Steamboat Springs The Queen of Oak Creek has been gone for a little more than a year now. And on Sunday they auctioned off her things.
On a brilliant autumn day when the willows lining First Street were just beginning to show a tinge of yellow, the worldly possessions of Loretta Iacovetto-Gersic were lined up in cardboard boxes and placed on long tables for the curious to paw through.
Mysteriously, a box of old books sold for $21.
What did that bidder know that the rest of us didn't?
A pair of ceramic serving pieces sold for just a buck.
Did Loretta's grandmother leave them to her, or did she buy them for 50 cents at an auction?
Oak Creek locals will remember Loretta as the woman who taught in the South Routt County School District for 37 years, and spent 20 of them as the school librarian.
They'll also remember her for her role in establishing the annual comedy show as one of the focal points of the town's Labor Day Celebration.
Loretta Iacovetto-Gersic loved a good joke loved to laugh. Loretta retired in May 2001, she fell ill in June and died on July 24.
To be accurate, Sunday's auction was held to liquidate both Loretta's and her husband's possessions.
Fran and Loretta lived together in a rectangular stone house trimmed in logs that were painted bright yellow and pale blue.
Fran Gersic has remarried and is off to a new life in Florida.
Fran was philosophical about watching strangers and acquaintances cart off the various and sundry possessions that represented 25 years of life in Oak Creek with Loretta.
"It's good and it's bad," he said. "It's good to get rid of some of this stuff."
Estate sales and moving auctions always offer up some poignancy all the possessions, some of them junk, some of them treasures, all of them defining a life, are scattered in many directions as buyers jab printed cards in the air to signify their interest.
The numerals on the cards identify the bidders for the auctioneer.
They bid in increments of $2, or $20, for the chance to leave with a souvenir of someone else's life story.
Do they really desire those old kitchen utensils?
Or is it something else they seek?
"You'd think, because it happens every day in America, it would make it easier," Michelle Gersic said. "But it isn't any easier."
Loretta was Michelle's stepmother.
Michelle and her stepsisters had come to bid on more than a few prized possessions.
They lined up with the public in the unpaved alley behind the little stone house to speak for objects that symbolized Loretta for them.
Michelle reached into a box and held up an oil painting of a lake framed by dramatic snow-covered peaks.
Loretta had painted it herself. "She earned the title a long time ago, of Queen of Oak Creek," Michelle said.
Then she reached into a box and handed over another treasure a VHS tape of Oak Creek's Labor Day comedy show.
Loretta is about the sixth act to step onto the stage, which is set up inside a tent.
A woman of medium height, she has dark hair. She is self-assured in front of the audience, but a little shyness comes through.
She begins telling the set-up for a gag about a little boy who struggled with his spelling lesson.
When the punch line turns out to have something to do with autoeroticism, the audience laughs uproariously.
Loretta just smiles demurely and plunges into the next joke. "I was shopping in Denver and I went into a May D&F, where one of my former students was employed. I walked up to the manager and asked, 'Can you tell me where Mike is?' He told me, 'He's up on the third floor, in lingerie.' I didn't even know he was a cross dresser!"
O.K., maybe Loretta wasn't the queen of comedy.
But she was a person of significance in the life of a small town.
On Sunday, they sold her commemorative plate collection, including the set with one plate for each of the characters in "Little Orphan Annie."
They sold the antique bureau for $1,000, and they sold the rocking chair for $40.
That's the way they do it.