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Palabras Pintorescas: Remembering Petey Stark Salman

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By Editha Bartley

My father’s Webster’s Dictionary (very well worn, obviously carried in his vest pocket around 1915 or so) uses very few words to define a word. I just looked up “grief.”

This dictionary describes grief in two words: sorrow; misfortune. Yes I am sad as I write this column.

I lost a childhood friend last month. Petey Stark Salman and I grew up together. Her father, Dr. Walter A. Stark, was a very well-known doctor here in Las Vegas. My father, Doc Gellenthien, and Dr. Stark were about the same age and both loved the practice of medicine. We all had a lot in common so long ago and that translated into our families doing social things together. Day trips to the ranch here were frequent, and the photograph is of Petey and her brother, Hootie (Walter Jr.) out in the pasture by our house here.

The picture was taken by Georgie Claiborne, my father’s long-time nurse, and the writing on the back says: “Taken at Ranch on my Sunday off. Dr. and Alice and Slim and I and kids and Dr. and Mrs. Stark and their youngsters were all there. Had a grand time.” This event had to be in the early 1940s.

It must have been a cold day, from the winter clothes they are wearing, and I think Petey has a cookie in her hand. I’m sorry I never got the picture to Petey, but her family may have one like it.

Now back in the 1940s the social norm was to drag the family along to social events, very varied events at times. Sweet brother Bill and I had to be on our good behavior when we went to the Starks’ home in town for lunch or dinner.

Outings/events also included visits at both our home in Valmora or here at the ranch.

Hootie was the youngest of the four of us, and he was always a good sport as we struggled to be good and to please our “structured” parents as best we could. If Petey were my editor right now, she would come up with a better word than “structured” for our parents. Petey was sharp as a tack when it came to things like this. She was an avid reader and writer.

Petey and I were asked to participate in an “Oldtimers” program here several years ago. We visited at length  about our fun times so long ago over coffee at Meadowland right here on Bridge Street.

We had so much in common, and at the top of the list was the fact, realization that no matter what event was planned by our two doctor families, we knew one of those great doctors would be called out before the dinner, party, picnic, whatever was over.

Neither doctor ever said no when he was on call, and both of us remember our fathers rushing out the door to some emergency somewhere. We also remembered the many grateful patients who would stop our fathers any time they saw them to thank them for all they did for the sick or injured patient.

I know Petey’s stairway to Heaven is lined with loving, so grateful dogs and cats that she rescued. I’m sure she stopped to pet each one as she climbed those stairs. And, I think our mothers would be proud of both of us. Neither of us ever gave up when it came to good manners.

We always knew “please” and “thank you” would never go out of style. Yes, you will be missed, Petey.

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.