Somewhere in Time

By
Real Estate Agent with Falcon Property Solutions

I met him in early 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 toward me at the elderly care facility where my grandmother lived, Florenz immediately captured my heart. I used to take my five young daughters to visit regularly. We would sit in the “gathering lobby,” and the blessedly aged were excited to see the girls, even if only for a little while.

On that special day, a distinguished gentleman, still in excellent physical and mental condition and about 6’4″, asked if he could join me (at 5'9" I’ve always been a sucker for the tall ones). I was in love before he took his seat, and thus began a relationship that would bring great joy to both our lives for the next few months.

Over time, I found the proud and stately Florenz had been secretary to General Palmer (the founder of Colorado Springs) when he was 18 years old, and was close friends with Marjory, one of General Palmer's daughters. He had also been a driver for Spencer and Julie Penrose (he built the Broadmoor Hotel). His wife died several years earlier, but one of the many businesses Florenz and his wife had was chauffeuring the rich and famous around Colorado Springs and up Pikes Peak in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

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

One story I remember him telling was after Palmer had been thrown from his horse and paralyzed (in 1906), it was Florenz's job to transport him from his bed to his wheelchair, 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.

One day while carrying out that duty, Florenz caught his hand in a mechanism on the wheelchair. There was a moment of jostling as he arranged Palmer for his daily stroll. Palmer yelled at him, called him all sorts of names, and told him he would fire him. As he stood 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.

Glen EyrieMarjory Palmer was at Glen Eyrie for a good portion of the time Florenz was there, and she threw a memorable dance for him in the Grand Ballroom for his 21st birthday in October. After Palmer died, it was Florenz who was employed for several years to oversee the minimal staff that remained at Glen Eyrie. He would ride his bike to the City and back to the castle, and often encountered Indians peacefully sitting along the way.

The Navigators purchased Glen Eyrie, and it was open for public viewing. I contacted someone on staff, explained who I wanted to bring for a tour, and would they like to talk to him when we arrived? In the 1980s, technology was a cassette recorder, so the person from 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 reported that 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."

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

Grand Ballroom FireplaceAs 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 in the Grand Ballroom for his upcoming 97th birthday that October. With a private smile and a wistful look, he explained 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 gently touched my face and 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 I hear of General Palmer or Glen Eyrie or Rock Ledge Ranch that I don't think of my dear friend, and wonder how he knew.

Originally published as Somewhere in Time by Mimi Foster.

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Selling homes throughout Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City, Manitou Springs, and surrounding areas

 

     

Mimi Foster

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Mimi has received the honor of being voted one of the best Realtors in Colorado Springs five years in a row. With over two decades of experience, she is committed to making the home buying/selling process as painless and enjoyable as possible. Read Full Bio…

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Rainmaker
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Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Mimi - quite the story and wonderfully told.  It's a glimpse of the times and of people.  So much has changed and in other ways, there are many similarities to more recent times.  

Jan 12, 2020 10:32 AM #1
Rainmaker
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Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

What a wonderful story that is, Mimi.  More than once, I have fallen in love with an older person because of their history and wisdom.  I've been fortunate to rub elbows with several of them.

Jan 12, 2020 11:01 AM #2
Rainmaker
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Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

CONGRATULATIONS Mimi, on having this blog FEATURED in the Old Farts Club group!  

Jan 12, 2020 11:02 AM #3
Rainmaker
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Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Such a lovely story, Mimi. I felt as if I was there with  you. Such relationships are rare and to be treasured greatly.

Jan 12, 2020 11:32 AM #4
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Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

You know, Mimi, I've always said this, "You really should pursue writing." Oh wait! You did. Enchanting story, well told. 

Jan 12, 2020 11:34 AM #5
Rainmaker
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Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...A Local Expert in all The Hamptons

Dear Mimi: You had me at: "I was in love before he took his seat". What a lovely story and you told it so beautifully! I think your story deserves to be read by many. So many times we attribute love stories to the young! This was so rich and dreamy and you gave it a well-deserved and respectful reverence. I loved it! Thank you so much for sharing it.

Jan 12, 2020 02:02 PM #6
Rainmaker
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Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
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What a lovely story! I needed to read it 'on the big screen' and it was worth the wait. 

Jan 12, 2020 04:18 PM #7
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Elyse Berman, PA
Best Connections Realty, Inc. - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824 CRS, ABR, GRI,ePR

What a great story, Mimi.  I was enthralled reading it.

Jan 12, 2020 05:28 PM #8
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Bob Crane
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Hi Mimi,  Thanks for sharing this fantastic story.  Very well written.

Jan 12, 2020 06:27 PM #9
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Loved the story!  You could be a writer, Young One! 

Inside our minds is wonderful place to be sometimes.

Jan 13, 2020 07:28 AM #10
Rainmaker
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Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
DFW FINE PROPERTIES - Flower Mound, TX
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Mimi - there's a lot to be learned from the elders, especially those willing to talk and you're willing to listen. You were very fortunate to meet this wonderful man. Could it be, his heart was aching to tell his story to someone who would be genuinely interested in listening? 

You really, really listened. Thank you for telling this beautiful story about another time in history and a brave and incredible man,. His story lives on, all because of you. 

Jan 13, 2020 08:31 AM #11
Rainmaker
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Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

 Such an interesting bit of Colorado Springs history.

I remember being about 10 years old and having a very old lady for a neighbor (in Los Angeles.)  She had to be in her 90s as well. She always came over to the fence when I was outside and told me stories about coming west on a covered wagon. I was 10 remember and really didn't want  to talk to her - I avoided going outside when I saw her.

You can imagine my dismay today, as an adult, of the opportunity I missed. I actually think of her often and see her wearing a bonnet in the sun!

 

Jan 13, 2020 02:00 PM #12
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

-Mimi- I loved reading your story about Florenz.  Your words transported me to Glen Eyrie and your visits with Florenz. 

Jan 13, 2020 08:42 PM #13
Rainmaker
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Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good afternoon Mimi Foster - I loved reading the story and what a great experience you have to share.

Feb 10, 2020 12:19 PM #14
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Mimi:

What a wonderful, touching story, and beautifully told. Thank you!!

Jeff

Feb 19, 2020 05:53 PM #15
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