Meet a Westside Pioneer!
Don (Donnie) Parker
What kind of career have you had?
I’ve worked in drywall construction and as an electrician, construction superintendent and OSHA trainer and a private chauffeur.
I remarried in 2004 to Stephanie Sisung.
Did you have children?
Brandon and Holly from my first marriage. Also part of my family are Jenny and Brian, Stephanie’s children.
One in Colorado Springs, Dorian (Brandon’s son), and two in Atlanta, Lauran Ashley and Lexie from Brian and his wife Catherine.
Any of your family members still here?
Yes, all six of us siblings (one brother passed away) and about 60 other relatives, including cousins and their kids and kids.
Can you tell us about your grandparents/parents?
My great-grandfather on my mother's side was James Odgers. He and his wife Hannah moved here in 1890 from England when he was hired by William Palmer to be the landscaper/grounds-keeper for Glen Eyrie. They lived at 2904 W. Colorado Ave. They had four children, William, James, Mary and Lil. Mary Odgers met Alfred Reid and they married in 1906. He was an electrician on the Midland Railroad. Mary was a homemaker. She and Alfred had seven children. Helen, the sixth child, married Lloyd Parker (my father) in 1938. Alfred Reid's father, Andrew Reid, had worked for Greenlee Quarry (now part of Red Rock Canyon Open Space), and he and his wife Mary (Mathewson), lived at 31st and Pikes Peak (where the Vietnamese restaurant is now).
My grandfather on my father's side was Carl Parker. He owned a wheat farm in Kansas and died of diabetes. His wife Nellie lost the farm in the '30's and moved out here with Lloyd and her two daughters. Lloyd worked in the mines in Cripple Creek and met Helen here in the Springs. Lloyd became a lumber salesman and then the owner of a fence company, Parker Fence.
Playing at the Roundhouse and trying to turn the turntable. Chug Hill (west of 19th on Glen Street). Larry Sokol rode his donkey named Nell and oftentimes would pull us up the hill in our “chugs” with a long rope. We'd each grab a part of the rope. A chug was a wooden squared frame, set on wheels. Later on, I was in soapbox derbies and raced go-carts.
Our toboggan hill was where the Knolls are now. We used to get a lot of snow! The hill was high and it went as low as the other side of Rick's Garden Center. (When the Knolls got built, the dirt was moved down to where the Uintah Garden shops are now.)
I also remember the potato chip factory (where Goodwill is now on the south side of the avenue). In the summertime the workers would set out the culls, and we were able to get those free. It always smelled so good walking by there.
I had a paper route for 10 years. Started out with 30 papers for the Free Press and then added on the Gazette and dropped the Free Press. I quit the route with 220 papers each day when I was 17 years old.
I am a 1959 graduate of the last class of Colorado Springs High School.
A lot happened at Bancroft Park, including the Friday night movies and we had fun watching the old gents, in their derby hats, play at the well-maintained croquet course there in the daytime.
My Grandma Reid would tell us stories about sitting on the Mesa and watching the Indians camping at the spring in what's now Sondermann Park, just off Broadview and Mesa Road.
Fishing, hiking, gardening, racing and sprint cars.
What is gone from the Westside now that you wish had stayed?
The potato chip factory and Ma Dearing’s Ice Cream Shop on 15th and Colorado.
What has stayed that you wish had gone? Bullyism and gangs.
How about the way things have changed? It’s more convenient to shop, but we have lost the closeness of the community and the mom-and-pops.
Overall, is the Westside better or worse than when you were a kid here?
Better, because there is less dust. Mill Hill (where the Golden Cycle Mill formerly operated) is now covered. There is no coal burning and so there’s less smoke. We used to think that it was “Little London” because of all the smoke that was in the air.