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Back In The Hands Of Hippies

Anonymous Artists of America.

“I have my doubts as to where I belong. It's something to think about.” — Green Day, Disappearing Boy

* * *

I've never been one for heeding others' advice. I'll listen politely, acknowledge its validity, speculate on how to apply it to my situation with the best of intentions. But believe it: tell me the stove is hot and not only will I touch it once, but I will return and do it a few more times in case the first one was a fluke. Call it stubbornness, bloody mindedness, or just a firm conviction that the world is peopled with idiots who could not possibly know better than I. I like to make my own mistakes. Boy, do I. Sometimes it takes a while to drive the fact of that hot stove home and I'll collect a few blisters along the way. But I will get it. Eventually.

This includes the sage counsel dispensed by wise woodland creatures. Singular though this event was (referring to the last chapter of this series), I can't say the bear made any significant lasting impact on my life. There were differences. I began making some appearances at West Junior High. I played baseball that summer. And I stayed out of the cops' clutches for a while. But the hopes of my ursine friend and, to a lesser degree, me, of a complete turnaround were for the most part unrealized.

I was a curious (in the Carrollian sense) 14-year-old, and getting curiouser. I read widely in philosophy, poetry, science, the Victorians, and Russians, but I could not be bothered to expend the slightest effort in school when I did deign to attend. I was for the most part a loner but the companions I chose when I chose to be social were the absolute worst kids imaginable: thieves, vandals, glue sniffers, switchblade wielders, wood shoppers and schoolyard bullies. They were all tough Latino boys who tolerated, for novelty's sake I suppose, my little blonde bigmouthed presence. That and my fearlessness to ingratiate myself with the riffraff. I would do pretty much anything in an antisocial or criminal vein, from wising off to teachers to throwing rocks at cop cars. Tame stuff by today's standards, but sufficient to gain me a reputation as a “hood,” in the parlance of the times. My junior high years were spent engaging in acts of petty thievery and vandalism, drinking pop-wine and smoking ditchweed, fighting, fussing, and generally making a huge nuisance of myself. I became well known to the police and made a few more trips to Zeb Pike, cementing my hooligan rep and further embarrassing mom.

One of these trips garnered me my first, but by no means last, mention in the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph on the front page, yet. The headline read: West Side Race Car Joyride Ends with Four Arrests.

Ricky Rush was a local fat kid with limited use as both a motorsport impressionist and as the son of a plumbing contractor with a garage full of brass pipefittings which could be secured together to make lead pipes. Sometimes I and my boys, Phil Mondragon, Joe Pacheco, and Timmy Lujan, would hang out in the Rush garage creating fanciful, complex pipeage, smoking bowls, and watching Ricky perform. “Burble, burble, pop,” would erupt out of him. “That's a top fueled dragster waiting at the tree, ready to light 'em up.” Reeaoorwrehuhuh‚ “That's a McLaren F1 downshifting into a turn.” Wezt-uh-weet-rahngrahgn— “That's a Maico 401 fully wrapped in low gear climbing a hill.” SkezrROOOARssshtskzzvooongt — “That's Bobby Unser taking the last turn at the hill climb before he brings home the black and white tablecloth.”

It was uncanny and quite hilarious. He came by his talent naturally — his dad Ron Rush was Rush Racing as well as Rush Plumbing. They entered a car every year in the open wheel division of the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb, a car we often clambered around on in the garage, a tubular skeleton with huge off-road tires and a 500 inch motor. One time Ricky cranked it up for us and I honestly believe that the majority of the blame for this escapade lies on him for that extremely provocative act. Who could resist the sound of all those unrestricted horses blasting out of those headers? Not me. I vowed then and there that I was going to drive that beast.

The Rushes went on vacation after the Hill Climb every year and that was when I decided to make my move. It was a Sunday morning and I wanted to do this one solo, at least until I got the car away from the house. I called the fellas before I left and told them to meet me on the playground at West Jr. High in 30 minutes. I punched out a window in the garage door to gain entry and went inside. There she was, as beautiful as ever, but she had taken on a slightly menacing quality. Had I bitten off more than I could chew? I had been driving since the age of nine, but this was a whole 'nother deal. I sat down in the enveloping bucket seat and ran idly through the gears, turned the wheel experimentally. This thing, I thought, could actually kill me. The thought was thrilling and terrifying. “Don't be a pussy,” the car whispered to me. “If you walk out that door under your own steam, you'd better put some rocks in your pockets or you'll drift away like smoke. Take me out, though, and you will accumulate enough volume and density to carry you straight through to the Bicentennial and beyond. Do you know what the headline is going to read? ‘Golden Boy Takes Victory Ride’!” How could I argue with that logic?

I slapped the wheel. “Damn straight,” I said. “All right,” she said. “Now grab that can over there and fuel me up. That's right, all of it. Now wheel the battery cart over and hook it up. Press that button.” She roared to life with a guttural rumble that I could feel in my Golden Bones. I disconnected the battery, opened the garage door, climbed into the cockpit and off we went.

I drove the six blocks or so to West at little more than an idle. The playground at that time was just a big open dirt patch a block long and a half block wide. The boys were waiting there smoking cigarettes and throwing rocks at each other. I pulled up and goosed the engine a little. “Climb on,” I said. Amid expressions of admiration and disbelief, they did so. I drove out to the middle of the playground, cut the wheel hard to the left and stomped on it. Centrifugal force sent my friends flying every which way. I sent a roostertail of dirt far and high enough to rattle against the school windows as I spun donut after donut. After about six of those I stopped to check on Joe and Tim and Phil. They were jumping up and down, laughing and screaming. “Come on,” I yelled, waving them over. They jumped back on and we ran some sprints the length of the playground, making drifting, sliding turns.

When we saw the cops coming down 19th Street, we elected — wisely, I think — to run on foot, but we didn't get far. They ran us down in about half a block and dragged us back to the car. We stood there for a while, cuffed and contrite, as they called every other cop in the vicinity to come see how we had turned West Jr. into a racetrack. “Who's the driver?” one cop asked. “Me,” I answered proudly. “Cool Hand? Is that you, Washburne? We're gonna have to call you Speed Racer now.” They charged me with burglary, auto theft and a host of traffic violations for good measure. I was transported back to Zeb Pike to await my fate.

This being my fourth visit to that institution and for a fairly serious crime, this time wasn't going to be another catch and release. The powers that be were insisting on a “placement,” i.e., some therapeutic or punitive or combination thereof living situation away from home. I was determined not to be a candidate for DYS, the juvenile jail system, for whatever reason — probably my fatal charm and health and good looks. There being fewer beds at these “softer” placements, I was allowed to go home on a provisional basis until a spot for me opened up.

When we got home a conclave was assembled — me, my mom, whatever drunken housepainter was currently installed as consort, and Len Frazor, a family friend from back in the Haight-Ashbury days who had started a commune in southern Colorado called, after his band back in the 60s, Anonymous Artists of America (AAA). What the hell was he doing here? I had a bad feeling about this — well-founded as it turned out. “Leonard has offered to put you to work this summer at the AAA,” my mom said. “Leonard can kiss my rosy red ass,” I replied. “You either go to Red Wing (the nearest “town” to the AAA) or you wait it out in Zeb Pike,” she said. I was convinced, and that very day I was packed and on the road to Huerfano County. God help me, I was being put back into the hands of the hippies.

* * *

I was once again the footballer on the cricket pitch, the alligator in the café, the Marxist at the G-8, utterly out of my element. These were earnest, serious hippies, a group of flower children who'd left the Haight when the dream died and had built a thriving, self-sustaining community. I was a sullen, slouching, recalcitrant scoundrel who worshiped at the church of breaking glass.

I spent my first days at the AAA sneering at the livestock and criticizing the “punitive” conditions. (“Call this a road?” “Why is everything made out of wood?”). But shortly I found something to stimulate my teenage soul. One was the vehicles which I would not only be allowed but required to pilot in the course of my various duties, including an ancient Norton motorcycle, a 2-1/2 ton truck, and a six wheel amphibious ATV. There were horses and donkeys to ride, guns to shoot (under proper supervision, of course — no one was crazy enough to turn me loose with a firearm), and smaller children to corrupt, harass, and serve as minions. Oh, they were such an innocent and trusting little bunch, but the thieving missions I sent them on resulted only in lectures about the way things worked then. (“You don't need to steal the weed, kid, just ask and you can have anything you want.”) Clearly these people were insane. I realized early on that it would probably take a major act of destruction to truly antagonize them, something like burning down the dome (common area), and I also realized I didn't want to. Something about the way they just sort of pulled me into the mix without ceremony or interruption was comforting.

There was no sense of “Okay, we've got a troubled kid on our hands, so let's all do this or that and keep an eye on him and blah blah.” Rather, I was told what was expected of me and when to sleep and left alone or not as the situation warranted. I built fences, took care of the donkeys (Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan — get it?), and we had a garden. I wasn't much of a worker at first, but I came around gradually and developed some skills and good habits.

One of the AAA denizens, Adrian, was a person known to me and my family for many years and someone I had long presumed was a male of what species I wasn't sure — probably something in the ogre family. But then I'd learned that Adrian was in fact human and female to boot. If my misconception seems insensitive, you clearly never met her. Gnomish of height and blockish of breadth, Adrienne looked carved out of a block of greasy denim. With steel rimmed glasses on her nose above a sneering mouth perpetually plugged by a Camel, she spoke in a voice that sounded like hot slag in a blender. She never spoke the word “kid” without qualifying it with “God damn,” and no one under 21 had a name besides that, as in “Hey you god damn kid, hand me those pliers,” or “Get all these god damn kids away from me!” She was — and for all I know, is — a terrifying creature and never more so than when she was laughing. Whenever it happened I felt like a fairy tale captive awaiting the oven.

She had a partner of surpassing beauty who I, as an adolescent with the sap running free, had trouble keeping my eyes off of. Lila didn't bother much with clothes in the summertime and was generally topless. A lot of the women there were, but most of them I'd become inured to. Not so Lila. She had a magnificent body that had me engineering all sorts of machinations to afford me glimpses. Those among you of the male persuasion who can recall being 15 might understand my plight. On the one hand, I was in the presence of a gorgeous nude female to feed my pubescent fantasies, and on the other, said goddess was the property of a very protective and villainous troll who might actually kill and eat me.

When I did get caught, it wasn't as bad as I imagined. I was working in the garden one morning and had positioned myself to have a clear view of Adrienne and Lila's cabin. After a time, she came out wrapped in a sarong, topless, and started throwing out feed to the chickens in the front yard. I was rapt. She placed her fingers together and raised her arms above her head, arching her back and stretching luxuriously, breasts taut and glorious in the morning sun. I goggled unabashedly on my knees in the dirt. I think I was probably making some kind of strange noise when I felt a vice-like grip on the back of my neck. “Maybe you could find something else to focus on, huh? Huh?” said a familiar growl, shaking me like an errant puppy. She spat and stomped away, muttering, “God damn kids.”

And so I, being the respectful and obedient lad that I was, forever averted my eyes and never again objectified the female form no matter how blisteringly hot it was.

Yeah, right.

I was a good deal more circumspect though. I sprained my eyes several times that summer trying to extend my peripheral vision to the point I could make it appear that I was looking at clouds or donkeys when I stole the rare glance.

In August we got the call (figuratively speaking, there were no phones at the AAA — probably it was a carrier pigeon or smoke signals) that a placement had been found for me. I bid goodbye to the donkeys, silently swore I would return someday to slay the troll and claim the hand of the fair Lila, and returned to civilization.

* * *

Brockhurst Boys Ranch, a “residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed adolescents” was situated on a hill above a charming little hamlet called Green Mountain Falls. There were 29 other kids more or less like me, i.e., wild, confused, and out of control. The program featured group therapy, athletics, Outward Bound-style wilderness excursions, and school — first on-site, then transitioning to Manitou High as academic and social skills improved. This was during the Carter years and it was a well-funded, efficiently run place staffed with caring and qualified people. The director was a PhD and the counselors were either MSWs or working on same — contrast that with similar institutions today and their teams of thugs who are “educated” online.

Much to a lot of people's surprise, mostly mine, it turned out to be exactly what I needed. I grew and thrived, discontinued much of my antisocial behavior and began to see the world in a different light — i.e., not necessarily something to be blown up.

* * *

Jaime Bernal was a boy in my group, a small, excitable Bolivian immigrant who slept under the most luxurious covering imaginable — an alpaca blanket. It was Rawhide on one side and long, lustrous fur on the other. During the day the bed was made fur side up, but at night young Jaime flipped it over and nestled, sans top sheet, in a fur cocoon.

One night I awoke from a recurring nightmare about Carol Burnett's mouth and noticed some activity going on from Jimmy's corner of the room. As my eyes adjusted, it became apparent to me that the little bastard was defiling the alpaca (new self-love euphemism?) in his nighttime solo erotic meanderings, if you take my meaning. Naturally, my first instinct was to creep over to the light switch and humiliate the poor kid, but a germ of an idea took root before I could take action.

The next day I got a stout pair of scissors and cut a six-inch wide strip off the end of the blanket and cut that into squares, secreting them under my mattress. That night I discovered dimensions of autoerotic bliss heretofore undreamed of.

I could hardly keep such a discovery to myself and so I distributed the remaining sections among members of my group. The “furries,” as someone dubbed them, were a huge hit and we could all be found at sinks in the morning rinsing out our furries while one person stood guard watching for Jaime. We set up a clothesline in the basement near a hot water heater to dry them. We discovered that the inherent feel-good properties of the furries could be enhanced significantly through assiduous grooming, and so we employed shampoos, conditioners, and currying to maximize their softness and luster. Our relationships with them became intensely personal and I think most had names, certainly mine did: Lila.

It came to pass that someone's furry was lost, or stolen, or something, and thus began the Great Furry Controversy. Mike Eastman reached under his pillow late one night preparatory to beginning his nocturnal ministrations and found — nothing. He leapt out of bed and switched on the light. “Who's got her?!” he yelled. “Somebody stole my furry!” “Shut up! Jaime will hear you. We will find it in the morning,” I told him. We didn't, but the next night it was another kid who found himself furryless and Mike suspiciously calm. Several thefts were reported and precautions were being taken. Furries were carried around in pockets and dried with hairdryers instead of hung. Vigils were kept at night to determine who was and was not in possession of their furry.

The inevitable happened eventually: someone decided to go back to the source. Somebody — I suspect Eastman, a lad with poor impulse control — cut a great big chunk out of the alpaca, a very noticeable chunk. Jaime went straight to the staff and reported the desecration of the blanket and a group was called. The interrogation began and it wasn't long before someone cracked and confessed not only to owning a piece, but to its purpose. We were all ordered to surrender our furry, which we (apparently) did. Jaime attempted reassembling his blanket, jigsaw fashion, but found one square missing. A search was conducted, threats were made, but the missing furry was not found. Jaime sent the blanket home to be reassembled and life went on as before.

It was some weeks before I dared unearth Lila from her hiding place under the carpet and I took extreme measures to ensure her existence remained secret. As the last surviving furry, its value was inestimable and there was no telling what someone might do to obtain it.

I guess I must've dropped my guard, because eventually someone got her. I didn't say a word, didn't raise a stink, but decided to lay back in the weeds and wait for the perpetrator to make a mistake. Sure enough, one morning as I took up an early surveillance post in the bathroom, standing on the toilet and peeking over the stall, that weasel Eastman came in and pulled the defiled furry from his pocket. “I'll kill you!” I screamed, kicking open the stall door and launching myself across the bathroom at him. I clawed at my poor Lila with one hand and punched Eastman with the other as we rolled around on the bathroom floor. The sounds of the battle attracted the rest of the group and the counselor, who opened the bathroom door to find the two of us clutching the furry, bloody and panting on the floor. Counselor Phil said nothing, just held out his hand. We surrendered the last furry, and that day I was indoctrinated into the sad fraternity of lost love.

Next: Punk rock saves my life.


  1. Steven Gill May 4, 2013

    Ha ha ha ha! In prison they’re sometimes called a “Fi Fi'” and are assembled out of rubber gloves or other plastic plus whatever lubricant is available. A gnarly topic to be sure, but it’s part of being a mammal.
    It’s one thing as an adolescent, but when adults in a correctional institution are forced to such means, it’s dehumanizing, frustrating, and after years and years causes various types of sexual dysfunction.
    “Well, you shouldn’t have broken the law then!” Sure, but when people can be put in prison for decades for growing the wrong plant or participating in the use of the wrong drug, it’s cruel and unusual punishment IMHO.

  2. Christine Hansen July 29, 2016

    The Brockhurst Boys Ranch was the original homestead of my great-uncle Henry Brockhurst, who, as a kid was “wild, confused and out of control.” His mother died when he was 5 and his father was abusive. He pretty much raised himself. He and his wife, my sweet Aunt Lulu, would be so happy to know that the Brockhurst Ranch was a place where you grew and thrived. That is why they donated their home to be a place where young people could find their way. I wish you all the best.

    • Dave Fisher October 18, 2017

      I was at BrockHurst in 1968-69. I knew your Aunt Lulu very well. I would visit her with another boy. His name was Larry Camacho. I am trying to locate some of the boys I was at Brockhurst with. My name is Dave Fisher.

      • Brett C Smith July 25, 2018

        This is Brett Smith, I remember you and Larry very well. I was there during the same time frame. Brockhurst always brings back memories, some good some not so good but it did change my life forever. I have retired after 40 years with the Army and DOD. Life has been great. It’s to bad that Brockhurst is not around anymore but then the bad boys are much worse now then we were your. It is operations for a ministry. I plan on visiting on 27-28 Jul 2018. Great to see a post by some old friends in need.

        • Dave fisher July 28, 2018

          Hi Brett..! If you ever get a notion, give me a call. My number is 207-441-8628…
          I don’t know if you remember the school teacher at BrockHurst. His name was Don Bynum. I ended up living with him and his family after Brockhurst. Even though Don has passed away, I’m still considered part of the family. I visit them in Oklahoma when I can. I owe my music career to Don. He would sneak me out of the ranch at nights,and go to jam sessions.

      • Ernest Gettler August 11, 2021

        My name is Ernie Gettler and I remember you well from Brockhurst Boys Ranch.

    • Chester Mattern April 21, 2020

      I was the first boy to be placed at Brockhurst boys ranch!

      • Dave Fisher April 22, 2020

        Hi Chester….What year was it when you were placed at Brockhurst….

    • Peter Hughes February 14, 2022

      BROCKHURST BOYS RANCH WAS A CESSPOOL FOR DISTURBED CHILDREN TO LIVE AND HATE.. YOUR UNCLE HENRY SHOULD HAVE BURNED THE PLACE TO THE GROUND AND WALKED AWAY.. BROCKHURST WAS NOTHING BUT LIVING HELL FOR A LOT OF YOUNG BOYS! I should know — I was there in 1971 at the age of 11 years old. Beaten and tortured by the older boys for close to a year until I finally ran away long enough for them not to take me back… And why did I go there??? Because my mom didn’t want me at home and it was the only place that had an opening!!! NOT BECAUSE I WAS A DISTURBED AND TROUBLED KID!!!!! For all of us that where ABUSED at this FORSAKEN HELL HOLE you should not be PROUD to say your PROUD of BROCKHURST BOYS RANCH!

  3. John Mansour-Dumas January 6, 2017

    I was at Brockhurst Boys Ranch in 1972 and was moved to the halfway house on Willamette and Corona in Colorado Springs. It was definitely and experience I won’t forget. Does anyone know what happend at either location?

    • Lawrence Sandoval December 20, 2021

      Hi my name is Lawrence Sandoval I was the the same time . Do you remember Gary Hinton Lloyd Brown Earl Tate. I was also at the halfway house in Springs on Willamette and Corona.

      • Peter Hughes February 14, 2022

        Do you remember Tony Montoya and Aaron Kiner?? I was there around the same time and it was living hell for me. Beaten and torched the whole time I was there.. I lived in the main dorm.. These to scumbags where mean and evil.. I was only 11 years old at the time and these two guys would beat all the younger kids like me.. Let me know if you where there then and what your experince was.. Thanks

    • Peter Hughes February 14, 2022

      What was your experience at Brockhurst Boys Ranch?? Mine was HELL. I was there in 1971 and the beatings and torture treatment I received from the older boys (TONY MONTOYA AND AARON KINER) was living hell. I was only 11 years old when I went there and it took me 3 times of running away and staying gone long enough for them not to take me back. Living in the Main DORM at night was MURDER with the toothpaste treatments and SOS BRILLO PAD SCRUB DOWNS and the counselors doing nothing. The tool shed was a place where they would put me as a type of prison for several days– NOT INSIDE BUT UNDERNEATH FENCED IN! The SCHOOL WAS another place and another day of storys… Id be interested in your experience At Brockhurst Boys Ranch.. When I was there I wasn’t the only one being treated like this, there where approx. 10 of us that where being beatin and abused.. I got out of that place by the grace of God! The sight of Brockhurst is now a CULT CHURCH that prays on LBGQT People and others that are willing to join up to get their money and squeeze in on them. Has nothing to do with Jesus or Religion, just the mighty $$$ bill…. If you where abused at this place I would be curious to know your story!!! Contact me at , we might have crossed paths while we where there…

  4. Terri Sanchez July 13, 2017

    Hi Flynn really interesting funny story my brother Tim Lujan used to talk about you all the time! He was a terror for sure still is! I have the blanket you speak of I believe there is a strip missing from the Alpaca blanket it was Tim’s we had just got back from Bolivia at that time! Love to talk to you so feel free to email me!

  5. Dave Fisher October 18, 2017

    The last I heard was BrockHurst is run by the Childrens Ark. I visited it in 2005.I’m not sure what’s become of it now. Ancious to hear from others who was placed there…

    • Peter Hughes February 14, 2022

      I was there in 1971 and it was LIVING HELL. I was 11 at the time and should have never been placed there. Brockhurst was more of a home for troubled and in trouble boys that where basically on the verge of going to juvenile hall or worse. AARON KINER AND TONY MONTOYA where the ring leaders of the place and the experience I and other small boys of my age group had where distructful mean and disturbing times.. I was there for a little over a year and eventually finally ran away and stayed away long enough for them not to take me back. I went there because my mom didn’t want me living at home so that was the only place open at the time. I ended up going to Colorado Boys Ranch in La Junta Colorado and living there till I was 17.

      I was tortured and beaten and kept captive by Kiner and Montoya and even the counsolers where terrified, locking themselves in their rooms at night and basically letting the older boys run the place.. I stayed in the main dorm building… The place was HELL! Plain and simple.

  6. KJ February 8, 2020

    Flynn, I came upon this story while surfing the internet. I don’t know what exactly I surfed that brought me directly to it, but the title, ‘Back in the Hands of Hippies’ and the photo is what caught my attention. Is that you standing in the background? Because I grew up in Manitou Springs in the 60s & 70s around hippies, I decided to read the article. I had no idea it was going to take me back to my adolescence. My cousins lived directly behind West Jr. High, across from the open dirt area and went to school there. One summer day in the mid 70s, when I was a teenage girl, I was at the Manitou swimming pool, sitting out front on the grass, listening to a radio I had. (I don’t think the pool was built yet when you were at Brockhurst.) ‘The Night Chicago Died’ was playing on my radio when this big Manitou city truck pulled in and a bunch of boys jumped out the back of it. They unloaded yard equipment and tools and proceeded to perform maintenance and gardening of the pool’s front yard and pond. That is the day I was introduced to Brockhurst Boys Ranch. Some of them were bused down to Manitou for school that Fall. I became pretty good friends with a couple of the boys and remained friends with them for a while after they left Brockhurst. Your story is so well written, that every piece of it vividly played out in my head as I read it. The west side, Manitou, and Green Mountain Falls were my stomping grounds while growing up. You touching on Bobby Unser, Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Zebulon Pike, The Gazette, West Jr. High, 19th Street, the race car joy ride, the AAA and Lila, Brockhurst, etc… all of it made for one of the most relatable, hilarious and entertaining reads I’ve had in a long time! You’re very talented and know how to tell a great story. Thank you so much.

  7. Flynn washburne April 22, 2020

    KJ, thanks so much for your praise. I lived half a block east of West Junior, at 1813 West Kiowa, so I’m sure I knew your cousins. I went to Brockhurst in September 76 and spent many summer days at the Manitou pool prior to that, so it was in fact built. Email me directly if you want to reminisce some more,

  8. Kein Wilson October 2, 2020

    I worked at the Ranch for a couple of years (78-80)…with the older males. I was a Team Lead Child Care Worker. The young men called me Mr Clean, because my shirts were always ironed.

    One of the MSWs I worked was named Chris…an other one went to UT Knoxville…anyone remember his name?

    I really enjoyed working at the Ranch…playing football vs. the kids and the endless groups. I loved group work…still do. Just retired 7-8 weeks ago, after 48 years of work in Mh/Sa.

    I still remember the faces of the guys in our cottage; Mike, Adrian, Joe to name a few.
    And the two week back packing…I fired a co-CCW… he was a jerk from Denver named Dan…couldn’t take it. Fired’em sent him back. The 10 young guys and me, finished the two weeks by ourselves…I’m still very proud of that bunch…I hope they remember that I truly care about them. I pray they’ve had productive lives.

  9. Brett Smith August 11, 2021

    Hello Earnie,
    I was also at the Ranch 68-70. I remember you and Frank very well. Dave Fisher and I have linked back up on FB a few years ago. Hope you and Frank are doing well!

  10. Douglas Coulter December 21, 2021

    Once again my post is deleted by the AVA

  11. Douglas Coulter December 23, 2021

    I was arrested in Truckee California on April 4 1968 the same day Martin Luther King was murdered. MLK murder was not mentioned in Tahoe Truckee news but The Coulter Gang Rides Again was the headline. Trailer trash boys break into rich vacation homes. That is a nasty crime. I spent 23 days in an isolation cell as a 14 year old juvenile in Americas justice system. I watched Ronald Reagan murder 435 Americans in Beirut in the 1980s. I have no illusions about patriot idealism. America is a nation founded upon genocide and profit.

  12. M Lawson February 2, 2022

    Wow, what a pleasant surprise to stumble across this blog. Colorado Springs native here, thanks for bringing the the past back to life.

  13. Peter Hughes February 14, 2022

    It seems that every comment I posted here about BROCKHURST BOYS RANCH has been removed by the Editors of this story.. I guess THEY don’t want people to know the REAL STORY behind the place.. OH Well .. Maybe Ill write my own story on it — HELL HOLE that it was.

    • Mark Scaramella February 14, 2022

      I don’t know what the commenter is talking about. I see several comments from him, unedited as far as I can tell. In general, we wouldn’t have any reason to edit or remove such comments.

  14. Rob Thomas December 4, 2022

    I was at Brockhurst 1973-5. My dad paid for me to go. Some Guy named Gary was the main owner. I had Bubba and a few others as counselors. I got to go to school at Manitou, was on the track team. It was ok, but when I turned 18, I left on my own will. I was born and raised in Dallas. I am now a millionaire in Arizona. You just never know. I had a good friend named Rob there. I almost married a gal in Woodland Hills.

  15. Melissa D August 19, 2023

    In the early 90’s both boys and girls were there at Brockhurst ranch I was there for 9 months the year I was there was 1991/1992 I was there over Christmas, the cabins were : main cabin A cabin B and the boys had cabin c the main eating hall was enormous and the school was quaint I think there was a total of 12 of us in all. We had a few kids from out of state they were from Ohio. The rest of us were from Colorado and surrounding states.. – a few of the ppl were mainstreamed and allowed to go go manitou high school others like my self were not. It was brutal for most while there. Group sessions were a joke. There was a few adults that truly cared most didn’t –

    • Dave Fisher August 25, 2023

      Melissa….My name is Dave Fisher. I was in Brockhurst in 1969-1970. I returned in 2004 to show my wife where I was sent when I was 16 years old. The staff was welcoming, and even let me give a pep talk to the boys who were there then. The ranch was unreconizable. Everything changed. My dorm was the chicken house. The more aggressive boys were located in the lower dorm by the mess hall.
      It’s my understanding that Brockhurst changed considerably. Some say they were abused by staff and other boys. I did see some things that were questionable when I was there, but not to the extent some say happened after I left the ranch.
      Anyway….I hope you didn’t experience any of the abuse I’ve heard about. I hope you are living good life..

  16. Abe wheeler March 28, 2024

    I was at brocker’s boys ranch in the late 70. I was beaten not only by the older boys. But the staff rarely was there more than one staff. Member on duty in this meant that there were 14 kids. Fight to break out often. There wasn’t much staff could do. This is where I was introduced to drugs. We used to sit out on the porch where you could listen to music has a reward in smoke marijuana. There are many people I remember from there. And I wish I knew how to get ahold of him. This was not a good place for me. I was there when they closed it. I don’t know if they ran out of money. Or what happened? But they just sent us back to our parents without saying a whole lot. I spent 2 years there. My name is Abe Wheeler. If you knew me please respond. I really would like to touch bases with the people that I knew from there.e mail me at If you didn’t know me and you just would like to talk about your experience. Feel free to email me too.

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