CLICK HERE to see the signatures of those who accompanied LBJ as well as Colorado's former Republican Governor John A. Love.
I grew up in a lily white suburb of Denver. We had no black students at any of my schools and probably none in Jefferson County located west of Denver and extending into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We lived a very comfortable post World War II life in an economy that was booming. I had no reference to poverty or racism because I didn't see it. But I knew it existed because I watched the nightly news and saw stories on TV about how blacks were treated in other parts of America - especially the south. Those of us in our sixties and older probably remember those grainy black and white nightly news clips which showed sit-ins, marches, bombings, lynchings, murders, riots, and speeches by civil rights leaders reacting to the turmoil of that era. The Civil War ended slavery, but it had not given black people equal rights to whites. Blacks could not vote in many parts of the south. They could not use restrooms in bus stations or eat a meal at a lunch counter. They could not go to college in many places. Segregation was a method by which the white majority kept the black minority in its place. It was a way of life. In Denver blacks lived in one part of town. A federal judge created forced busing to desegregate Denver's public schools. A lot of white folks fled to the suburbs in response.
In June 1965 I got a summer job at a guest lodge located in Upper Bear Creek Canyon just outside of Evergreen, Colorado. Historically the lodge had been the summer home of one of Colorado's richest families. In 1965 the owners were a middle aged couple who ran the place with the aid of their adult daughter and her husband plus the summer crew of four or five college students. I was one of them. I had never had a job in the hospitality business before that job. One day I had to replenish the glasses in the bar. I carefully stacked each cocktail glass in a neat row on glass shelves with a mirror behind. I put one glass too many on the glass shelf. The entire wall of glasses came crashing down. I was mortified. I found an online photo of that room as it exists today. Instead of stocking glasses, I laid kindling and logs for future fires throughout this mountain castle and other odd jobs that did not include anything in the bar area.
Willie got his revenge on Sadie without doing or saying anything. When the guests arrived the next day there was no cook. The owners' daughter and I drove into Evergreen to find already prepared food to feed the guests. There wasn't such a thing in 1965 Evergreen. So we ended up at the Safeway store where we bought Swanson TV chicken dinners. We took them back to the lodge. I remember thinking how loony it was that we were taking TV dinners up a private gated half mile road to this luxurious mountain top retreat to serve to people who were expecting a wonderful meal. We heated the TV dinners and plated them along with a sprig of parsley. We made salads and served some form of desert as well.
The next morning the college kids cooked breakfast. I remember one guest asked me for some jelly or preserves. I knew Sadie had two different kinds of preserves. One was a cheap jar which was to be served to guests and an expensive jar which was reserved for family use. I reasoned that since the guests had to eat a TV dinner instead of a real meal prepared by a real chef they should be treated to the more expensive preserves. Sadie noticed I had done and walked through the elegant dining room with windows looking out to the wooded grounds and removed the bowl from the table. She told me to replace the bowl the cheap preserves. I did as I was instructed.
The owners hired a new cook who started work later that day. We served bottle after bottle of champagne to the battery people that night. We kept the bubbly flowing and flowing. After all the guests paid for it. Sadie's husband who was referred to by all as The Colonel grilled the steaks. The new cook prepared the remainder of the meal. The guests had a really good night in this remarkable setting.
The next day was Sunday morning. I walked into the office and told Sadie I quit. I told the other kids. They all quit as well. I couldn't work for a crazy woman (or man). Until I started to write today's blog I forgot how wacko Sadie behaved over a jar of preserves and cruel she was to Willie. What a petty person she was. And what a miserable human being she was to treat a really nice man so meanly.
The President got landmark civil rights legislation enacted which has changed the course of American life for the past 52 years. But there are still people who are petty and carry on grudges over the way things used to be. They continue to use the States Rights argument to deny all people fair and equal treatment in these United States of America.Watch ALL THE WAY as it recalls the way we used to be and that the way some of still are. The echoes of that era are a part of our current political debate.