I departed ranch life after graduating from high school in Craig, Co. to attend Colorado A&M. My goal was to become a veterinarian and return to the ranch life with my father and my four uncles who all had adjoining ranches in rural Moffat County. My dad really liked the concept of me becoming a veterinarian, The local Craig veterinarian was Neal McCandless, a CSU graduate. His father, Ted McCandless, was also a veterinarian and was part-owner of the local newspaper, The Craig Empire-Courier. Neal was a Craig native who graduated from the CSU seven-year vet school program. He was a senior when I arrived in 1955 as a freshman. I enrolled in a pre-vet program that included chemistry, human anatomy, kinesiology, English, and mandatory ROTC training for two-years. The draft was still in progress at that time. We all marched around the campus oval three times a week and attended daily classes.
While the curriculums was challenging, I quickly determined that if I wanted a career in medicine, I would rather treat people than animals. My Sophomore year I switched to an interdepartmental major that allowed me to take many elective courses that included philosophy, journalism, and creative writing. The dye was set, and I was into writing; that beginning in junior high school when I was a reporter for the Bullpup Tales, our monthly mimeographed school newspaper. It was my assignment to interview the community concert performers who would visit the school. After the program I would go behind the stage and interview these traveling entertainers, many musicians, some speakers, and magicians, et. al.
So, it was that I drifted to the Collegian student newspaper, writing for a literary magazine called “Prism” and starting a University humor publication “Ramshorn.” The humor magazine was a take-off of the notorious “Picker” published at Colorado School of Mines. While we got summoned to the Dean’s office, to warn us of content, we had a very successful publication. One of my duties, along with writing, was to sell advertising. That put me on the streets of Ft. Collins selling ads. That experience influenced my future career in becoming a career newspaper publisher.
The point of this article is to bring some personal background to this newspaper, so readers have an idea of some of my experiences and philosophy on life and living. There are not many columnists around anymore, and most columns now swirl around sports. If you’re reading this column, you will recognize that we have a stable full of award-winning writers who share these newspaper pages. They are the “best-of-the-best,” and have been judged so by their peers in Colorado Press newspaper competition, last judged by the State of Michigan.
I received an A “Plus” on my CSU report card in Colorado History, a three-hour class instructed by Dr. David Furness.
The final exam was a choice to write about early day mining, or the cattle industry. Bingo, I wrote an essay on the test about the range wars, vast eastern plains cattle barons, and the arrival of homesteaders and barbwire fences. The essay came back with a large A “Plus” in red ink. For my electives I took over 60 hours of history that included English, and art history including a field trip to the Denver Museum of Art. I aced that class, that was full of art majors. To this day, I’m so glad to have some background in the arts.