Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, Paul and Phyllis Marcus
By: Barbara Kreisman
“Wish I may, wish I might, wish upon a star tonight.”
The brightly sparkling stars against a pitch black sky were among the memories drawing Paul Marcus, now age 102, back to Rocky Mountain National Park and the town of Estes, Colorado. Last October, Paul had his wish to return to the place he loved so much as a youth granted by Wish of a Lifetime. Escorted by a “couple of good looking female rangers,” he and his wife Phyllis, age 92, traveled back in time (and location) for a day-long adventure in the park.
Returning to the mountains of Colorado was a wish Paul hoped would be fulfilled. Born in Brooklyn, NY, a gregarious young man in his teens first hopped a train and headed west in the late 1920’s. What he discovered was “so beautiful and so appealing” that it changed his life forever. Sometimes alone, and sometimes with buddies, Paul returned to Colorado every summer for nine years and frequently stayed in what he describes as a “little hamlet” near Glen Haven and Devils Gulch.
Paul, who speaks with delight and enthusiasm as he reminisces about his early travels to Colorado, noted he “had the time of his life” riding horses, fishing, and camping during a period when much of the U.S. was steeped in the Great Depression.
For Paul, not having much money wasn’t an issue. He was often provided a place to stay for just a dollar or more a night and made due without much. For him, there was a thrill of excitement just to see snow on the mountain tops and to feel the cold rush of the river on his bare feet.
With a chuckle, Paul recalls arriving in Denver the first time and the temperature was in the upper 80’s. He was dressed for summer, but didn’t expect the temperature to drop so significantly as the elevation increased. He remembered that his white tipped shoes looked odd in the snow and laughed out loud thinking about his light-weight New York- purchased clothing which was not at all suitable for horseback riding.
Over the years, Paul traveled back and forth to Rocky Mountain National Park from the East Coast and in 1948 brought his new wife Phyllis to the area for their honeymoon. She loved it as much as he, and soon they began to make plans to permanently move to Colorado.
After the birth of two sons and an initial department store career in New York, Paul became serious about trying to move his family west. Even in 1950’s, Colorado was drawing its share of entrepreneurs and small business owners. His first venture was to own and operate an automatic car wash, a new concept in those days. He describes the dust storms that used to occur and said with chuckle, “they were good for business.” Paul found Denver to have a good economy and thinks much the same spirit and appeal exists today.
Paul and his family settled in Denver on Eudora Street and raised their children there. After a while, Paul engaged with another business venture and began selling security systems to such entities as The Cheyenne Mountain Complex, a military installation and bunker located in Colorado Springs. The facility, as described by Paul, is located inside of a mountain and housed the equivalent of 14 three story buildings and several ponds. This fascinated him as much as his early years enjoying the exterior landscape of the mountains themselves.
Paul and his wife are current residents of the Brookdale Mountain View facility located in Denver. Robin Wilson, resident programs director, is the person who suggested Paul apply to have his wish to return to the Rocky Mountain National Park granted by Wish of a Lifetime. On Oct. 14th, Paul and Phyllis were driven to the park by volunteers who celebrated their return by hosting them for a day.
Asked if the area had changed much in the 80-some years since he made his first visit, Paul said, “No…I could have given a tour to the rangers and showed them things they’d never seen or knew existed.”