Postcard: Leadville, Colorado

This photo is almost 10 years old. In the spring of 2006, I drove over to Ski Cooper, on Tennessee Pass just north of Leadville, to meet some men with whom my grandfather, Robert “Snuffy” O’Neil, served in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. They hadn’t seen him for 60 years, and because he died right before I was born, I never met him. But something about seeing them with his photo reassured me. Of note, when I showed it to Nelson “Nellie” Bennett, on the left, next to Earl Clark and Dick Over, he told me he’d been climbing with Snuffy at Camp Hale on the day this picture was taken in 1943. Nellie watched Snuffy fall 80 feet and land in a grassy area between boulders. He had neither a broken bone nor a scratch to show for the fall, Nellie recalled. Snuffy got taken to the infirmary then kicked out for making a pass at one of the nurses. Happy Veteran’s Day.

Photo by Devon O’Neil