Pioneer Essay July 1976, Security Advertiser & Fountain Valley News
My father, Louis A Toothman, came to Fountain from Mount Hope, Kansas, in 1895. Since he was a carpenter, he built a few houses and then returned to get my mother, Nettie P (Haskins) Toothman, and my sister. They came back to Fountain in the Spring of 1896. My eldest sister, Mrs. Coral Miller of Colorado Springs, was six months old at the time. In 1900, another sister, was born in Fountain, Mrs. Daisy Torbit. My brother RB was born in 1902. I was born August 3, 1910 at 310 W Illinois. The cottonwood tree at the east corner of the yard was planted by the parents the day before I was born.
I recall the people who would drive their horses and buggies into town. They had a big watering trough for the horses south of Fountain Furniture Store. They removed the watering trough, but the rings, where they tied their horses, still remain in the sidewalk south of the above store on East Ohio Street [Woodmen Hall].
My little girl friends and I used to skate all over the town. I am sure some of the older people used to grow tired of the noise of our roller skates. Everyone was well acquainted in our town and our parents felt we were safe in our skating. But in 1916, a little girl was kidnapped in the Springs and this curtailed our skating for a while. A kidnapping was almost unheard of in my day.
Another thing my little friends and I loved to do was sell lemonade on Saturdays to earn money for the movies. The old theatre is presently located north of the barber shop [on Main Street]. Of course, our mothers furnished the lemons, sugar, glasses, etc., so the sale of the lemonade was all profit for us. We had our stand on the sidewalk back of Barney’s Market.
The churches and schools played a big part in our lives. We always had big programs in the schools and churches at Christmas. Ice cream socials were another thing that were held quite often. They were usually held at someone’s house who had a big yard. Japanese lanterns were quite popular at the time. We always had big crowds at these gatherings even though people had to walk. I can remember how the snow in the winter time would sound under our feet when we walked to church or school. We had more snow in these days than we do at the present time.
My parents moved from my birthplace to a home north of Fountain Skelly Station in 1915, before my brother’s death. This house was located at the edge of town. At this time, Hwy 85-87 did not exist. The main highway went right through town. We had woods, irrigation ditches, and a field of alfalfa north of our house. July 4 used to be a big celebration for everyone. We would have the Wallace family, the Christian family, and most of the west side gang over, as we called them. Everyone would bring ice cream freezers, as well as mountains of food. My father would fix up tables out of saw horses and big boards. We would play all types of games and a great time was had by all.
After my brother passed away (in 1918) my parents took over the Brunswick Hotel. This hotel was situated on the northwest corner of Race and Missouri Streets. Since we were quite a thriving little town, salesmen would arrive on the trains and spend the nights at our hotel. We had a beautiful dining room and a huge lounge with a fireplace. The rooms were not modern so the old pitchers, wash bowls, etc., were used at this time. Plus the use of the old coal and wood burning stoves. My mother was a wonderful cook and the salesmen would always brag on her meals, especially her pies. One salesman had a camera and asked to take our pictures. This was the type of camera where you used powder that was ignited by flint. Needless to say, we couldn’t see for quite awhile after the powder was ignited. Usually, our eyes were closed in the pictures.
One of our drug stores was located where the Catholic Church stands now. One of our local doctors, Dr. Broadway, had his office in the rear of the store. He was our family doctor and even though he gave me a lot of pills, I have good thoughts about him. The home we always called Dr. Broadway’s house is located where the Cushman family now lives at 237 S Main St.
I distinctly remember when Fountain has its street lights turned on for the first time. Fountain had a big street dance, bands played, and there were all kinds of concessions. Everyone had a great time. One of the songs they sang that night that I remember so well was “Fountain Will Shine Tonight”.
Another thing that comes to my memory was my parents telling me about the big snow storm in December, 1913. Most people had fences around their homes and the snow was over the fences. My father made the older children skis and during the snow storm, they would go to the grocery store on these. I should give the reason for fences around people’s homes, it was due to cattle drives though town. The ranchers from the surrounding cattle ranches would drive their cattle to the stockyards, located near the railroad on the east side of Fountain. The cattle were loaded there into the stock cars and sent to the market. Again, trains played a big part in our transportation.
My eldest sister graduated from the old brick school building (torn down some years ago) in 1913. My other sister graduated from the same building in 1919. I attended school in this building until 1925 when they built the junior high building (which has recently been torn down). The janitor and his wife had their living quarters in this old brick building and as lunch time grew near, the odor of food would drift up to our classrooms and how hungry everyone would be! No hot lunches were served at the time. The janitor would always ring the big bell in a tower located by this old school. This bell can be seen in front of the present junior high. I have the little notebook that one of the school board members kept for the taxpayers who voted on the bond issue for this old school building.
Sunday afternoons were the time for baseball games. Our team was made up of the younger men in town. The baseball field was located near the stockyards on the east side of town. Our team would play teams from other small neighboring towns.
Gypsies played a big part in my life. We would always be so excited when someone would say “Gypsies are coming to town”. After they toured the local stores and came away, I am sure, with many things in their pockets, they would drive their wagons and horses south of Fountain and camp in an open field. The women always wore skirts with huge pockets which were real handy to put things that were taken from the stores. The women always wanted to tell your fortune for a nickel or dime. They wore colorful clothes, but were not too clean. They always had many children and dogs. I was often told that they stole chickens and eggs from the neighboring farms. In later years, they would travel though the country in old Cadillacs, but it was never quite the thrill as the wagons and horses.
Another highlight of my childhood were the chatauqua shows. They were held in tents pitched on the school house lawn. They had wonderful entertainment and the people with the company were considered very high class.
When I was in the lower grades, we had the big “May Pole” celebration on the school’s lawn. This was quite an event with just the Fountain Grade School participating. It was also something when you were chosen to wind the May pole. We also used to have a “May Day” where all of the El Paso County Schools participated. They were held in Stratton Park but as the weather was so independable, they were finally moved to the Colorado Springs City Auditorium.
I graduated from the old junior high in 1929. The seniors always had a sneak day and one of the favorite things to hike down Royal Gorge. We used ropes, steps made out of the rocks and all in all it was quite dangerous. We hiked down where the cable car now runs. We hiked back up the mountain on the other side and this wasn’t quite as dangerous. We had girls’ basketball teams all during my high school years. Our longest distance to travel was to Victor and Cripple Creek where we would spend the nights at the homes of the opposing team.