My Colorado: First Impression

By Dorothy J. Donovan


I was 19 years old, and my life was humdrum and gray as an Iowa winter day. It was January 1944: young men were away serving our country in World War II, many of my girlfriends were away at college, and I was stuck in a boring part-time clerical job in a small town in western Iowa. I had wanted desperately to go to college after high school graduation, but felt my father needed me to help with chores on our farm, since my two brothers were in the service.

Miracles do happen. I saw an ad in the newspaper stating that the U.S. Government needed typists and stenographers. Since I was fast and accurate in typing and shorthand, which I had studied for two years in high school, I answered the ad. I received an application form and was instructed to go to our county courthouse on a certain date to take the exam. After much begging, emphasizing my duty to our country, I convinced my father to take me. I earned a high score on my Civil Service exam and was assigned to faraway Denver, Colorado.

How exciting was that? At first my parents were reluctant to let me go, but fortunately Mother had a cousin in Denver who agreed to let me live with them.

I boarded the Rock Island Rocket in Omaha one January afternoon. It was cloudy, damp and minus 15 degrees.

The next day, as the train pulled into Union Station, I noticed a “Welcome to Denver” sign. Looking to the west I saw a brilliant blue, blue sky—a background for Colorado’s snow-covered mighty mountains. It was one of those bright, sunny, spring-like days we sometimes get in the winter. For me, it was love at first sight.

I started a job with the War Manpower Com-mission, which was set up as an employment agency to fill jobs empty due to people being away in the service. When the war was over, I met my husband after he was discharged from the Air Force at Lowry Field. We both wanted to live in Colorado and stayed to raise our three children here. Over the years, the most exciting suggestion at our home on weekends was, “Let’s go to the mountains,” especially to a former flatlander like me.

I still remember my first impression of Colorado, and know my decision to remain here was the right one—a happy one.

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