For some reason I have been thinking of my short career as a gift shop employee. My regular, main job, in 1978/1979 was at AMF Head Ski Co in Boulder, Colorado. I was a Quality Control Supervisor there, but as usual, I was broke all the time and I needed some extra money. I answered an ad in the Boulder newspaper and met Mary Ann Ranaudo for an interview. Mary Ann owned the gift shop in the Hilton Harvest House Hotel on 28th Street in Boulder Colorado. The shop was the "Unique Boutique". The Ranaudos were a nice young family and for a few years they were an important part of my life. I met their parents when they came to Boulder for visits, was included at Christmas dinners, treated very nicely, and all of them were extremely friendly. The family consisted of Mary Ann, her husband Frank and their son and daughter. I have since lost track of them but they will always be a pleasant memory for me.
Mary Ann usually hired young girls that were attending CU in Boulder, but she said she had a hunch she should try something different and go with an older person. I was the grand old age of 43 at the time. (g) I worked three nights a week and one weekend day, usually Sunday. I would leave Head Ski and hurry to Boulder on the Diagonal Highway. It's named that because it runs almost perfectly diagonally from Longmont to Boulder. I worked 4-8pm. It was a fun job and watching the activity in the lobby was better than TV. The Harvest Hilton House is called something else now but in the late 70's it was the premiere hotel in the area. I enjoyed scouting around the hotel when I took my break in the evenings.
In 1979, I left Head Ski and was unemployed for a time. MaryAnn hired me full time to watch the shop while they went on vacation, back to New Jersey. I desperatley needed the money!! It was while working this two weeks of full time that I learned about "Anthony's Gardens". The grounds behind the hotel were beautifully landscaped and it was a delightful place to sit and read or just meditate. I loved my lunch hours there that summer of 1979. This ambiance added to the memory of reading "Illusions" for the first time. The book was on the revolving wire book stand in the gift shop and as I sat in the shop it sort of beckoned me to buy it. I had only heard of Richard Bach because he wrote "Johnathan Livingston Seagull". Now, he is my favorite author of all time and "Illusions" is my favorite book of all time. It was magic, sitting in Anthony's Gardens and reading a book that, among other things, tells about "thinking clouds away". I can still picture myself staring up at the beautiful, blue, Colorado June sky and actually dissipating a cloud with my own thought waves. I still have that poor, beat up, wrinkled copy of "Illusions" and I read at least twice each year. Books become like old friends to me and I revisit them often.
It was a tough and troubling time for me and my short lived career as a gift shop employee was a good thing. The Ranaudos were so nice to me and the money was a god send, and the experience is one of my happy memories. I don't have a picture of Anthony's Gardens, but this picture reminds me of it.