Somewhere in Time

I met him in November and it was love at first sight.  I was in my early 30s and he had just turned 96.  As I saw him walking towards me at the elderly care facility where my grandmother lived, FlorenzFlorenz immediately captured my heart.  I used to take my five young daughters to visit regularly.  We would all sit in the “gathering lobby,” and the blessedly aged were always so excited to see the girls, even if it was only for a little while.

On that special day, a distinguished gentleman, still in excellent physical condition and about 6’4″ (I’ve always been a sucker for the tall ones), asked if he could join me.  I was in love before he took his seat, and thus began a relationship that would bring great joy to both of our lives over the next few months.

Over time, I found that that the proud and stately Florenz had been secretary to General Palmer (the founder of Colorado Springs) when he was just 18 years old.  He was close friends with Marjory, one of General Palmer’s daughters.  He had been a driver for Spencer and Julie Penrose, also wealthy founders of our City.  Florenz's wife had died several years earlier.  One of the many businesses that he and his wife had owned was a company that chauffeured people around Colorado Springs and up Pikes Peak – usually the rich and famous, in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

People often asked him about General Palmer, and he was usually polite in his replies.  But there was no genuineness in his responses, so one day I asked him about it.  He told me it was a puzzle general palmerto him why people were so enamored with the General when there were so many likable people who had helped establish the City.

In 1906, General Palmer was riding in Garden of the Gods where his beloved 67-room Tudor Glen Eyrie Castle was located.  He was thrown from his horse and paralyzed.  Florenz lived at Glen Eyrie with the Palmer family, and one of his jobs was to transport the General from his bed to his wheel chair, to push him wherever he wanted to go, and to lift him in and out of his chair when he wanted to sit in a normal chair. 

There was a gleam in the eye of my friend as he told me about performing that duty one day.  Florenz caught his hand in one of the mechanisms on the wheel chair, and there was a moment of jostling as he arranged Palmer for his daily stroll.  Palmer yelled and swore at him and told him that he was going to fire him.  As he stood there silently being verbally battered by his employer, the blood pouring from the injury to his hand became noticeable.  Palmer told him to go take care of it, and termination was never mentioned again.

Marjory Palmer was there for a good portion of the time that Florenz was there, and she threw a wonderful dance for him in the Grand Ballroom in October for his 21st birthday.  After Palmer died, it was Florenz who was kept on for several years to oversee the Castle and the minimal staff that was left.  He would ride his bike to the City and back to the Castle, and often encountered Indians just peacefully sitting along the way.

Glen EyrieThe Navigators purchased Glen Eyrie Castle in the 1950s and it is open for public tours.  I contacted someone on staff there, told them I wanted to bring Florenz, and would they like to talk to him when we arrived?  In the 1980s, technology was a cassette recorder, so the person for The Navigators who met us recorded our conversation and tour with a cassette tape.

What an experience!  As we approached the door with the plaque that read “General William J. Palmer Bedroom,” Florenz turned and reported that the room had NEVER been the General’s bedroom.  Upon seeing a plaque on a door across the hall, he said – that room was REALLY a supply closet, and the place where most of the staff went to have quick afternoon “indiscretions.”

When asked about Queen Palmer (General Palmer's wife), Florenz was thoughtful as he explained that times were different then.  That Queen was long dead, and it was common knowledge that the General was in love with Orchard HouseQueen’s half-sister Charlotte.  When she and her husband, W. L. Sclater, came from England for a visit, Palmer made his brother-in-law the overseer of Glen Eyrie, and he also became a professor at Colorado College.  Palmer built them a beautiful home near the castle, known as The Orchard House, formerly The White House Ranch.  At the time it was completed in 1907, it cost more than $20,000 to build. 

As we entered the Grand Ballroom at the castle, Florenz was transported to another place, another time.  He told wonderful stories of the balls and the Indians and his 21st birthday, and of his deep (platonic) affection for Marjory Palmer.  The man from The Navigators got a light in his eye and offered to host a celebration for his upcoming 97th birthday in the Grand Ballroom that October.  With a private smile and a wistful look, Florenz explained that he wouldn’t be here in October, but thanked him very much for the offer.

Asking him later where he would be in October, he touched my face and gently replied, “I just won’t be here.”  Florenz died in August that year.  I mourned his passing as that of a life-long friend.  There is not a time that I hear of General Palmer or Glen Eyrie or Orchard House that I don’t think of my dear friend, and wonder how he knew.

Somewhere in Time was written by Mimi Foster

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Pam Miller
Realty Associates - Friendswood, TX
Broker Associate - Pearland/Friendswood

Mimi - you made me cry....and now I have to go show houses with red eyes!$@   Beautiful:)

Jun 02, 2011 04:14 AM #5
Mimi Foster
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

How sweet, Pam.  Thank you!

Jun 02, 2011 04:18 AM #6
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

What a beautiful story; I agree with Pam, I had tears as well.  It's wonderful that you took the time to get to know this man!

Thanks for sharing.

Jun 02, 2011 04:25 AM #7
Mimi Foster
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

A Moment in Time, Kathleen.  I wouldn't have traded those months for anything.  Just the thought of him makes my heart melt.  Thanks for your comment.

Jun 02, 2011 04:30 AM #8
Greg McCown
Century 21 1st American - Tucson, AZ

What a great and fascinating story.  You honor him in retelling it.  Amazing that he knew he wouldn't be there come October.

Jun 02, 2011 05:48 AM #9
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Mimi- loved that story and how lucky were you! I just vitisted the Garden of the Gods two years ago.  Nice to learn about some local history.

Jun 02, 2011 06:13 AM #10
Mimi Foster
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Thank you, Greg.  It is interesting, isn't it, how some have just a knowing. 

Oh, Kathy, isn't it one of the most beautiful places imaginable? Glen Eyrie Castle is nestled in the rocks back there.

Jun 02, 2011 06:35 AM #11
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Great story Mimi. Well written. People that touch us live forever in our memories but if we don't tell the stories they wont' be known.

Jun 02, 2011 02:56 PM #12
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Apex, NC
Raleigh - Cary Triangle Real Estate 919-602-8489

Mimi, What a beautiful story! I enjoyed reading it.  There is so much to learn from others if we'd just take the time. 

Jun 02, 2011 03:13 PM #13
Cindy Westfall
Premiere Property Group,LLC Portland Metro & Suburbs Oregon - Tualatin, OR
ABR,GRI Your Tualatin & Portland Metro Real Estate

Hi Mimi, It's amazing how some people move into our lives and touch us so quickly and deeply. I'm glad you got to meet Florenz. Sounds like a wonderful man.

Jun 02, 2011 04:27 PM #14
Judy Klem
Transition Stage LLC - Shelton, CT
Home Staging, Senior Move Management, Fairfield/New Haven counties

Hi Mimi - How wonderful that you had such an instantaneous and strong connection with Florenz. I just love the stories our elders can tell. They really are a national treasure. I'm glad you had enough time with him that you could share so much.

Jun 02, 2011 05:21 PM #15
Linda D. Pufford
Stage with Divine Style - Home Staging - Novato, CA
ASPM, Marin/Sonoma Home Stager

Hi Mimi,

What a beautiful story and very touching.  What a wonderful opportunity to meet this interesting man.... and how your lives connected.  You really did learn a lot from him in the few months that you knew him.  I'm so glad you had the experience and thank you for sharing it with us.  This reminds me of my Grandfather who would sit and tell us such interesting stories of his life when we were young.  Thanks Mimi...  you write so beautifully!!!

Jun 02, 2011 07:07 PM #16
Cindy Logan
Mark 1 Real Estate Advisors - Huntington Beach, CA

Mimi, how touching.  It's so great that you had such a bond and a friendship with a remarkable man.

I've been to Glen Eyre, and I don't think I remember a castle.

Jun 03, 2011 08:10 AM #17
Linda K. Mayer
License # 01767321 - La Verne, CA

Goodness, Mimi, what a wonderful tribute to your friend while still being a great localism piece.  Had me in tears....

Jun 03, 2011 10:19 AM #18
Mimi Foster
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Thank you, Bob.  Beautifully put.

That's for sure, Carla.  My heart was so drawn to him, it would have been difficult to ignore.

Cindy ~ He was so incredibly mentally alert, and in such good physical condition, it was such a shock when he passed.

Jun 03, 2011 12:08 PM #19
Mimi Foster
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Judy ~ I am from a town in St. Petersburg FL where the expression was, "People retire to Miami and their parents live in St. Petersburg." From the time I was a kid, I have had a fondness for old people, but not sure I ever loved anyone quite like I loved him

Thank you so much, my friend.  I have always felt blessed that I met him.  I have always felt blessed that we had the time that we did.  Have a great weekend, Linda.

Were you at Garden of the Gods, Cindy?  Glen Eyrie Castle (in the third picture) is tucked back behind GoG.

Thanks, Linda! That's how I reacted to it while I was writing it.  And it reminded me of the Christopher Reeves / Jane Seymore movie (Somewhere in Time).  Like I had always known him . . .

Jun 03, 2011 12:14 PM #20
Elizabeth Byrne
Keller Williams Realty - Arlington, VA
Arlington Virginia Real Estate

Mimi, what a touching story. Florenz was such a wonderful man - I'm happy you had a chance to know him. You do have a hear of a writer and should think of writing a book.

Jun 03, 2011 02:08 PM #21
Cal Yoder
Keller Williams Elite - Lititz, PA
Homes For Sale in Lancaster PA - 717.413.0744

I loved reading this story of Florenz. It was absolutely amazing and I live no where close to Colorado Springs. I love your writing.


Jun 04, 2011 11:39 PM #22
Mimi Foster
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Thank you so much, Elizabeth. He was truly a gem.  (and I would love to)

What a nice compliment, Cal. Thank you for touching my heart ;)

Jun 05, 2011 02:05 AM #23
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Oh, Mimi! I am so sorry about the loss of such a dear friend. What a wonderful thing to get to know him, but it's all because you took the time and took a chance on getting to know a stranger. What gems surround us at all times!

Jun 06, 2011 04:59 PM #24
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