GMF book a hit with history buffs

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In a town that pulsates with history and generational resilience, a new book by Mary Ann Davis and Claudia Eley preserves stories and photographs of the past.

Commissioned and published by the Ute Pass Historical Society, “Green Mountain Falls: Stories of the Early Years in the Words of People Who Love This Special Place” is already in its second printing.

The society introduced the book in a reception for the authors in June at Church in the Wildwood, where residents scooped up the books with enthusiasm and vigor.

For many of them, the stories were theirs, cherished family memories. “The pictures are such a huge thing,” Eley said. “We’ve got almost 150 of them, from the historical society and people who contributed their personal pictures.”

Davis and Eley share a legacy as members of families who settled the town in the early 20th century. The book is dedicated to the late Frank and Margaret Hart, Davis’s grandparents, and the late Claudia and Elmer Kirkpatrick, Eley’s grandparents.

Enhanced by their historical credentials, Davis and Eley live in homes built in the early 1900s, architectural gems that distinguish Green Mountain Falls.

The book records memories, many of them submitted by the residents whose family connections remain a vital part of the town’s inherent character. “John Kramer was one of the first to submit something; he gave us more than facts but made a story out of them, which was very touching,” Davis said, referring to the family with generational ties.

As well, Mary Lou Nelson Penny, whose family bought one of the original cabins in the late 1920s, made a significant contribution to the enterprise, with narratives and financial and emotional support. “Mary Lou kept saying `Just go to press! Do it!’” Eley said. Davis added, “She has a marvelous way of writing.”

The book pays tribute to the late Sallie Bush, who founded “The Ute Pass Echo,” in 1934 and reported the news through 1963. “Mrs. Bush hand-typed the paper on an old-fashioned typewriter and mimeographed the pages in double columns,” Eley said.

The authors have recreated a page of the newspaper in the book, including a pen-and-ink drawing by Margaret Brenton who today lives in Colorado Springs. “People who used to read the Echo will `get it,’” Eley said. “This is actually a photo of the original letterhead of one edition of the newspaper.”

Looking back over the genesis when members of the society proposed the idea, the two seem puzzled over the book’s roaring success, with 300 copies sold by mid-summer. “I had no inkling of what I was getting into,” Davis said.

Unfamiliar with computers, Davis transcribed the stories in longhand while Eley took care of the technology. “I gave her things in my scribbly writing and she never fussed at all,” Davis said.

However, the two credit Judy Perkins for the layout and Paul Loyd for scanning the photographs, contributions that enhanced the published work.

As well, the stories reflect a sense of community, an appreciation for keeping history alive and a reverence for people who continue to share the legacy. “We had wonderful financial help from donations; without that the book would not have been published,” Davis said.

“Green Mountain Falls,” is available at the Ute Pass Historical Society at 231 Henrietta Ave. in Woodland Park. Priced at $18, the book sales help support the work of the society. For more information, call 686-7512 or go to www.utepasshistoricalsociety.org.

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