Now and Then: “A Fish Pond… or A Flower Garden… or Both”? Part II

By Loretta (Stevens) Bailey

This is a continuation of the Marco’s Flower Garden.  Part I was the news articles from the Cañon City Daily Record, 1929 to 1934 about the Museum Board of Directors and local Fish and Game Association’s undertaking of building a fish pond on the west of the building.  The news articles reported their successes and struggles with senseless vandalism on the pond and molestation of the fish.

Sketchy reporting up to late 1940’s left many holes in the story.  That is until recently, when Curator Nancy Masimer found in the museum’s archives some minutes of meetings from 1948 to 1959, by the Museum Executive Board of Directors.

In the past ten days, since I wrote my first blog, some rumblings and rumors have been overheard at the museum.  First, this photograph surfaced.

Pic for fish pond blog
A photograph of Earl Harding, Loretta “Punky” Stevens (Loretta Bailey), Lois Jean “Dinkie” Harding, and Roger Stevens standing in front of the Hudson Sales & Service shop (110 S 3rd Street), 1946-1947; Photo Courtesy Loretta (Stevens) Bailey

These four innocent looking children were the ones who had tried a diving technique several times into the fish pond. The purpose was to retrieve silver dimes, which glittered in the sunlight, to purchase cold drinks while on their way to the Skyline Theater for a Saturday matinee.  (None of the dives were successful and none of the fish were molested).

You may be shocked because I have their names and aliases.  Earl Harding (Shag), Loretta Stevens (Punky), Lois Harding (Dinkle) and Rogers Stevens (Dodger) from left to right.  Shag was the diver, Punky the ringleader, and Dinkle and Dodger the muscles. (It appears I am holding a jump rope).  When looking at Marco’s flower garden, you can see the place they selected for diving at the northeast corner under the railing.

Okay, I fess-up! I was called Punky until I graduated from Cañon City High School, with the class of 1960. (Presently is the Middle School).

A rumor spread quickly in 1957 or so that someone depleted the fishpond by night fishing.  They were known to lay on their stomach on the sidewalk and cast over the railing.  When the suspected angler took his very large bounty of rainbow trout home, he was royally dressed-down by his dad.  No further details have emerged until someone fesses-up!

Two write-ups donated to the RGRM&HC for their subject files have also surfaced. These are former residents that have memories of the fishpond when they were children.

August 10, 2004

By Loretta (Stevens) Bailey

“My younger brother, George Stevens, and I have memories as early as the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.  The pond held about twenty to thirty large rainbow trout and was covered by lily pads.  The concrete around the pond and the metal bars were painted a forest green color.  At the head of the pond were three concrete slabs, (they are still standing) with a lion’s head mounted to the middle slab.  The lion’s head is still there.

My brother remembers the eyes of the lion being either painted or were green stones.  He said as a child, he would be frightened by the lion’s eyes.  The water came out of the lion’s mouth.

My brother also remembers the concrete cistern that is still located about four feet from the front of the pond.  He said that the cover was a wooden lid with hinges.  He and his friends would lift the lid, he said that the water was always moving and was very clear. He remembers seeing bluegill fish in the cistern.”

  I asked George recently how the bluegills got in the sump basin.  “From ducks eating bluegills’ eggs in ponds and lakes.  They would swim in the fish pond and poop. Eggs would hatch and the fish would become part of the circulating water.  Be dumped into the sump basin and stay put for a while.” My siblings and I stayed outdoors most of the time and learned a lot about nature…


By Bud Piquette

December 4, 2010

“When I was young boy, my family would sometimes travel to Cañon City from Westcliffe to visit relatives, to shop, or to attend some special event.  I can recall that, during one of these trips (it would have been about 1954 when I was eight years old), my parents had parked the car near the bank to do some shopping on Main Street.  My older brother Paul and I were given permission to purchase several rolls of pennies at the bank which we would look through for Lincoln cents with wheat ear backs that we needed for our coin collections.  After trading for the coins we wanted, we would then return those rolls and exchange them for others to do the same thing again.

After having done this a few times, we decided to take a walk and ended up at the fish pond by the museum.  We noticed that several coins had been tossed into the pond, and just happened to spot a flying eagle cent under the water, well beyond our reach.  We knew this only from 1856-1858 and pre-dated the Indian head pennies.  We also knew that an 1856 might be worth several hundred dollars but could not read the date under the eagle.

Neither of us would take a dare from the other to jump in after the coin so with regret and disappointment, we finally walked back to the car empty handed.  We have both often wondered if the curator or a staff member collected and preserved the coin for the museum, kept it privately, or just rolled it up with the other pennies to be found later by some fortunate collector.”

Minutes of Meeting of Museum Executive Committee

Meeting Called to Order on January 9, 1948

A $900 Yearly Budget Will Be Received from the City

“The president suggested that the fish pond, at the west side of the Municipal Building be made into a flower garden. The following members were named on the committee.  Father Justin, Mr. Little, Mr. Reide and Mr. Stanell.”

Although curators and board members changed, discussions on the same issues facing the museum were continued within the years from 1929 to 1934.  Sounds very familiar to the previous blog as the plot thickens and the determination of the museum staff grows stronger.

 Something had to be done with the fish pond, possibly filled up with dirt and plants.  It appears that Fish and Game may have backed-out, no mention of them in this part.

I have edited the minutes of this section and typed sections that pertained to the fish pond saga only. However, a full copy can be read at the RGRM&HC.  Go into the History Center and friendly capable staff will get them for you.

Meeting Called to Order on February 12, 1948

“The minutes were read and approved.  Also a report of the treasurer showing a balance of $66.44 on hand.”

“Mr. Duffy would make fish pond into water gardens.  The cost being $25.”

Meeting Called to Order July 12, 1957

“Mr. Kessler asked that some steps be taken to secure additional trout for the pool at the west end of the municipal building.  He said that this was quite a drawing card for visitors, but that there were only four fish in the pool at the present time. It was suggested that one of the members see Carl Strunk (who owned a local fish hatchery) if some more trout couldn’t be secured.  Karl Pinnel said that he would look into the matter.”

Meeting Called to Order September 13, 1957

“Mr. Pinnell reported that Carl Strunk was strong on promises, but weak on performances in getting the fish pond stocked with trout.”

Meeting Called to Order July 11, 1958

“The matter of finding some means of keeping the fish pond in the Municipal Building lawn stocked with trout was discussed at some length.  These trout are quite an attraction for tourists, but they regularly disappear from the pond, apparently caught out by trespassers. One suggestion was that the business district watchman be paid to watch over the pond at night at a cost of $5.00 a month.  If it were known that the merchant policeman was guarding the pond it might discourage poaching.”

Meeting Called to Order April 10, 1959

“The Board voted to remove the Carl Strunk sign at the fish pond in the yard since he no longer keeps the pond stocked with trout.”

Meeting Called to Order December 18, 1959

“Night watchman L.K. Phares has reported to Mr. Kessler that he picked up John Beck, John Ward, David Carroll and Phillip Carroll one night recently on the building grounds acting in a suspicious manner.  He took them to the police station where they were questioned by the city police and dismissed with a warning.”

Meeting Called to Order May 12, 1961

“Cleaning of the fish pond of dirt recently thrown into it was authorized prior to stocking with fish.”

Meeting Called to Order June 9, 1961

“The matter of securing fish for the pool was discussed.  So far we have been unable to get the State Game and Fish Commission to put fish in the pond.”

“It was decided that Mrs. Reeves as Chairman of the Board should talk to Mr. Steele, local game warden, and ask him if at all possible to get fish from the State.”

This is about all the information RGRM&HC has in the subject file.  What we are hoping that more information will surface like photographs, memories or confessions.  This will certainly beef up the file on the Fish Pond on the West Side of the Museum that is Marco’s Flower Garden.

My next blog, “Chief Ouray of the Ute Tribe and his life- long wife Chipeta,” will be out in about week to ten days.  The time will be in the 1870’s, the place at Cañon City’s Main Street and Anson and Harriett Rudd’s log cabin. The cabin is still standing behind RGRM&HC; stop by and learn more about Fremont County’s deep and rich history…

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