Last week, I read an interesting item in The Gazette about Martin Drake.
He’d been arrested and stood trial.
Seems he failed to shovel the snow outside his real estate office in Colorado City.
Yes. The story was about that Martin Drake.
Before Martin Drake was a electric-generating plant more famous for generating headlines and heated debate over its future, there was a man who sold real estate, served 22 years on the Colorado Springs City Council and was honored with a power plant in his name as credit for his foresight in securing water resources and ensuring a cheap power supply through creation of a city-owned electric utility.
The item was in our Back Pages column, which moved recently to page B2 of the Local & State section.
I love the Back Pages, a daily feature that reports brief news headlines from 100, 75 and 50 years ago.
It often includes names or events that resonate across the decades. Like the Jan. 23 item on Drake.
In a few sentences, I learned Drake was a resident of Colorado City before it was annexed into Colorado Springs in 1917 and that the town was serious about snow removal.
Drake and an associate, Frank Wolff, were “ordered into police court” to face charges. They were acquitted after they convinced the court of “a defect in the ordinance under which they were arrested.”
So I looked up Drake and learned he was a native of Lawrence, Kan., who moved with his parents to Colorado City in 1878 at age 4. Not long after his snow trial, he got into banking and within two years was president of First National Bank.
A political career followed and he was elected to the council in 1921, finishing second in the race to George Birdsall. (Interesting footnote: Birdsall’s name would one day adorn the power plant on North Nevada Avenue.)
Back Pages is compiled by my friends at the Pioneers Museum and I asked director Matt Mayberry about how items are chosen.
“When researching, we scan for names and events that would echo in today’s world,” Mayberry said. “I did Back Pages myself for years. It’s always fun whenever you find somebody who we revere today or think of as a landmark. It’s humanizing the past. And that’s what we do at the museum.”
His crew did it again on Jan. 17 when the 50-year-ago item announced the retirement of Roy J. Wasson after a 39-year career at School District 11, including 21 years as superintendent.
Wasson was a legend in District 11. He’d taken over during World War II and guided the district during the turbulent war years and post-war boom with its explosive growth.
Before his teaching career, Wasson was a decorated pilot during World War I.
He was so beloved that his D-11 board surprised him in 1958 by naming the district’s new “northeast high school” in his honor.
Yes, it’s the same school now facing closure.
Funny, isn’t it, how things like that happen.
He was the symbol of smart growth and honored with a school bearing his name. Now, just 50 years later, the school is deemed excessive due to declining enrollment and shifting populations.
Makes me wonder, what would Roy say