Todd: "Oink" if you love Ridgway
Ouray County surely had a different look about it six or seven decades ago. The 40s and 50s were not that long ago, though I do get to say they preceded me.
Patricia (Strickland) Betters, however, grew up on her family’s ranch just outside of Ridgway during those years.
Situated under Court House Rock some five miles east of town, the 365 acre ranch serves as the backdrop to “Oink, a love story,” a children’s book written by Betters for her grandchildren, to illustrate to them how she grew up in this beautiful part of Colorado.
And, fortunately for the rest of us—even us older children—we get a glimpse into a day in the life of a young girl in Ouray County many decades ago.
In the book, Patty rides home from Cow Creek Elementary School on her horse, Babe, whom she rode daily to the one-room schoolhouse. Her after school chores take us through the relationships with her ranch animals: Oink, her pet pig who was the runt of the litter; Tippy, the hyperactive and socially awkward dog; Dizzy, the rooster who thought he could lay eggs; three cats; cows; and, even a menacing mountain lion, Trouble, who adds tension to the serene life.
It’s a fun account of life on a ranch for a young girl in a setting that may look familiar to us today. Work and love are the fibers of the relationships Betters portrays to her grandchildren and us in the book. One really gets the sense of how everyone worked hard on the Ridgway ranch, dawn to dusk. It’s also clear that love was central to the young Betters, as the relationships shared among her and her animals is engaging and amusing.
And just as any warm and humorous tale ends with a crowd scene, “Oink, a love story” ends with her dog, cats and pig snuggling into bed with her, lying upon four quilts under the canopy of the Cimarron Mountains.
Growing up, Patricia and her mother, Alice, along with her brother Tim and sister Marie tended to the chores at the family ranch. They had no water rights and lived in a log type constructed home with a few out buildings. Her father, Vincent Strickland, worked in the Idarado Mine as a hardrock miner to make ends meet. After completing the eighth grade, Patricia moved with her family to Delta where she graduated high school.
In 2009, she suffered a stroke from which she has recovered with only limited speech skills. With her daughter, Michelle Kamrath, who illustrated the book, Patricia self-published this wonderful tale.
We are going to donate our copy to the Ridgway Library, so help yourself to a day in the life of Patricia Betters and her furry and hairy ranch friends who, as Betters says in her introduction, taught her “at an early age the true meaning of unconditional love.”
The 21st annual Ouray County Summer Guide will be on the streets, to our subscribers, on Ouraynews.com and around the state within a week. We’ve included our most extensive calendar of events yet, covering and promoting Ouray County and nothing but Ouray County. We have to give pause and thank local photographer Jack Brauer for lending us one of his extraordinary photographs for the cover. If the tremendously useful information inside wasn’t enough, Jack’s photo truly sealed the fate of this year’s guide. It’ll never stay on the racks. But, that’s the point.
If you want to see more of Jack’s work, log onto www.MountainPhotography.com.
As the school year winds down, so do the school pages that have run in the Plaindealer this year. The Trojan Tribune, headed by instructor Ben DeGear and the Demon Beat, led by advisor Jason Gunning, have been excellent journalistic additions within our pages. Thanks to the sponsors who made this work: The Citizens State Bank of Ouray, O'Toys, O'Brien's Pub & Grill, Buen Tiempo, 4-J+1+1 RV Park, RiverSage, Ouray Hardware & Mercantile, Ouray Family Medicine, Heaven's Best Carpet Cleaning, Alpine Bank, Café Ridgway á la mode, JT Custom Metalwork, Integrative Movement Center, Ridgway Mountain Market and Dickerson Construction.
Alan Todd is publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-325-2838.