Copyright © 2008 Henrietta W. Hay
Grand Junction Does Change
August 15, 2008
This morning I took a trip. It was not to Denver or San Francisco or any of those exciting places, but to the past. Actually, it was to Orchard Mesa right here in River City. And I hardly recognized it.
About ten years ago a friend took me out to see the Okagawa farm. We went out Unaweep, past Orchard Mesa Junior High School, shaded houses and lots of space. Today we went again. This time on our way to the farm we went across the new 29 Road bridge, turned right and I lost it. New houses and buildings and streets are everywhere. The farm is still there, but almost hidden by city.
If one section of Grand Junction has changed that much in ten years, I thought about the tremendous changes that have taken place in my home town (well, it has been my home town for over half my life) in sixty years.
As I look out my window in the Commons, I can see the cars on Patterson Road. I remember what that was when I came 1945, a narrow, dusty two lane road. In the early fifties the dust was so bad that the farmers got together with the city, and laid down asphalt.
Then in the 80's the city decided do a major improvement, and assessed the landowners along Patterson huge amounts of money. The uproar was immediate and fierce. According to Doralyn Genova, the city's power to force improvement was ended and the city council was recalled. But the road was improved. As a bonus, the lengthy fight helped train a future county commissioner.
Recently a letter to the editor from Barbara Hyde Boardman of Littleton, really kicked my memories into high gear. In 1945 Main Street was - well, just like any other small town Main Street, aging streets and sidewalks, congested with traffic.
City manager Joe Lacy and a committee of citizens with vision and energy didn't see it that way. In Barbara's words, "We drew up the plans argued loudly over changes, persuaded Main Street merchants cough up the money…sweated over construction that made it happen."
In the spring of 1962 Operation Foresight began reconstruction of Main Street. In May, 1963, the project was completed, including extensive landscaping. And now we have a Main Street of distinction - welcoming and beautiful.
The city was awarded All America City recognition by Look magazine for the innovative and successful downtown shopping park.
Barbara Hyde Boardman is the only surviving member of the group that made it happen, but we all owe this group a debt of gratitude.
And then there was a building. On 5th street, a block north of North Ave. there was a big, vacant space full of weeds and dust and a couple of lonely trees. Then, one day I drove by and big machines were digging up the ground-and eventually there was a High School filling the space.
Just a short time ago I read that Columbine Elementary School had been torn down. Back in the 50's that building was the Grand Junction High School.
The last quarter of 1955 the whole high school population was squeezed into the second floor of the old school. But in January, 1956, the construction was finally finished and
they moved into their new building. Grand Junction High School had a new home. My son John was in the second class to graduate from that building.
So that is what my trip to Orchard Mesa started. I think I need to go back again and see what else is new.