One man’s trash is another man’s souvenir treasure |

One man’s trash is another man’s souvenir treasure

Gary Lindstrom

Every time I think about souvenirs, I am reminded of the T-shirt that says, “My parents went to China and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, I guess.There is a protocol on what to wear once you get a souvenir T-shirt. If you live in Breckenridge, or Colorado for that matter, you should never wear a Colorado or Breckenridge T-shirt. You should pack them for your next trip to California or Hawaii.The shirt you should wear here is the one you pick up in California or Hawaii. It should be from somewhere different, and never wear the shirt with the name of the place where you happen to be at the time.I have always liked college T-shirts or shirts with the name of your former state university. It is a real conversation starter. It is perfectly acceptable to walk up to someone and stare at his or her chest with a comment about his or her school. They will immediately start telling you about where they used to live or the place they studied for four years before they started waiting tables. Whoops. Maybe that is another story.

Some of us who have been around for this century and the last remember when Breckenridge was a bunch of old storefronts, many unoccupied. Then, they were all T-shirt shops, one every few feet, filled to the brim with every T-shirt under the sun. Those were the good old days: T-shirts for everyone. You could even buy a Florida T-shirt in Breckenridge so you would not look like a tourist. You could even buy shirts with nasty sayings or comments you would never say in front of your mother.Then the T-shirt shops became real estate offices. Same stores but the price went from $5 to $500,000 for the goods sold there.Now that I am in Denver most of the week, I get to study the habits of the Denver tourist. Even though I am from Iowa, I had forgotten what a great experience it is to come to Denver for a week – many things to do for young people from the plains.The dead giveaway is the person standing in the middle of the Sixteenth Street Mall looking straight up at a tall building. I have to imagine he or she is thinking about how much corn could be stored in that place.

But I think these midwestern visitors have it figured out. Their shirts proudly proclaim Kansas, Nebraska or Iowa. They want someone to come up, stare at their chest and ask questions about the farm or their school.Several years ago I had to travel to Tampa, Fla., to pick up a prisoner. As the undersheriff, I would always get the prisoner extraditions to places near the ocean. Something about not looking at snow for a couple of days and opening my pores with all that humidity.Anyway, I had to go to the Pinellas County Jail in Largo, Fla., just south of Clearwater Beach. Nice job if you can get it.I have two very vivid memories about that trip.One involved turning on the light in my room in the middle of the night only to see hundreds of cockroaches moving back into the walls. Reminded me of New York City. Roaches don’t eat much, but they are somewhat spooky when they cover every square inch of your hotel room. By the way, this room was in a national hotel chain. Not a fleabag but a roach-bag hotel.

The other memory was driving to a pier on the Gulf of Mexico, parking and walking several hundred yards to the end of the pier. I felt as if I were standing in the middle of the ocean surrounded by water all around and under me. It was just a young fisherman and me.Now for the kicker. He had his bait in a plastic drink cup from Copper Mountain. Yes, our Copper Mountain. All the way out in the middle of the ocean. Surrounded by water and filled with bait. I proudly asked the fisherman about his cup, and he mumbled that he had found it and had never been to Colorado, let alone Copper Mountain.A souvenir cup that had traveled all the way from Colorado to the west coast of Florida to become a bait cup. I think the fisherman was wearing a T-shirt from Texas. He probably lived in Tampa. State Rep. Gary Lindstrom of Lakeview Meadows represents Summit, Eagle and Lake counties in the state House of Representatives. He can be reached at or visit his website at

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