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Meet a Westside Pioneer!
Richard Bennett

  LEFT: Richard Bennett this year. RIGHT: In his class photo at West Junior High, 1956-57,
Westside Pioneer photo (left), Courtesy of Richard Bennett (right)
       What kind of career have you had?
       When I was going to West Junior High and Colorado Springs High School (now Palmer), I worked for Norton Office Supplies.
       After I graduated, I went to work at Rainbow Falls Park north of Woodland Park as campground manager. After that, I was a truck driver, coast-to-coast and all of Canada, and a U-Haul manager. The last 15 years before I retired, my wife and I ran a gift and jewelry store in Woodland Park. It was all good, time to rest after that.

       Marriage/ Children?
       My wife Mary and I were high school sweethearts. We have been married for 53 years, and have two daughters. We have one grandson and one granddaughter.

       Any of your family members still here?
       I have a sister who lives here and one in Glenwood Springs. One daughter lives here and the other in Aurora.

Richard Bennett, with his parents, Ralph and Betty, and two sisters.
Courtesy of Richard Bennett
       Can you tell us about your grandparents/parents?

       My parents, Ralph and Betty Bennett were married for almost 60 years. They were from Elmira, New York. Dad worked for American La France fire trucks, as did my grandpa. After World War II, before my dad got home, there was a major flood where my mother and I had to evacuate in boats. It was time to leave the area and go west.
       We moved here in about 1947, by way of Wichita Falls, Texas, where my sister was born. My parents decided they liked Colorado Springs because the trees and homes reminded them of Elmira. I was 4 years old. My father worked for Out West Printing & Stationary and then Norton Office Supplies.
       Our home was on the edge of town then, with just a few houses north of there and the pavement ending on Chestnut Street at Del Norte Street.

RIGHT: Bennett on a horse as a teenager (he liked to explore what were then wide-open Westside lands). LEFT: Bennett as a younger, handsomely dressed cowboy.
Courtesy of Richard Bennett
       What are your best memories of growing up on the Westside?
       My playground was from Del Norte at Seventh Street north to about the Flying W Ranch. What a time I had with the deer, elk, foxes, coyotes and a lot more. I hiked

Richard Bennett and his wife Mary.
Courtesy of Richard Bennett
and rode horses too. There was a stables that had 300 to 400 horses north of what is now Fillmore and Sage. I would get to ride any horse I wanted in exchange for exercising them. I did not spend much time in town.
       I miss the Rock Island Roundhouse and the stockyards off Polk Street, east of what’s now 1-25. I would ride the train down to the station and back so they could wash it before loading passengers going back to Chicago, Ill.
       In grade school, I went to the old Bristol. It was huge inside, all stone. I hated it when they tore it down.

       I use to ride my bike a lot – a Schwinn 3-speed. I used to ride all over the Pikes Peak region, including Pueblo, Canon City and Buena Vista. On Aug. 4, 1960, my friend James and I were the first ones

In a photo copied from the former Colorado Springs Free Press newspaper, Richard Bennett (left), then age 16, is shown with fellow cyclist James Phelps Aug. 4, 1960 after they rode up the Pikes Peak Highway on their three-speed Schwinn bicycles and then back down.
Courtesy of Richard Bennett
to ride up and down Pikes Peak and come home alive. A year earlier, an Englishman tried it and went off on the switchbacks.
       Now, I do some fishing, camping and hiking and keep my wife happy – a full-time job.

       What is gone from the Westside now that you wish had stayed?
       A&W Root Beer on West Colorado Avenue and Surplus City. The old Bristol School. It was built in 1891. I think it could have been used as a historical museum. There used to be a gravel pit southwest of Uintah Street and Mesa Road and I would go there to just mess around, being a boy.

       How about the way things have changed?
       I wish more of the old stores could have stayed and there was less traffic on Colorado Avenue. I still enjoy going to Manitou Springs and Garden of the Gods. It’s truly the garden of the gods.

       Overall, is the Westside better or worse than when you were a kid here?
       Where my wife and I live is a few blocks from where we both grew up. It hasn’t changed much, but now we are getting Centennial Boulevard. That will be a lot different around here. I really don’t care for it, too much noise. I like the quiet and the stars.

From a Westside Pioneer interview
(Posted 10/9/16; Opinions: Meet a Westside Pioneer)

“Meet a Westside Pioneer” interviews people with a long family history on the Westside. If you know someone meeting that description (including yourself!), call the Pioneer at 471-6776..

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