Saying our Evergreen community has changed in subtle ways over time is Susan Grannell's understated comment about the place she's called home since 1976. Indeed, then Evergreen was a quieter and gentler version of our current proffered identity as a bedroom community of Denver.
Susan, who moved here from San Antonio at the invitation of a friend already living in Evergreen, had no interest in becoming a commuter, not to mention that she had no automobile at the time. Within walking distance of her home she had the essentials to her livelihood: the Super Foods grocery, Blue Spruce Records and a taffy and popcorn shop – all on Main Street. When she wanted to venture further than central Evergreen, “hitchhiking was the accepted option,” she recalled.
Susan quickly found work as a part-time waitress at the Post House on Main Street, and her circle of friends began to grow. The Post House served as a community gathering place and a clearinghouse for day laborers. “Young men would bring their tool belts and sit at the coffee counter in the café until a prospective employer hired them for a day’s work or a longer-term engagement,” she fondly relates.
This same casual economy allowed for her to ply her sewing skills in making curtains and tablecloths for the Kilgore Trout’s restaurant in trade for meals. Despite the fact that the hippie lifestyle and long hair ran counter to many long-time residents’ sensibilities, the labor force that these young people supplied helped to drive the Evergreen construction boom during the 1970s and 1980s.
Her first Evergreen residence was “somewhat of a communal house,” she remembers, located on the hill above the Little Bear. Anyone in need of lodging was welcomed and often joined the entertainment at the house that consisted of live music jams and movie night, complete with loaner films from the Evergreen Library and popcorn.
The hippie culture had emerged in Evergreen about the time Susan came to town. She proudly recalls the mode o’ day as featuring “long denim skirts (made by splitting seams on denim jeans and adding a denim insert) and thrift store fur coats” that she proudly wore to clubs including The Brook Forest Inn and My Friends Bar.
When Red Rocks Amphitheater hosted the multi-day Grateful Dead concerts, it created a bit of excitement in Evergreen, Susan recalls vividly. Many of the attendees – so-called ‘Dead Heads’ – converged on area campgrounds (Chief Hosa and others) as the “Dead’ concertgoers temporarily ventured into our hills, causing a stir in the lives of many Evergreen residents.
Born and raised in Oakland, California, Susan enjoyed a childhood filled with dance lessons, performances and involvement in local theater productions. Her mother taught her sewing skills that have endured, as Susan is a prolific quilter to this day. Among many talents and skills, Susan credits her mother’s early influence for giving her “the ability to build friendships with everyone she meets.”
Susan met her future husband, Jerry Grannell, while she was living at the house above the Little Bear. They built their life together in Evergreen, bought a house in the Upper Bear Creek area at a time when Susan could be seen driving around town in her 1972 blue Land Cruiser named Boy Howdy. Their shared friendship with many musicians and their combined love of acoustic music have survived throughout the years as Jerry has maintained a presence in many area bluegrass bands with Susan being his most devoted groupie.
Susan credits the richness of her life to many experiences she has gathered in Evergreen. From the Post House to the Real Food Store (behind the Sinclair Station on Hilltop in the late 1970s), the Evergreen Cheese Shop, Hi-Country Jewelers (both formerly in the Safeway Center in the early 1980s) and Bob Sullivan’s flower shop in Bergen Park before King Soopers went in at that location. Susan contributed her expertise as well as her infectious laugh, friendly and happy personality to these businesses.
In 1992 Susan became an Administrative Specialist with Jeffco Open Space’s Hiwan Homestead Museum and enriched the museum visitor’s experience for 23 years until her retirement in 2015. To many, Susan is largely identified through her years at the museum, but her experiences and friendships in the community extend far beyond the walls of the museum. She remains on the Board of the Jefferson County Historical Society, serves on the Board of the Bear Creek Cemetery and volunteers with Mountain Community Pathways.