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Leadville News – September 11

10th Mtn Memorial: Reverence and Repairs

September 11th Memorial Commemorations will be held across America today in honor of the thousands of people who lost their lives on – and since – that fateful day back in 2001. Today is also marked as a National Day of Service and Remembrance  that promotes community service. To that end, Leadville Today brings you a video about some of the upgrades which were made to the 10th Mountain Division Memorial located along Highway 24 West this past summer.

When it comes to the Leadville connection, it’s the 10th Mountain Division heroes that strike the heart of honor, so LT has also re-posted a favorite 10th Mountain tale which was shared by Edith Seppi, whom the community lost last year. So whether you are commemorating the 11th or honoring those from the 10th, its important to take a moment to remember all who were lost as a patriot. #NeverForget.

That Long Hill Down Into Camp Hale

By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today

There are certain stories that stay with you. Maybe it’s the genuineness with which they were told, or the details are so vivid that it paints a picture that lasts. This is such a story, which was told to me years ago by one of Leadville’s grand matriarchs, Edith Seppi, who passed away last fall on her Lake County ranch at the age of 95.

Edith Seppi Obituary photo

Edith Seppi

Edith Seppi moved to Leadville in February 1942 with her parents. Her father was a contractor, hired to build the present-day Sayer & McKee building, which was originally built on historic Harrison Avenue as the Safeway grocery store. Edith was nearly 20 years old, and Leadville was on the verge of another big boom cycle.

The contracts to build Camp Hale, the U.S. Army’s training grounds for the Tenth Mountain Division had also been awarded, and once that was project was complete, soldiers flooded into Leadville by the thousands.  

“Everywhere you looked there was Army,” explained Seppi, during one of the many interviews I had the honor of conducting with Edith over the years. The Leadville community had fully embraced the soldiers, with residents opening up their homes, making them feel part of their families.  The city seemed to come alive again, as the leaner years of The Depression began to fade into the background.

Remember this was the 1940s, there was no Interstate-70, no Vail Resorts. In fact, Leadville was the central point of mountain living, and these nearby World War II efforts provided the economic lift necessary to put the wind back into the sails of America’s Highest City. Town was bustling and once the local USO (United Service Organizations) was established, Leadville’s social calendar ramped-up to a level they had not seen in some time.

“We had dances at the Sixth Street Gym,” Edith explained, describing the impact that Camp Hale was having on the small mountain community. The bars were packed, the store shelves were stocked, and business was booming.   But as the months wore on, and the military efforts for the war increased, it all proved to be too much for Leadville.

CampHale

Camp Hale, the U.S. Army’s training grounds for the Tenth Mountain Division brought economic growth and thousand of soldiers to Leadville in the 1940s. Photo: Colorado Historical Society.

“Eventually the city council and mayor decided that they didn’t want the soldiers in town anymore,” explained Edith. “They put Leadville off-limits to the soldiers, and asked the military police to arrest any Army personnel who crossed the line!”

While such a decision is difficult to fathom, even by today’s standards, back then the new decree put a tremendous crimp in the young people’s social lives. And as is the case with most youth, regardless of the generation, they were bound to find a go-around for that! So, with the help of the USO, they came up with a new plan that would now bring the “Leadville girls” out to the Camp Hale Army barracks for the dances.

US Army Truck

A US Army truck similar to the one pictured here became the regular transport for the Leadville girls trips to the dances at Camp Hale, located north of town in the 1940s.

“From then on, the GI trucks would pick up us Leadville girls at the Sixth Street Gym and bring us down to Camp Hale,” said Edith. Now in the 1940s this 17-mile journey over Tennessee Pass, and down into valley was not on the paved thoroughfare you see today. It was a rough ride, on a rough road in an Army truck, with bench seating along the sides and a canvas roof.  But when you’re young, and looking for love in the arms of a soldier on the dance floor, you’ll endure all kinds of conditions to get you there. And so the Leadville girls did, for many months. But one Saturday night, that could have all changed.

“We were headed down to Camp Hale for a dance,” describes Seppi.  “And the Army truck was packed with us girls, in our formal dresses and high-heels.”  Up until then, the journey had been pretty routine with chatter about the young officers they’d hoped to see and latest dance crazes of the day.

“But then, as we got to that long hill that leads down into Camp Hale,” described Edith in such detail, it was if it had happened yesterday, “we really started to pick up speed.”  The Leadville girls began to bump up and down on those hard wooden benches; some of them knocked to the ground during the violent ride that had become anything but routine!

“By the time we hit the bottom of that hill, we had been tossed around like a salad,” Edith exclaimed. As the truck regained control, turning off Highway 24 into Camp Hale, the ladies collected themselves, along with their purses and high-heels as they made the final leg into the “dance hall.”

They were all pretty shook up, wondering what had happened. Later that night, the Leadville girls learned that the Army truck’s brakes had given out on that long hill down into Camp Hale. In fact, had it not been for a skilled Army captain at the wheel, they all might have perished in a fiery, high-speed crash! Can you imagine?!

In The Ville Head ShotI think about that story every time I drive that long hill down into Camp Hale.  Of course, I also pump my brakes, just in case! And now I’ll add wink and a nod for Edith Seppi, a woman I’m honored to have known. RIP

Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, LLC, a media company located in Leadville, Colorado which publishes LeadvilleToday.com and SaguacheToday.com.

 

tenth-mountain-mural 10th Mtn

On July 22, 2015 the 10th Mountain Division mural was installed in downtown Leadville at the Community Bank. It was created by local artist Lexie Palmore.

Leadville News – August 23

Shabbat Service, Leadville Jews Celebrated

Temple Israel_Synagoue_Leadville Today_2

Residents and visitors enjoy the Temple Israel Synagogue and Museum in Leadville, located on W. 4th Street. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell

One area of Leadville’s history that has seen a renewed interest in recent years is the city’s Jewish pioneers. Maybe it’s all the good works at the Jewish Cemetery, or the ongoing development of the historic Temple Israel located at 4th and Pine Streets, but the synagogue has been seeing its share of the Leadville spotlight.
And so it will again, taking center stage this Saturday, Aug. 25 as Shabbat morning services will be held at the historic Temple Israel in Leadville on the corners of West 4th and Pine, on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Please see the details below regarding Saturday’s event.

But first, for those readers who may have missed the last services back in June, Leadville Today was there to record and preserve the presentation “Jewish Life in Leadville in the 1880s.” This two part program presented by Rabbi Ruth Gelfarb and Leadville’s Bill Korn who is President of Temple Israel Foundation provides a rarely seen look into the life of Pioneer Jews in Leadville and their lasting contributions to America’s highest city. Here are those presentations – enjoy and learn!

Part One – “Jewish Life in Leadville in the 1880s.”

As for this Saturday, Aug. 25, The Synagogue of the Summit is hosting and running the Shabbat morning services. All are welcome to this egalitarian, casual dress service, but please leave your animals at home. The group’s monthly Kabbalat Shabbat and Pot Luck Shabbat services are held throughout the area in a unique way that allows them to enjoy the beauty of the area in collective worship. From a glorious Mountain-Top Shabbat Service to a cozy, indoor Pot Luck Shabbat Dinner, all are invited you to join them for every season.

Part Two – “Jewish Life in Leadville in the 1880s.”

Come, pray in the very building that the Jewish population of Leadville prayed in back in the 1800’s! After the service, the group will enjoy a noontime lunch at the Leadville National Fish Hatchery picnic grounds. There are also hiking trails available for a Shabbat afternoon stroll. The drive from Temple Israel to the fish hatchery is about 10 minutes. Please bring a picnic lunch, including drinks, for you and your family to enjoy. Synagogue of the Summit will provide Kiddush Wine and Challah for a Motzi. For more details, please go to their website.

Please RSVP via email with name and number attending to Jackie Balyeat – jbalyeat@hotmail.com If you have questions or need assistance arranging a carpool, contact Jackie at (317) 414-5663. Shabbat Shalom! If your small congregation or chavurah is interested in holding a Shabbat service in Leadville, please contact us via the Temple Israel Leadville website: www.jewishleadville.org.

Temple Israel_Synagoue_Leadville Today_3

Temple Israel is located at 201 W 4th Street in Leadville.