Chapter 1: “The day Paul called about a trail”

(first published in Foot Notes, Spring/Summer issue, 2001 – Volume 12, Number 1)

by Kenyon Jordan

 

            Although the flatbed presses had been phased out when John Graham took over the business from his aunts in the early 1980s, the Manitou Springs Pikes Peak Journal in 1986 still had the look and feel of an old-time

newspaper office. The small building at 22 Ruxton Avenue and most of its furniture were pre-World War II, not the least of which was the cabinet that still held various metal headline fonts left over from the paper's hot-type days.

            The heating was definitely old-style too: No vent from the gravity-flow furnace wafted warm air into the front area that doubled as my work station and the paper's customer-service desk. Between the front door opening and closing and the big single-pane windows, I sometimes found myself, on a chilly winter's day, typing my stories with gloves on.

            But it was my job, and, as I was still enamored with news reporting in those days, I was glad to have it. I had always wanted a chance to practice community journalism, and I doubt there were many better places or times to do it than Manitou Springs in 1986. Graham wanted the paper to be an active force, and Dan Stuart, the youthful and energetic mayor, was waking the quaint mountain town up. Manitou had always supported its schools and volunteer fire department, and now efforts were afoot to preserve the grand old buildings, the mineral springs and the town's art culture.

            As I sat at my desk on Monday, March 17, 1986, I was about to learn of another preservation effort. But first the Journal phone has to ring. Did I mention that answering calls to the paper was my job, too, in those days?

            "Journal. This is Ken."

            "Hi, Ken."

            "Oh, hey, Paul. What's up?"

            Paul Intemann. Now this is a surprise, I remember thinking. I was always the one who called him. Of course, that comes with the territory when you're in newspapers. As Manitou city planner, Paul was a news source and, like most news sources, he wasn't always thrilled to have his name in print... even though, to my mind, readers should have seen by then that he was one of those rare public employees who truly cares about his town.

            In any case, here he was, inviting me over to City Hall for a story idea. Something about saving a trail. I didn't know what he was referring to, but news was slow that week -- nothing going on but St. Patrick's Day events -- and of course I was curious.

            For someone looking to get warm, Manitou Springs city hall back then  was no better than my desk at the Journal. One of the chilliest offices was Paul's. It was in a part of the one-time dance hall that hangs partially over Fountain Creek, with drafty windows and the creek chill seeping up through the aging floorboards.

            But Paul was his usual upbeat self. Efficient, too. He whipped out a couple of maps, gave a short spiel, answered a few questions and I was out of his office a half-hour later, thinking to myself: Now this is a neat little story. Not as trendy as his artist incubator idea (which would later evolve into the Business of Art Center), but definitely good stuff: To think there was a network of unofficial -- even trespass -- trails in the hills above  town, which might be lost  to the bulldozer's blade if people waited too long.

            Paul had already shown he had no intention of waiting. Before calling me, he had begun working with the Sierra Club, in hopes the conservation group would lend support should the city ask future hillside developers to set aside land for a trail.

            The first offshoot of the Intemann-Sierra Club strategy had been Paul's hiking the earmarked route with Bob Naatz, a club member who lived in Manitou. I figured at the time that Paul and Bob were friends, but Bob recently explained he had been enlisted by John Stansfield, an area Sierra Club leader.

            "I really didn't know Paul that well," Bob recalled.

            I had met Bob after joining the Journal staff in September of 1985. He was a likable, shaggy-haired artist who was employed at the Journal one or two days a week, using T-square and exacto knife to lay out pages for the paper (it was still about three years before computer desktop programs would render such skills obsolete) and who was knowledgeable about area trails. I had previously written about him regarding a mural he had proposed on the side of the city water building above the steep first grade of the Ute Trail.

            As I departed Paul's office after the interview that day, I was thinking how I had gained new insight into Paul's character. The bespectacled, slightly built [wiry] 30-year-old, whom I'd only known since I'd started

covering Manitou politics the previous fall, had never seemed to fit the mold of a typical bureaucrat. Now I was realizing he was an outdoorsman, too.

            "It would be a real amenity for residents and visitors alike," Paul commented during the interview. "That's one of the assets of living here. We're surrounded by open space. It's nice to look at, and it's nice to hike in."

            Snow was falling that day, so Paul and I parted with the sentiment that maybe we could hike the areas he'd shown me on his maps some nicer day.

            But such was not to be. Two days later, Paul died in an auto accident on I-25 in New Mexico. It was a head-on collision in which another vehicle crossed to his side of the road. He never saw my news article about the trail that would come to bear his name. Surviving the crash was his pregnant wife, Robin, who broke both her wrists to save the life of Paul's unborn son.