By Kathleen Spring
On July 27, Lyons resident Don Colard celebrates his 100th birthday. In 2001, I interviewed Mr. Colard for the Lyons History Video Project. Don was one of my favorite pioneer family interviewees because of his great ability to remember the many stages of his life and various jobs, resulting in some great tales. The first thing we did was go into the work shed in his backyard to see his handmade quarry tools. We next walked around his house to see the sandstone steps, sidewalk and wall that he built, that were both artistic and practical. Then inside, he told many tall tales about life as an adventuresome kid in the Lyons area, and tough jobs he conquered as an adult. You can view
the full two-hour interview on DVD at the Oral History Desk in the Redstone Museum. Eventually approximately sixty Lyons History interviews will be transcribed into a book.
At the time, Don was playing high quality guitar and harmonica music at senior centers in the Front Range. Today, he likes to go on walks along the quiet back streets of Lyons twice daily, keeping healthy and fit. His hearing may have deteriorated, but his mind is as sharp as a whip. When he turned ninety-nine last year, he stopped by the senior center, and showed off his wit by taking whatever joke you said and turning it around and making it twice a funny!
Here are some condensed quotes from him about his early life. These are just a sample of the jobs he worked.
Don Colard: This chisel was made by Chris Jenkins for purposes of cutting rock by hand. The steps we are standing on were made with this chisel. I worked in the quarry like others, different ones at different times.
The first quarry I worked in was about 1950. And then several years later, my younger brother, Leon, had a quarry job out in Noland, and we cut stone in the winter time. Since that time I haven’t been back in the quarry. We paid the owner for the rock that we took out. The price was 50 cent a ton. You need a strong work ethic to get it done. All we needed were flat shovels, a pick, two types of hammers.
I worked at anything where you could make a dollar, if it meant digging a ditch, you did it. I worked construction, up these canyons, the South St. Vrain to Estes Park, drilling with a jack hammer, and then blasting. When the ground froze, I’d work on building construction in Boulder.
My parents were Arthur and Anna. My mother taught school in the Silverdale School, on the Little Thompson River, which is now Spring Gulch Ranch. She told me how she got on the train and came out and immediately fell in love with the mountains. My dad was a farmer at heart. First they lived at Plattville, then Longmont, and then the Hubbell place just a mile or so out of town. My oldest brother was born there. Then we moved up to the homestead. I was just a baby, and Clair was six years old. I remember the names of all twelve of my siblings. They were all about two to three years apart. (Today he is the only surviving child.)
My granddad bought the Rowell Ranch in 1925, and he did farm it some, and got some people to help him farm it. We helped a lot, like putting up hay. In 1940, he sold that to my dad, so we had two ranches. Clair was there for eight or ten years, and during the war. I was in the war for three out of the four years I served. When I came home from the war, he decided he wanted to get out of there. He assumed I’d run the family farm.
I was making money every year and paying off my debts, but when the drought hit, I couldn’t buy the stock feed for the winter time. If it don’t rain, you don’t get crops. I was losing money on my cattle. I was almost foreclosed on, so I went out and got a construction job. I paid it off $50 a month, and when they came to foreclose, I showed the cancelled check to the banker and told him that he better take the same road out that he came in on. (Don now lives in downtown Lyons.)
There was a lot of cattle in the old days, and my brothers and I took a notion that we wanted to learn to ride, and we’d round up the cattle. We’d use a loose rope, tie them to the fence, and then see if we could ride them. When I was 15 years old, I rode rodeos until I went into the service. I rode in the Denver show. I had time to think in the service. I thought, I wouldn’t want to survive the war, and get on one of those bulls, and get killed, so I quit!