Can An Experience Become a Life Long Aversion ?

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My brother and I grew up in Colorado and lived around Denver most of our early days. In West Denver there is a hill called Ruby where boys of our age spent wasting curious hours. Ruby Hill has been around for eons and its bad reputation had been around as long as Denver has been a city. I’m sure it seemed more like a mountain to us then as we played on and around it.

It was however just a hill in South West Denver. Maybe it should be a shrine of the old west, because it overlooks the Santa Fe Trail or the stage coach route to Santa Fe and was part of old western history. I remember we pretended to be two stripling warriors as our bicycles were horses and we would imagine the passing trucks and cars on Santa Fe Drive were stage coaches and covered wagons leaving Denver, on their way to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We fantasized the enemy was passing in front of the hill, we would pretend to be the Indians watching from this advantage point, and would plot revenge in our battle for survival.

A great transformation of Ruby Hill has taken place over the years and was remarkable. It’s hard to believe as green and lush as it is in summer; that as late as 1950 it was a burning dump; and in the midst of the smoke and debris, raised the billowing clouds of dust created by weekend warriors and their vehicles. They would test their machines and driving skills trying to ascend the steep hills and its varied paths without retreat. Oh just to conquer this one time, were the dreams of shining knights on wheels, but the others who fought and lost with their armor dulled and dented from the conflict, swore to return and give battle again. If this Hill could only talk, the volumes of stories it could tell.

Unfortunately, not all the stories would be of man’s conquest of machines against the slopes of the hill. Mans ugly side would be revealed. Girls losing their virtue to passion in the guise of love, and of the time when hideous white shadows of bigotry danced in the glimmering light emanating from a fiery cross, the symbol of an intolerant, so called Christian cult, burned bright at times, in the night sky.

It was on Easter Sunday, when we lived in College View. Our family spent the day at our grandparent’s home in central Denver. It was late Sunday and we were driving home on Platte River Drive. There was this huge cross burning, and people standing around with white hooded gowns. My brother asked. “Mother what is happening.” He drew the sarcasm of our Father’s whit, something about burning the hell out of a crucifix. Neither of us knew what that meant, but Dad drew the ire of our mother. When we got closer, an eerie feeling, that instilled fear, came over us and we both wanted mother’s security. My brother crawled into the front seat and sought her tender embrace which gave him reassurance, to help control his feeling. My fears of that night’s event returned each time I saw flames and smoke rise from that dirty old burning dump.

Our curiosity as fledgling young teenagers would conquer those fears but the image created that night, turned to disdain, which neither of us ever lost. We loathed the KKK and what they stand for under the disguise of Christians. Unfortunately we would see this sordid liturgy on other occasions after we grew into teenagers but the feelings instilled in us that night would last forever. Ruby Hill is a city park now, trees on the front slope and all the grass. But we will never forget those burning crosses and the hate that filled the night’s air.

When people hate other people because of their race, creed, color or religious beliefs, it boils my inter sensibility of justice, fairness, and angers my feelings toward thoughtless people who care not for others but only to vent their evil hate into rage. Men have fought and died in combat protecting our rights of freedom. No one should ever desecrate those lives with bigotry, prejudice, or bias, contrary to our rights granted by our Constitution. God Bless us that we never make these types of mistakes but live worthy of His Blessings.

No one can harm the man who does himself no wrong.

Robert D. Ashford was a Marine during the cold war and is now retired, after 50 years of construction management. He is a keen genealogist and loves humor. He watches the political horizons and likes to write commentary on what’s next.