Sunday profile: A year of milestones for Carleton ‘Hub’ Hubbard, who turns 90 on Sunday
Carleton Hubbard can remember walking across the original Grand Avenue Bridge to get into town — when it was made mostly of wood and before there was any sort of safe pedestrian walkway.
Hubbard says he misses the openness of the area back then and little things, like watching a rancher ride his horses across the bridge to go up into the Flat Tops to hunt.
He also misses the days when snow would be piled up in the middle of Grand Avenue through town, allowing passage on both sides.
“The obvious thing that’s grown is the traffic — mercy!” Hubbard said. “I remember being able to ride my bike across Grand Avenue Bridge. Can you imagine doing that now? Could you imagine trying to ride a horse across that bridge?
“The traffic is the thing that stands out the most, in terms of change. With traffic comes more people, so I just hope we don’t get too big too fast.”
A Glenwood Springs native — “Hub” to most who know him — Carleton Hubbard has reached quite a few milestones and firsts this summer.
In June, he was recognized for 70 years of service with the Glenwood Lions Club — becoming the first member in the club’s history to reach the 70-year mark.
He also celebrated his 65th wedding anniversary to his wife Miriam “Mim” Hubbard on July 25.
And his summer continues to be quite busy from a celebration standpoint, as Sunday he achieved yet another milestone and a first: celebrating his 90th birthday and meeting his great-grandchild for the first time.
“I’m just tickled and honored that they’d all come see some old man,” Hubbard said from his home in West Glenwood last week. “It’s just really heartwarming; I just want to see them all.”
Turning 90 can be a scary thought for many. But for Hubbard, who has seen Glenwood Springs grow up before his eyes, he’s unfazed by it for the most part.
“It’s not something you’re excited about, honestly,” Hubbard said. “My dad lived to be 89 and my grandfather lived to be 79 years old, so I’ll be the oldest Hubbard.
“It doesn’t mean too much to me, though. It’s just another day, another number.”
In those 90 years, Hubbard has seen quite a few things change around Glenwood Springs, from the overall growth of the town, to the recent installment of the new Grand Avenue Bridge.
Those changes have allowed him to reflect and remember the wonderful town where he grew up.
Born in 1929 in Glenwood Springs, Hubbard remembers fondly the small, quiet Glenwood Springs that was mostly made up of farms and ranches.
As most mountain towns went, though, Glenwood Springs grew over the years into what it is now.
Through his service with the Lions, Hubbard saw some of those changes firsthand.
A member since he was 20 years old in 1949, Hubbard joined the club at the suggestion of his dad, who was one of the local club’s charter members when it was formed in 1921.
Hubbard rose through the club ranks as high as “zone chairman” for the Lions, meaning he was in charge of overseeing the clubs in northwestern Colorado.
Professionally, at the same time he worked his way up to chairmanship of a regional trade organization, the Land Title Association of Colorado.
The Lions, besides being a place for men to meet, had a strong civic service streak from the beginning, putting up the town’s Christmas lights every year, cutting Christmas trees and selling them out of a lot at Ninth and Grand, building a fence around the local rodeo arena down by the river to prevent freeloaders from avoiding the purchase price of a ticket and creating Strawberry Park (now Sayre Park) as a place to hold the annual Strawberry Days festivities, family picnics and other events. Hubbard’s mother, Ada, was named Strawberry Queen in 1915.
On June 18, Hubbard was honored for 70 years in the Lions Club, receiving a personal note from International President Gudrun Yngvadottir that thanked Hubbard for “your hard work and dedication” that has “improved the lives of others, and your commitment to service (that) ensures that many more lives will be positively impacted in the years to come.”
“It shows dedication, but it’s more than just that,” Hubbard said. “It means giving to your city and your community. Everything we’ve done is for this community, and that’s important to me.”
The development of Sayre Park, in particular, is an example of that dedication, starting with the baseball field on the upper part of the vast park.
Prior to the redevelopment of Sayre Park, Hubbard remembers the park serving as a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers during World War II, as the military moved into the area. He recalled when the Navy took over the Hotel Colorado and turned it into a hospital and rehabilitation center.
Shortly after that, Hubbard went off to college at the University of Colorado. However, he returned home when his mother became ill with cancer.
Lacking a student deferment, he was soon drafted into the Army for the Korean War in the early 1950s. He served in Texas and Indiana, and his mother died while he was in the military.
He was discharged in 1953 and came straight back to Glenwood Springs to work with his father in the title business, staying in the industry until retiring from Stewart Title in 1994.
Within a few months of returning home, he met Miriam Bowden, a dental hygienist from Pittsburgh who intended to just spend one year working out West.
They met at Parkinson Drug in downtown Glenwood, which happened to be the hangout spot for young adults back then.
That “year out West” turned into a lifetime together, as Miriam wed Carleton in July 1954. During that time, Hubbard continued to serve the Lion’s Club, becoming a staple in the Glenwood Springs community.
“I learned that there are a great many people in this world that give a lot more than I do, that’s for sure,” Hubbard said. “I was just a very small part; my legacy with the Lions Club … I just hope it spurs others to do work and give of themselves to the community as much as they can.”
All these years after the development of Sayre Park, Hubbard remains very proud of the work the Lions Club did. He would like to see the club get a little more recognition from the city, though.
“They have a few signs up there that say its the Lions Park, but very few people seem to know how much time and dedication was put into that park,” Hubbard said. “I just wish Glenwood would give more recognition there.”
As the years tally up for Hubbard, he can’t help but reflect on life in Glenwood Springs. Aside from serving in the military in Indiana and Texas in the early ’50s, Hubbard has spent all his life in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Hubbard is the grandson and great nephew of two men who moved from Vermont to the Glenwood Springs area in the mid-1880s and, a couple of decades later, discovered what’s now known as Hubbard’s Cave.
Hubbard said his grandmother, with her infant son (Hubbard’s dad, also named Carleton) in tow, came over in 1887 by trekking in wagons to Wolcott, over Bellyache Ridge and down into Eagle, then on to Gypsum and over Cottonwood Pass to the Roaring Fork Valley.
Since then, the Hubbard name has been synonymous with Glenwood Springs.
As he grows older, though, he knows change is inevitable. He just hopes Glenwood Springs doesn’t get too big for itself.
“If I could tell the fathers of Glenwood Springs something right now, it would be to slow down,” he said. “I hope this town doesn’t try to outgrow itself. A gallon bottle will only hold a gallon.
“Well, the town of Glenwood, at least the city limits, can only hold so much. The town fathers seem to be trying to cram in more people than it can accommodate. I think everybody has a right to make a living, but the city fathers have to respect the residents that are already here. We can’t keep trying to over-populate this town.”
As a life-long resident and the 2010 Glenwood Springs Citizen of the Year, Hubbard has a voice that he hopes will continue to be heard. After all, he’s seen a lot of things in life, and done quite a bit for this community in his 90 years.
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