If certain hand-wringing types insist you can’t go home again, Bud Weare will tell you that, with a little luck and a lot of persistence, you sometimes can.
The home of Weare’s heart has ever been the green meadows and pine-feathered peaks of Marshdale. Growing up in the 1940s, they were his playground, his classroom, and his endless fascination. When the day’s adventures required it – and they almost always did – he sallied forth from a snug granite “hideout,” a sturdy and secret base of operations concealed within Hobb’s Peak’s bouldered beard and commanding the whole of his wild valley.
“I was a rural latch-key child,” Weare smiles. “I had the run of the territory.”
Between missions he lived in a little house just a few hundred feet down the hill from his stony sanctuary. It was the original Hobbs homestead, a modest clapboard structure with an ancient log core and few modern amenities. When he wasn’t studying Nature’s infinite lessons, the independent-minded boy was cracking a book at the little white schoolhouse in Conifer, or the red brick one in Evergreen. Weare’s step-father was an itinerant cowboy, a free-spirited rover who was happiest in the saddle, and who was quick to hit the trail when a job asked for more than he was willing to give.
“He liked working with horses and cattle,” Weare explains. “The minute somebody wanted him to plow something, or plant something, he was outta there.”
Eventually, even Marshdale’s primitive pastoral profile grew too settled for his liking, and Weare’s step-dad got completely outta there, roving all the way to the windswept solitudes of Montana. Weare and his mom moved in with her parents in Morrison, and she took a job at the Remington Arms Plant at what is now the Federal Center.
Weare enrolled at Bear Creek High School – with about 200 students, one of the largest in the state – where he discovered he had a strong affinity for history and language, and an even stronger affinity for a lovely classmate named Juanita. They were soon married, and soon welcomed their first child, Brett, and then their second, Brenda.
With Sputnik-fever sweeping the nation, in 1957 Weare went to work for the newly opened Martin Company aerospace plant, making a very acceptable $1.55 per hour as a tool-crib attendant. Well-liked and a quick study, he was soon bumped upstairs. Even so, Weare’s interests went far beyond the space-race, and he began attending night-classes at the new CU extension at 15th and Glenarm in Denver. “It was two rooms over a bar,” Weare laughs. “After five years I’d taken all the classes they had.”
In 1962 he bid Martin adieu, and the Weare family moved into one-half of a Quonset hut in “Vetsville,” the rather spartan married-housing area on CU’s Boulder campus.
“In 1963 I was elected Mayor of Vetsville. It was my one and only foray into politics.”
Tuition was $200 per year, cold-war government aid programs abundant, and by 1963 Weare had earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a social studies teaching certificate. After a stint student-teaching at George Washington High School, he earned his master’s degree and in 1964 took a teaching post at Alameda Junior High. He didn’t keep it long, though.
“I got a fellowship for a PhD at Chapel Hill, NC, the Athens of the South,” says Weare. “It was really a glorious experience. It had a fantastic history department, and attracted the top teaching talent and very best students.”
The civil rights movement was well underway, and Weare quickly gravitated toward the history of African-Americans in post-reconstruction America, with a tangential focus on the experience of Black women. By the time he accepted a professorship at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1968, he was, quite simply, one of the nation’s leading authorities on African-American history, and a book he published in 1973 – Black Business in the New South – is still in print today. “I also taught environmental history just because it was interesting.”
Retiring in 2000, Weare’s interest turned back toward the West and his long-ago mountain home. As luck would have it, while his humble homestead had long since disappeared from the valley and most of Marshdale’s ground was either built up or locked down, a lovely 10-acre parcel directly adjacent to his boyhood abode remained empty and, Weare hoped, available. Curiously, he discovered that the undeveloped piece of his childhood was owned by a dissolute son of one of Freiburg, Germany’s wealthiest families.
“He apparently bought it with the idea of moving here and living like a real American cowboy,” Weare explains. “The Germans are absolutely fascinated by American cowboy culture.”
While the young jet-setter seemed perfectly amenable to selling the land to Weare, he was seldom focused enough, or sober enough, to do much about it. It took five years and countless hours of international long-distance dialing, but the Weares finally took deed to that fortunate fraction of the Rocky Mountain West. By Juanita’s design, the home they built there is replete with windows taking in the still-green mounts and meadows, most of them little changed since Weare traipsed them in kid-sized boots.
But home is more than walls and windows, or even fragrant acres of cherished memory. The Weares immediately began strengthening their hold on their old/new community with bonds of friendship and support.
Juanita leapt into the Jefferson County Historical Society, and currently serves on its board. Her talent for crafting period costumes for the society has also made Juanita an indispensable asset to Center Stage theater. Both of the Weares rack up a lot of miles delivering food for the Evergreen Senior Resource Center, and Bud’s been a tireless champion of the Humphrey Memorial Park and Museum, not to mention a card-carrying Evergreen Curmugeon. But when it comes to outreach, Bud is most ardent in his service to Nature.
“For several years I volunteered for the Mountain Area Land Trust on one of their stewardship teams,” Weare says. “It was a nice gig allowing me to hike all over some nice private holdings and do some important weed education.”
Speaking of weed education, Bud has deep roots in Evergreen Audubon’s busy Weed Awareness committee, and both he and Juanita are pleased to spend their sunny days staffing Audubon’s wonderful Nature Center at Evergreen Lake. Bud’s also turned a willing hand to Evergreen Trout Unlimited, the local Sierra Club and Colorado Fourteeners.
“In a way, I’m paying penance,” Weare says. “The world I grew up in was not environmentally conscious and, generally speaking, we were not good stewards of the land.”
It goes without saying that the Weares are careful stewards of their 10-acre spread, which extends up and into the rocky apron at the foot of Hobbs Peak and includes a historic feature found nowhere else in the world. Any time he wants to, and without ever leaving his own property, Bud can walk out his back door and see what adventures are in the offing at his still-secret boyhood hideout.
“I came home because that’s what people do.”