The good ol' days

Oak Creek residents celebrate the town's 100th birthday

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Lottie Turon and Gladys Sullivan reminisce about the silly things they did growing up in and around Oak Creek at Soroco High School on Sunday at one of Oak Creek's centennial celebrations. Turon and Sullivan have been friends almost their entire lives, and Sullivan's son married Turon's daughter.

— Sunday was a day to recognize the older South Routt residents as part of Oak Creek's Centennial Celebration.

"To get a turnout like this was amazing," said Oak Creek historian Mike Yurich about the 85 to 100 people who came to celebrate at Soroco High School. "There were four or five people that were over 90 years old. I always like coming up and visiting with people because they always have a story that I haven't heard."

Among the homemade birthday cake, skits, quilt raffle and general festivities, attendees mingled and talked about the "good ol' days."

"They were hard times. We were poor and everyone worked and helped everyone else," said Lottie Turon. "Our kids were raised that if they wanted something, they worked for it and had to take care of it."

Turon did not have indoor plumbing until she got married, and they had previously used Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogues as toilet paper in their outhouse.

"We didn't have the money to buy toilet paper," she said. "We would even pick and sell choke cherries and sarvis berries for 10 to 15 cents, just for money to go see a show."

Oak Creek ladies would hop onto coal trains for a free ride to a show.

"The steam engines only went two miles an hour," Turon said.

"And when you would walk home from the show on the wooden board sidewalks, it would be dark, and sometimes a board would be missing," Gladys Sullivan added. "And you would rip the skin off your leg."

Sullivan recalls the early years of Oak Creek as being a wild town.

"Nobody locked their doors or got hurt," Sullivan said. "Being a coal mining town, it got a rough reputation, but it was a great place to grow up. And we got in trouble like all kids."

It was a tradition on Halloween night to push over each other's outhouses, and on any given day, to steal produce from someone else's garden.

"We all had gardens," Turon said. "But it was always funny to go steal from someone else's because it tasted better."

The recent development in the Yampa Valley has not necessarily been appreciated by most of the longtime residents.

"I hate to see it to be honest with you, but I know it has to be to keep the town going," Sullivan said. "We used to be able to go out and roam the hills and do anything we wanted to. Now everything is fenced and private."

Although the "good ol' days" were marked with hard work and few creature comforts, Sullivan and Turon preferred the simple life.

"It was hard country to grow up in with long tough winters," Sullivan said. "But it made strong people."

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