I just met Ted a couple weeks ago while stopping in Leadville on a road trip with my husband. His cowboy hat, knotted scarf and vest hinted at his days working on ranches and riding in rodeos.
We spotted his little blue gallery when out walking. He had just arrived on a motorized chair and was moving carefully towards the door with a cane. When Don and I stopped in a few minutes later, the radio was playing and the lights were shining on Ted's watercolors and sculptures.
From Bronco riding to the mines...
Ted told us some stories about his days growing up in Alamosa. He worked ranches and rodeo circuits until an injury lead him to seek work at nearby Climax Mine. When the mine discovered his art talents they hired him full time doing weekly cartoons and illustrations for manuals. He was able to retire when the mines closed in the 1980's to enjoy his first love, art.
We bought a print to help remember Ted. I'll remember a couple of his stories, one about sketching at the Taos Pueblo and another about losing all his money in Vegas...which earned him the nickname Lucky Boy. But I'll also remember the man who moved slowly behind his desk, writing up our ticket. I'll remember how his cane fell over and I tried to discreetly recover it while he leaned with his body to work the old credit card machine. It was sad to see this 86 year old man moving so cautiously, when I could imagine the younger, adventurous Ted. But then I looked at the walls covered in art...
Thanks, Ted. Your artwork reminded me not to feel sorry for you. You have an artistic gift that I wish I had. You may have been forced to give up riding and roping years ago, but you were able to reflect those days in your artwork. I'm not sure how much you paint and draw today, but you are very much still involved with your art. I should be so "Lucky" when I am your age!
To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers