Thursday, February 3, 2011

Longmont, Colorado

My Elementary School

Growing up, I attended school at the Longmont, Colorado SDA Elementary School from first though eighth grade. The school was a two room school with the first through fourth grades in one room and the fifth through eighth grades in another. Here is a photo of the upper grades taken during my sixth grade year. I am in the farthest corner just barely visible.

Here is my school photo from that year. It must have been taken at the beginning of the school year as I am still sporting my "summer" haircut.

We never lived in Longmont, but did our shopping there. One of the things that I remember about Longmont was the Great Western Sugar Factory. On our drive from Frederick, and later after we moved, Erie, I could always tell we were getting close to Longmont when I could see the gleaming white silos of the Sugar Factory. The factory was the first thing you would see if you were coming into Longmont from the east.

The Sugar Beet industry was a major force all along the front range of Colorado from the turn of the century up until the late 70's and early 80's. Why did beet sugar in Colorado mostly fade away? The common reasons I've read are competition from cheaper cane sugar abroad, and other sweeteners such as corn syrup. My first job out of high school was working for Dalton Truck Sales near Longmont. They specialized in taking old 2 ton trucks and refurbishing them fitting them with special made Sugar Beet Boxes to haul sugar beets to the factories. These trucks were only used for the harvest season, but were needed to haul the beets. I have painted many sugar beet trucks similar to the one in this photo.

My favorite place in Longmont was the Public Library. During the time I was in school I read just about every book in the kids section of the library. I still remember being disappointed that I was only allowed to check out three books at a time. I also didn't understand why I couldn't check out books from the adult section on my kids library card. I would take my three books home and have them read in a day or two and then begged my Mama to take me back to the library. I kept a flashlight handy for reading after I was supposed to be asleep. The Longmont Public Library was my access to knowledge.

As I got older I loved shopping at the Woolworths Store. There is just something about a Woolworths. One of my favorite singers, Nanci Griffith, wrote a song about Woolworths titled "Love at the Five and Dime". She tells the story of growing up in Austin, Texas and changing buses in front of the Woolworths store. she said that she had just enough time get a vanilla Coke, dig through the record bin, wink at the boys and get back on the bus. My favorite thing to do at Woolworths was digging through the discount record bin. As a kid Woolworths was the only place where I had access to music. I have a large and eclectic music collection and I can say that it all started at Woolworths.

There are so many memories that I have of those years of going to school in Longmont. The Dairy Queen and A&W Root Beer Stand were favorite places for a special treat. We shopped at Ranch Wholesale Supply and The Corner Pantry. Our bank was First National Bank, and they always gave a little box of gum with two Chiclets inside to each of the kids in the car.

Longmont will always hold fond memories of my childhood. The last time I was able to go back and look around was in 2009. The town is no longer the sleepy little town that it was when I was going to school there. It has grown exponentially. While we were there I went by the old school grounds. The building that I went to school in is still there, and really hasn't changes much except there is now a gymnasium attached at the back of the building. I would hate that, because I remember spending a lot of time looking out the full wall of windows that lined the back of the school and daydreaming.

My Elementary School


  1. I too went to a school with multiple grades in one room. It gave the younger ones a head start on the next year.
    Loved the Woolworth fountains. Grilled cheese and chips was my favorite.

  2. Oh, my! What a flood of nostalgia! We didn't have Woolworth's, but we had Newberry's with a fountain counter and a record store where you could listen to the records before you bought them.

    Those were the days!

  3. Interesting. I spent grades 2 through 6 in Utah. Sugar beets were huge in Utah and Idaho. There are still lots of abandoned sugar beet processing facilities there. I think the political power of the corn processors had a lot to do with the demise of sugar beet and cane sugar producers.

    I loved Woolworths. They were the great all around store.

  4. I enjoyed the tour of Longmont, Richard. I well remember Woolworth's lunch and soda fountain counter at the store in downtown Little Rock, and have fed myself many a time from their offerings. It's long gone, of course. What a shame!

  5. It's so nice to have all those memories. You were a cute little fella lol
    I too loved to read books and was so happy when they made me a librarian cause then I could take as many books as I liked. I also had a Woolworths nearby and it had a lot of nice stuff not too expensive.I went back to look at the place I grew up in and everything looks much smaller than I remember and of course everything has changed so much that all traces of your life has almost disappeared. So sad.:(

  6. I am 14 and currently live in Longmont, I think it is fascinating hearing about how Longmont was back then.