BABY'S FIRST SPOON
Silver Spoon for Baby’s First Christmas,
by Silvia Pettem (published in the Boulder Daily Camera, Dec. 21, 2012)
[republished with permission of the author 4/11/15]
A century ago, silver spoons were considered special baby gifts on a
baby’s first Christmas.
Most of these spoons were small and had short handles that made them
easy for babies to grasp.
But Ada May Vandewark was given a silver souvenir teaspoon. In the bowl
was an intricately painted image of the Hotel Boulderado.
Johanna Whiteman, Ada May’s daughter, wrote in an email that her
mother had been born in Fort Collins on Jan. 12, 1913.
“She had relatives in Boulder County,” Whiteman related.
“Perhaps the spoon was a baby gift from them.”
“Ada” is engraved on the spoon’s handle. Most likely,
the spoon was a gift for her first Christmas, in 1914. Also engraved
above the still vibrant and colorful painting are the words, “The
Boulderado, Boulder, Colo.”
In December 1914, the hotel was gearing up for its sixth anniversary.
The Boulderado had opened on New Year’s Day of 1909 to fill the
need for a deluxe downtown hotel that was large enough to accompany
convention crowds. Building funds were raised by popular subscription
by the hotel’s owner, the Boulder Hotel Co.
William L. Beattie, formerly manager of a hotel in Iowa, was the
Boulderado manager from 1912 to 1917. He lived in an apartment on the
fifth floor with his family -- wife Bessie; their 10-year-old son,
Irwin; Bessie’s niece Emilie Milligan, and Buster, the family dog.
Every day, Beattie came downstairs to work wearing a three-piece suit,
complete with tie, hat, gloves, diamond stickpin and spats.
At the time, the hotel had a total of 90 rooms that varied in price
from $1 to $2.50 per day, without bath or meals, to a flat rate of $50
per month, with bath and all meals included. Guests whose rooms did not
include a bath used bathrooms down the hall.
The dining room (now Q’s Restaurant) served breakfast, lunch and
dinner, but no alcohol. Boulder residents had voted the city
“dry” in 1907. If guests wanted to drink beer, wine or
liquor, they had to smuggle bottles into their rooms.
It seems likely that Ada May’s parents and extended family might
have, at least, dined at the Boulderado. A newspaper reporter raved at
the time about the dining room’s “snowy linen, delicate
bouquets, and polished silver.” There was no mention, though, of
The baby’s father, James F. Vandewark, had moved to Colorado from
Nebraska in 1873, at age 3. His wife, Helen Devers, had come to the
state in 1887. Both families made their homes in Fort Collins, where
Ada May was born.
The Boulder County relatives were on the Devers side of the family and
included Charles Wolfer, a barber who became one of Louisville’s
Christmas menus at the hotel featured roast young turkey stuffed with
oysters, as well as prime rib of beef. Palms, ferns and flowers
decorated the lobby, where a chamber orchestra played popular musical
If Ada May’s family had celebrated the holiday by going out to
dinner in Boulder, the hotel was most likely where little Ada unwrapped
Silvia Pettem and Carol Taylor write on history for the Daily Camera,
alternating weeks. Email Silvia at firstname.lastname@example.org, Carol at
email@example.com or write to the Daily Camera, 5450
Western Ave., Boulder 80301-2709 .
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