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, June 21, 1995

June 28, 1995 - castle rock centennial quilt

[Author's note: I write this column, but I don't get to write the headlines. I don't know who DOES write the headlines, frankly, although whoever it is does a great job. But this time, just this once, I'm hoping that my suggestion (I sometimes do turn in suggestions) will be picked up.

My headline: "Castle Rock Quilters Keep History in Stitches."]

Over the past several years, I've begun to develop a feel for history. It's come slowly.

Part of the reason may be the way history is taught, or at least the way it was taught to me. Everything was so distant, so objective, so monotone and matter of fact.

Or maybe the problem was more personal. Maybe I was just incapable of empathizing with people who died before I was born. After all, what could we possibly have in common?

I have since learned that there's more to history than I thought. For one thing, history is a lot closer to me than I expected. Last week, a month ago, a year ago, a score of years ago -- these are now periods of time within my memory, close at hand. The older I get, the more my sense of time collapses.

For another thing, one day I realized that when I listen to or read what other people think about events I lived through, I often disagree with them.

And that's when I realized that history is the collection of INDIVIDUAL interpretations of past events. As such, it is no more sacred than is any other exchange with people.

In other worlds, history is equal parts faulty recollection and unfounded bias -- AND reflections of the tellers' unique talents. Some people have a flair for characterization; some for plot. Some, alas, have no talents at all.

They're the ones who write the history books.

I have often thought that what we really need is a history book that doesn't have any words. We need a kind of tapestry -- a real, tangible demonstration of how the past felt to people, a sample of the threads of people's lives woven into the larger events, a symbolic representation of the forces that warped and woofed them together.

Well, my wish is your reality.

As of June 14, 1995, the Castle Rock 1881-1991 Centennial Quilt is on display at the Philip S. Miller Library. It's hard to miss: walk toward our circulation desk, then glance over to the left. This massive group-artpiece consists of 21 twelve-inch squares, and one larger center square.

This centerpiece, designed by Girl Scout Troop 820, depicts the Rock itself, in subtle shifts that capture all four seasons in a single profile.

And the remaining scenes? My favorites have to do with a rich, invitingly contoured Old County Courthouse -- contrasted with a jarringly crass, cold, and boxy New Courthouse. Gee, how DID people feel about that?

You'll also see many other snippets of just what life was like in the earlier days of the capital seat of Douglas County.

The quilt, formerly on display at the Town of Castle Rock offices, will be at the library for up to two years. It's worth more than a short look -- every time I spend some time with it, I catch another insight, another joke.

I don't have at hand the names of the many women whose vision and hands made this magnificent artifact. But I am deeply grateful to them.

Do stop by and see it.

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