Who’s There: Cathy Carleton
BRECKENRIDGE – Cathy Carleton’s always wanted to be a mom, having imagined all her life she would someday be surrounded by 10 little kids. And once the Breckenridge woman got a taste of Breckenridge, she couldn’t imagine ever leaving -kids and paradise go hand-in-hand in her life.She was relaxing in her living room this week as her twins, Zach and Amelia, climbed over the coffee table, played with toys and crawled into her lap. Carleton was in her element.”I always thought I’d grow up and be a mom,” she said. “It just kind of slipped by. And family’s really important to me. We all have friends. But in the end, you just have family.”Carleton grew up in Charlotte, N.C., and graduated from Appalachian State University with degrees in journalism and political science – neither of which she pursued as a career.”I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she said. “I liked journalism. I liked radio and TV. And talking, as my friends say, is never a problem for me.”
After college she bounced around in odd jobs – “my career of playing,” she said – waitressing in Cape Cod and working at a bed-and-breakfast in Newport, R.I.It was then that Carleton and her friends piled into a car and headed west to join one of her cousins in Breckenridge.”My parents encouraged me to see some stuff,” she said. “I don’t think they meant to go see Colorado and stay 20 years … They said it was important to travel, to experience other places. So we loaded up and went. One year just rolled into another.”Her first job was at the Horseshoe II, then working banquets at the Village of Breckenridge, at a lingerie shop, a pottery store and the Gold Pan Saloon.In 1989, however, she returned home to North Carolina.”It was time for me to find a real job,” she said. “But city life was not what I was after. I wanted to pursue a career in something. I just didn’t want to in that environment.”
What brought her back was a photograph of a friend and her two kids on top of Bald Mountain in Breckenridge.”I knew this is where I wanted to be,” she said. “I love North Carolina; I love my family. But I missed Colorado so bad.”She returned and took a job at the Breckenridge Resort Chamber (BRC) in 1990. She met her husband, Dick, at an array of BRC events over the years, but the two didn’t date for awhile.”Our first date was Genuine Jazz in July,” she said. “Kim DiLallo (Jazz in July founder) still takes credit for that.”The couple married in 1993 and began traveling: Mexico, Belize and Honduras among the countries they’ve visited.
They have since started the family Carleton has always dreamed about: Starke, 4 and the twins, 1.”I’m just a mom now,” she said.Her friends might disagree.Among them, she is known as the Queen of Theme, organizing costume parties for her friends. She’s hosted a White Trash Birthday for a friend and brought formal dresses on hut trips.When she’s not playing with the kids, she’s telemark skiing, road biking, scuba diving or participating in her book club. And she wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”I have a very fulfilled life,” she said. “People always say Breckenridge is getting too big – I think it’s just getting better. From the beginning, I’ve loved the people; I loved the idea you can be whatever, whoever you are. You can be poor or rich, athletic or not, have a degree or not have a degree. People are very accepting. It’s an open, warm community.”
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