Meet a Westsider:
John Hazlehurst

Profession/Occupation... Freelance writer/journalist. I write a weekly column and an occasional blog for the Colorado Springs Independent, as well as pursuing other projects.

What I like most about the Westside is... The people, the architecture, the neighborhoods, the parks Ė and above all, the visible past. Itís wonderful to live in a house built in 1899, to look through wavy glass windowpanes and imagine those who looked through the same windows a century ago. I walk my dog every morning and always notice something new, maybe a sidewalk stamped ďA. SmithĒ by the workman who poured it decades ago, or an owlís face in a turn of the century wrought iron fencepost. Having grown up in the 1940s in the now-gentrified North End, I particularly appreciate our relaxed, even slightly raffish Westside. I donít have a broken-down old jalopy parked in the side yard (yet!), but I know that my neighbors wouldnít object if I did.

If I could change anything about the Westside, it would be... I like the Westside just as it is Ė but Iíd love to see an improving economy, higher real estate prices, and more homes being renovated. But wait a minute! Thatíd lead to gentrification, and I couldnít afford to live here anymore.

A good movie Iíve seen recently is... I loved ďThe Artist.Ē Such a radiant, delightful film Ė particularly great for geezers like me who stubbornly refuse to use hearing aids.

I'd like to discover... For me, thereís not much left to discover Ė Iíve had a life full of love, adventure, and good fortune. But Iíd like to figure out how to grow peppers, how to keep the deer away from the corn when itís ready to eat, and how to keep the dog from rolling in the mud after a spring snowstorm.

If I could meet someone famous, Iíd like to meet... Iíd love to meet Jhumpa Lahiri, whom I believe to be the greatest writer of our time Ė and Iíd like to have a drink with Gail Collins, the op-ed columnist for the New York Times.

The next time I travel, Iím going... Karen and I are going to New England in late May, visiting my son at his organic farm in Maine, and then going to my 50th college reunion in Connecticut. I havenít seen most of my classmates since graduation day in 1962, but Iíve been reliably informed that many of them have aged. I know I havenít, thoughÖ

My favorite childhood memory is... Riding my bike in the late 1940ís all the way to the old roundhouse. We poked around in the debris, hoping to find something valuable, and settled for a couple of rusty railroad spikes.

My favorite spring pastime is... I try to ride my bicycle every morning, weather permitting. Summer is great Ė nothing compares with a fast ride through the Garden of the Gods on a cool summer morning. I usually ride about 15 miles, 25 if Iím feeling ambitious.

Something good Iíve read is... War, by Sebastian Junger. Itís an unvarnished account of an American platoon in Afghanistanís Korengal Valley, which should be required reading for every elected official in Washington.

My pet peeve is... City/county policies that favor suburban development and disadvantage homeowners and businesses on the Westside.

If I won the lottery Iíd... Iíd do just what I do now. Iíd write, Iíd garden, Iíd cycle, Iíd try to finish cleaning the basement, Iíd walk the dog, and Karen & I would go to T & Bís at least once a week for drinks and dinner. Itís a wonderful life.

Meet a WestsiderĒ is a regular feature in the Westside Pioneer. If you would like to be a Meet-a-Westsider (or know someone who should be), please give us a call at 471-6776.