This is the Schneider-Farris Family's Blog. Keep up with what we are doing by logging into this site regularly! (The reason this site is called "Tragedy and Triumph" is that when I first founded this site, my husband, Dan, had been in a horrible accident, and he recovered. His recovery was a miracle! Go back to the 2005 archives to read our story.)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Will Colorado Springs soon be called "The Broadmoor's Colorado Springs?"

Like It's a Wonderful Life: 

Comparing Colorado Springs' Richard Skorman versus the Owner of the Broadmoor Hotel Philip Anschutz

(George Bailey Versus Mr. Potter?)


It's a Wondeful Life is one of my favorite movies. It is a 1946 American classic starring James Stewart who plays the role of George Bailey, a man who gives up his dreams to help people in the small fictional small city of Bedford Falls.

The story's hero, throughout his life, battles the powerful and shifty character of wealthy Mr. Potter, who cares nothing about the Bedford Falls community and the people who live there.  Bailey gives up much to help others, and the people of Bedford Falls love him.

After Potter does something crooked that will ruin George Bailey, Bailey considers taking his life, but George's guardian angel, Clarence, shows Bailey all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be had he never been born.  Of course, the movie has a happy ending and Bedford Falls continues to thrive.

Richard Skorman reminds me so much of George Bailey!

In contrast, Philip Frederick Anschutz, the owner of The Broadmoor Hotel, is an American entrepreneur who has invested in stocks, real estate and railroads.  I didn't know it until recently (since I was not paying attention), but Anschutz not only owns The Broadmoor, but owns Seven Falls (now called The Broadmoor's Seven Falls) and the Pikes Peak Cog Railway (now called The Broadmoor's Pikes Peak Cog Railway).

Anschutz is a billionaire. His fortune has been gained from real estate, from oil wells and railroads, sports arenas and cattle ranches.  At this time, he sort of seems a bit like Bailey's opponent Potter, since little by little, it seems he is "buying out" Colorado Springs.

Richard Skorman is the owner of my family's favorite restaurant in Colorado Springs which is located just south of Colorado College on Tejon Street in Downtown Colorado Springs. I began enjoying the food and atmosphere at Poor Richard's "way back in the 1970s" when I was at student at CC.  I marveled then that anyone, no matter who they were, could go into Poor Richards and feel welcome.

 When my husband and I visited Colorado Springs in the 1980s, when we lived in California, we always took the time to eat at Poor Richards, and when we returned to Colorado Springs in 1991 to make a life for ourselves in this very conservative city, we found that Poor Richards was "our place."

When my three children were little and so very active, Poor Richards was not only "our place," but the only place we could eat (besides McDonalds or Burger King).

One day, I decided to personally thank Richard Skorman for making us feel so welcome in his restaurant. (We were "asked to leave" so many Colorado Springs restaurants and businesses in those days.)

"You must have children, Richard. Thank you for giving us a place we can go where my children can play and a place where we don't have to pretend to be someone else." I stated in thanks as I approached Richard.

In response Richard told me he didn't have an children, but loved them! "Wow!" I thought!  "Richard Skorman doesn't have kids, but works hard to make families welcome!  How cool is that!"

At the time, I still had "scars" from feeling unwelcome at an Indian Restaurant (where we were told my little son needed to give the couple eating next to us "their special time") that was downtown and from a bagel place in Cheyenne Meadows (where we were told that customers were not getting a good experience by our presence)....After writing letters to the editor of certain Colorado Springs newspapers about those experiences, I received hate mail from some people who told me to keep my children out of restaurants, but at Poor Richards, no matter what, we always felt welcome and still do!

Richard Skorman not only loves children, but he loves people; all kinds of people:  Gay people, straight people, conservative people, disabled people, people of all colors and races, and even people who can't pay to eat at his restaurant. I remember reading once that if a client can't pay, he or she could offer to work for his meal.

One day, not that long ago, while eating lunch at Poor Richards, my then 85 year old father spilled his meal and drink on the restaurant's floor. Richard Skorman, himself, not only cleaned up the mess, but spent some time talking to my dad and my family after that incident.

Yes...Richard Skorman, like It's a Wonderful Life's George Bailey, cares about the people, all the people in Colorado Springs, and fights for the rights of the city's people.

Skorman's recent commitment to saving the Strawberry Fields Open Space is an example. He is not leading tours of the area once or twice a week; instead, he is leading tours not once, but twice a day and seven days a week!, thanks to Richard Skorman's efforts, over 4,000 peoople have signed the petition that asks the Colorado Springs City Council to save Strawberry Fields.

When I came to Colorado Springs to skate and train at The Broadmoor in 1974, I did not think that I was moving to Colorado Springs; I thought I was moving to The Broadmoor.  The two places were "one and the same" to the figure skaters who came there.  Again, the Colorado Springs World Arena has the name of the place I was so proud to be at: The Broadmoor World Arena.

The hotel and rink then, in the 1970s, did not feel "off limits" to the people of our city.  The Broadmoor felt like a part of our home.  We skaters would walk around the lake, go to the movies at the hotel, eat ice cream at the Broadmoor Drug Store, get our hair done at the hotel, go to the zoo, ski at Ski Broadmoor, eat meals at The Tavern, and more.  We proudly wore Broadmoor Skating Club uniforms and sweaters.  Those of us who became US Figuure Skating Gold Medalists while training at The Broadmoor were even given the honor of swimming at the hotel and being treated like paying guests!

Sadly, as the years have passed, the Broadmoor Hotel has felt more and more off limits to locals in our community.  I've learned to live with that feeling, but when I see that The Broadmoor and Philip Anschutz has taken away some of the parts of Cheyenne Mountain that belong to the people of our city, I become very sad.

I've determined that our city is run like a small town.  Powerful people with money can use their wealth to get their way here.  Examples from my years here include how, in 1994, the little Plaza Ice Chalet at the Plaza of the Rockies closed so that the need for the Colorado Springs World Arena became more urgent.  Recently, personally, my family experienced shunning by the Colorado Springs Conservatory.  Harrison School District 2's Superintendent's office "looked the other way" and allowed those in power to hurt our family and others.

Will Colorado Springs, like the small city of Bedford Falls in It's a Wonderful Life, soon be like the Pottersville that was once Bedford Falls when George Bailey saw what life would have been like if he had not been born?  Fortunately, Colorado Springs has, "an angel," Richard Skorman, but if his efforts don't work out, will Colorado Springs soon be called "The Broadmoor's Colorado Springs?"

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Jo Ann Schneider Farris has participated in skating for most of her life as a competitor, coach, and author.