Fake News or Storytelling

Post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

In the 1870s the Signal Corps decided they would place a signal station on the top of Pikes Peak. Once the building was completed, the hardy men who lived up there set about doing their job. Since no one in the United States had lived at the altitude of 14,000+ feet, the stories the men told of finding animals living that high were met with wonder.

One story from the Colorado Springs Weekly Gazette told of a ‘monster’ swimming in the lake just down from the summit made the editorial from December 12, 1873. The piece further stated that the Ute’s who lived in the mountains had a “Tradition of the lake being inhabited by a large and terrible demon, which has devoured several of their number in years gone by, and whose anger and evil influence they are always anxious to appease; it is almost impossible, in fact, to get to you to pass near the shores of Lake. Be this as it may, Mr. S declares that the animal is positively there, and that his statement will yet be verified by others.”

pikes peak signal station usgs image
Pikes Peak Signal Station from USGS files pikespeak.us.com

From these humble beginnings, which started out as information from the men stationed on the Peak, one Sargent O’Keefe built stories that enthralled a nation and perhaps the world in 1876 and onward. To this day, there are still photos and stories from his writings that catch people with their believability.  He told of  fighting off rats along with his wife, but they were unable to save their baby.  He later told of killing seventeen deer with a .32 caliber Smith & Wesson and then tying them to his mule Balaam who with the Sargent went through 20′ drifts of snow on the way to the summit. The worthy Sargent continued his stories, to include the Pikes Peak Volcano erupting, his donkey going on a bender, etc. 

For those who would like to read the complete ‘stories’ you can find them at this link: The Pikes Peak Prevaricator  (Scroll down to this title)

Even though editorials were run denying the truth of O’Keefe’s story, explaining his Rat Story was merely a ‘clever hoax’, people who traveled to the top of Pikes Peak wanted to know about the rats and see the grave & monument.

When Sargent O’Keefe was released from service, there were those who wrote editorials that he was being let go because he was more popular than anyone else in service at the time.  When he passed away on 1895 the following ‘obituary’ was a carried in the local Colorado springs newspaper: 

“Sgt. O’Keefe, once famous as the officer in command of the Pike’s Peak signal station died in Denver Saturday night of stomach trouble. At the time of his death was serving as the stoker of a fire engine in Denver and leaves a wife and son. He was about 40 years of age. O’Keefe spent two years at the Naval school in Annapolis, was discharged for hazing: then he joined the signal service and was sent to take charge of the Pike’s Peak station soon after it was located; after leaving the service about 1882 he went into the railroad railway mail service, in which he served for years and was very a very efficient man. O’Keefe is well remembered by the older residents of this city with whom he was a great favorite. He it was concocted so many “fake” stories about the old Peak. It was his custom to come down off the hill and spent his time loafing around the newspaper offices. He was a great favorite with old Major Price, who conducted a paper here in the early days and he it was who gave them circulation mostly, although many of them appeared in the Gazette. It was O’Keefe who started the story about a volcano in the peak and the possibility of an eruption. It cause so much comment that even the Scientific American discussed it. His rat story is too well-known for comment, and to this day [1895] the fiction of the grave of “Bryn O’Keefe” is kept on the summit of the Peak.”

At the time of the story of the “Rat”, many articles were published by scientists to disprove his story. None the less people seemed more ready to believe a good story rather than ‘dry truth’.

Hope you enjoyed this story from the past that still echoes today. As you know I have a story in the anthology “One Yuletide Knight” and watch for a new novel coming out the beginning of the year. That is a story of chasing a chance to reclaim a dream. It is a historical western romance.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and rest of the Holiday season.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Every step you take should be a prayer.
And if every step you take is a prayer then you will always be walking in a sacred manner. 
Oglala Lakota Holyman.
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Old West Entertainers

Post by Doris McCraw

Doris

I love entertainment; movies, plays, opera, and symphony along with so many other forms. One thing I always stop and read when I’m researching is the entertainment that those in the 1800s enjoyed. Since I’ve been in the ‘stacks’ lately researching an outlaw for an upcoming presentation and paper, I thought I’d share some ‘lighter’ news.

Many think of the Old West as cowboys, outlaws, and generally an overall free for all. That was not always the case. There were many a traveling company who were available and put on many shows across the Western states. You also individual entertainers who ‘rode the circuit’.

In Colorado Springs in 1881, the town was treated to a presentation of Camille.  You can follow the link to the ‘review’ of the event. camille in colorado springs 1881

How about the “Old Time Medicine Show”? Back Stage with a Medicine Show Fifty Years Ago by William P Burt is an article from the Colorado Magazine from July 1942. If you would like to read the article, and I suggest you do, follow this link: http://www.historycolorado.org/sites/default/files/files/Researchers/ColoradoMagazine_v19n4_July1942.pdf

Back then, there was no television, radio let alone computers and streaming. Many people found ways to entertain themselves with dances, musical recitals. If you look at the city directories of the day, you would find a number of musicians and actors offering their services as teachers. I suppose dreams of making it were just a valid back then as now.

You had people like Lilly Langtree, Sarah Bernhardt, Eddie Foy, Blind Tom, Lotta Crabtree and many a traveling theater companies. Of course there were the Booth’s, one of whom became famous for his actions as opposed to his talents, which from reviews of the day were considerable.

So the next time you turn on the television, radio or listen to your device, remember the ‘entertainers’ who became famous in the early day. Maybe even check out your own newspapers to find out who entertained folks back in the day. You may be surprised.

And to book release news, I’ve a story in the newly released Medieval anthology “One Yuletide Knight” from Prairie Rose Publications.

One Yuletide Knight by [Macgillivray, Deborah , Townsend, Lindsay, Breeding, Cynthia, Raines, Angela, Kincaid, Keena, Sherry-Crews, Patti, Wells, Beverly, Thompson, Dawn]
http://amzn.to/2lVmma1
Doris Gardner-McCraw -Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

 

Halloween 1870s Style

Post by Doris McCraw

Doris

First, I’ll get my new story/promotion out of the way. I have a story in the anthology “One Yuletide Knight” that is now up for pre-order and will be available as an ebook on November 2, 2017 with the print version available shortly after. You can purchase it at: One Yuletide Knight

With October 31, Halloween, approaching, I thought it might be fun to look at how people perceived that date in the 1870s in what most would call the West. Below are some actual pieces from papers of that time.

Here we have almost an advertisement for the evening from the Atchison Globe from Friday October 31, 1879 issue in Atchison, Kansas

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And this warning from the Lawrence, Kansas, Lawrence Republican Daily Journal of October 24, 1878. Seems mischief has been around for longer than we may have thought.

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For the history of the day we can thank the Sedalia, Missouri, Sedalia Daily Democrat of Saturday, November 2, 1878. 

hallow1

hallow

Of course no Halloween would be without the special events that take place. Here from Alden, Iowa issue of the October 10, 1879 issue, we have the following 

halloween fest

And finally this clip from a piece called “The Fairy Quest” from the Saturday, October 4, 1879 issue of the Republic County Journal of Scandia, Kansas.

clip from story halloween

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of what folks back in the 1870s thought about October 31 and Halloween. There are so many stories, and I’m sure each of you have your own. However you celebrate of not, enjoy the fall season and don’t eat too much candy.  I know I won’t be bobbing for apples like I did when I was younger, but I might have a piece of…

Doris Gardner-McCraw -Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

 

 

Some Thoughts on History

Post by Doris McCraw

Doris

I’m in the midst of writing a novel due to be released in January. I’m also writing a paper for the library districts history symposium. Additionally, I’m thinking of taking the nanowrimo challenge this November. 

So you may wonder why I chose ‘Some Thoughts on History’ as the subject of this post with the other projects on tap. Quite simply, I’m constantly in awe of what I find as I research and write. What history has to share with those who look is priceless. 

I’ve chosen to share the thoughts of thinkers who also have their own ideas on the subject. While we may not always agree, to know history is to know ourselves.

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“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” Winston S. Churchill

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ” Michael Crichton

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” George Orwell

“History, like love, is so apt to surround her heroes with an atmosphere of imaginary brightness.” James Fenimore Cooper 

“Study the past if you would define the future.” Confucius

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Carl Sagan

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?” Marcus Tullius Circero

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”  Rudyard Kipling

“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Winston S Churchill

“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”  Elie Wiesel

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Some quotes are funny, some were thoughtful and others somewhat controversial. All are important, for history is who we are, and to delve into that well of knowledge is something that is precious to ourselves and those who will follow after. 

Happy reading, and enjoy your own form of creativity for you are sharing your history with the world.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

 

RESPECT

post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

If anyone has followed my timeline on Facebook, they would have seen the post about the theft at Colorado Springs Evergreen Cemetery. Someone came in and stole the metal fencing from around a small grave in the pioneer section. The headstone, which was leaning against the fencing is now lying on the ground, having been damaged at some time in the past.

I’ve thought about this act of ‘violation’ since the event. It also brought back memories of working with delinquent teens. There were times during my conversations with those teens, while they were in lock-up, where I would ask them why they thought it was acceptable to take from others. Usually they would say something like, ‘I wanted it’, or ‘they had more than they needed’. When asked how they would feel if someone took their things, they would get defensive and say that no one should touch their stuff. There was a total disconnect from what they were doing and how it made them feel if it happened to them.

The grave that had the fencing stolen was from a young girl, Ida May Cumming, who died on August 6, 1879 in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Her parents were J. (John) F. Cumming and T. Cumming. He was a teamster according to the city directory. The newspaper gave her age as 5, but the record I found of the actual burial stated she was 3 years, 6 months and 18 days. There is no record of her parents burial in the cemetery.

The above event and memories bring up a feeling of frustration that respect has flown out the window. I agree, we can’t keep everything, but to lose history because someone wants what belongs to someone else hurts. Do people have no respect for that which is outside themselves because they have none themselves? Is it that they feel entitled? I don’t know. I do know somewhere something was lost, and perhaps it’s time we started bringing it back by showing and expecting respect for ourselves, others and our history.

One commenter on my page told of two young men who were caught being disrespectful and destructive in their local cemetery. They had to research and write about the people whose stones they had damaged, and present it to the public. Some may say, ‘they are dead, they don’t care’, but if we chose to not care, then what happens to our caring about the living?

Do I have the answer? No, but I feel by asking the questions I get closer to answers, and that is important. We can’t fix it if we don’t ask and listen for answers. It is not a one size fits all, except the part about respect. As Aretha Franklin sang, “All I’m asking is for a little respect”.

Angela Raines FB photo 
Doris Gardner-McCraw –

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History
Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines Facebook: Click Here

 

 

Why I Like Mark Twain-beyond the obvious

post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

Ah yes, Mark Twain. “Huckleberry Finn”, “Tom Sawyer” and so many more stories this man, born Samuel Clemens, wrote for the world to experience. Ernest Hemingway once wrote of “Huckleberry Finn” that ‘modern American literature came from that one book’.

There are many who admire his work, others who wonder what the fuss if about. We each have our opinions about his work. I personally always loved “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” and “The Prince and the Pauper”. 

 

There are many reasons to like Mark Twain, but for me it is more a sense of understanding of the area he grew up in. I myself grew up about an hour from Hannibal Missouri, where Twain spent his childhood. The Mississippi River was a major part of my early years, much like his. While I didn’t work on a river boat, I did spend many a day boating on the river, fishing and swimming. He even spent time in Keokuk, Iowa just across the bridge from Illinois, my home state. He helped his brother Orion Clemens put out the Keokuk Journal.

Image result for photos of mark twain
Mark Twain – Wikipedia

There is something about mid-west sensibilities that Twain tapped into and enhanced in his chronicling of the human condition. I think that may be the part I admire most. He tried and was unsuccessful at jobs until he found his calling. While he had his critics and still does, his observations and ability to make you laugh while making you think is still as relevant today as it was in his time.  

I leave you with some classic Twain: Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain

The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.

And finally, classic mid-west Twain: Grandfather’s Old Ram – Mark Twain part 1

Grandfather’s Old Ram – part 2

Doris Gardner-McCraw -also writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

 

 

Outside the Comfort Zone

Post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

When I began this journey of writing there were moments of trepidation. Not strong mind you, for if anything I do tend to live outside the comfort zone from within my own comfort zone.  Confused yet? 

Life is an adventure, a journey. My comfort zone is keeping myself happy by doing things that bring me joy. Sometimes those things are outside of what I’ve been doing, hence, I’m doing things outside my comfort zone from within the constructs of what is a comfort zone for me. I will say, it has kept life from being boring.

Am I great at everything I’ve tried? Absolutely not. Have I enjoyed everything I’ve tried? Of course not. Am I glad I tried? A resounding YES! That is why I can say I’ve sung and played music professionally. I can say I’ve scored a children’s show and a short film. I can say I acted professionally and now I can add writing to the list. Please, I am not bragging. The point I’m making is, by saying YES and moving into an area that others might shy away from, life can be full of fun, so many exciting new things to try. It’s moving out of the comfort zone and giving it a try. If you fail, and I have, who cares. It’s the journey, the lessons, and the great people you meet along the way that make it all worth while.

home for his heart angela raines
My first story, published 2014

I’ve just signed a contract for my third Medieval story to appear in an upcoming anthology for my publisher. This would never have happened had I not said yes to the challenge. Believe me I’m having a great journey as I know many of you are also. So next time something is outside the ‘box’ but interest you, go for it. 

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Neale Donald Walsch

and of course the classic quote attributed to many authors:

If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -also writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

The Power of Poetry

Post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

What is it about poetry that touches the soul? What makes certain combinations of words haunting, happy or beautiful? This poem by Helen (Hunt) Jackson may help us understand the power of words.

Glimpses

As when on some great mountain-peak we stand,

In breathless awe beneath its dome of sky,

Whose multiplied horizons seem to lie

Beyond the bounds of earthly sea and land,

We find the circles space to vast, too grand,

And soothe our thoughts with restful memory

Of sudden sunlit glimpses we passed by

Too quickly, in our feverish demand

To reach the height,–

So darling, when the brink

Of highest heaven we reach at last, I think

Even that great gladness will grow yet more glad,

As we, with eyes that are no longer sad,

Look back, while Life’s horizons slowly sink,

To some swift moments which on earth we had.

From the book “Poems” by Helen Jackson

Little Brown and Company 1908

First appearance in publication September 19, 1872, New York Independent

One thing I love about the poetry of Helen Hunt Jackson is the musicality it has when read aloud. Not read as one usually reads poetry, with the breaks and breaths at the end of the line, but read as prose. If you read this poem aloud, reading through the complete thought, its true beauty comes through. Try reading it through more than once. Try different combinations of breathes and thought combining. The beauty of this poem; each time you read it something different blossoms into being. I believe that true poetry never has the same story, same meaning twice. Each it will touch a different chord.

As you read this or any poem, keep an open mind and heart. Helen was favorably compared to many of the poets of her time. For some she was actually considered the best; male or female. It is interesting that Helen was so popular during her lifetime. With her poetry, essays, and novels she able to make a living as a writer. Emily Dickinson, a childhood friend who lived down the street from Helen in Amherst, did not become popular until her death. Now the tables have turned, Emily is now the more well know of the two. Each had their own style, and each wrote beautiful pieces of work.

The next time you are looking for something do to, search online for some of Helen’s poetry, or better yet, find a book of her poems, and start reading. To me the gift of the poet, and for me that is Helen, is the joy of finding something new every time I read their work. Give poetry, especially Helen’s, a try.  For me, poetry, especially Helen’s will never grow old.

 

Doris Gardner-McCraw –

also writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

The Many Names of Helen Hunt Jackson

Post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

Helen Hunt Jackson is not a well-known name to many. This of course is partially due to the fact she died in 1885. Additionally, she had many names during her lifetime, one of which was not Helen Hunt Jackson.

She was born Helen Maria Fiske in 1830. She carried this name until her marriage to Edward Bissell Hunt on October 28, 1852. At that time, as was the custom, she assumed her husband’s surname. It was not until after Edward’s death and Helen started writing for publication that we begin to see use of the many names now associated with Helen Hunt Jackson.

One of the first pseudonyms she used was the name Marah. In the Hebrew tradition the name Marah means ‘bitter’, which fits Helen’s life at that time. She had already lost her first son at eleven months in 1854, and then her husband, Edward in 1863. The final blow was the death of her remaining child, her second son, in 1865. According to the biography “Helen Hunt Jackson” by Ruth Odell, the name Marah appeared in 1865, the year of Rennie’s death, with the first poems published by Helen and continued throughout that year. 1865 was also the year H.H. appeared.

Of all the pen names used by Helen, H.H. was probably the one most frequently used by Helen. Of all her works H. H. is the one most commonly seen. Still as an author who was writing to be published at a time women were not using their ‘real’ names, Helen made use of additional pen names to increase her options for publication.

In 1867 and again in 1868 Helen made use of the name Rip Van Winkle for at least two of her prose works.

Helen briefly used Helen Hunt and Mrs. Helen Hunt in 1868 and Marah showed up again in 1870. There is also one instance where she used the name ‘Justice’.

After her marriage to William S. Jackson in 1875, Helen then used the name Helen Jackson in her correspondence but continued using H. H. in her writings. Helen had said she did not use the name ‘ Hunt’ because there was no reason to constantly remind William of Edward. Also, in that time, women used the last name of the man they were married to.

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Gravesite- Helen – Wife of William S. Jackson, 1885 ‘Emgravit’ (As per her instructions)

For her novels Helen used H. H., No Name, and Saxe Holm. If you were to read her ‘romance’ stories they would probably have the name Saxe Holm. For many years there was a question as to who the author really was, for Helen had made her publisher swear to tell no one.

In her autobiography Francis Wolcott (Mrs. Francis Bass when Helen knew her) states that ‘she figured out who Saxe Holm was from the various things Helen had said, and Helen did not deny the assumption’.

After 1879, when Helen heard Standing Bear of the Ponca tribe speak, her focus became the plight of the Ponca Indians and from there the plight of all Native people. She was still using H.H., when her non-fiction work a “Century of Dishonor”, was published. There is some discussion that she may have used her real name Helen Jackson on “Century of Dishonor”, but instead it was used for her “Reports on the Conditions of the Mission Indians”. This was a report for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and also may have been published for the public.

The only work other than the above mentioned report that was published under her real name, Helen Jackson is “Ramona”.

It seems that the use of Helen Hunt Jackson for Helen’s works occurred after her husband William married her niece, also named Helen. This change may have been to avoid confusion between Helen Jackson the author, who died three years prior to William’s second marriage, and Helen Jackson the niece.

During Helen’s lifetime, it was normal for female authors to use pseudonyms which Helen did. Still with the use of H.H. it was obvious to those who followed her work, who this really was. According to the same biography by Ruth Odell, Helen wanted people to know who she was. If you look at the work with all the ‘names’ used by Helen you will find a substantial body of work. Helen excelled not only at poetry, but also essays, novels and short stories. She wrote for children and adults, both with equal skill.

If you get the chance, check out the works of Helen by any of her names. You will not be disappointed. Many of her works are in the public domain, but the one most might enjoy is “Nelly’s Silver Mine” Google Books, Nelly’s Silver Mine, one of the first children’s book to make use of place as almost another character.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -also writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines BooksHere 
Photo and Poem: Click Here
Angela Raines FaceBookClick Here

It Happened On This Day

Post by Doris McCraw

Doris

It’s July 10, 2017 and do you know what happened on this day? I’ve always found these pieces of history fascinating. Maybe it’s the researcher in me, or maybe it’s just an insatiable desire to know. 

Whatever the reason, I did a bit of searching and guess what I found?

  • In 1821 the United States took possession of Florida which they had recently purchased from Spain.
  • In 1850  Millard Fillmore was sworn in as president, the day after Zachary Taylor died.
  • In 1890  Wyoming became the 44th state admitted to the Union.
  • In 1913  The temperature in Death Valley, California, hits 134 °F (57 °C), the highest temperature ever to be recorded on Earth.
  • In 1925 – Scopes Trial: In Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called “Monkey Trial” begins. John T. Scopes, a young high school science teacher accused of teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act. This event became the basis of the play and later the film “Inherit the Wind”. It starred Spencer Tracy, Dick York, Gene Kelly along with other well-known actors.
  • In 1938  Howard Hughes set a new record by completing a 91-hour airplane flight around the world.

Like the Scopes Trial, pieces of history have the potential not only to help us understand where we came from, but it also gives us great prompts to tell our own stories. The events I listed are what fascinate me. Today is also the birthday of William Blackstone, know for writing the commentaries of law for England, and the basis for the teaching of law in England and North America. 

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I also would be remiss if I didn’t let you all know that Nikola Tesla was also born on this day. Since he had a laboratory here in Colorado Springs, he is a favorite for many who live here. His legend also brings visitors from all over the world. If you’ve never thought about him, the one thing he predicted was the use of cell phones, and that is just the beginning.

July 10 is also National Pina Colada day…so while you are catching up on the history of the day, sit back, relax and enjoy a Pina Colada. The Pina Colada Song – Escape 

Doris Gardner-McCraw -also writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here