My Col. Gimperling Journey–part 1

Click on the URL below and listen to my introduction. Steve

Download this MP3 – (Right Click)

It all started in September of 2010 when my Grand Lake neighbor, Bob Jackson from Houston, gave me an old padlock. The lock had been left behind when the Ferry family had sold him their south shore lake cottage back in 1996. The Ferry cottage was sold, disassembled and moved to Arizona. In its place Bob and Mary Ann built one of the nicer new log homes on the lake. The tag on the old lock had written on one side; T.N. Gimperling, Grand Lake, Colorado and stamped G. A. Spitzmiller (1) Grand Lake, Colo. and on the other side Boat house.

Initially I thought it would be fun to see if I could trace down the year the lock had been manufactured and that might give me an idea when Col. Gimperling had purchased it.  Later that afternoon, when I needed a break from splitting firewood, I sat down at my computer and started searching the “Chicago Lock Co.”. The only thing I discovered about the company was that it had been sold a couple of time so I did not find any records on it.  From there I went looking for material on Col. Gimperling.

Now it’s time to give a little background on my association with the retired Army Col. back in the late 1950s.

What I remember about Col. G was sitting on his boathouse dock with him and listening to him tell me tales of his career, Unfortunately I don’t remember one of them. I do remember he gave me an old night light that had a vane on the top and as the light bulb put off warm air the plastic shade revolved and showed different views of fires. The other memory was of his living room in the part of the cottage he built. He had been stationed in the Philippines during his career and had the room decorated with spears, shields, bow and arrows and even a small cannon on wooden wheels.  As a small boy I was more fascinated with his old memorabilia than his stories. I had the night light in my room until I went away to college in 1965 and left it behind thinking nothing in my room would change. Big mistake. When I returned home for Thanksgiving that fall I found my brother settled in my room and I had been moved to his old room, now a remodeled guest room.  I’m not sure what happened to the night light but it was probably discarded when his stuff replaced my stuff.

I was not sure when Col. G stopped coming to Grand Lake but I remember hearing some time in the early 60s that shortly after it came out in the paper that Col. G had passed away his cottage was broken into and all the neat memorabilia from his army years had been stolen, even the canon.

I had talked to my father about Col. G and he didn’t remember much about him. He did remember while in high school he used to row Mrs. Gimperling in the Old Maryann. She used to troll with a Colorado Spinner and while on those outings she used to tell him, “John, be a snob.”  Another memory of my father’s is taking a girl out one day in Gretchen’s sailboat. Gretchen Tritch was Col. G’s step-daughter. It was the first time he had sail and fell in love with it. Maybe that’s why he enlisted in the Navy during WW II and over the years has owned several M-20s and eventually a Choey Lee Offshore 41’ yacht.

The old Gimperling Place as it looked in 1996. If you look close you can see the for sale sign. Col. G built the two story part of the house. The smaller part, to the west, was built by Jack. And everyone knew that because there was a sign over the front door stating “The house that Jack built”. But not even my father knew who Jack was.  Jack had long since quite using his cottage.


(1) G. A Spitzmiller was Gus A.  Spitzmiller – Grand Lakes first plumber. Here is a photo of Spitz’s grave marker in the Grand Lake, Cemetery:

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1 Response to My Col. Gimperling Journey–part 1

  1. Pingback: Short Stories about Grand Lake’s History | Lakeverna's Blog

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