The Red Mountain Clan
As the 1880’s waned to a close, a young woman and her mother came to Manitou. As so many people of the time young Emma Crawford came racked with consumption. She had heard of the healing waters of Manitou and the dry mountain air and how it helped and even cured the Tuberculosis she was cursed with. During the worst of times she would lie in bed and gaze out the window and across the canyon and think how wonderful it would be to be well enough that she could explore the red granite mountain.
As the months turned into years her health did improve, so much so that one day she felt spry enough to climb her beloved Red Mountain. Emma worked her way up the hillside and rather winded she found a welcoming rock and sat down. She rested her head in the crook of her arm. “Believe in yourself and you can do anything!” She jerked her head up to see who had said the words and an elf sized person was standing on the rock next to her. “Who are you?” she asked. “I am Pole, and I belong to the Red Mountain Clan.” As she looked around she saw more and more of the little people. They laughed and talked the afternoon away, to the point she was very late getting home. What was she to tell her mother; surely she would never believe her about the Red Mountain People. So when she arrived she lied and said she had seen her Indian spiritual guide and that if she were to die she was to be buried on Red Mountain. To mark the spot Emma had tied her handkerchief on a branch next to the stone where she had sat.
But, alas, as so many times was the case, the Grim Reaper would not leave with empty hands. Emma, tragically, succumbed. According to her last wishes she was carried to what was supposed to be her final resting place on Red Mountain. After the bearers left, her little friends gathered around her grave and mourned. They watched over her for many years bringing pine cones and boughs and all the wildflowers that grew so profusely to adorn the lonely grave. Time and weather took its toll and finally the hillside gave way and what was left of Emma and her casket cascaded down the slope. Her little friends were horrified but it was too close to town and they dare not go for fear of being found out. One brave little gnome volunteered to go down and catch the eyes of some boys who were playing on the hillside and take them to the remains. Scurrying through the underbrush so as not to be seen the boys thought they were chasing a rabbit but soon lost interest when they saw the casket handles and name plate. They ran home and told their mother who notified the proper person. What remained of Emma and her casket were gathered up and buried in the Crystal Valley Cemetery.
The years passed. One day a young girl scurried up Red Mountain broken hearted. Vickie had tried out for the lead in the school play and she wanted that part more than life itself. But another girl had gotten it, a much prettier and smarter girl, Vickie thought. She came across a rock and sat down and rested her head in the crook of her arm and cried. “Believe in yourself and you can do anything!” “Huh? What!” she said and looked up to see a very small man, bent and stooped with age, leaning on a staff. “My name is Pole and I belong to the Red Mountain Clan” he said. Her mouth was wide open and she looked around her to see more and more of them, some hiding behind a pine cone, another under an oak leaf, another in the fork of a Mountain Mahogany branch. They gathered around her and she began to tell her tale of woe sobbing the whole time. They stood with their little heads down and their hats in their hand.
“CRACK” the sound of Pole striking his staff against the rock. Everyone bolted to attention. “Everything happens for the best!” He said and that was the end of Vickie’s pity party. They talked and laughed until almost dark and Vickie knew she was going to be in trouble. As she wound down the mountain she vowed not to tell anyone, not even her mother. It was her little secret. When she got home she sat quietly and took the tongue lashing her mother gave her.
Every chance she got, she visited her friends on Red Mountain. They taught her about the mountain she loved and everything that grew or walked on it. They taught her about life and accepting people for what they are, not what you think they should be. Vickie loved each and every one of them and kept their secret deep in her heart.
But Vickie grew up and life took over. She had less and less time to climb the mountain and less and less time to devote to her old friends. Much the same as Little Jackie Paper and Puff, Vickie came no more.
So, if you are lucky enough to live or visit the incredible Town of Manitou, take a little time and hike up on Red Mountain. Look for a rock, not just any rock, but a very special rock and rest your head in the crook of your arm and maybe you will be blessed to meet the Red Mountain Clan. Maybe the scurrying in the oak brush is not a rabbit or the thump on the ground is not a pine cone falling, but the little people watching you. Surely, Pole has long since died but possibly some of his family is still around sharing his wisdom.
Vickie never forgot her little friends and taking a lump of clay she started carving each and every one’s face. Using the finest materials, as that is what they would have wanted, she constructed their little bodies. She wanted her children to know the little people that she had grown up with. Vickie decided it wasn’t fair to keep them to herself anymore and has now offered them for sale. The most magical building in Manitou is Miramont Castle and what better place to present them. So if you would like to meet the different gnomes and have a handmade one of a kind for yourself, come to Miramont. You don’t have to pay admission just come the west forth floor door and knock. They will gladly let you in.
Vickie Ireland Hover was born into an old Manitou family. It is said that her mother was the last baby born at the family home in town. Her grandmother would not go to the hospital as she felt the hospitals mixed up the babies. Her grandfather worked at the Cave of the Winds for a while and his brother opened the first pool hall. For the old Manitoids, Vickie’s mother, Darlene, and Jack Willie were Mr. and Mrs. Washington in kindergarten. Vickie was elected the first meter maid in town and was the first Worthy Advisor for the Rainbow Girls when the Manitou Chapter opened. As a meter maid the shop owners would wait for her to come around and she would take care of their shops if they had errands to run. She lived on Pawnee Avenue, just a hop, skip and a jump from Red Mountain where she played away many a summer day. Even though Vickie now lives in Kansas, she has never gotten over her love for the little town nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak, Manitou.