There was the time when Judy Curtis, working for a downtown Denver store, was dressed in a giant diamond costume, handing out fliers to passersby. She was approached by the mall police and asked if she had a permit to be distributing leaflets. When she told them she didn’t, she was told she would have to cease and desist immediately or she would be arrested.
“I like to tell people I was nearly arrested for soliciting on the 16th Street Mall,” she laughs. “It sounds more shocking than it actually is, but it makes a great story!” It’s just one of many interesting career choices Judy has made throughout her life.
An Evergreen resident for more than 45 years, Judy was born in Topeka, but moved with her parents to Denver by the time she was a year old. “I can’t really claim native status, but I do, anyway,” she admits. She grew up in the city and then attended college for a year in Greeley, studying theater, before joining her husband in Tempe, Arizona. Together they managed a small amusement park in Boise, and she took a job in a children’s home, overseeing a group of kids who had been removed from their families by the state.
Upon returning to Denver, “I started raising kids,” she says. “We moved to Evergreen, which was a real culture shock for me. I had always lived in cities up until then, so this was a real change. We moved into a house over in Hidden Valley, by El Rancho. That first year, it snowed on Labor Day, and because our home faced north and received almost no sunlight, snow stayed on the ground until the following June! We only had one car, so I was pretty isolated. I just knew I would never see another soul! And I thought I needed to buy everything in bulk—fifty pounds of flour, and fifty pounds of sugar—every time I went shopping, in order to get by.”
It wasn’t the only adjustment she had to make to small town life. “Even if you made a quick trip to pick up bread and milk at the grocery store, you’d be there an hour because you ran into everyone you knew and had to talk to them all, of course. One time, I waited more than 20 minutes to get a fishing license in a sporting goods store by the downtown stoplight. There was only one other customer in the store, but he and the shop owner were buddies, and they had to have a long chat before the proprietor could find time to wait on me.”
When her kids began attending local schools, Judy found herself involved as a home room mother and accompanied classes on their field trips. Later, when her family didn’t require as much attention, she became active with The Evergreen Players. “I’ve done so many shows I can’t remember them all,” she admits. “I think the first one was ‘Plaza Suite.’ I wasn’t actually cast as one of the characters. The director came up with the idea of having one other woman and I wear maid outfits, and we would make the set changes between scenes. And because all of the characters were regularly having cocktails, we incorporated the idea of drinking all the leftover drinks as we tidied the set, giving the audience something to entertain them during what would otherwise have been a quiet blackout.”
Judy also found time to sign with a talent agency in Denver and was cast in several TV commercials and small roles in locally shot films.
Through the years, Judy has handled administrative duties for local real estate offices, run her own business, and worked as a process server. She found a way to incorporate work into her love of travel by working aboard a number of cruise ships. “I discovered you could book inexpensive passage if you signed on to conduct programs for the passengers. I’ve made multiple trips to Hawaii, Alaska and Nova Scotia, teaching seminars on travel photography and arts-and-crafts classes. Only when the ships were at sea was I required to do some work; the rest of the time, I was free to do whatever I wished, so these were wonderful experiences.”
Judy was an active member of the local Blue Spruce Kiwanis organization for years – and their first woman president. She says, “It’s an organization dedicated to giving back to the community, and I’m proud to have served with them for many years.” Among her other volunteer activities, Judy has trained service dogs for people with a variety of disabilities.
Nowadays, she can be found regularly volunteering at The Hiwan Homestead Museum. She started off as a receptionist but now conducts tours as well. “We have some amazing and rare exhibits. The museum has given me an incredible history for how the local area has developed since the early 1900s.” She particularly enjoys participating in the Pueblo and Plains Program.
“Part of the local third and fourth grade curriculum involves studying Native Americans, and so the schools bring the kids by for tours. I especially like interacting with the children, encouraging them to answer my questions, and to “own” what they think and say, which I think is more important sometimes than whether their answers are right or wrong.”
And her next big adventure? She plans to take a helicopter ride with her grandson through the Royal Gorge Canyon this summer. But Evergreen absolutely remains home. It may have been an adjustment, moving here 45 years ago, but, “Now, I wouldn’t live anyplace else!” she declares.