Colorado coolness!

I managed to flunk out of college after completing two years of time at Kent State University.

It was simple, really. I went to college hoping to be a chemistry teacher, and discovered these new things called "computers" which I spent all my time playing with instead of studying. My awesome room mates, Curt and Tom, enjoyed a game of Atari 2600 just as much as I did, but were not so absorbed with hacking games and writing new routines to the obsession I was.

In the end, my dad tried to force me to take accounting classes but that didn't work out, either. So he sat me down to have a talk with me. Here is how it went:

Son, you're all done with college. So now you have a few choices. One, you could get a job around here somewhere and move out of the house (This was Ohio, it's a WELFARE state. What jobs???) Two, you could join the service like your brother did (oh joy, four years of army life!) Or, I just happen to have right here a one-way ticket to Denver, Colorado. (And pulls it right out to show me. Huh?) What's in Colorado I ask? Jobs. He tells me it's my choice, that he can get his money back on the ticket if I choose not to go that route, etc, but it's looking the best of the three so off I go. Never left the small town USA before, and now I am dropped into this major American city. I was stunned!

But after a couple months staying with my oldest sister I got a job driving a drywall scrap truck and picking up scraps. It paid enough that I moved out into my own apartment. At the job sites, I watched the sparkys wiring outlets, the plumbers running copper, and of course my own company guys hanging wallboard. Apparently the guy I had replaced was a slooooow worker because I kept getting all the scraps loaded into the truck so fast I was in danger of working myself out of a job. The guys seemed to like me, so soon they found a spare pouch to hold screws and a beat up old screwgun. I would show up, scrap the place, and then spend most of my day hanging drywall with the rest of them. One day the boss "caught" me at it, watching me put up the sheetrock faster than some of the journeymen, and next thing I know I was "fired" from scrapping and had become an apprentice to a guy named Dave Smith.

This came with a $3 per hour raise, too! And my good luck that often happened to me in my life struck, because Dave wasn't just a drywaller. He was undeniably the best of the best, at least the best I have ever met in my life. He taught me everything, and I memorized it all. Soon the two of us were doing jobs by ourselves, where before it might have been a whole crew. I would cut headers and hang doors with him while talking about life, baseball, whatever. I knew what he was going to need before he even asked for it. Dave eventually did bids on jobs for the company, and our boss made money like he never had before.

Dave always suffered from sore knees, elbows, and shoulders. He wore braces and pads to help out. Once I realized he was no more than a few years older than me, I asked him how it happened. He said it was from hanging drywall!!! Between realizing that I too was going to grind down someday, and the fact we always worked indoors in summers (w/o AC most of the time) and outdoors in winter (often w/o heat!) I finally decided I had enough of this. So I went back to college in the evenings and got my computer science degree.

Before I jump to that, remember the Atari 2600 from college? I kept it, and when I moved to Colorado I brought it and an Atari 800 + 810 home computer system with me. This was 1984. As soon as I got out on my own, in the spring of 1985, I bought a modem, a 835. 300 baud and no ring detection. With help from a friend I met "online" ha ha I got BBS software and set up my own Atari BBS, Hozerville. That board was online until 1992, and became in its day the largest and most influential Atari board in all of Denver. I had the first Atari BBS with a hard drive, the first to have online games, and even a dating service. I was president of APPLE (Atari Public Program Library Exchange) and held monthly meetings at my apartment where scores of folks brought systems and TV's and exchanged software. This is also when I first started making home-made Atari 2600 carts. Eventually the board ugraded to 9600 baud, spun of lots of satelite sysops around the country (I used a modified AMIS which folks liked a lot) and my second line (if you don't know what a BBS is, sheeze!) was always off the hook. This hobby was a lot of my life! My #2 guy, my assistant sysop, was named Mark and we became best friends for years.

Speaking of best friends, when I went to Denver, my cousin Dave Dunn moved to Houston, TX for pretty much the same reason I did. He got a job and was thinking of moving up with me to work in Denver. He did something suprising, though - before he got here he got married! So it looked like I was going to move there instead. I went down for a week long visit and his wife, Vonda, the clever girl that she is fixed me up to meet a girl named Robyn. WOW what a girl. The one date on Sunday turned into a week of dates, and an engagement. Her parents were nice, she was nice and everything looked promising. I sent her a computer down and via PC Pursuit she would connect to my BBS and we would type back and forth for free, long distance charges being so expensive. (My son thinks his generation invented IM, ha!) But her father figured out I was from OHIO (he at first thought I was from Iowa, hey so I can't talk clearly!) and then I heard him say:

Grant was from Ohio. Sheridan and Pope were from Ohio. McClellan was from Ohio. SHERMAN was from Ohio. No yankee from Ohio is going to marry my daughter!

And he was right. Robyn's mother convinced her that I would move to Houston, marry her, and then move her away from her momma. So we didn't get married. Years later, in about 2004, I ran into Mrs Dossey and she lamented greatly that I didn't marry her daughter. I was strong in the faith then and remain so today - but Robyn married a local that kept her in Texas, but someone not strong spiritually and led her away from God. Her mother sure wishes she could have undone her part in that.

Of course I had a few other girlfriends. Kristy (back in Ohio) thought she had gotten pregnant at college and called me up scared. I agreed I would gladly marry her, and we made plans for her to come out. But all of a sudden I didn't hear from her and she didn't call me back. Turned out she wasn't pregnant, so all of a sudden she wasn't interested in me anymore. Then there was Monica, who I adored and sort of dated off and on for about 7 years. I married Karen, which is where I got my son, David Marcus (remember the two friends mentioned above?). She was my sister's husband's sister. Got that? So at Thanksgiving, etc I was the unmarried brother of my family and she was the unmarried sister. Everyone always sat by couples, and so we sat together. For some reason, she took it in her head that she HAD to marry me so I wouldn't do anything crazy, like marry Monica, so she chased me for a few years. She was delighted I didn't end up with Robyn, either. I find this sort of strange - Karen is rather pretty and I look like a toad. Toad then, toad now. But after I married her she ran off with the guy next door, leaving me with Dave at 8 months. That is the backdrop of my deciding I didn't want to be doing drywall the rest of my life and needed to get back to school and get a degree.

And then there was Lynne. She was about my age, just a couple years younger. Quiet, pretty, everything any guy would ever want but I kept chasing the wrong girls. Funny, serious, GODLY, and a true friend. We had always been friends, too, and remain so. For a while we dated and I got rather serious about her. Then I went on a trip to Ohio for a week and came back to find her dating someone else. After having a wife run off on me, then a nice, true friend girl stomp your heart, I was ready to be done with all of them. This is the #1 reason I moved from Denver to Colorado Springs. Away from Karen, Monica, and even Lynne.

In Colorado Springs, I was the "new" guy at church and Deniese was the "new" girl. We teased each other about who would get a job first (she did, of course!) I finally got the nerve up to ask her for a date about Valentines day, and we got engaged in about a month. I knew right away this was what it was all about!!! We got married later that year and I've never regretted it.

18 months after graduation, I finally got a computer job. For quite a while I was the best educated drywaller in all of the Springs. I would go on interviews and they would tell me straight to my face that if I was a woman they'd hire me, but as a white male I was out of luck. This was back in the days of job quotas and reverse descrimination. Ack! I had to take a huge cut in pay from being a drywaller as it was. I made about $16/hour and dropped back to $7, as a contractor. The job started right before I got married, so we decided to cancel our honeymoon until later when work was more steady. Eventually I got a contracting job at Sun. They wanted to hire me right away, but there was a hiring freeze on. A year later, still during the freeze, they brought in a girl about to graduate college and had me teach her everything I knew about my job and my day to day responsibilities. In spite of the overall freeze, they had decided to hire this girl and so she got my job. I did eventually get hired about 6 months later. Right away they allowed me to hire college interns, and in my time in Colorado I had about a dozen of them.

Eventally the company decided our site, which was making 40% of the entire division's profits, had to be shut down. Yeah, that didn't make sense to us, either. I ended up being relocated to Massachusetts. Out of 175 folks working in Colorado Springs, 4 of us moved here and today only two of us who got relocated here are still here. Some moved to California, and some were re-hired when Sun built the campus up near Boulder, in Broomfield. This Colorado campus did not exist when our site was closed or I would have gone there long before I ever moved to MA!!!

Here are some random memories from Colorado:

Snow. Once in late July! Oh my goodness.

Pat and Larry treating me like a son, and them being like parents. Probably the two most influential non-family folks in my entire life!

Hanging drywall in almost every single mini-mall, major mall, and sky scraper in all of Denver and the metro area. And writing "Monica is a Goddess!!!" in secret places above ceilings, behind walls, etc.

My basement apartment where the heat was so hot I would sleep with the windows open and wake up with snow piled up on my bed.

Lawn furniture for, well, furniture! We all gotta start somewhere!

LOTS of diapers and baby bottles. Watching the 'Vikes beat the Broncos with little Dave sleeping on my lap.

Crump Electronics and my ever questing for better and cheaper ways to make Atari carts, Atari home computer mods, and all kinds of gadgets. I sure did start taking a serious tilt into the electronics hobby!

Predicting three Broncos blowouts in the super bowl... and being RIGHT each time. I won a humdinger of a bet on the second one!!!

Pepe's Restaurante, the most amazing Mexican food, especially the home made chips/salsa and the Sante Fe Enchladas. YUM.

The 1977 Chevy Luv that I spray painted battleship grey. I loved that little pickup truck, wish I had a picture of it.

The speeding ticket! I had a roommate who turned out to be a jerk, and one day we were both visiting somewhere and Monica was there. I adored her but of course she adored Dave my roommate, who flirted with her like crazy. When we went back to our apartment, he laughed and told me he was just leading her on, he had zero interest in her whatsoever, but it was fun to jerk her around. Note to self - if ever in this situation, NEVER be the one to spill the beans to the girl. She will shoot the messenger every time! Instead, arrange it so she hears it from him, from someone else, ANYONE but you! But... I went to her house and told her, OF COURSE she accused me of being jealous, of making it all up, of trying to ruin any chance she had with Dave, etc. I was furious and when I left her house I got stopped for speeding, about 20mph over the speed limit.
The day of the court appearance arrived, and I had to show up for it. I guess because I was so far over there was no set fine, it was to be determined by the judge. We are called in alphabetical order. Right before my turn, this girl is called up. Same cop, same day, same place, and about the same speed as me. Anything to say for yourself? she's asked. No, your honor. He say this is her first offence so he fines her $180. Yikes!!! I don't have that kind of money! So then it's my turn. Anything to say for yourself? Yes, your honor. My girlfriend was being stupid and unreasonable and she made me pretty mad so I was thoughtless about the speed I was going. Judge says I can understand how that could happen. And fines me $60! True story!

The Denver Zephyrs. First game ever, I was there!

All those books I read from the Columbine library. Niven, Poul, Bear, Heinlein, I couldn't get enough of them!

The townhouse dad bought that I finished the basement in, right down the hill from the "Funplex". Also, seeing the baloonists land almost right on top of our house!

Playing Risk and Monopoly with Rob Dallas and Karen always glowering at us.

Lefty my (duh!) left-handed Atari friend.

Heritage Square and TJ Mullens amazing Dinner Playhouse Melodrama!

The Phantom of the Opera date that wasn't a date. Sorta. Know what I mean?

Playing chess (and golf) with Virgil, who was a master player at chess and hit a hole in one which I witnessed. Too bad he was too old to be able to see it drop in for himself! He thought we made it up for a long time afterwards.

The Mile High Flea Market. What an AMAZING place!

Billy Joel (twice!)

Building the police station, the jail, the flea market, and MCI's headquarters in Colorado Springs. If you ever visit MCI, see all those round columns through the windows? Some 3 to 4 stories tall? I built EVERY SINGE ONE of them!

One day I was in Golden, Colorado on a job at a mini-mall doing a tenant finish. I hear my name and turn around to see Larry Campbell and some suits. I chat with him for a few minutes about church, Monica his daughter, and general "good to see you and run into you" stuff like that. He introduces me to his friends, Pete and Joe, and I name Daryl and Dave who are with me. After he's gone, my friends look at me amazed. How do you know this guy? From church, of course. Oh, and I kind of date his daughter off and on. Larry works for Coors Energy - his friends for lunch that day are Pete and Joe... Coors.

Attending college at Metropolitan State in downtown Denver. Who would have thought a Wiley Coyote fan like me would graduate a RoadRunner!?!

My trip to Yellowstone, and that week long stay at the Stanley Hotel (where the Shining and Dumb and Dumber was filmed). Finally a honeymoon!

Having folks come over from church and while we watched a movie or played games I had them peeling labels off old Atari carts so I could reuse the cases for new games. They always thought that was either crazy or genius!

Steve, Dave's adopted older brother who lived with us for over a year and saved enough money to buy his own house.

The time crooks tried to steal the radio out of the tracker by cutting the vinyl top to unlock... the already unlocked doors. All they took was the cheap flea market seat covers, anyway! What losers!

The Rail Road museum, the mint, the Museum of Natural Sciences, and lots of Dinosaurs!

The Sky Sox, watching Trent and Webster and Ty. The year they won the AAA world series! Saving Deniese from the fly ball Larry Walker on rehab popped up RIGHT on her head! Doesn't it figure, the one day I didn't take my glove to the game.

Feeding Brewster (my wife's pomer) a couple cans of dog food (a normal serving was half a can) and the mess I got to clean up (but he thought I was awesome for feeding him so much!)

Amonte, the peach faced love bird that we thought was a guy but laid eggs! Also loved me, but would bite Dave, Deniese, Brewster, and anyone else foolish enough to get near it! Pretty Bird! Pretty Bird! I knew we should have taught it to say I Don't Bite instead...

All those sunsets. And watching the snow fall 30 miles away while you are standing in bright sunshine.

Blowing bubbles and watching them "shatter" because they froze before they hit the ground. The snow not melting but just "disappearing" into the air. Snowfalls over 30" in one day (yikes!)

Beau Jo's pizza. How I would dearly love to have some of that again!

Our little house on Sacramento Place, where we added a bathroom, built on a dining room, pushed out a deck, expanded the car port, as always built the required backyard shed, and bricked in a great big patio. The Tom and Jerry ironing board and oversized swamp cooler made that house just perfect - so we had to move of course.

Our family trip to Carlsbad Caverns where Deniese and Dave were close to croaking from heat stroke (but the 110+ heat didn't bother me at all, go figure!) and Dave being disappointed because he wanted the bats to fly out and come land on us like butterflies. Yikes!