast as we could, trying to stay on the balls or our feet, but the tar still scalded our skin. Nothing felt quite as sweet as making it to the Audrey’s grass or back to the lawn in Kelley Park. It would have been too easy to just wear our shoes.
My favorite swim day treat was an ice cream sandwich carefully wrapped in a white paper bag. I’d lick the edges in a circle until I’d carved out a groove, eat the cookie to the edge of the ice cream and repeat the process again. A wet swimsuit was far better than a napkin to wash off sticky hands.
Audrey hung in there for all the years I was a regular at the swimming pool closing down the Tastee Treet some time later. My kids take swimming lessons in Atwood most summers. They look across the street at the ice cream sign that lit up when I was a kid and ask what it used to be like.
I miss that we’re not able to walk across the street for a cone.
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Thanks to Doug Nichols for the photos. Found them on Flickr.
Twenty five years ago this summer I had the easiest job of my life. I was an usher for the Texas Rangers Baseball Club.
I patrolled the center field bleachers in old Arlington Stadium – a minor league park expanded to be home to the Rangers. I stood in the Texas sun on metal bleachers in polyester pants (and a really nice belt).
The ’84 Rangers were an unremarkable team. Some might even call them bad. They posted a 69-92 record for the season. I worked 32 games in June and July at $18 per game. The Rangers were victorious a mere eleven times.
I spent the rest of my time that summer attending summer school at Texas Christian (TCU), babysitting for a family friend of my brother’s girlfriend, and hanging out at the apartment swimming pool. My parents were convinced I was just wasting my time.
I went to Fort Worth that summer to live with my brother who had just earned his undergraduate degree in radio and TV from TCU. He had a summer job with one of the Dallas-Fort Worth television stations. He might have been working for Highlands Electronics, too, but I really don’t remember.
I loved going to the ballpark the nights the Rangers were in town. I was a huge baseball fan in the late 70s and early 80s. The chance to see nine American League teams play ball was like a dream come true. The fact that the Rangers were bad actually made the job better – fewer fans.
Ushers had to be at the park 30 minutes before the first pitch. I seldom had much work to do. A typical night was six fans in my section. My supervisor checked in with the outfield ushers in the first or second inning. After that, we could relax and enjoy the game.
I bought a mini-helmet filled with soft serve ice cream (always chocolate and vanilla twist) between the second and third innings. Then, I’d settle in on the back row of my section and enjoy the rest of the game. My only responsibilities were to walk to the bottom of the aisle between half-innings and retrieve home run balls that fell between the outfield fence and the stands. This was pre-steroids era so I didn’t have to retrieve many balls.
I made an extra ten dollars one game. Two fans who’d had too much to drink were trying to settle a bet: In the song American Pie, who was Dan McLean referring to when he sang, “The day the music died.” Buddy Holly, of course. The winner of the bet tipped me ten dollars.
There were only two nights the entire summer that I wasn’t able to sit down and relax – July 4 and July 5. The Yankees were in town on the 4th. The Detroit Tigers played Texas on the 5th. There were fireworks after the game both nights.
The ’84 Tigers eventually went on to become World Champions. Texas, at that time, was home to many recent, former Michiganders due to the recession of the early ‘80s. The ballpark, and my section, was filled with Tigers fans that night. Tigers fans helped to popularize the wave in Detroit that same summer. They brought the wave to Texas that night to the point I felt dizzy watching it go ‘round.
A handful of well known players were on the ’84 Texas roster but they were mostly in the early or late years of their career. Buddy Bell played third base. Charlie Hough, Dave Stewart and Frank Tanana were part of the pitching rotation. Those were names that meant something to baseball fans in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The player I remember best, Mickey Rivers, seldom if ever played. He hung out in center field shagging flies before the games. Sometimes he’d lean against the fence and occasionally toss me a ball to give to a fan.
Ushers were free to leave the moment the final out was made. Center field was close to the parking lots and I was the first one through the exit – except for the fans who left early, which was many.
I learned no life lessons working for the Rangers (except that polyester pants are hot in the Texas sun). It was just a lot of fun. Getting paid to eat ice cream and watch major league baseball… it doesn’t get much sweeter than that.
Before ESPN. Before March Madness. Crowds gathered for the annual Atwood first and second-grade one-on-one tournaments in the Creighton’s backyard.
Alec Creighton was the tournament organizer. Using profits from his paper route he purchased trophies for the winners as well as sportsmen and those who improved. The trophies were displayed on a card table – and coveted by the players – during the games.
Dad helped to modify the court. The rim was lowered to eight feet. Free throw lines were outlined with tape – one for second graders and one a little closer in for those in first.
Brackets for the double elimination tournament (using the format familiar in wrestling tournaments of the day) were written out on poster board and tacked to the side of the house nearest the court.
The tournament began with humble beginnings. There weren’t enough first and second graders to fill out a bracket so kindergartners like me were allowed to play.
The first year’s winner was the son of migrant farm workers (I wish I could remember his name) who lived at the top of State Street. Silas and I used to go to his house to eat tortillas for an afternoon snack. He defeated Paul Hayden and was awarded a plate of cookies.
Paul prevailed in the championship as a second grader. The son of migrant farm workers was not there to defend his title.
That was the year the tournament really began to take off. The bracket was full – sixteen players. Boys of all ages – including teenagers – lined two sides of the small slab of concrete (a fence and shed bordered the other sides) to cheer on the competitors.
Perhaps there were fifteen or twenty spectators. For a first or second grader it was if the stands were filled to the rafters – all eyes on you.
The court was engulfed after the final game. The older boys wanted to dunk on the lowered rim.
Ken Stonebraker was the champion in year three. Paul was too old to continue his run. I made it to the semi-finals that year but my tournament ended in tears when I fell in a close game to Rodney Briggs.
Ken and Rod went on to become accomplished athletes and coaches in their own rights – leading the large high school teams they coach to state and league championships. They got their start here.
Jimmy Wilson – who lived on Seventh Street between Paul and Rod – won trophies, too. Jimmy was the undisputed winner of the sportsmanship trophy each year he played.
It was an event unmatched in its day. Sowing the seeds of little boys’ lifelong interest in a ball and a hoop. Anticipated just as the NCAA brackets are today.
My parents made sure I had experiences to build my sense of confidence and independence. As a boy, I was completely unaware of their intentional and thought out schemes. I appreciate it today.
I was eight when both parents agreed to be counselors at the Rock Springs 4-H camp. I was afraid to go without them. I know my dad detested the counselor role. He told me so 34 years later. I can’t imagine my mom liking it much better. There are very few parents who pine to be camp counselors.
The next year, I went to 4-H camp on my own – well, along with 20 or 30 other Rawlins County kids (I’m sitting front and center). My parents gratefully stayed home.
These are the types of building blocks my parents engineered so I would gradually gain the confidence to do things on my own. I always got sick the night before “sleep away” camps. But I made it through several years of scout camp, KU basketball camp and KU baseball camp before the eighth grade.
Traveling to Flagler by bus was another one of the experiences my parents planned for me. I took an annual Greyhound trip (or was it Trailways) from Colby (the nearest stop at the time) to Flagler where my Creighton grandparents lived. Each year, the trip was done with a little less supervision.
The first year, when I was six, I traveled with my brother Alec. My dad followed behind in the car. Alec made a separate trip that year with Thorn Hayden and no parents shadowing their progress.
The next year, I traveled with Alec and Paul Hayden. Our parents or Paul’s dropped us off in Colby. My dad waited until the end of the work day to travel to Flagler.
The trip with Alec and Paul was marked by the infamous “Stuckey’s Experience.” I fought tears for nearly an hour. In the era of low gas mileage and small gas tanks, filling stations populated the Interstate at exchanges between towns.
Stuckey’s and Nickerson Farms – part lunch counter, part filling station and part novelty shop – were the prominent chains along I-70 in western Kansas and eastern Colorado. You could fill up your tank, get a hamburger and buy a felt picture of a jackelope all in one stop. These stops were shrines to American entrepreneurs and consumers alike.
We stopped at a Stuckey’s near Goodland, KS to pick up passengers and a mid-morning snack. At seven, my head barely cleared the top of the lunch counter. The waitress’ eyes never made contact with mine. I tried to get her attention but to no avail. There were 20 other passengers to serve.
When the bus driver yelled for us all to re-board, I had failed to garner a snack. The devastation was almost more than I could bear. Alec and Paul tried to comfort me by sharing their food. But, I could not be consoled.
The next year was the big trip – no parents for two days. Silas Horton joined me on the bus that year. We stayed in my grandparent’s “guest house” – a detached studio apartment in their back yard. We thought we were on a grand adventure.
Joni and I have not been as deliberate as my parents in creating a series of experiences for our kids. Our kids do a lot but camps and unsupervised travel are not among the things they do. I sometimes wonder if that’s been an error.
Perhaps my parents weren’t as deliberate as I imagine. But, knowing my mom, they were. I’m glad I’m remembering the steps they took. There’s still time for Joni and me to do the same favor for our kids.
My brother Alec loved the Jerry Lewis Telethon, the annual event to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He camped out in our basement each Labor Day Weekend doing his best to pull all nighters to watch the parade of stars and fundraising tally board.
I was not the fan Alec was but I logged my share of hours watching Jerry, in his familiar tux and dangling tie, and Ed McMahon host the show. It was a chance to see the era’s superstars (Superstar Mac Davis and Superstar Tony Orlando) family favorites (Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop) and, of course, Jerry’s old friends (Sammy Davis, Jr.). And, of course, there was the exciting drama of updating the tally board and people from all over the country bringing in the giant checks representing how much they raised.
Alec was nine or ten when he took it upon himself to organize an MDA fundraising event in Atwood. He ordered a carnival kit from MDA. The Hayden’s backyard was our venue. This planning led to an exciting day of “rides,” games and refreshments.
Paul and I manned the zip line – a ride that went from the backyard tree to a pile of mattresses stacked against the fence of his Mamo Kelley’s yard. Sally Hayden set up a palm reading tent near the entrance gate to the backyard. There was a pie tin toss and other games scattered about the yard.
I don’t remember how much money we raised but we were all proud of being part of Alec’s efforts. The Telethon took on added excitement that year.
Forty years later, I have been tapped to help raise funds for Jerry’s Kids. The local area MDA chapter is hosting a fundraising “lock up” on Thursday, March 12. I am one of the “most wanted.”
I could use your help to raise funds. You can go to my fundraising home page where you’ll find a button to click to make a credit card contribution. Every $5, $10 and $20 dollars will help. The funds support research, programs and care for Jerry’s kids.
I appreciate your consideration.
Our family did not do a lot together day-to-day. We had our family vacations and many shared memories. But, day-to-day, we did not share similar interests.
Running was Dad’s passion. He ran in the mornings before breakfast. He ran at night. Between runs and work, he updated his training records. He spent hours comparing his times to runners across the nation. Running and work every day, except Friday nights. He loved high school sports. He was willing to drive for hours to see a game.
Mom cared little for high school games and did not exercise. She tolerated sweaty clothes in her closet because of her marriage. She went to ballgames when her sons played.
Mom was a reader. She read and reread English novels. Her paperback copies of Angela Thirkell, P.G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie were worn thin. Television consisted of Master Piece Theater on public television. She was born to live in the English countryside near a large city. She never quite found herself in the small town.
I don’t remember what Alec did day-to-day. We didn’t play together much after age eight or ten. He enjoyed music. He practiced piano and trumpet every day. He was good. He drove me crazy. The piano was just below my room. He played the same songs again and again trying to get them just right.
My days were spent with friends, television and from April through October the radio, listening to baseball games.
Outside the house I had countless friends. There always was someone I could find to hang out or play games. Inside the house I did things on my own.
My passion was the Kansas City Royals. I didn’t miss a game from grades five through nine. I saved lawn mowing money to buy a radio headset. One of the first. It was big and bulky. I took it everywhere.
When Denny and Fred (the Royals’ announcers) weren’t calling a game, I kept to myself in my room, listening to 8-tracks – Beach Boys, Meat Loaf and Queen. I played Nerf basketball or read comic books. The door was almost always closed.
Individual interests pursued individually.
We gathered together twice a day without fail. Lunch and supper at precisely prescribed times depending on Dad’s training schedule. The expectations were clear. No discussion. No reminders. Don’t be absent. Don’t be late. Families eat together.
At this table, we recounted daily events. We laughed. We argued. We had spirited debates. We talked about the world. We found our common ground.
It was my favorite place in the house.
We were a family.
I got up early this morning to bid farewell to an old friend. I knew she was ill but her death still took me by surprise. Even when you know death is coming there is sadness and hurt when it finally arrives.
The Rocky Mountain News was published for the last time today. I left my house at six a.m. to search for a copy. The results were the same – sold out or not here, yet. A clerk at the Safeway said she’d save me one when they’re delivered.
The Rocky was our morning paper when I was a boy. We had two morning papers. The Rocky and The Salina Journal. Atwood was too small for a daily paper of its own. The Rocky made the four hour journey from Denver to Atwood on the Greyhound or Trailways bus.
My brother Alec delivered The Rocky for a short time. But, that job belonged to the Cunninghams for more years than I can count. I can still see Matt or his dad driving there old tan car, a paper flying out the window. I remember crawling over stacks of extra papers filling the side entry of the church next to the parsonage where they lived.
It was at our breakfast table that I fell in love with reading the newspaper. My dad would make oatmeal (every morning). My brother Alec and I would make ourselves peanut butter toast. We’d sit down at the kitchen table and divide the papers. It’s a habit I continue to this day with my own kids – except the oatmeal and peanut butter toast part.
The Rocky, of course, was in a tabloid format. It wasn’t easily divided. Being the youngest, I had to wait my turn. It was worth the wait. As a kid, the tabloid format was a perfect size. I could actually manage to navigate the pages without covering up my food.
I spent my time in the sports section and the back pages – comics, horoscopes, puzzles. Each morning during baseball season, I poured over the box scores. There weren’t expanded box scores in those days with players batting averages already calculated. I would do that myself. I would crunch numbers for the Royals trying to figure out whether George Brett or Hal Mcrae had a better shot at the batting title.
People followed the sports team covered by the local paper when I was a boy. You couldn’t go to the internet and follow any team you choose. There was no such phrase as “Red Sox Nation.” People were “homers” because you only got to know one team – the one with stories in the daily paper. I became fans of teams in places where we lived – the Red Sox while in Boston, the Orioles while in Maryland.
That’s why so many people in Atwood are Denver Broncos fans. The Broncos were the team in the morning paper. I followed the Royals and Chiefs in The Salina Journal. But, I also was a fan of the Denver Bears. The Bears were the farm team for the Montreal Expos during my baseball fever years – so I became a fan of the Expos, too. I knew their players on their way to the pros.
To this day, I still read the comics every morning. I only read a few now. When I was a boy, I read them all. B.C. and Wizard of Id were my favorites. Today, I glance at Hagar and the Bumsteads to see how they are. Characters I got to know through the Rocky.
I lost touch with the Rocky when I left Atwood – the way you do with old friends. When Joni and I moved to Colorado in the late 1990s things were already changing for newspapers. We didn’t subscribe to the Rocky but received it every morning. They were at war with the Denver Post. Unsolicited delivery was part of a plan to increase circulation and maintain ad revenue.
I was consulting with newspapers in those days – The Orange County Register, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, The Arizona Republic, The Gazette-Telegraph in Colorado Springs. The papers were looking for ways to strengthen their relevance. Readership was down. The advent of the internet accelerated the decline.
I turned away from print myself. We still receive our local paper in hard copy. Everything else I read on line. I checked the Rocky once or twice a weak online. But that type of readership did not sit well with advertisers. The business model has changed. But, that’s old news now, too.
I’m still passionate about good journalism. I’m one of those who believe our democracy depends on a healthy fourth estate. I’m also optimistic that rigorous and thoughtful journalists will discover new platforms. But, I’m concerned about the transition. The new platforms are not yet mature. The revenues are not there to support the work. Journalism is suffering. Too many of my friends from my newspaper consulting days left the profession in disgust – some in despair.
But, I think about all that on another day. Right now, I’m going back out to see if I can find my old friend to say my final good-bye.