The Hip, The Trip, and the Laundromat in Boulder, Colorado

Here are three memories about writing from Boulder, Colorado.

One.

During college in Boulder, I walked from a house on the ‘Hill’ region—where I lived in with several roommates on Pennsylvania Avenue—to the laundromat called Doozy Duds, adjacent to the same parking lot as the Boulder Mountaineer and Dot’s Diner. I put a load of clothes in the washing machine, sat on a bright orange plastic chair and picked up a newspaper from the adjacent seat.

Flipping through pages, I stopped at an advertisement. It was one or two pages long and was for either an Apple or a Mac computer. It showed—with illustrations—how you could highlight text, and then cut the text and paste this somewhere else.

Wow!

That was new. And amazing. I was sure it would change the world.

Which it did.

Unlike writers in the age of Emily Bronte or Jules Verne who had to compose thoughts clearly in their heads before putting them to paper, we can now half-formulate thoughts, write them down and rearrange paragraphs later.

Before the electronic cut and paste function, we would—literally—take a scissors and tape to sheets of paper we had written on, then cut out paragraphs and rearrange them on another sheet of paper and then tape these into place before re-typing the text.

Apparently the guy credited with inventing electronic ‘copy and paste’ function is Larry Tesler, who was working for Xerox in Palo Alto in California in the 1970’s.

Two.

After college, while still in Boulder, I took an evening course in magazine writing taught by Sam Maddox. Sam became reputed in Boulder because he was a ‘stringer’ who wrote pieces for various newspapers and magazines before he started his own publishing business. He had written a piece about the town of Boulder for Newsweek Magazine, titled “Where the Hip meet to Trip.”

That small column put Boulder on the national radar for being liberal and tolerant.

For the class he taught (which was excellent) we had to select and then interview a local business owner, then write an article about them. I interviewed the owner of Dot’s Diner. He shared memorable events. One was that the restaurant had previously been named The Magnolia Thunderpussy (I kid you not). One day a woman from the Doozy Duds laundromat next door came into the small front hall, stripped and threw her clothes into a laundry basket, then pulled on another set of clothes. All of this in the lobby before the front desk: getting buck naked and re-dressing before sauntering out again.

Another time the cook was so hungover that he took a nap by laying horizontally on the front counter while the restaurant was still open.

That was my first interview.

I thought, wow–this is intriguing: listening to wild and colorful tales about real events, then writing about them.

Three.

Two weeks ago a former professor in civil engineering from the University of Colorado in Boulder who had taught me, George Goble, died. Strangely, I found that out after I wrote the paragraph below.

George Goble was a pragmatic, no-nonsense guy from Idaho. He taught both a course that was an introduction to engineering, as well as a course on statics (where we examined forces acting in equilibrium on stationary objects).

He once told us that the more we studied and worked in engineering, the more our facility with writing would diminish. He said that was just a fact, whether we liked it or not.

I’m delighted he said that.

As soon as he did, I decided, unequivocally and definitely, that come hell or high water that would never happen with me.

I continued studying engineering, and working in engineering, but also wrote on the side. In journals. For the college newspaper. After graduation I did an internship with the High Country News in Paonia, Colorado. My love of writing was fierce, though my ability to structure thought and pull in readers was then undeveloped.

“Remember,” wrote Betsdy Marston, the editor and co-owner of the High Country News when she edited a draft piece I had written. “You are telling a story, not just reciting facts.”

Story. Not just facts.

Okay.

Got it.

It’s bizarre how the professor’s almost offhand comment made during an introductory class helped shape the destiny of my future.

Incidentally, the city of Boulder and its surrounding countryside?

Beautiful!

Visit if you can.

Please do check out my posts on Instagram, Twitter, my Vino Voices blog, or at my Forbes site.

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Gruesome and Revealing Daily Security Briefings In Southeast Asia….

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Comments from Readers

  • Nice piece on Boulder. I grew up there, living at the base of NCAR back in the ’70’s. Great place, great people. Nice memories.

  • Tom

    Appreciate your input! The weather in Boulder – blue skies, Chinook winds, star-cluttered nights – was gorgeous, and the outdoors amazing: Mesa Trail, Boulder Canyon, Flatirons. Truly a very special place that has been wisely protected by growth laws.

  • Tom

    My friend Scott, who also studied at CU and now owns an architecture company in Eagle, Colorado, wrote the following after reading this post. Hilarious!

    Hey Tommy!

    My Doozy Duds story is that I put a load of laundry in and then went to Gym on the Hill to get a workout in. When I went to put my clothes in the dryer someone had stolen them! That is a story that also is a fact!

    I’ve been dreaming about opening an organic restaurant and now I have the name! The Organic Magnolia Thunderpussy! Instant hit!

    Adios amigo!

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