The more things change, the more they stay the same |

The more things change, the more they stay the same

I moved to Colorado in May 1970 to work as a police agent for the newly formed City of Lakewood. I was a big-time New York City cop coming out to rural Jefferson County to fight crime – kind of like McCloud in reverse.

The television character McCloud was a deputy sheriff from rural New Mexico who went to New York City to fight crime. I thought it was such a great idea that I should become the antithesis of McCloud. A kind of McGary.

All I remember was the department, serving 100,000 people, had one or two agents for each shift. We worked our butts off. I found out the summers in the Denver area were very warm and humid, and the hot asphalt smelled the same as in the South Bronx.

Patrol cars were air-conditioned, and that was nice. In New York, we were lucky to get a car, let alone one that was air-conditioned.

My best friend at the time was a fellow from Michigan. His claim to fame was carrying a bag of nuts in his pocket. When he had a citizen who was a little off balance, he would leave a nut on the coffee table and not say anything. It was a test. If the person was nuts, then the solitary nut on the table would push him or her over the edge. If he or she was not nuts, then the abandoned nut would be eaten by the person immediately, and life would go on as normal. Of course, I knew he was kidding.

My Uncle Dale and Aunt Martha had lived in Boulder since the early 1960s. Martha worked for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and Dale had just recently retired from J.C. Penney’s and had opened a little gift shop.

I eventually became attached to them and would stop and eat dinner on my way to class at CU-Boulder. I lived in the Applewood section of Golden and would ride my motorcycle to Boulder to have dinner with them and then go to class in the evenings.

I still go to Boulder nearly every Sunday to see my wife in the nursing home, so I still know the community very well. After 33 years, very little has changed. Boulder is Boulder.

Someone decided a long time ago what it should look like, and it is still the same. I also think the same person decided how people in Boulder would act. That, too, remains the same.

Everyone believes he or she is smarter than everyone else is, so it gives them the right to be rude. Drivers act as if they are in some Roman battle, pointing and jabbing their vehicles toward each other.

You park and go into a store and find people pushing the carts the same way as they drive. They shop with a vengeance, trying to edge out the other person with an eye on the same merchandise, cutting each other off and then acting indignant if you manage to get into the aisle before them. I guess it is good practice for their driving.

After more than 30 years of going to Boulder and now spending one day a week there, I think I might finally have it: Boulder is very different.

Boulder can be an accumulation of the strangest people, even on the Pearl Street Mall in the middle of a snowstorm.

It is the young man I see each week riding his bicycle down 28th Street in a full-length wool purple dress, hose, high heels and a purple pill box hat. The most distinguishing thing about him is his very dark five-o’clock shadow. He might be racing home to shave.

There is only one Boulder. It is like Cher or Madonna; you never even have to add “Colorado” to its name. Most of Colorado is happy about that.


Every Thursday, Gary Lindstrom marvels at Boulder, and the rest of the big world around him.

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