Mourning for an Old Friend and Remembrances of Times Past
by Art Goodtimes
Jan 27, 2011 | 1703 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JIM SPOR … Such a sadness to lose this kind, gentle-hearted man who played beautiful music. But life without his beloved Patricia was unbearable. He missed her so ... They were a devoted couple, poor perhaps by material standards but rich in love – the greatest wealth of all. When cancer took her bright light away prematurely, Jim’s heart broke … Now, family and friends are all sad. Having lost them both.

JIM FREE … A former Ouray District Ranger for the U.S. Forest Service, Jim currently works as director of the Uncompahgre Partnership. He recently published an historical account of his parents’ lives, in celebration of their 70th wedding anniversary – a most amazing achievement in itself … Jim shared the information at a Public Lands Partnership meeting in Montrose. What caught my attention about the story was that Jim’s mom was born on a ranch in the San Miguel River canyon and her father worked as Road Manager for the San Miguel Road and Bridge Department, back in the days when they used a two-team horse-pulled “grader” on dirt roads … Plus, as Jim explained to me in an email, his great-grandparents got married in Telluride in 1891. His great-grandfather was hauling freight from Grand Junction to the Tom Boy Mine. And his great-grandmother’s folks homesteaded over in the Beaver Mesa and West Paradox Area. She went to school in Telluride … So, the Montrose story of Carrie and Clyde Free bears a strong element of San Miguel County history. With Jim’s permission, we’re reprinting the story as it appeared in the Focus section of the Montrose Daily Press of Dec. 26, 2010

CARRIE & CLYDE … Carrie and Clyde Free celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Jan. 1, 2011. They were married at the bride’s home in Montrose on Jan. 1, 1941. Both were raised as the third child of four children in their respective families …They spent their youth growing up on Spring Creek Mesa. They both graduated from Montrose High School. Clyde was on the first wrestling team that Montrose had in 1934. Mom remembers driving in a cart pulled by a donkey to Oak Grove School. The cart could hold up to four kids ... Clyde’s parents, James and Cora Free, and their three young sons moved from the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas when Clyde was two years old. It took two years traveling in a covered wagon to arrive at the Uncompahgre Valley. They had stopped in Pueblo, Colo., and were told about the opportunities with the newly constructed Gunnison Tunnel and decided to continue on to Montrose ... When Clyde was 15 years old, his folks bought 40 acres five miles out on Spring Creek Mesa, and he was raised there. He can remember picking asparagus on the way to school to earn pocket money. Back then you always walked to town and caught a ride when someone came along. You could walk several miles before a car would come along. People did not walk or run for exercise like they do today. If you were walking, you needed a ride … Carrie was born in Montrose County to James and Mellie (Boyle) Smidt. The Boyles lived in the Chief Ouray place near the present-day Ute Museum after Chief Ouray and Chipeta were moved to the reservation. Carrie’s great-grandmother raised strawberries in a large field where Chipeta Lake is today …After Clyde and Carrie’s marriage in 1941, they bought a house on South 4th street for $1,850, where they started their family. Shirley was born in 1942 and Jim was born in 1944. Carrie was a homemaker and worked at the local drug store. Clyde drove the San Miguel Stage Line for two years before going to World War II in 1944. It was a ten-hour drive, on a good day, to Paradox. There was a deep mud hole at the foot of Norwood Hill and the San Miguel Stage truck was high enough he could make it through, but spent many hours pulling cars out that got high-centered. He stayed in Bedrock overnight and returned the next day. Three trips a week were made hauling freight, mail and up to ten passengers … In 1944, Clyde was called into the Army during World War II. He was assigned to the Pacific Theater in the retaking of the Philippines. He received a Purple Heart and recalled that 14,000 American soldiers died retaking the Philippines from Japan …Two weeks after returning from the War, they traded their house on South 4th for 40 acres on Maple Grove Road. Here they built their home and raised their family. They started farming with a team of horses and raised poultry, purebred Suffolk sheep, milk cows, beef cattle and quarter-horses … Clyde belonged to the Carpenters Union and spent 20 years working as a shop foreman on Blue Mesa, Morrow Point, Crystal and Silver Jack Dams. Carrie was a homemaker; she farmed and clerked for James Smidt Farm Action and Smidt’s Sale Barn for 11 years. She made pies and ran the lunch counter for the Saturday sale days. She also helped provide lunches for the Maple Grove school children. In addition, she worked at the Credit Union, Montrose Tax Assessor’s office and was office manager for Dr. Barry Greenwood for 30 years … Together they owned and operated the Big Cimarron Getaway Cabins during the summers from 1986 to 2006. They not only have been married for 70 years, but started dating five years before their marriage. Clyde took Carrie to her first high school dance, an activity which they have enjoyed throughout their lives. They were 4-H leaders and led the Montrose Square Dance 4-H team to state several years during the 1950’s. They have five grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren and reside at their property on Spring Creek Mesa where they have lived for the past 64 years.



As if purity were
always a virtue.
As if bodies didn’t
have shadows.

As if race wasn’t
a competition.
As if “just us” was
meant for everyone.

As if ice
black or whitevdidn’t sneak up
& whisk you away

As if leaping
out of the hot pot
of lobster mind
into angel wings

into cassocks
& white collars
could take
the embodied

all the way to
pure spirit
skipping the lion’s
quantum roar

the bear’s
dark matter

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