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A tailing tale of “those damn twins again”

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Life in the Early Days

By Maggie Magoffin

(From: Life in the Early Days by James K. Ramstetter. Permission of use given by Mary Ramstetter). I spent my early childhood either in Golden or out in the country not far from Golden. My earliest memory, and a faint one at that, was being sat on by several fat women in Dr. Kelly’s office, who were holding me down while the doctor installed about fifty stitches in my face and head. I had been kicked in the face by a draft horse while I was trying to herd it around the corral. No one ever knew what I was doing in the pen with the horse. Some neighbor kids happened to be there and they carried me into the house. My father was working out in the timber with his horses, but my mother got hold of him right away. They hooked up a team of horses to a buggy and made a fast six-mile trip to a Golden doctor, who did a wonderful job reshaping my crushed nose and got me to look more like a human being Nevertheless, I carried a scar the shape of a horse shoe for twelve years before it disappeared.

Shortly after the accident we moved to Golden. Our mother, who had been a teacher, preferred city living to the country. We moved to a house which was located where the Coors Porcelain Company now has its offices. This was at Ninth and Ford Streets located about two blocks from the Loveland Fire Station which had a tower with a big bell on it. The only fire equipment kept at this station was a hose cart that required fifteen or twenty men to pull to wherever there was a fire.

There were very few telephones around in those days. In case of a fire, the women folks would keep yelling in the direction of the fire station, then some lady near the station would run over and ring the fire bell. The fire department was manned by volunteers living and working in the neighborhood. This usually emptied the saloons. While the volunteer firemen were getting the hose cart out, the ladies would yell out the location of the fire. Several times the fire was located at our house, and when the ladies would call for the location of the fire, the lady across the street would yell back, “The damn twins again.”

Somebody had given a good sized sheet metal locomotive to my twin brother Ralph and me. It was large enough so one of us could sit on it while the other pushed it. However, we thought that if it had a fire in it, it would go by itself. So we stuffed a piece of oil-soaked gunny sack in it and set it on fire, and when the neighborhood ladies noticed it they would start yelling for somebody to ring the fire bell. Herman Coors, who was a young man working for the Coors Pottery, would hear the fire bell, and look out the window to see what was going on. He always noticed the tin fire engine on fire and would come running out with a bucket of water and put the fire out.

We had one other happening with the fire department. Every summer the different fire departments would have contests to find out who handled their carts the fastest. The Golden Volunteers from the Loveland Fire Station were making a run with their hose cart—they had to go right by our house. I got all excited about their race and ran out to see if I could help them pull the cart. I got mixed up with the men, fell down, and got run over by the cart. Fortunately, I was only slightly bruised, but the Loveland Hose Company missed the race. The folks decided it was time to move to another location.

Our next move was to the north part of Golden near Sixth and Arapahoe. This place had a nice two-story house on it. Also, in the back next to the alley was a small barn where our father could keep a team of horses with their harnesses and other equipment.

Our First Ranch

In 1917 we moved to our first ranch. It was a small house with about 400 acres. Our father, uncles, and some neighbors helped build a large log barn to house harnesses, saddles, and other equipment.

The east end of the large log barn made a nice play room for all four of us kids. It had a nice clean dirt floor as the place was mainly to hang harnesses, saddles and other items on the walls. A problem soon developed when some hornets made a nest between the logs on the inside of the barn. We tried to avoid them, but now and then we would get stung. One day we decided that there should be some way to get rid of them. We cut off the knot from the end of a large rope, set it on fire and tossed the burning knot into the hornet’s nest—where it stayed. We went out of the barn to do some playing around when the dogs started barking. We then noticed that there were some flames coming out of the barn wall.

The first thing we did was to start carrying water from the spring in small cans and tried to put the fire out. The fire was getting worse, so we finally decided to tell our mother. Ordinarily our mother was rather excitable, but she decided the only thing to do was send for help. She told my twin brother, Ralph, and me to run down to our neighbors; however, when we got half way, we met the neighbors hurrying up to our place with a team and spring wagon loaded with milk cans full of water. They noticed the smoke and went up on the hill and saw that our barn was on fire. The smoke soon attracted other neighbors, but it was too late to save the barn which contained harnesses, saddles, and a nice two-seater buggy with a top. It looked like the house might catch on fire, so they started to move things out of the house including our mother’s piano. The next thing was to get word to our father who was working two miles over the mountain at our grandparents’ place. We twins were then sent to our grandparent’s place.

It took about a half hour to get to our grandparents’ place; however, neither of us would say a word about the fire. (Our consistent behavior—what one wouldn’t say the other would not either.) Our grandmother told our father he had better hurry home as there must be something wrong. No amount of pleading got any response from either of us. Our father hooked the team of horses to the buggy and we headed for the ranch as fast as the horses would go. We had to go over a mountain to get home, and our place did not come into view till we passed through some cliffs. It was then our father was able to see down the valley and notice the remains of the barn—I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head.

There was nothing to be done about the fire as the barn had been totally destroyed. The neighbors helped the folks move everything back into the house. The neighbors got us to tell how the fire got started. It was a disaster that I don’t believe our father ever fully recovered from.

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