Nederland Old Timers’ Day Grand Marshal Bobbie Childers grinned shyly at her former classmates who were yelling at her to sing their favorite old-time song. She shook her head, embarrassed.
“Come on, Bobbie,” one of them shouted, “Show ‘em how you did it back then.” Bobbie closed her eyes for a second, then relaxed and began to move, a kind of shuffle in time to the old honky-tonk tune, “We Belong Down by the Gas House.”
Soon, other old timers joined her and the Chipeta Park Pavilion rang with the tune that had them hopping back then. Bobbie got into it, remembering how to pick up her trousers and give a kick or two.
It was the perfect moment for the Class of 1958, the trigger to childhood memories and renewed ‘remember whens.’
Announcer Dixie Sawson encouraged the lively chatter to mute while she gave out awards. She said the Childers family had been known for their generosity to the Nederland residents back in a time when a steak was a real luxury. Sawson then presented the Old Timer of the Year Award to Stan Gonzalez who traveled from Arizona to join his brother Johnny for the fun.
Stan told the crowd of 100 plus that he was speechless and went on to say that back in his high school days, basketball was the big thing and that getting new uniforms was the highlight. “Thank you,” he said. “I will always treasure this award and hope we all live a good life and have a long life ahead of us.”
The other Old Timer of The Year was Bob Tyler who did not show up, because he is shy, said his friends. Roger Williams was introduced by his daughter who said, “Dad meant so many things to so many people. He was a son, a marine, a father and now a grandfather and was always fond of Nederland’s Old Timers.”
Williams was presented with a plaque, for Loyalty to the Old Timers and an Example of Community Spirit. With tears in his eyes, Williams accepted the award, saying, “My years up here are real special to me.”
Barbara Hardt, owner of The Mountain-Ear newspaper, received an award for her ongoing support and devotion to the Nederland Old Timers.
As the happy group munched on pot luck goodies and grilled burgers and brats, people found old friends and even old teachers and students. Diane Smith, a member of the Smith Clan, perhaps the longest-lasting residents then and now, caught up with her high school counselor Don Smith. They opened the new school in 1971 together and both of them still live in town.
The Old Timer of the Year Stan Gonzalez said he started first grade in the old schoolhouse, now the Nederland Community Center, in 1946. At that time he lived in Sugarloaf and his dad drove five children to the school in a 1938 school bus.
He and classmate Don Morse went through K-12 together, both of them graduating in 1958. They went into the army together and were stationed in Germany through the Cuban Crisis.
Stan worked with the Boulder Police Department for five years and went on to the Boulder County Clerk’s office where he worked for 21 years until his retirement in 1997. He lives in Prescott, Arizona, and enjoys golfing but, “I’d like to move back to Colorado. I’d like to spend my remaining days here. There are so many houses in the forest now. When I was here there were no houses in Big Springs, but the town itself hasn’t changed much.”
Old Timers’ organizer Jeanette Smith said the turnout for event was right up there with the most attendance and most high spirited. As these senior citizens once rocked the town with their energy and loyalty to one another, they carried on the tradition, coming from far and wide to see each other and show the youngsters how to grow old with spunk.