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Local author writes of growing up in southwest Colorado

If you like stories of interesting people growing up in Colorado, you’ll enjoy Pagosa resident Russ Freeman’s just-published 304-page memoir, “Growing Up Wild: Life and Times of a Ragamuffin,” which he has donated to the library.

Starting with his early years in Silverton where he lived with his parents and sister Cathy, Russ takes us through his childhood and the family’s moves to Alameda, New Mexico (when his Dad was in the Army), Bernalillo, Eureka, Montrose, Moab, Canyon City and other familiar southwest locations. He recounts his experiences sledding, reading on dark winter nights, experimenting with girls and guns, skiing in the days of bear trap bindings, and the time he lost $28 of hard-earned money to a carnival barker’s game.

His father’s business was salvaging old mines, sawmills (including one in Pagosa) and railroads, and much of the book describes Russ’s helping his father with his work. The author also addresses his father’s alcoholism and its effect on the family. Among the treats in the book are a multitude of sketches by the author of a variety of equipment he worked on — and even the bear-trap bindings on his skis.

In the fall of 1956 Russ embarked on a five-year, two-degree civil engineering and business education at the University of Colorado. It was there he met Betty, his future wife.

The book ends with their marriage and move to Dallas, so it’s safe to say a sequel is on the horizon. In fact, Russ says he has two more memoirs planned, the first concentrating on his life with the Environmental Protection Agency in its early days and the second on his life in the private sector as a management consultant.

When Russ and Betty retired seven years ago, they knew they wanted to leave Texas and return to Colorado. To decide where, they chose 10 ski area towns, with a plan to live in each for a month to determine which one they liked best. Pagosa was the first town they tried, and they never left.

By the way, if you’re wondering about the word “wild” in the title: Turns out Russ says the wild applies to the Colorado outdoors in his youth, not to any pattern of misbehavior on his part!

Library newsletter

To keep you even more up to date on library happenings, the staff has launched a quarterly newsletter called The Sisson Seasonal. Pick up a print version of the inaugural issue at the library or go to our Web site to get it as a PDF file. For future issues, we hope that we’ll have the technological ability to also offer e-delivery of the newsletter so it can come to you as an e-mail attachment.

Mysteries and suspense

“I, Sniper” by Stephen Hunter involves a sophisticated investigation following the killing of four famed 1960s radicals whom everyone assumes were killed by a Marine Vietnam war hero. “The Honor of Spies” by W.E.B. Griffin is another in the Honor Bound saga of World War II espionage. “Altar of Eden” by James Rollins explores the mystery of a fishing trawler shipwrecked on a barrier island with a frightening cargo of unusually smart and deformed exotic animals. “Sizzle” by Julie Garwood tells of an L.A. film student who unwittingly witnesses a murder while filming a documentary, her final school assignment.

Books on CD

“Around the World in 80 Days” by Michael Palin is a BBC Radio drama about a man who set out to circumnavigate the world following the route taken by Jules Verne’s fictional hero Phileas Fogg — and using only the forms of transport that would have been available to Fogg. “Where the God of Love Hangs Out” by Amy Bloom is a collection of stories by this popular author.

Large print romance

“Lord Perfect” by Loretta Chase tells of two sides of an aristocratic family whose lives are upended by a quest for legendary treasure. “Delicious” by Susan Mallery is the story of a Seattle restaurant owner who hires the best chief in town, who happens to be his ex-wife. “Remembering Blue” by Connie May Fowler is a maritime saga and love story as a widow remembers her husband. “The Queen in Winter” offers four tales of adventure by four different authors — Claire Delacroix, Lynn Kirkland, Sharon Shinn and Sarah Monette. “White Heat” by Cherry Adair is a romantic suspense story about the aftereffects of the death of a master of Renaissance art restoration. “A Time to Die” by Beverly Barton is a romantic suspense story about the head of an international charity’s receiving threats going back to a bloody African coup 10 years ago. “Coming Undone” by Susan Andersen is a contemporary romance about a country music singer facing complications in her life.

Quotable quote

“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.” — Contemporary American author Paul Sweeney.

Thanks to our donors

Many thanks for generous donations from Susan Newcomb in memory of Don Geiger and Maureen Covell in memory of Charley Worthman. For books and materials this week, we thank Bob Carlson, Peggy Cotton, Joan Jessen, Carl Nevitt, Darien Roseen, Ken Samela and Charleen Stipe.

Web site

For more information on library books, services and programs — and to reserve books from the comfort of your home — please visit our Web site at