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Steamboat Magazine

Time Passages - W03/04

12/01/2003 01:00AM ● By Alesha Damerville

By Harriet Freiberger

Winter 2003:

Time Passages - W03/04

    When we revisited the first issue of Steamboat Magazine in preparation for our silver anniversary edition, one aspect captured our attention: the people in that Winter 1978/1979 volume who are still our friends and neighbors today.    Hohad Steamboat Springs changed them, and hohad they changed our town? We tracked down more than a dozen people from that first issue and discovered that they represent a cross-section of 21st century Steamboat.    The year was 1978. The mood, as Steamboat Magazine founder Rolly Wahl, recalls, was "exciting and unconventional." Long-haired hippies squared off with local ranchers; young waitresses pooled their resources and opened their own restaurant unbuttoning their blouses to the waist to pose for their establishment's ad; Andy Gibb shared the Top-40 song list with Al Stewart; and Steamboat Springs experienced an influx of newcomers to the valley. Some stayed only a short while; others are friends and neighbors today.Karen Jimmerson1978: Soupçon Restaurant2003: Fitness instructor, Literary Sojourn Committee    "The minute I drove over Rabbit Ears Pass, I was in love. There was nothing between the pass and the little teeny town except ranches. I thought, this is heaven,' and I still think that," says Karen Jimmerson of her arrival in 1969.    The love affair began with fun and friends. Day after day of powder snoallured college kids who heard about the big mountain in the small town. By 1978, those who had come for a season were well on their way to becoming locals.    Karen's enthusiastic grin punctuates stories of good times, when she and her friend Sandy Jenny waitressed together at the Cameo (nothe Old Town Pub). Sandy Jenny1978: Soupçon Restaurant2003: Mother of two boys; L'Apogée Restaurant     Paying the rent required at least two jobs. When Sandy Jenny told her father she had a job as a maid, "he couldn't believe he had paid all that money for my college education," Sandy recalls. She and Karen quickly realized they could ski during the day and work at night. Eventually opening their own restaurant, Soupçon (where the Smokehouse is today), they found a way to have it all. Even today, Sandy says, "Karen and I spend tons of time up on the pass cross-country skiing." Kevin Bennett1978: Benet's; The Fair Exchange2003: Gardener     "I didn't think about leaving," recalls Kevin Bennett of his early years. "Quoting Camus, no decision became a decision.' All of a sudden, it was a great summer and then ski season would start. Where would I go? What could be more fun than what we were doing?" he wonders.    Moving to Steamboat a week after graduation, Kevin started working, first at the Button Bush (noDos Amigos), then at the Cameo, and at the Inn at Thunderhead for $1.65 an hour. By 1978 he had opened two businesses, one a before-its-time men's designer clothes shop called Benet's, and the other, which became Steamboat's recycling icon, The Fair Exchange.     Initiating the Downtown Business Association was the beginning of civic involvement for the skier who had looked only as far as the next season. Kevin decided in 1993 that he should help his rapidly changing town retain its best aspects. During his eight years as president of Steamboat Springs City Council, the city's parkland increased from 230 acres to 1,000. "We added the equivalent of Central Park, and Steamboat's citizens own this property outright," Kevin says. Kent Eriksen 1978: Bike mechanic 2003: Moots Cycles     Kevin was not the only conservationist to visualize the future. Kent Eriksen showed up on the last day of 1974 and, after warming his sleeping bag at the laundromat, spent the night in the park on 11th Street. By morning, the temperature had dropped to -44, and his sleeping bag tore in half.     Just 20 years old, he couldn't knothat in years ahead he would produce the world-renowned Moots bicycle that would win the first NORBA National in 1983. He also couldn't foresee purchasing an old grain elevator to house Moots and moving it to the corner across from where he slept that first night. Nolocated on Copper Ridge, Moots' 15 employees weld some 1,000-plus mountain bikes designed and personally mitered by Kent.    For 30 years, this self-proclaimed "blue collar guy" put work first. Whether he was riding to town from his Strawberry Park home or organizing races, biking has claimed its share of attention and found him several times in the top ten of the Colorado Off Road Point Series. Newly married to championship cycler Katie, Kent is thoroughly enjoying family life.     His earliest dream creating an alternative to the automobile is materializing. Andy Hogrefe 1978: Waiter; ski racer 2003: Father of 3 boys; baseball coach     Competitive sports attracted 70s newbies. Soft-spoken Andy Hogrefe was raised in NeYork and has played baseball since Little League. When he wrote a sixth-grade report on the state of his choice, Andy predicted he would ski on the Colorado slopes made famous by filmmaker Warren Miller. Finishing college a year early, the impatient 20-year-old quickly said yes' when friends offered a room in Steamboat.     Andy was a ski racer for the next 18 years. "I came here because of the skiing, the activities and the weather," he says. "The things that brought me are the things I'm still here for."     Like his own father, Andy delights in his sons' participation in sports, especially the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, for which he is a volunteer coach. All three boys play baseball, and their dad coaches Little League and assists with the Steamboat High School team. "It's like being a kid again," Andy says. Becky Thayer 1978: Ski racer 2003: Heavy equipment operator; horsemanship instructor     Former racer and long-time ski instructor Becky Thayer readily admits to dreaming that her children would be Steamboat kids. "When I first came here, I thought Steamboat kids were the luckiest in the world. Back East, we only got to ski on weekends, and there were no coaches," Becky says.     For three decades, Becky has fulfilled her dream, working in all three sectors of the area's economy: skiing, mining and ranching. In summer horsemanship classes, she recognizes the children of former students. "Our legacy," she contends. Scott Flower 1978: LTV marketing 2003: Ranch manager     "Neighbor helped neighbor," recalls Scott Flower of his early days in the valley. In spite of long hair and lifestyles that conflicted with townspeople's traditional views, early divisiveness faded as newbies demonstrated a willingness to work. Youngsters, in exchange for a place to stay, offered to fix fence or help with cattle.     Scott, who nomanages the 2,500-acre Wolf Run Ranch, sees ranching as "the true heart of Steamboat Springs." At the same time, the former Chamber marketing exec acknowledges tourism as an economic necessity.     Noinvolved with Routt County's Agricultural Alliance, Scott is an activist about protecting open space. "I'm building this ranch and helping with the community where I hope I'll be for the rest of my life," he says.    Remnants of a southern accent reveal a heritage similar to the one he has found in Steamboat a sense of hospitality and an obligation to those who will come after. "As long as everyone who is here gives, there will be enough for all of us," Scott says. Mix and Karen Beauvais1978: She/real estate; He/LTV marketing 2003: Real estate; world travelers     Mix Beauvais arrived in 1967 at the invitation of renowned ski coach Gordy Wren, although he had never skied a day in his life. A native Coloradan whose great-grandparents homesteaded in Salida, Mix started out as "finance guy" at the ski area and stayed on board in the marketing department when LTV took over in 1970.     He branded Steamboat with the red, white, and blue theme that remains today. "The glamour of being way up in the mountains was an experience that was much less common then, and the sport was growing by leaps and bounds. Marketing gimmicks weren't necessary, and it was easy to travel around talking about skiing," Mix says.     In their cowboy hats, Mix and wife, Karen, shared the fun. "We did everything from yippee ki yea' on a rocking stagecoach" to showing ski movies. Like everyone else, Karen held two jobs during those early years waitressing at night and working in real estate during the day.     Having traveled with Mix all over the world for 27 years, she completely agrees when he says, "I've never gone any place I liked better." Christine McKelvie 1978: Newspaperwoman 2003: Public relations, Yampa Valley Medical Center     Steamboat can be the best and worst of all possible worlds simultaneously.     There was a big exodus after that record snoyear of 83-84," says Christine McKelvie, who came at the age of 21 with a degree in journalism and "no experience of living in a community as an adult."     To Christine, having skied since the age of three, snowas nothing new. Having so much snothat it had to be shoveled in order to see out windows may have been too much for some, but for her it was a grand adventure.     Family and work propelled Christine and husband, Bill, into Steamboat's mainstream. Today at the nehospital, she witnesses the "heartiness of those who were born and raised here, who didn't have what we take for granted." Rod Hanna 1978: Public relations, LTV 2003: Photography as art     Respect for those who have come before will keep the Steamboat spirit alive, believes retired ski area executive Rod Hanna. The friendliness for which the town is famous will continue because people remember hothey were treated when they first arrived.    "That spirit survives; not putting up a gate at the pass. This is a big, wide open valley, and all of the initiatives to preserve open space speak to its heritage," Rod says. "Steamboat IS the West - still wide open, welcome and just a little bit wild.' That there's still some excitement about the place is true, not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. We have, pretty much, had our arms wide open. People still feel that when they come here."     A journalist and photographer before moving to Steamboat, Rod sensed an opportunity to make a difference. As a former leader of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Rotary Club, he has accomplished that goal.     Far from slowing down after leaving the skiing industry, he has leaped into a whole nefield of creativity, revealing on paper what the human eye sees photography as art. Bill Cropper 1978: Dos Amigos 2003: Dos Amigos; father     Bill Cropper is seeing life through neeyes, those of his 6-year-old son, David.v"He's certainly got me out of the chair," says Dad about his son, who is already skiing, playing soccer and hitting golf balls.     As the owner of the second oldest restaurant under continuous management in Steamboat, Bill readily voices his business philosophy. "If you want to knowhat's going on, get down in the trenches and find out," he says. "Money comes from hard work. If you're not willing to work, then don't expect money."     A Colorado native from Greeley, Bill took what was supposed to be a summer job in Steamboat as pub cook at the restaurant beneath his newly rented apartment. Within six months he went from pub cook to bartender, to owner of Dos Amigos.     "I've been here in this building over half my life," Bill says. "A lot happened here. I remember being at the bar when the space shuttle exploded." Pointing to Dos' pictorial "Wall of Shame," he boasts, "Our managers, cooks, wait people have gone on to start other restaurants. They've all come through here. A lot of people have worked with us."     Those friendships held firm, as evidenced a feyears ago. "When we got notice that our lease was not going to be renewed, the people of Steamboat, God bless em all, voiced their opinion in their own ways and came to bat for us. We are nostarting our 29th year and WE'LL BE HERE," Bill says.Joe Kboudi 1978: All That Jazz 2003: All That Jazz; granddaughter Dylann     The 70s youngsters have weathered storms economic and personal as well as climatic. Why are they still here? In the words of Joe Kboudi, main street's music man, "What would I do if not this?"    He once entertained the idea of going back to San Antonio, where he had a pre-Steamboat career with Foley's, but, he thought, "If I can't walk out the door and go up Spring Creek, can't see the seasons, the mountains, the beauty forget it."    Joe's love affair with Steamboat has resulted in significant community contributions to the free summer concert series, the Downtown Business Association and the Steamboat Springs Arts Council. With 4-year-old granddaughter Dylann, "keeping me young and making me old at the same time," Joe adds to the legacy.     Mix was right: that red, white and blue image depicted the real Steamboat a hometown where, when Karen Jimmerson's house burned down, people she didn't even knocame to help. What started for the "newbies" of the 70s as youthful infatuation became a full-fledged relationship. They played in the snow, but learned to shovel; thought about leaving, but stayed the course. They have paid the price, and, in return, have come to know, as Karen says, " friends of my heart." Driving around that curve on Rabbit Ears Pass, when the wide-open valley comes into view, they knothey are home.