Carol Taylor is a local historian and researcher with expertise creating compelling public programs and interpretive writing for historical exhibits. She has worked with partners such as the Native American Rights Fund, National Park Service, Colorado Music Hall of Fame, Boedecker Theater at The Dairy Center for the Arts, Colorado Chautauqua and others, to demonstrate history’s relevance to the present. Her interests include social justice, architecture, historic sites, women, artists and Boulder’s University Hill. She writes a monthly Boulder County history column for the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper. Follow her on Instagram @signsofboulderhistory.
Editor’s note: These newspaper columns have been republished in their original form. The opinions expressed in them are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Colorado Encyclopedia.
"Nation’s first solar-heated home was in Boulder"
Boulder Daily Camera, August 10, 2008
In the 1970s Boulder experienced a flurry of solar activity in response to the OPEC oil embargo and resulting gas shortage. There were solar talks at the library, solar workshops and conferences at the University of Colorado, solar homes and solar open houses. But the history of solar energy in Boulder began 30 years earlier in a cottage at 1719 Mariposa Ave. Dr. George Lof, an Aspen native who earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Denver and a graduate degree at MIT, was a chemical engineering professor at CU when he started a solar heating project.
The university received funds during World War II from the War Production Board’s Office of Scientific Research and Development. Officials were concerned about what might happen to the country’s fuel supply during another prolonged conflict. So, in 1943, Lof built a small one-story wood-framed house with an experimental solar heating system and lived there with his young family. After the war, the American Window Glass Company financed the project for an additional two years.
The nation’s first solar home used a greenhouse-like solar heat collector of rooftop glass plates that were warmed by the sun and then heated the air, which then passed into the house. Lof boasted that the setup saved 20 percent on the heating bill of the home and he predicted a savings of 60 percent with technical improvements. He said he could keep his home at an even 70 degrees even in sub-zero weather as long as the sun was shining. In cloudy weather, at night or when snow covered the collector, a conventional furnace was substituted.
The research was so advanced that the home and CU received national publicity. Lof’s residence was featured in Business Week (March 15, 1947), the Christian Science Monitor (Aug. 14, 1947), the New York Herald Tribune, Architectural Forum and other national publications.
After leaving the CU faculty, Professor Lof dismantled the solar apparatus when Realtors found they couldn’t sell the house with its unconventional glass panels. He continued his research by building another solar house for his family of six in Cherry Hills, designed by Boulder architect James Hunter. The home was completed in 1957 and is reportedly the oldest known solar residence. Dr. Lof went on to chair the chemical engineering department at the University of Denver, create Solaron Corporation and win top honors in the field of solar energy.
In 1974, Lof spoke at Boulder’s Rotary Club and predicted that the year would bring many more solar houses and said that moderately priced solar heating and cooling systems would be developed soon. In a 1983 story written by Paul Danish, Lof declared, “I’m bullish on solar heat.”
The solar pioneer is 94 years old now, retired and still living in the home that he built in 1957 at 6 Parkway Drive in Cherry Hills. He remembers enjoying his time in Boulder in the small house, while his children were young. And yes, he’s still bullish on solar energy.
Mary Frances Berry
"Mary Frances Berry: CU’s First black chancellor"
Boulder Daily Camera, October 19, 2008
After the recent presidential debate, you might have heard commentary on CNN and NPR by former chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Mary Frances Berry. But did you know that Berry achieved a groundbreaking pair of firsts for the University of Colorado at Boulder?
In January 1976, after an eight-month search, CU President Roland Rautenstraus recommended that regents offer Berry the job of chancellor of the Boulder campus. CU lured the rising star from a provost position at the University of Maryland. Berry accepted the offer and began her appointment July 1 of that year, becoming the first African-American and first woman in that office.
With a Ph.D. in history as well as a law degree, Berry was only 38 when she assumed chancellor duties. Before she even arrived in Boulder, Berry told a Daily Camera reporter that she was “bothered by the lack of minorities and women in the administration and faculty” at CU. She would later be criticized for granting amnesty to a group of minority students who staged at sit-in on campus at the Hellems building.
Berry was just getting started when President-elect Jimmy Carter’s administration began wooing her for an assistant secretary post at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now Health and Human Services). Berry negotiated a year’s leave of absence from CU and accepted the HEW position in January 1977. Berry told the regents that she would not stay longer than a year and had every intention of returning to the Boulder campus.
Two months later, the Denver Post reported that Berry told a Senate confirmation committee that she intended to serve at the HEW for all four years of the Carter administration. Berry denied the report. The statement, given under oath, that she would stay at the HEW as long as President Carter wanted, grew into a controversy.
She resigned from her CU job in May 1977, after less than a year in the position. President Rautenstraus announced her resignation with a deep sense of loss.
Berry was later appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights under President Carter in 1979. She was fired from that post by President Ronald Reagan and appealed her dismissal. The six-member commission was expanded to eight-member, and she regained her seat. Berry served as chair of the commission under President Bill Clinton.
Since leaving CU for Washington, D.C., this powerhouse has earned more than 30 honorary doctorate degrees, published seven books and won countless awards. Now 70, Berry’s close-cropped hair is gray after a long and distinguished career in activism, law, writing, public service and Ivy League academics at the University of Pennsylvania.
Thirty years after her appointment, she remains the first and only woman or person of color in the chancellor post at CU Boulder.
For a more detailed account of Berry’s tenure at CU, see “Glory Colorado! Volume II: A History of the University of Colorado, 1963-2000” by William E. Davis.
Los Seis de Boulder
"'Los Seis de Boulder' died in '74 car bombings"
Boulder Daily Camera, May 17, 2009
At the end of May 1974, two car bombings rocked the city of Boulder, killing six young activists.
Most of the victims were politically involved in the struggle to improve conditions for minority students at the University of Colorado. They were working to achieve parity — a percentage of Chicanos enrolled at CU equal to the percentage of the state population. There was a 19-day sit-in in progress by the United Mexican-American Students at Temporary Building No. 1 (the old hospital on the Boulder campus). Tensions were high on campus as students and supporters sought changes in the faculty of the UMAS/ Equal Opportunity Program.
The blast on May 27, at Chautauqua Park, was heard all over Boulder. The three who died in the bombed car were Alamosa attorney and CU law school graduate Reyes Martinez, 26; Ignacio high school homecoming queen and CU junior Neva Romero, 21; and CU double major graduate Una Jaakola, 24, Martinez’s girlfriend.
Then, on May 29, another bomb went off in a car in the Burger King parking lot on 28th Street, killing Florencio Granado, 31, who once attended CU; former CU student Heriberto Teran, 24; and Francisco Dougherty, 20, a pre-med student from Texas. One survivor, who was outside of the car at the time, lost a leg and suffered severe burns.
Hundreds participated in mourning ceremonies for the victims — known as “Los Seis de Boulder” in the days following the bombings. On July 4, 400 joined a memorial march from Crossroads Mall to Chautauqua Park.
The Chicano community was fearful and angry after the bombings.
Denver activist Corky Gonzales spoke at a demonstration at the Federal Courthouse in Denver in July. Chicanos were protesting the harassment by a federal grand jury of families and friends of “Los Seis.” Chicano leaders felt strongly that “Los Seis” were murdered as part of a conspiracy against the Chicano activists and they claimed evidence to prove it. The grand jury investigation was deemed racist.
Police believe that those who died were political militants who were working on bombs and were preparing to set off more explosions. They theorized that Neva Romero was holding the homemade bomb in her lap when it detonated. However, District Attorney Alex Hunter decided not to prosecute bombing survivor Antonio Alcantar, saying the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.
The bombings left Boulder residents jittery. There were several more bomb scares in the city that year, sending Boulder’s newly formed bomb squad out on false alarms.
Artist Pedro Romero painted a mural of “Los Seis de Boulder” for the office of the United Mexican-American Students in the University Memorial Center at CU in 1987. That mural was removed during the recent UMC renovation.
A Colorado Historical Society memorial plaque for “Los Seis,” about one mile up Boulder Canyon, was dedicated in 2003.
"Rare Clovis artifacts document Boulder's prehistory"
Boulder Daily Camera, September 11, 2011
Thirteen thousand years ago, Clovis people roamed The Hill, and there are 83 stone age tools to prove it. Archaeologists now believe the prehistoric people may have had an ice age megafauna butchering station along the banks of Gregory Creek, where the tools were discovered.
In May of 2008, landowner and biotechnology entrepreneur Patrick Mahaffy hired landscapers to excavate part of his yard to create a pond. When one of the crew members heard an unusual chink, he stopped to investigate. They had stumbled upon a collection of 83 stone implements.
Mahaffy was curious about the implements, which he thought might be Native American and possibly a few hundred years old. He telephoned the University of Colorado’s anthropology department. Luckily, he reached Dr. Douglas Bamforth, an expert on ancient people and their use of stone tools. Bamforth walked over to take a look.
He was astounded at what Mahaffy had discovered. Experts at the Laboratory of Archaeological Science at California State University, Bakersfield were consulted. Analysis to determine the age of the implements would be costly, but Mahaffy gladly paid out of his own pocket.
After some months, the unprecedented results of the protein residue analysis were made public. The results were international news. The tools contained the blood of prehistoric mammals including camel, bear, horse and sheep, the megafauna that roamed over North America 13,000 years ago during the Pleistocene.
It was the first analysis to identify protein residue from an extinct camel on North American stone tools and only the second to identify horse protein on Clovis-age tools, according to Bamforth. The rare find, which was officially named the Mahaffy Cache, is one of only a few Clovis artifact group discoveries in North America.
The Clovis people mysteriously disappeared from the earth about the same time as the ice-age mammals also became extinct.
One scientific theory is that a group of comets exploded over North America, creating massive heat that caused the extinction of ice age mammals, and perhaps the Clovis people, too. Clovis people were once thought to be the first human inhabitants of the New World, but new archaeological discoveries have called that belief into question.
The 83 tools of the Mahaffy Cache themselves are made of Kremmling chert, rock material found on Colorado’s Western Slope. They are not hunting tools, but were probably used for butchering the animals for food.
Mahaffy described the tools as perfectly ergonomic, fitting beautifully into a human hand.
In 2009, Patrick Mahaffy was recognized with a special project award, given by the Boulder Heritage Roundtable, for his dedication to preservation of the ancient historic materials.
Shortly after the discovery, the biopharmaceutical entrepreneur named his new company Clovis Oncology.
Although Mahaffy intended for most of the tools to be on exhibit for the public, they have not yet been made available.
"This Boulder controversy had some teeth"
Boulder Daily Camera, November 4, 2012
The U.S. Center for Disease Control cites fluoridation of drinking water among the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
It took three elections to get fluoridation approved in Boulder. At one point there were so many letters to the editor, both for and against, that the Daily Camera called for a moratorium.
Groups in favor thought Boulder should join other progressive cities in fluoridating the water supply to prevent tooth decay. Opponents rejected chemical additives to their pure glacier water.
Interest in the topic was piqued after results of studies reported in the Daily Camera in 1952 revealed a high rate of tooth decay in Boulder, reportedly the result of a lack of the element fluorine in the city’s water supply. The National Institute of Dental Research conducted one study in Boulder and Colorado Springs and found Colorado Springs residents superior to Boulder’s in terms of dental health.
The variation was related to the amount of fluorine in each city’s water supply. Boulder’s natural water supply contained practically no fluorine, which was why the city was chosen for the study. Colorado Springs’ water supply had averaged 2.5 parts per million for many years.
Upon the recommendation of dentists and public health officials, the Boulder city council passed an ordinance for water fluoridation in April 1954.
Not so fast, opponents said. A referendum petition forced the issue to a vote of the people. Mr. Archibald Lacy (A.L.) Camp headed the campaign against adding fluoride with The Committee for Pure Boulder Water. Camp wrote in a letter to the editor, “I believe we have the best and purest water in the world; it is the joy and pride of beautiful Boulder.”
Camp and his ilk said adding the chemical fluorine to the public water supply was a form of mass medication with a poisonous substance and a violation of their human rights. If people really wanted this chemical for dental health, they could get it individually from their dentist, the group argued.
Proponents insisted there would be no ill effects from the addition of a small amount of the chemical and that research backed up their position.
In October 1954, the measure was defeated by 742 votes — 2,395 voted in favor of the measure, 3,137 against it.
Boulder Citizens for Good Teeth petitioned fluoridation onto the ballot again in 1964. Nearly every medical, dental and public health group in the city endorsed adding fluoride to the water supply.
The Committee for Pure Water again formed the opposition.
The Daily Camera reported that the U.S. Surgeon General sent a wire to Boulder’s acting mayor, Robert W. Knecht, supporting fluoridation. Even so, the measure was defeated for a second time, 5,975 to 4,824.
In 1969, the measure was petitioned onto the ballot once more. The Fluoride Study Group staged a series of public information meetings at which they emphasized the harmful effects of adding the chemical.
However, just before the election, the World Health Organization adopted a resolution calling on member nations to introduce fluoridation of community water supplies.
With a large voter turnout, the measure was approved by 508 votes, 5,902 to 5,394 against.
Boulder now fluoridates its drinking water to 0.9 parts per million, as recommended by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
"Boulder played role in closed captioning"
Boulder Daily Camera, November 18, 2012
The three Boulder researchers credited with developing closed captioning never set out to change the lives of the hearing-impaired.
In the early 1970s, Jim Jespersen, a physicist, and engineers George Kamas and Dick Davis were working in the Time and Frequency Division at the National Bureau of Standards. (The name of the institution was changed in 1988 to National Institute of Standards and Technology.)
The men were studying the spectrum usage of television broadcasts. To increase availability of accurate time signals, they developed a way to hide time codes in broadcast television transmission.
That original project was abandoned because of the emergence of GPS (global positioning system) and other technologies, which proved better in delivering accurate time signals, according to engineer John Lowe of the Time and Frequency division at NIST.
However, the scientists noticed that after the audio and video elements were accounted for, there was still a large portion of the spectrum that went unused, said James Burrus, public information and outreach coordinator at NIST.
The researchers decided to utilize that available space to transmit a printed transcript of dialogue simultaneously with the broadcast. After that was successful, they then developed a way to hide that information for the average viewer. A special decoder was created for those who would be interested in viewing the transcript.
Sandra Howe, an NBS information specialist, practiced the technology with an episode of ABC’s “The Mod Squad.” The NBS scientists shared it at the National Conference on Television for the Hearing Impaired in 1971. NBS then partnered with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which made improvements to the technology.
The National Captioning Institute, a nonprofit organization, was established in 1979 with federal grant money to add closed captions to network television programs.
In 1980, the television networks ABC, NBC and PBS began transmitting closed captions on programs such as “Three’s Company,” “Disney’s Wonderful World” and “Masterpiece Theatre.”
The first children’s program with closed captions was “3-2-1 Contact.” The 1981 Sugar Bowl marked the first captioning of a live sports event.
Viewers wishing to receive closed captioning at that time could buy a small black box for a little more than $250 at Sears, Roebuck & Co.
In September 1980, the National Bureau of Standards, along with ABC and PBS, received the Emmy Award for outstanding engineering development for the “closed caption for the deaf system” from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Those involved in the project were invited to the White House to receive congratulations from President Jimmy Carter.
In a Daily Camera story about the award, Jespersen and Davis commented that the thrill of winning an Emmy was decreased a great deal because it was for work done a decade earlier.
In 1990, President Bush signed a bill requiring that all televisions 13 inches or larger sold in the United States after July 1, 1993, possess the capability for showing closed captions.
Today, the closed-captioning Emmy statue is proudly displayed in the lobby of Boulder’s NIST.
"Boulder was trend-setter for same-sex marriage"
Boulder Daily Camera, May 26, 2013
A milestone in Boulder’s gay-rights history took place in 1975 — at the El Paso County Clerk’s office.
Two Colorado Springs men who had been living together for four years, David McCord and David Zamora, approached their county clerk to obtain a marriage license.
The staff person told the couple they didn’t do that sort of thing in El Paso County, then suggested they might have luck in Boulder.
McCord and Zamora traveled to Boulder and encountered Boulder County Clerk Clela Rorex, who had been on the job only a few months. Assistant District Attorney William C. Wise advised Rorex that there was nothing in the language of the law to prevent granting such a license.
“I am not in violation of any law, and it is not for me to legislate morality … ” Rorex said after the fact.
And with that, McCord and Zamora received the first same-sex marriage license in Colorado on March 26, 1975. (The first marriage license in the nation was issued to two men in Maricopa County, Ariz., in January 1975 but was later revoked.)
The union of McCord and Zamora was front-page news in the Daily Camera on March 27, 1975.
A few days later, the Sunday Camera’s editorial proclaimed the issuance was a “flouting of accepted standards” and a “distortion of intent of the law.”
“What average, normal American family would choose residence here on the basis of this type of conduct and the reflection it gives?” the article asked readers. “The unsavory publicity about Boulder and the damaging effects on its reputation do not reflect the true character of our community. The deviates, weirdos, drones and revolutionaries are in the rank of the minority.”
Boulder County received more than 100 phone calls and piles of letters. Later, Rorex said he received hate mail from entire church congregations.
Many letters to the editor were published in the Daily Camera, mostly against the groundbreaking action.
However, on April 7, when the Camera reported that a second license had been granted, the story noted that calls and letters were running at a 2-1 ratio in favor of Rorex’s decision to issue the licenses.
A male couple from Laramie, Wyo., drove to Boulder to obtain a license. One member of the couple was later dismissed from his job, according to a story in the New York Times. The Times reported that the same-sex couples granted licenses in Boulder were subjected to “harassment and ridicule.”
The marriage of Richard Adams and Anthony Sullivan is the subject of a documentary in production titled “Limited Partnership.” View the trailer, which references Boulder, by clicking here.
Boulder was a topic on late-night television when host Johnny Carson remarked about a wacky town in Colorado that was handing out marriage licenses to homosexuals. Richard Adams and his partner, Anthony Sullivan, watched the broadcast in California and decided to make a trip to Boulder. Their Boulder County marriage license, issued on April 21, 1975, was the fifth granted.
Adams and Sullivan were quickly married outside the county clerk’s office. Later that afternoon, they traveled to Denver and had a formal religious ceremony, performed by a minister of the Metropolitan Community Church at Denver’s First Unitarian Church. (The Metropolitan Community Church was founded in 1968 on the principle of inclusion with specific outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families and communities.) The First Unitarian Church in Denver remains proud of its inclusive history, having placed a banner on the side of the building proclaiming, “Civil Marriage is a Civil Right.”
A total of six same-sex couples, four male and two female, were issued marriage licenses by Boulder County, before the Colorado Attorney General intervened and halted the practice.
While the McCord-Zamora marriage was over in less than two years, Adams and Sullivan were married for 38 years. The marriage license they obtained in Boulder made national news again when Adams died in December 2012.
The licenses issued in Boulder in 1975 stand as an important breakthrough in the struggle for LGBT rights.
Amid the fray caused by the licenses in 1975, Assistant District Attorney Wise, living up to his surname, remarked, “Who is it going to hurt?”
"Women found math careers at ‘the Bureau’"
Boulder Daily Camera, August 14, 2016
Janet Falcon assumed she would become a teacher. One of the few female mathematics students at the University of Colorado in the late 1950s, she even did her practice teaching at Boulder High School.
However, an unexpected opportunity presented itself and led her to a long and satisfying career at the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder.
In the spring of 1959, before graduation, she heard they were hiring at “the Bureau.” Intrigued, she filled out the paperwork and took the required tests.
Afterward, she shared the good news with her classmates. The conversation went something like this:
“I got a job!” she said.
“What’s the job?” they asked.
“Computer programmer,” she replied.
“What’s that?” they inquired.
“I don’t know!” she answered.
So began Falcon’s 33-year career as a mathematician at Boulder’s first big science laboratory.
Vi Raben also became a mathematician at the bureau, during the same time. While she was in college the typical career options for young women were nursing, teaching or secretarial work, Raben said. No one ever heard of computer programming. Raben came to Boulder through a summer program to attract NBS employees in 1965.
Students could request a job anywhere in the country, Raben recalled. She chose Colorado and was placed at NBS. Hired for a permanent job after she graduated from college in the midwest, Raben imagined that she would do it for one year. She stayed her entire career.
She worked on cutting edge sunspot research in a group at the World Data Center, headed up by the late physicist J. Virginia Lincoln.
“The World Data Center was all women,” Raben said.
As programmers, they created equations to solve problems in the field of radio communications. They wrote programming steps on a sheet similar to graph paper. Those were turned over to keypunch operators who created punch cards. Sometimes they punched their own cards.
Large metal trays containing decks of cards were carried to the centrally located IBM 650 computer and fed into the card reader machine, Falcon explained. As there was one computer for the whole bureau, they were allowed only an hour of time, from noon-1 p.m. Variables and parameters were adjusted to find the solutions for the projects.
The pay was better than teaching, even though you had to work in the summers. The government had great benefits, such as vacation and sick time, and health care. An onsite nurse provided regular physical exams, vaccinations, and hearing, vision and blood tests.
Neither woman felt special for working outside the home. They needed to work to pay their bills. When they had a baby, maternity leave was 90 days, unpaid. Babysitters were found and sometimes shared among female employees.
“We knew each other. Then we went home to our families. Life was full,” Falcon said.
Both chuckled when they recalled that women were required to wear skirts to work. Many let their objections to this policy be known. Some of the young women had to reach up to storage bins and thought slacks would be more modest and practical. Over the years, the dress code was revised so that pants for women were allowed, much to everyone’s relief.
Falcon was in a group with about a dozen other computer programmers.
“There were lots of women working there,” Falcon said. She emphasized that women were paid well and treated with respect.
The environment was collaborative, she said. Lunchtime was a social affair with the women, and men, eating, talking, sharing their programming challenges, and offering possible solutions to one another.
Visiting scientists came in from all over the world. It was thrilling to be working on the latest science and there was always fresh technology to master.
“The whole computer world was changing and everyone was talking about what was new,” Raben remembered.
“It’s been a real ride, watching the computers change.” Falcon said. “It was a fun job.”
"Hilma Skinner warned of ‘sex deviate mecca’"
Boulder Daily Camera, October 16, 2016
When I read that the noted anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly passed away recently, an image of the late Hilma Skinner popped into my head. Skinner was Boulder’s Schlafly.
A married mother of three, Skinner and her family moved to Boulder in 1960, according to a Daily Camera interview. She founded the local chapter of Happiness For Womanhood (HOW), which later became the League of Housewives. She was a 55-year-old housewife in 1973 when she made her first run for Boulder City Council. Opposing affirmative action, rent control and a proposed abortion clinic, she lost the election, placing 13th out of 17 candidates.
She ran the following year with more on her agenda. Skinner favored dropping the city’s Human Resources Department as well as the Human Relations Commission. She stated that she was against free day care centers because day care centers would encourage women to abandon the home.
With her trademark beehive hairdo, she was a recognizable presence at public meetings. In 1974, she attracted attention at a hearing regarding Boulder’s Human Rights Ordinance and its protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Skinner presented a petition signed by over 1,500 people opposing the ordinance.
Skinner suggested that, if the ordinance passed, Boulder would be renamed “Lesbian Homoville,” the Camera reported: “Mrs. Skinner claimed that passage of the ordinance would result in the transformation of Boulder into a ‘sex deviate mecca that will become as corrupt and vile as Sodom and Gomorrah and Pompeii.'”
As part of the fallout from the ordinance, Mayor Penfield Tate II and Councilman Tim Fuller faced a recall election. Skinner stood in favor of recalling Tate and Fuller for leading the city toward socialism.
Her campaign was focused on leading Boulder back toward American values. She lost her second bid for city council as well.
The Equal Rights Amendment in its modern form was approved by Congress and went to the states for ratification in 1972, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.
Colorado ratified the amendment in 1972.
Skinner spoke out against the amendment. Her opposition was picked up by the United Press International news service and her opinions were printed in other newspapers. Skinner reasoned that the ERA would lead to husbands not supporting their families and women would become “criminally liable for half of the family’s income,” UPI reported.
Locally, Skinner let the Boulder Valley school board know that she was against teacher training on sex role stereotyping and she requested that League of Housewives members be allowed to participate in textbook selection.
Her conservative values were Christian-based.
“My teacher is the Holy Spirit,” she stated in a newspaper interview. She believed that “the Christian faith made this the greatest nation in the world.”
Skinner began spending a couple of days a week at the state legislature promoting the League of Housewives’ policies. In 1975, she attended the opening session of the Colorado Legislature armed with chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies to persuade legislators to rescind the ratification of the ERA. At the time, both Nebraska (in 1973) and Tennessee (in 1974) had rescinded their ratifications. In February, Skinner flew to Washington, D.C., to demonstrate against the ERA in her official capacity as Assistant State Director of the League of Housewives.
Skinner’s activism gradually faded away from the news. The ERA failed to be ratified by the required number of 38 states, short by 3 states, and effectively expired in 1982.
According to online obituary records, Skinner passed away in 2012 at the age of 93.
"Ray’s Inn was listed in the Green Book"
Boulder Daily Camera, February 24, 2019
Ray’s Inn was Boulder’s only listing in “The Negro Motorist Green Book.” While many of us are inclined to associate the Green Book guide with the segregated South, the book included information on establishments in Colorado and other western and northern states.
The travel guide, published from 1936-1966, was named for its author, Victor Green, an African American postal carrier who worked in New Jersey and had experienced difficulty while traveling with his family.
Green modeled his book after similar guides published for Jewish travelers. For the first edition, Green gathered information about restaurants, hotels, motels and businesses in New York City that were friendly and safe for African American travelers. He expanded to include such establishments in other states in subsequent editions. The title later changed to “The Negro Travelers Green Book,” and some special issues focused on rail and air travel.
Green encouraged African American travelers to carry their Green Book with them everywhere, “as you never know when you might need it.”
Boulder’s Ray’s Inn was run by Delbert Ray, who grew up on Goss Street in an area that came to be known as “the little rectangle.” The little rectangle, now part of the Goss-Grove neighborhood, was where most African American Boulder residents lived and built homes.
Delbert’s father, Albert Ray, moved to Boulder from Missouri in 1914, with his wife and growing family when Delbert was 2 years old. Albert was a custodian and operated the shoeshine business in the lobby of the First National Bank in Downtown Boulder for 25 years. The Rays were well-regarded in town and served as leaders at the Second Baptist Church.
The Rays’ son Delbert graduated from nearby Boulder High, attended college in Missouri and then returned to Boulder. He landed a job at Perry’s Shoe shop and married Annie, a woman from Texas.
In 1946, Delbert and Annie opened Ray’s Inn at 2038 Goss Street. The couple constructed a small building on the lot in front of their home on the corner of 21st and Goss, and filled it with booths, tables and a counter for seating customers.
“We will operate a clean, orderly place with the best of food, not only for the colored people but for the general public,” Delbert said in a 1946 newspaper article.
Annie knew a thing or two about southern cooking, as she had operated a restaurant in Wichita Falls, Texas, so she was in charge. Delbert soon resigned from his job at Perry’s and joined her in the restaurant’s daily operations.
Ray’s Inn was included in The Negro Motorist Green Book beginning in 1951. (At that time, Boulder was a town of about 20,000 residents, including just 113 African Americans.)
Advertisements in telephone and city directories described the casual restaurant as “A nifty place to eat,” serving home-cooked meals, steaks, southern fried chicken and pit-barbecued pork ribs.
Delbert’s brother, Anthony Ray, wrote a letter, now archived at the Carnegie Library for Local History, describing Ray’s Inn. Anthony Ray recalled that Ray’s Inn “became an ‘in place’ for CU students.”
After nearly a decade in the restaurant business, Delbert Ray died in 1955, and was buried in Columbia Cemetery. Annie closed the inn for a few months after Delbert’s death. She re-opened and tried to make a go of it, but ultimately Ray’s went out of business.
Annie later worked at Roger’s, a restaurant on Pearl Street, according to city directories, but eventually she moved back to Texas to care for her mother. Annie died in Texas in 1979 at the age of 71.
Green wrote in his introduction to the Green Book, “There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment.”
Many editions of the Green Book have been digitized by the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and are available online.