(1955 - )
Jodey Anderson’s bond with the earth precedes the push for that to be fashionable in Evergreen. In the late 1970s he worked to control the beetle kill in various places around town as well as the Anderson Ranch in Upper Bear Creek. It was a time when beetle infestation in Evergreen wiped out entire hillsides and spread dramatically when dead trees were not felled, treated and covered before the insects flew.
He sold hundreds of cords of wood and used 210 of the beetle-kill pine in the construction of Anderson’s Mountain Market along Hwy. 73 in the early 1980s. In fact, the size and shape of the store were constrained by the 12- and 16-foot beams available after milling some of the trees he removed.
With the same love for nature, Jodey has learned the trade of stone masonry, always seeking out special rocks – “jewels of the earth” – as he hikes the hills. Some of his stonework can be seen at the Mt. Evans Outdoor Lab School where he created a base for the entry sign, a semi-circular seating area, and the base for a plaque memorializing former principal and biology teacher Jim Jackson.
When thistles infested the steep rock hillside near his home, he collected 250 gallons of seed pods to thwart the spread of the invasive species. Neighbors were appreciative, even contributing money to help pay for the herbicide needed to kill the persistent weed.
He helps elderly neighbors by plowing snow, cutting grass, doing handyman work, and shopping for groceries. “This is the kind of charity work I like to do, which is direct and I can accomplish something,” he says, expressing his dislike for meetings and organizational endeavors.
Jodey has volunteered his time to take down dead trees in the historic Bear Creek Cemetery located almost invisibly near Christ the King Catholic Church; the cemetery is operated and maintained entirely by volunteers.
After schooling at Colorado School of Mines and four years working at the Henderson Molybdynum Mine, Jodey encouraged his parents, Walt and Doris Anderson, to expand Walt’s “shoe-box operation” – a gas station with no cash register and two pumps on the honor system – to include a convenience store and delicatessen. The enlarged operation opened in 1983 with Jodey as president; he worked there until it sold about 18 years later.
“It was a success from the start,” Jodey said, wishing he could take credit for the idea of a convenience store but admitting that Andy Smith of Evergreen Oil had tried to buy out the Andersons to build one there. “There weren’t many services in Conifer then – before the Conifer Safeway – and people living there had to drive to Evergreen to shop for groceries and to purchase gasoline.”
The Anderson family had long been a respected name in Evergreen with family roots dating back to 1881. Jodey’s great grandparents had been indentured servants to Swedes who came to this country in 1881 and settled in Georgetown. After fulfilling the terms of their indenture, they turned to ranching on Upper Bear Creek in 1895.
The Andersons operated their “expanded shoe box” with a sense of obligation to the community, being good role models by always giving back. Watching the business grow was, for many in the local business community, a prime example of success. “Sales went from around $3,000/day to eventually top off at an average of $11,000/day," Jodey remembered. "Everyone in town, ourselves included, couldn’t believe the volume we were doing!”
”I considered our business to be the ‘Bank of Evergreen’ fuel-wise because we had an 84,000-gallon underground storage capacity and upwards of 200,000 gallons a month under contract with Phillips 66 Co. Plus, we had a truck where we could deliver it anywhere we wanted and the truck could pump fuel out of our underground tanks if the power went out for any length of time.”
Because of their excellent credit rating, the Anderson’s were permitted by the state and federal governments to sell gasoline tax-free to municipal entities such as fire departments, the school district, and the State Highway Department, saving them from having to file for tax refunds.
Anderson’s Mountain Market became a popular (and safe) gathering place for high school kids, well positioned between the Open Living High School (an alternative Jeffco school where the Evergreen Library is now) and Evergreen High School.
“This was the day and age of punker Mohawk hairdo’s, and our store was at times quite the show,” Jodey recalls. Video games and lunch/snack food made the store an attraction. “We were friendly and casual people and let the kids hang out. We had kids playing hacky sack all day in the parking lot.” Jodey would even join them at hacky sack on occasion.
Being a daytime teen hangout is much different from being the place for teens to hang out at night, as the Andersons could attest. “Thank God, it all moved down to 7-Eleven after dark,” he said, explaining that 7-Eleven was the nighttime partying and drinking hangout for the younger crowd. His sentiments gave new meaning to the national chain’s advertising slogan, “Oh, thank heaven for 7-Eleven.”
After the sale of the business in 2000, Jodey found himself retired at age 45 and in a position financially to build the house of his dreams. (An article written about him in 1982 referenced the drafted plans for the house he’d build in the Evergreen area….) Beetle-kill trees he’d harvested years earlier found their way into the construction of his home southeast of downtown Evergreen, in the form of beams and kitchen cabinets. He also acquired and fixed up several rental properties,utilizing his handyman skills. “I’m just a neurotic, gay house fixer-upper,” he explained.
With a flood of self-deprecating humor about his gay status, Jodey related the time that his parents tried to force him to get married and he threatened to tie the knot with a gal known to have a severe drug problem. So, on July 17, 1993, a friend of a friend performed a ceremony in which Jodey “married” Mother Earth. “I’ve been happily married ever since.”
Having grown up in a house overlooking Evergreen Lake and never living far from the focal point of our community, Jodey has developed a collection of photographs of the lake – mostly ones he’s taken himself. He’s posted about 25 of his favorites on Facebook and would like to steer people there. He’s looking for 20 people who share his love of the lake enough to donate $25 to the Evergreen Nature Center by January 31st. He will match those donations for a total of $500. Here’s the link to the photos, and here’s the link to donate. Checks can also be sent to Evergreen Nature Center, PO Box 523, Evergreen, CO 80437.
Jodey has become a regular on the Facebook page “You know you’re from Evergreen if your [sic] remember”. He’s been here in Evergreen longer than most and has become one of the better-recognized historians who contribute and urge others to post old-time photos. There are 2,300 friends on the site.
Retirement just might have come too early for Jodey. He's comfortably set and has achieved many of his dreams at an early age. Sale of the business may have stripped Jodey of his place in the community, but he continues to find subtle ways to contribute behind the scenes. With his parents now deceased and no family of his own other than siblings, he's looking to rejuvenate his marriage to Mother Earth.
“I just love being part of this community!” he says with enthusiasm. And it’s obvious that he does.