Some Rueful Revelations on Family
I love Colorado, notwithstanding its explosive growth, because I grew up there. So, to satisfy a yearning, I returned a few weeks ago and stayed at the Tarryall River Ranch near Lake George (highly recommended).
There I caught about two dozen trout, more than ever before. Seventh heaven. At 8,600 feet, the altitude was difficult and I had to huff and puff just to roll over in bed.
Later in the week, I visited my Colorado Springs cousin, whom I hadn’t seen for a number of years. We reminisced, and she brought me a page from the Sunday, Sept. 6, 1925, Gazette-Telegraph, which she had found in her collections and thought I should have.
It included a picture and writeup of my mother’s wedding the night before: “The bride was given in marriage by her father. She wore a white crepe satin gown, simply made with a circular skirt. Her slippers were of white satin, and she carried a shower bouquet of Ophelia roses and lilies of the valley.”
Twenty-six days later, her new husband was dead, of complications with peritonitis.
Mom took a long time grieving and went to Simmons College in Boston to study social work, which she practiced in Newton. She later went to Sweden to try to get her life straightened out. It was there that she met Ivar Krueger, the Swedish match king — wealthy and good-looking.
He romanced her and even offered to give her $10,000 to go to Paris. But Mom refused. And, according to her own statements, Krueger never laid a hand on her. She came back to Colorado and married my father in May 1931.
When my wife’s family and the Thomases first met, my mom bragged about her association with Ivar Krueger before learning that Krueger had sold my wife’s grandfather and Lee Higginson a ton of worthless German bonds, which bankrupted them. “Lee Hig” was a prominent Boston-based investment bank during the 1840s to 1932, home of many members of the Boston Brahmin establishment. It financed the growth of General Motors.
Krueger later committed suicide by jumping out of a Paris hotel window. You can bet that his name never came up again.
Cousin Martha and I also talked about her father, who got into trouble drinking and fathering a child out of wedlock. He had several interests, including owning the burro concession at the top of Mount Manitou and owning the Molly Kathleen gold mine in Cripple Creek.
He and Strategic Air Command General Curtis LeMay were friends. He later divorced and left the family nearly destitute. Martha said she thought he was involved with the mob.
Then came the story of Cousin Carolyn, who loved horses and was given a rider’s helmet for Christmas in 1950. The following Jan. 14, she was riding (sans helmet), and her horse slipped on a patch of ice and she died instantly from the fall.
My childhood friend Bob Foster once gave me a detailed description of how babies are made, to which I replied, “My mom and dad would never do that!”
My dad, who shied away from any carnal information at all and suffered through his “birds and bees” discussion with me in about 20 seconds, told me just before he died that I was conceived in La Jolla, Calif., a fact of which I’m quite proud.
My grandfather was one of eight boys and son of Judge Morris of El Paso County, who had come to Colorado via covered wagon to get relief from tuberculosis. Granddad began as a teller in a local bank and rose to be president. He never smoked, swore or drank spirits. But I learned later that he had fallen for a previous girlfriend I had and met her for lunch several times when he was in his 80s!
Disgusting but true was the fact that my grandfather on my father’s side died of an STD and left his wife and children in an awkward state. Glad I never met him.
Some sad disclosures for sure, for one family.
Andy Thomas lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at dahtmuth58 @aol.com.
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