By Maggie Magoffin
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with local legend, Geno Kennedy, at The Stagestop in beautiful downtown Rollinsville, Colorado. What led me to request an interview was a visit several months ago which I made to my daughter and son-in-law’s in Coal Creek Canyon. A copy of Geno’s book Welcome to the Mountains- Now Behave laid on the coffee table. As I cannot resist reading books with interesting titles, in a short period of time I read it through cover-to-cover. It is a humorous but informative book that should be required reading for any visitors planning a trip up the hill. Filled with true-to-life experiences and Geno’s wit and wisdom, I found it to be an easy read that entertained and educated.
Since its publication in 2003, Welcome to the Mountains-Now Behave has sold over 16,000 copies worldwide. Travelers from around the world; from your every-day Joe from back east, to visiting dignitaries from Washington, D.C., to travelers from all corners of the globe, took at least one copy home with them. Frequently they contact Geno for additional copies to share with friends. He and his book have been featured in over 20 magazine and newspaper articles. Ed Quillen of the Denver Post did an article on him. The Boulder Weekly did a two-page story. The following week the book was voted best book in Best of Boulder magazine. It was the only book ever listed in the publication.
Six years ago, Jared Polis, Congressman of Colorado District 2, held a meeting in Vale with his staff members from D.C. He invited Geno to be a guest speaker and asked him to bring all the copies of his book he had. He took 35 copies and the congressman bought them all. Addressing his staff, Polis said, “You people from the east coast have to realize I’m dealing with these little mountain towns. You have to realize that life is different here. So, in order to help you learn about life in this area, I brought you a real life mountain man.” And he introduced Geno. Geno said he must have had a deer-in-the-headlights look when he took the stage. Polis told him Welcome to the Mountains-Now Behave was the best book he ever read explaining life in the mountains.
Geno says he’s not really an author, he’s a storyteller. His second book, Blasts from the Past, released in 2005. It is a collection of true life experiences in the mountains and he warns it is R rated. He also has a children’s book due to be released soon. Tiny Takes a Trip is a story of a young turtle looking for greener grass. It is a story Geno told to his daughter when she was very little, and he has recently brought it to publication. He also has a column in the Mountain-Ear entitled Geno’s Words of Wit and Wisdom. His books can be purchased at Geno’s office annex in Rollinsville, The Stagestop, at Mountain Mocha in Black Hawk, at the Blue Owl, Mountain Man, and several other locations in. You can also order copies from Geno by contacting him at email@example.com. At $10 each, they make great Christmas gifts.
Geno describes himself as a refugee from Poughkeepsie, New York. A quiet, shy, humble man. (Not really.) He moved to Colorado August 24, 1973 and has never looked back. As a child, he lived in the projects of Poughkeepsie and was determined to find a better life as soon as he could get out. He landed in Colorado on his way to California. He stopped in Manitou Springs for gas at an Exxon station. The owner offered him a job at decent pay and Geno decided to stay. He settled down there, got married, and had a daughter. In 1981, the station owner offered Geno a job at a station he owned in Boulder. Geno took the job and on December 22nd moved his family to Rollinsville. They were hoping for a white Christmas and by Christmas morning they got their wish, receiving four feet of snow overnight.
Today, Geno describes himself as a social hermit. He lives with his dog, Barker, in Gamble Gulch in a 10×12 foot cabin that he describes of pretty ugly on the outside, but cozy and comfortable inside. He has his bedroom in the loft and says he lies next to a large window from where he can look across the open land and view starry skies and mountain vistas. He adds, “The chicks really dig it.” Geno built his cabin himself, and when he’s not writing he’s a carpenter, sheet-rocker, electrician, and general handyman, and he rarely leaves the Rollinsville, Nederland, Black Hawk area.
From Maggie: If you have any interesting stories about family or acquaintances who have lived or still live in Gilpin County or the surrounding areas, please contact me. You can reach me at 303-881-3321. Email me at Maggie@Maggiempublications.com, or mail me at P.O. Box 746495, Arvada, Colorado 80006-6495.
Be sure to check out my website for past columns at www.MaggieMPublications.com.