Saturday, June 17, 2017

(26) Lee Kizer and the Old Ford Garage

Lee Kizer, 93 year old owner of The Old Ford Garage, points to his photo
in an August 1945 Life Magazine

(26) Lee Kizer

Gas Pumps stand like sentries 
at The Old Ford Garage

Lee Kizer is 93 years old and was born in Julesburg, Colorado. He attended school in Julesburg at a school building which was three stories tall. On the first story was the grammar school. The second story was for the middle school. High school was taught on the third floor. Lee's father was also born in Julesburg. His grandparents came to Julesburg with the Union Pacific in the 1860s.

As a teenager Lee helped the janitor at the high school. Since it was during the depression, there was no money to pay Lee, so he was paid with copies of old photographs which the janitor had in a dark room at the school. The photographs date from the very inception of Julesburg. They represent a complete history of the city.

Lee's 1916 Buick
During World War II, Lee joined the Navy and served aboard a ship in the South Pacific. That ship survived a Kamikaze attack the South China Sea. At the end of the war Lee attended a party in Hawaii, hosted by Life magazine. Lee was one of many sailors attending the party and Life arranged  dates for the sailors. At the luau, hosted by Life, a photograph was taken of the girls and the sailors. When Lee saw the magazine he asked his mother to buy it and to save a copy because he was in 2 of the photos. That magazine also features other photos of the end of the war. One of them is a famous picture of the sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square. Lee showed us the magazine and the page with the photo of the sailors at the luau as well as the page with the famous photo. Lee hasn't changed all that much despite the passage and seventy years.
Advertisement for the Old Ford Garage when it wasn't so old






After the war Lee returned to Julesburg and opened  a barbershop on Main Street. At some point after that his mother mentioned to him that he should find some place to display all of his historic photographs. At about this same time Ford dealership had moved from its location where the Old Ford Garage stands to a new location. When the property became available, Lee purchased it. It provided a place for his historic photographs of Julesburg and eventually a place to house his barbershop which he moved from Main Street.
Lee and Linda standing in front of Curtain that once hung in the old Opera House
Lee rehabilitated the building and used it to display his photographs and, at about the same time, he became interested in antique automobiles. The first automobile he purchased was a 1912 Buick. That Buick is still on display in the garage in its unrestored, yet near perfect condition. It is remarkable to view.

Lee also has collected gas pumps and signs from garages in and around Julesburg. He is also collected a number of roadsigns, including antique Lincoln Highway signs and signposts which are on display in the garage.
I need to hustle over and ask that pretty girl to dance.
When we finished viewing the garage, Lee invited us to go next door and upstairs to his old "dance hall". The dance hall is a tribute to the American Military in World War II. There is a bandstand featuring instruments of World War II veterans from Julesburg and background music played of the big band era.

It was hard to tear ourselves away from this delightful diversion from our Lincoln Highway trip. However, in one sense it was not really a diversion. It enriched our understanding of the highway and the historic times which serve as a backdrop for the Highway.
A fitting tribute to the Men who won WWII and their Leaders
We are meeting many people on the Highway who are knowledgeable in its history and are quietly working to preserve it. Lee Kizer is just going the extra measure.



6 comments:

  1. I drove the Colorado Loop once but zipped right by this. It's not the dumbest thing I've ever done but I see it was pretty dumb.

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  2. It was fun to read the story on Julesburg as my family is from there. Lee Kizer was just a few years younger than my mother and went to the same schools. He cut my grandfather's hair for years and would probably remember him as he was a prominent Julesburg businessman. Brought back some old memories --- thanks for bringing them back!

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  3. Oh isn't this wonderful! I came across this while looking for photos of Mr. Kizer's place. We just spent some wonderful time in Julesburg with Lee at his garage. He took us around town and showed us the homes my Dad and his family lived in way back when. He palled around with my Dad when they were young. What a wonderful place he has...what a fabulous time we had there with him! What a marvelous man. This is a wonderful tribute to him. I wish Lee could see this page so he can see what joy he brought to you. So glad you got to experience this and share it! All the best to you and your new husband :) p.s. may I copy the history part of this page (of Lee) that you have written so that I can put it with our photos we took of Lee and his garage?

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    1. I think I should have said "you and your new bride"? not sure who wrote the article but from the picture descriptions I think it is by the Mr. So sorry if so!

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  4. Lee is a good friend my parents had the sunrise bakery love the history and photos of Julesburg my grandparents also one the first houses there glad Lee has all this history

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    1. Thank You Rose. Our time with Lee was a highlight of our trip.

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