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by Lynn Bartels

Here’s to Larimer County Treasurer Irene Josey for bringing back a bit of history to her office: a 2,500-pound safe that left the courthouse in a front-end loader in the 1970s and now graces her lobby.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan recently ran an intriguing story about Josey’s role in gettingthe safe back.

“The safe was built by the Mosler Safe Co. of Hamilton, Ohio, in the 1890s. In its day, it probably held money, bonds and other important documents,” the newspaper reported. “The original floral-print carpeting still covers its floor. Pasted to the inside of the safe are ‘service tickets’ from when its time lock received maintenance. The earliest dates to 1899.”

Local Realtor Sean Dougherty told Josey in March 2016 he saw the safe in a house for sale. It was built into a wall with “Larimer County Treasurer’s Office” painted above the safe door. Josey did some research and learned thesafe wasused in the original Larimer County Courthouse, which opened in 1887. It stayed in use until a new safe waspurchased in 1964.

“The old safe sat gathering dust until Larimer County decided to give it away in 1977,” Josey saidin”The Story of the ‘Safe’ Return,” which she wrote to document the safe’s journey.

It went to Ken Mosness, the formersuperintendent of the Larimer County roads department, who “was mesmerizedby the safe and its history,” Josey learned after speakingto Mosness’ former wife, who now lives in Arkansas.

“When he took possession of the safe he used a front-end loader to scoop up the safe and carry it to their home in Skyview Estates, where it remained until 2016,” Josey wrote. “Over the years, the safe saw children and grandchildren grow and families move in and out. An addition was also built around it, called the ‘freezer room’ where a freezer kept the safe company for all those years.”

Some parts of the safe had seen the end of a crayon.

Josey talked to the home seller, Martha Conrad, and the home buyer, Caroline Brennan, and they agreed the piece of Larimer County history should return home. But getting it there was another matter. Josey didn’t think taxpayers should foot the bill, so she talked with Mark Driscoll, market president of First National Bank. The bank donated the money to pay for the move.

The safe was returned to the current courthouse on April 11, 2016, a month after Josey first learned about it. But it was put in the courthouse basement because her office was in the process of discussing a lobby remodel, which didn’t begin until this January and recently concluded. The safe also was cleaned up.

Josey said she struggled to find a date where all three commissioners would be available to celebrate the new lobby, where the safe now sits.It turned out to be April 11, exactly one year after the safe came home.

“When I realized that,” Josey said, “I got goose bumps.”

Note: Thanks to Dick Wadhams, who alerted me to the story in the Fort Collins newspaper.

Disclosure: Josey and I were both raised in Vermillion, S.D. When I interned at the weekly newspaper one summer in college, I covered her dad, a Clay County commissioner. Irene and I didn’t meet, however, until a few years ago in Denver. These days,I’m blessed to see her now and then.

Lynn Bartels worked as a journalist for 35 years, including 16 years at the Rocky Mountain News and six years at The Denver Post, before retiring in 2015 and going to work as the spokeswoman for the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Read more

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Biblioklept

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by Biblioklept

No great book is explicable, and I shall not attempt to explain this one. An explanation–indeed, any explanation–would defile it, for reduction is precisely what a work of art opposes. Easy answers, convenient summaries, quiz questions, annotations, arrows, highlight lines, lists of its references, the numbers of its sources, echoes, and influences, an outline of its design–useful as sometimes such helps are–nevertheless seriously mislead. Guidebooks are useful, but only to what is past. Interpretation replaces the original with the lamest sort of substitute. It tames, disarms. “Okay, I get it,” we say, dusting our hands, “and that takes care of that.” “At last I understand Kafka” is a foolish and conceited remark.

From “William Gaddis and His Goddamn Books” by William Gass. Originally published as the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of The Recognitions , and also published (and repurposed and expanded) in A Temple of Texts —which is where I went looking for it—or rather, went looking for some of Gass’s language on J R , which I re-read last month, and was going to, I don’t know, try to write about (something beyond: J R is not nearly as difficult as you may think it is, and it is a very funny and important and tragic and entertaining novel). Anyway, this section leapt out at me— Yes, how wonderful! , thought I. And as I went to transcribe it here, to share, reader, I realized that of course I had done so already back in 2009 . Ah! Why not share again. Isn’t J R about recycling, about language as a kind of detritus, redirected, repurposed? Isn’t it?

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1. I reread William Gaddis's 1975 novelJ R this February and, as is usually the case with a reread, I was pleasantly unsurprised by all its unrememberedsurprises---the jokes and japes, riffs and routines that had oozed from my brain-sievesince that first read back in 2012. How could I forget about…

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