COBWEB CORNERS: Where the ideas come from
By Mel McFarland
I'm sometimes asked where I get the ideas for this column. The most common answer is: from the readers. At the end of the year, it used to be common for newspapers to run long lists of just what happened in the last 12 months. Rather than do that, I thought I would reflect on the obvious. Every writer has ways of getting material. I have my favorite ways, and usually one of them works.
There are places like Bon Ton's where I can sit and have a bit of breakfast to eat and listen to people come and go. Occasionally I will hear someone ask about this or that. If it arouses my interest, it might become a story seen here. I also like to drop in at the Old Colorado City History Center. When new items come in, sometimes there are questions that pop up. Maybe someone moved into one of the older houses and found something in the basement or attic. Rather than just toss it out, they bring it by the museum. They may have no idea about who or what it had to do with, but they thought it ought to be saved. Sometimes they even ask me. If I have no idea, you might see it right here as a story. I also get messages through the offices of the paper.
My two favorite things to write about are past businesses, and the railroad. A lot of my early columns were about trains and the railroad, and I still find them fun to do. I realize not every one finds them interesting. You may have noted, when I find something that I think is a bit on the unusual, or even funny side, I use that. In this town we have large numbers of people, many of them military, who come here and stay a few years and go somewhere else. Knowing that, I like to now and then repeat some of the stories of our history.
My main source of inspiration comes from reading the old newspapers. Unfortunately, even though the Colorado City Iris ran for about 50 years, not many survived. The library in Colorado Springs has pretty much what survived. The History Center has also collected a few. Often the bigger newspaper carried the big stories in town, but I like looking for those things they missed.
The other inspiration comes from the editor. Often when I am in the office we spend way too much time talking about this or that in our history. It usually ends up on this page somehow, down here or above me!