Discussion series Decade by Decade based on Steamboat history book
Steamboat Springs — Annabeth Light Lockhart called growing up in Steamboat Springs in the 1920s and 30s “a wonderful time.”
She recalls family picnics on Sundays and riding horses and bicycles through town. Even through the Great Depression, she said, family and neighbors held fast to one another.
“We didn’t have everything, but it was a good life,” she said.
Lockhart is one of several longtime Steamboat residents who has ridden the booms and busts of Steamboat’s culture and economy through the decades.
Nine of them will join at noon today in Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library to share their perspectives in a new four-part discussion series called Decade by Decade.
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The first part will focus on life before World War II.
Many of the participants were interviewed for a book written and compiled by Harriet Freiberger and Ken Proper called “Then & Now: A History of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.”
“It’s part of the whole purpose of the book to help all of us know how this place got to be what it is,” said Freiberger, who will participate in the discussions, as well. “People come and go, and some stay. The ones who stayed are the ones who built this community.”
Annabeth Lockhart and her husband, Lloyd; Lewis and Betty Kemry; Vernon Summer; Margaret Hogue; Harold and Shirley Brenner; and Dean Brunner all stayed, and Freiberger said not all their anecdotes made the book.
The Decade by Decade sessions, which will run through October, will be a chance for the community to interact with their living history stories and perspectives, she said.
“When we started this project, the idea was to help us understand what builds a community,” Freiberger said. “We’ve tied it to American Western history, but it ties in what was going on in the rest of the country.
“We’re hoping people who come in from other places can identify with what was going on in the world. We’re trying to help all of us grow together in a good way, to understand ourselves.”
One way to begin to understand the community is by learning about the present through the lens of the past.
For example, Freiberger said some connections can be drawn between the Great Depression era and the economic recession the United States is experiencing today.
“I think hard times are things we go through, and I’m not sure those of us born after (World War II) understand hard times because we haven’t really had any,” she said. “Nothing like the 1930s and nothing like we’re experiencing today.”
Annabeth Lockhart, who was a teenager during the Great Depression, said although she sees signs of a recession today, it doesn’t compare to what Steamboat and the rest of the country went through in the 1930s.
“I think it was much worse then,” she said. “No one had any money, that’s all. There were lots of people that were hungry right at first because there was nothing. Then there was welfare and people could go get beans, mostly.”
Her family, who owned F.M. Light & Sons, never went hungry, she said, but they lived anything but the life of luxury.
“The business wasn’t all that lucrative,” she said. “But my father was a very hard worker, and we had a cow and chickens, and he hunted.”
She said she doesn’t think younger generations understand the kind of work that went into surviving those times and the frugality with which hers and other families pulled through.
But people can learn from the stories of her time.
“People can learn not to get everything you need and want,” she said. “You live frugally. We just didn’t have everything. You have to learn to do without. You can always tell the Depression babies because they never threw anything away.”
Overall, her picture of living in Steamboat her entire life is a bright one, accented by the ups and downs as the town surged around her from a population of 1,300 to almost 10,000.
But she feels no bitterness as she reflects on what Steamboat has become, and she hopes to connect some interesting anecdotes from her past to today’s residents through the Decade by Decade discussions.
“It’s still a great place to live,” she said. “It’s bigger, and there are good things about being bigger, too. There are more possibilities of things to do, and our family all lives here, and we love it. Change is not always bad.”
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