Wanted by OCC Historical Society: Memories of Westside from yesteryear
“There were times the Midland trains ran on the streetcar tracks and they experienced great difficulty in making the curves…”
This was a memory of life-long Westsider Luther McKnight in 1978. He died in 1986, but people can still hear a recording of his memories - as well as those of several other early residents on the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) website (history.oldcolo.com).
The OCCHS has remained interested over the years in recording “oral histories,” as they're called, but of late a volunteer OCCHS committee is ramping up the effort. “Every year more and more Old Colorado City pioneers and pioneer family members are passing on. It is imperative that we not lose their memories and historical information,” explained committee member Sharon Swint.
Committee chair Gordon Gray, who became a genealogist about 10 years ago, after retiring from a career in journalism and public communiciations, said he has conducted six interviews in the past three years.
Sadly, however, he missed out on two interviews because the individuals died before they could be recorded - one of them just a week prior.
The OCCHS is currently working from a list of 20 known “old-timers.” But committee members are also sure there are more they don't know about, Gray said. So the OCCHS is putting out a call for people willing to be interviewed. Ideally, the committee would like to talk to people connected with families that were in Colorado City before its 1917 annexation to Colorado Springs, according to Gray.
Interviews will be recorded, then digitized into MP3 format (which takes up less space), stored on discs in the History Center and uploaded to the OCCHS website.
The result will be that “these valuable memories are available to everyone to enjoy and to researchers who want first-person accounts of the history of the Westside and early El Paso County communities,” Swint added.
Anyone who might like to be interviewed is asked to call the History Center at 636-1225 or to send an email to email@example.com. A committee member will respond, Gray said.
For inspiration, prospective interviewees could listen to the 1978 Louis Unser recording, also on the OCCHS website, recalling famous Colorado City madam Laura Belle McDaniel, who died in 1918. “I don't believe anyone met a nicer person than our Belle was,” said the famous race car driver and Westside resident. “She was something else…”
Westside Pioneer article