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The Valley Revisited

by Jo Cross

CUCHARA-  Sulphur Springs was a small resort area a few miles west of La Veta where many local people had summer homes. When Cuchara Camps became a growing resort, most of the local people moved up there.  Sulphur Springs had one strong drawing card that kept people going there, a marvelous dance hall and excellent bands, that attracted all of us.  That is where I saw a belly dancer. She was the girl singer with the band.  I was absolutely fascinated.  Phew!

    Some of the Walsenburg people who built in Cuchara, in the first two dacdes of the 1900’s, were the O’Byrne, Blanche Unfug, Lenzini, Massos, Marian Ariano, Furlong, Lichen, Kirkpatrick, and the local boy scout troop. Several Trinidad people built summer homes too.  The Atwoods, Nels Benston, Bancroft, Mabry, and Hawley.  Most of these cabins were built near what we called Downtown Cuchara, except for Kirkpatricks and Cliff House (Mobry), which were built on the edge of the park.

    George Mayes had left a large area west of the highway, as a park that was a popular place for Walsenburg people on Sundays.  They would come to enjoy the cool Cuchara days, bringing their picnic baskets, car robes, and cushions.  Most of them ignored us, but if they smiled at us, we’d stop to visit.

    Jim O’Byrne built a cabin for himself on the meadow south of Dodgton Creek.  He often loaned it to friends, and that is how we came to know many Walsenburg boys – Uggie Ugolini, Jim and Carl Tesitor. They were good dancers and a welcome addition to our largely feminine population.

    The Jamesons tore down the old pavillion and built a new handsome one in its place.  Unfortunately, for us kids who used to gather every night in the old place, we no longer had a meeting place, as the new pavillion was always locked except on dance nights.  Wednesday night was square dance night, when a three-piece combo, and an excellent caller took charge.  Few of the Cuchara kids knew how to square dance, so we usually sat and watched.  Asa Arnold came and asked me to dance, and when I said I didn’t know how, he said to come on, I’d never learn any younger.  He not only taught me how to do the squares, but explained what the caller was saying, and what it meant.  When the local boys saw me dancing with Asa, they asked other Cuchara girls.  Not to be left out, the Cuchara boys found partners who taught them the ropes.

    Satuday nights were round dances and were as well attended as Wednesday nights.  We got to know most of the La Veta and Walsenburg people who came to the dances, and made life-long friends.