This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, March 8, 1995

March 8, 1995 - Lowenberg Castle history talk

Mary Borg, an acquaintance of mine, is the author of book called, "Writing Your Life: an Easy-to-Follow Guide to Writing Your Autobiography." In it, she described a visual aid to spark remembering: draw the floor plan of the house you grew up in.

It works. Just hand a piece of paper to your spouse or parent and ask them to give it a try. As they draw, they talk. You'll be astonished by the wealth of information that starts pouring forth. You'll also notice that this information provides often surprising insights into the character of the person doing the remembering.

In some respects, this exactly parallels the work of a group of Castle Rock high school students, authors of the classic, "Castle Rock: A Grass Roots History."

In 1975, after working with the State Historical Society of Colorado as a writer and researcher, local teacher Bob Lowenberg returned to his Douglas County High School history classes. He was fired with a renewed passion for the study of the past. But how to get the young people in his class to share that passion, to discover and to value the deeper meaning behind the seemingly barren facts and dates?

His method was inspired. In his 9 week seminar, "What is history?" he gave his students the task of writing the history of various structures in Castle Rock. In short, he made it personal.

In the beginning, the response of some students was predictable. They wondered, "What possible relevance could history have to my life?" When asked just what history might be, many thought it, "the objective recording of the past." But they soon discovered the awful truth: at best, historical objectivity has its biases.

By the time they finished, the students had become scholars. Even more importantly, their immersion in the past of their community had forged a new connection to it.

But anyone who becomes alive to a community can also be wounded by its losses. These students, with their roused awareness of the importance of the past and the value of historical structures, came of age just as the glory of Castle Rock's architecture, the old County Courthouse, was destroyed.

To hear more about these events, and the history of Castle Rock generally, please attend a talk by Mr. Lowenberg at our March 12, Local History/Local Authors program. The program will begin at 2 p.m. at the Philip S. Miller Library's Community Meeting Room in Castle Rock. It is free, refreshments will be served, and copies of "Castle Rock: A Grass Roots History," will be available for purchase.

It happens that this is the last of our highly successful "Second Sunday" historical lectures -- the brainchild of Johanna Harden, the library's Conservation Specialist.

In the beginning of his book, Lowenberg quotes Macaulay:

"A people that takes no pride in the accomplishments of their remote ancestors will probably produce nothing worthy of recollection by their remote descendants."

Here's another quote: "In my father's house are many mansions." Perhaps we owe it to ourselves to take a closer look at the floor plans of our forebears.

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