538. Holyoke, Phillips County (CO12)

I like this courthouse. It’s sturdy but not ostentatious, humble but with the slightest bit of flair and color. And that tiny big of carving and scrollwork is just that little bit of detail that makes it jump out a bit from other similar buildings. It’s like a secret smile or a lingering hint of perfume, something so simple that suggests greater depths laying behind. Simple, but it feels that there is more here than meets the eye.

As we all know, there are indeed things hidden here. I picked this one up on the way into town, hidden behind a plow at a memorial to firefighters who died fighting a prairie fire in 1948. We live in a time when there is great controversy and disagreement over police in this country, but as Snoop Dogg/Lion so aptly pointed out, “[nobody] ever made a song called ‘#^@& the fire department.” That is no longer true because someone actually made a song by that title, but only because, as was pointed out, nobody had ever made that song before, but that’s not really important. Firemen and fire departments receive a certain amount of hagiography, but it’s mostly deserved. In the past, fire departments were actually some of the most corrupt institutions in the world. Marcus Licinius Crassus (of First Triumverate fame) was reputed to have made a sizable part of his fortune by operating the fire company of Rome and haggling with property owners over the cost of putting out their fires as their property burned, the ultimate in mercenary capitalism. William “Boss” Tweed used his volunteer fire company to not only fight other fire companies, but to use that violence to amass greater political power for himself and the political machine of the House of Tamanend. Indeed, rivalries between fire departments and police departments are the stuff of American legend. But in this day and age, the professionalism and dedication of fire departments, both professional and volunteer, across the country cannot be denied. As public servants go, I don’t think there is a more dedicated force that so regularly places itself in harm’s way, both for the individual whose family and property is endangered, and for society as a whole in the prevention of the spread of destructive flame. It actually gives me hope that corruption and avarice in the public sphere (and I believe we can all agree that it exists in one form or another no matter our individual political bent) can be rooted out and put right. And hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. Or some kind of sentimental crap like that. In the end, all that musing is incidental to the goal. The log was signed, the cache replaced, the path continued. Once the county had yielded its secrets to me, I left it to its mysteries. In fact, I left it in more senses than that. The next county seat in the state was quite aways away, and there were others closer that could be reached before it. I took a detour from the roads of Colorado, taking a left instead of a right, and quickly came to a stop in front of the courthouse in…

One thought on “538. Holyoke, Phillips County (CO12)

  1. On Long Island (NY) – where I grew up – the fire departments are horribly racist. You can go into towns that are the most diverse ethnically and racially and see a lily-white fire department. While it’s still true that it’s people volunteering to put their lives on the line to save other people’s property, the way it’s executed has been allowed to flourish despite the rest of the world advancing.


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