I could always find Grandma peacefully sitting and gazing out the large front room window that faced main street. It was a small sleepy rural town in Southern Colorado, with very little traffic and I always wondered what held her interest.
As a teen, Hazel attended Sanford High School, which was only a two-year school at that time. Following high school, Grandma attended the San Luis Academy in Manassa.
Once she completed her schooling, Hazel cleaned people’s homes during the cool months for a time, but her summer employment was a bit more fun. Along with some of her friends, Hazel waitressed at the Rainbow Trout Lodge that sat on the banks of the beautiful Conejos River. There they served wealthy tourists that came from all over. Hazel became friends with many of those tourists who stayed in touch with her long after they returned home.
Apparently, that was a fun time for Grandma as she has numerous photo albums filled with photos of the friends she met while working there. Some of the photos were men and were sent after they had returned home. It was a side I had never suspected of the quiet woman I called Grandma.
Of that time, Hazel said,
“Some evenings there would be an orchestra come and the guests would have a gay time, of course we hired help weren’t invited but we girls could hear their laughs from our quarters. Two other girls from home were with me at the lodge. They were Eva Beck and Ruth Valentine. We all had some good times together. Some times the wanglers would get some real tame horses and we all would go for a horse back ride. The wages were $1.00 a day with board and room. We girls each slept in small tents, called “Pup Tents.” These were all in a row on a platform. We would raise the sides up and visit with one another until we fell asleep. The guests were good at tipping so we made pretty good wages.” (3)
Between her salary and tips, she was able to earn enough money to buy new clothes and pay tuition for nine months of schooling and so she was off on an adventure to Denver where she attended Barnes’ business college. It was quite a big step for a small town girl.
|1921 Ford Model T Coupe (2)|
Grandma decided she needed a car In order to go home on weekends. She had enough set aside to buy a second-hand Model T Ford Coupe.
The following year she got a better job with more pay at a larger school at Los Mesitas, which was west of Antonito. The school had five teachers.
About that time, Hazel said,
“In the fall when the weather was nice we often cooked out over a camp fire, cooking baked potatoes and corn on the cob in the husks in the hot ashes from the fire. These tasted so good.”
Hazel not only worked hard, she played hard too, and had a lot of fun with her sister and friends.
|Daphney Marten Koontz, Ella White,
Don Hutchins, Hazel Mickelsen Ganus,
(1) Photo of 1921 Model T Coupe Don O’Brien from Piketon, Oio, United States Creative Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1921_Ford_Model_T_Coupe_(7273284910).jpg
(2) photo of comptometer from Wikimedia in public domain. Released by Ezdr
(3) Page 10 of 18 in Hazel M. Ganus Life History
8 thoughts on “The Grandma I didn’t know: Hazel Mickelsen Ganus”
Wonderfully written story Michelle. Oh how we wish we had more time with our grandmas. I was too young to sit and listen very long and now I long to hear every story. ❤️
My Grandma Ganus passed the day before I had our third child, so I was an adult and really had no excuse. We didn’t live close at all to her, but I still wish I had taken time to really learn about her from her.
It sounds like your Grandma Hazel was an amazing, strong, and accomplished woman.
She was always so quiet when I knew her and so it was hard to place her in some of those pictures and experiences she had. It was really fun to get to know her this way, but wish I had known more about her life when she was living.
Nicely told story about your grandmother. And some wonderful photos.
Thank you. Those photos are real treasures.
Really enjoyed your loving tribute to Grandma Hazel.
Thank you. I seriously feel a little cheated that I didn’t know then what I know now about my grandma. I wish I had asked questions about her life.