23 years ago, Joe and I gave up on ever getting my 4 children and his 5 children together at one time to share our marriage ceremony, so we drove from Deer Trail to Florence, where his brother Richard, a Baptist minister, married us at the Elm Avenue Baptist Church in Canon City. Richard's wife Janet, and son Curtis, stood up with us and we recited our vows on a Saturday night with the music of the water flowing into the baptistry for the next mornings service wafting around us. Richard and Janet took us to Mr. C's restaurant in Penrose for our wedding supper, then we (Joe and I) spent the night at a nondescript motel in Canon City, drove to Cripple Creek and Victor, in the mountains, for our honeymoon on Sunday and back to Deer Trail, so I could get to work in Englewood and Joe could open our Hardware and Auto Parts Store in Deer Trail on Monday morning. I had always wanted to lived "over the store" but had pictured a book or antique store, definitely not hardware and auto parts.
The kids still give us heck for eloping without them, but it was better for us to go alone than to leave out any of them.
We had met the previous January at a country and western dance class in Denver. I lived in Boulder with my 2 youngest daughters, worked for the City of Englewood (a southern suburb of Denver) and had lost my husband Lou in May of 1982. Joe owned a business in Deer Trail (40 miles east of Denver on I-70, lived in an apartment over the store, and shopped for stock for the store in Denver several times a week. His wife Lynn, had passed away in 1983, leaving him a stepdaughter, in addition to his 4 children from his first marriage. Several of our children were grown up and on their own by the time we married. We were older than most of those in the class and had a lot in common (and a lot of differences) so we sort of gravitated to each other as dance partners, and one thing led to another. (You've all heard that story many times.)
I can tell you that moving from sophisticated college town, Boulder (California in Colorado), to tiny, rural Deer Trail, on the plains, resulted in a severe case of culture shock for me! However, after cleaning up and redecorating Joe's apartment, clearing out the junk in the half lot next to the store and designing and planting a garden, as well as being appointed Chairman of the newly organized Deer Trail Housing Authority and beginning the process of developing housing for local seniors, so they didn't have to move into Denver upon retirement, helped me adjust to the change.
[I had worked as Assistant Director of the newly created Boulder County Housing Authority and then as the Assitant Director of Urban Development and Executive Director of the Housing Authority in Englewood for the previous 10 years; was active in the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) and had just completed a year as President of the Colorado chapter when I married Joe and moved to Deer Trail. The City officials had gotten in touch with the Farmer's Home Administration about getting assistance in creating senior housing for the community and had been given my name as a resource. When they realized I had become a citizen of Deer Trail, they immediately appointed me as the Chairman. Talk about serendipity!]
To celebrate our anniversay we had dinner in Canon City at DeRito's, a popular Italian place run by one of the families who moved from Italy to Fremont County in the early 20th Century to work in the coal mines. The immigration of the Italians to this area has lead to a definite improvement in the local cuisine. We enjoyed roasted garlic in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with Italian bread and green salad with Italian dressing and blue cheese crumbles; moved on to chicken calzones (gloriously flaky crust) with green chili (the local hybrid of Italian and Mexican cultures); and for dessert we were blessed with scrumptious spumone. Spumone is one of my favorites and I don't get it often enough. When we moved to Florence 20 years ago, the DeRito family had a popular restaurant in Florence, and we have missed it, and the chicken calzones with green chili, so are delighted that they reopened in Canon City.
As you can tell from comparing the recent photo in the sidebar with the photo of us taken on a float trip on the Snake River through Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in the August before we were married, the last 23 years have brought many changes. Back then I weighed considerably less, we both still had dark hair, and Joe had a beard. How young we still looked! We had only one married daughter and one grandchild when we married, so a huge blessing has been the new additions to the family. I am so thankful that we both decided to attend that country and western dance class so many years ago.