From My Window: Meeker’s old IOOF Lodge also on National Register; the poker is missing

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
Through my now-clear window, I see that I made a bit of a mistake these last two weeks while writing about a portion of downtown Meeker that has been targeted for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the two-part series I wrote, I included the “incorrect” facts that two buildings in downtown Meeker are already listed on the National Register.
Make it three, please.

The information I used in my stories was from a document prepared by History Colorado in 2013. That information was correct for 2013. But not for 2015.
On March 19, 2014, the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Valentine Lodge No. 47 in Meeker was included on the National Register.
It joined the Meeker Hotel at 560 Main St., included on the register on May 7, 1980, and the St. James Episcopal Church at 368 Fourth St., which was included on March 30, 1978.
Regarding the IOOF Lodge, Mountain Valley Bank purchased the building in 2004. The building had been unused for many years and fallen into poor condition. The bank restored the building to its original grandeur, constructed the drive-up banking canopy on the west and rehabilitated the first floor for use as the bank.
The IOOF Lodge provided a social venue for community members who assisted fellow members in times of need. The building was constructed in 1896, and the second floor provided a meeting site for lodge members and a community meeting place for more than 96 years.
Local civil engineer Herman Pfeiffer designed the building that contains more than 240,000 bricks from a local kiln. Construction was completed in 1897, followed by a grand opening on April 26, 1897. The two-story brick building is an excellent example of a late-19th Century and early 20th Century Revival style and has changed very little since it was constructed.
According to information provided by current community bank president Tawny Halandras, the lodge formed an investment opportunity with the construction of a two-part commercial building: the IOOF Lodge space on the upper level and the IOOF leasing the first floor to offices or for retail.
Rio Blanco County was the first tenant with offices in the front of the first floor and a small jail behind the offices. A large dance floor existed behind the jail and the one-story rear portion housed a community room, which continues today to provide community meeting and event space.
Over the years, the lodge and other organizations have hosted various dinners, dances, plays and other events in the building.
Between 1900 and 1930, the IOOF and the Woodmen of America hosted an annual joint community fish fry. The June 1920 fish fry drew more than 1,000 people from western Colorado and a few Denver delegates.
During the 1940s and 1950s, the community room in the one-story rear section served as a community roller skating rink.
In 1993, the IOOF Lodge of Meeker surrendered its charter, as only a few members remained.
“I began the process to add our bank building to the National Registry in April 2013,” Halandras said. “In March of 2014, I successfully completed the project.
“I spent countless hours reading the old newspapers in your newspaper office, gathering information and writing reports,” she said. “My staff interviewed locals and gathered information for months.
“We have a plaque on the front of our building reflecting the designation and inside our building we have displayed old pictures, roller skates and the original Odd Fellows certificate (on loan from the museum),” Halandras said. “We also have a time line display of fun facts associated with the building.”
The IOOF building is also listed on The Town of Meeker Register and The Colorado Register, she said.
Halandras said if anyone wishes to learn more abut the lodge and its history, they are urged to stop in and visit the bank during business hours.
In Colorado, there are more than 1,500 properties listed on the National Register.

I’m having withdrawals from poker. Or a lack of poker.
I never have been too big of a poker gambler, but it was fun in Arizona to get together with some friends once every three of four weeks and play a little nickel, dime or quarter poker.
If you won big, you might win $15 and if you lost big, you might lose $20. Not a big deal.
When we lived in Arizona, we were residing about 40 miles from Laughlin, Nev., which had 11 poker rooms, and about 90 miles from Vegas, which had several hundred poker rooms.
They weren’t for me. There were hundreds and thousands of dollars being bet on Texas Hold’Em or draw poker, and that was plain too rich for my blood even though it was fascinating to watch.
I have, for many years, watched the finals of the World Series of Poker on television, and I can’t fathom betting $400,000 or more hands as the final few competitors get close to the end.
I’d never make it—even if I had millions at my disposal. Those are numbers that just don’t compute in my eyes. As a matter of fact, there are a whole lot of games in Las Vegas that involve the betting of hundreds of thousands or even millions in one bet that just simply don’t compute through my simple mind.
But to play nickel, dime, quarter games with a three-raise limit hits me as pretty tame.
My wife and I have played for years in Wyoming, Arizona, California. And being the youngest of seven kids with Mom and Dad and the six siblings, playing since I was about seven, poker had become a regular thing and the only thing you could count on when the family got together.
It has now spread through each of my siblings’ families down to a lot of nephews and nieces and getting closer to the my siblings’ grandchildren.
We play most of the usual games such as five card stud, five card draw, seven card stud and a few different versions of those games. On occasion there are wild cards, but not in too many games.
Probably the most favorite game is called “Diablo.” It is a bit more exciting game than regular five card draw. It is a five-card draw game with deuces (2s) wild. After the hand is dealt around the table, the first player declares whether they are in or not. If the answer is “no,” then it moves to the second person dealt who must then declare if they are in.
This practice continues until all persons at the table have declared. If no one declares they want to play, all throw their cards in and it is dealt again. If in any one deal there is a first player who declares they are in, then all of the others at the table automatically come back into the game against the person who declared they were in.
Understand, this is a game you are not going to win with a pair of fours when there are four wild cards out. It usually takes a good hand to declare you are in.
The real “kicker,” so to speak, is that if you declare you are the one entering, and you lose the hand, you have to match the pot, which keeps growing until the person who opens wins the game. Then the deal and the choice of game progress around the table.
It isn’t as dangerous or costly as it sounds, and it is only played as often as the dealer wants to play it, which can be once every six or seven games.
The idea is to have fun, play poker, not make or lose a lot of money and to have something to do, particularly during what certainly can be a long winter.
Almost every town I have ever lived in has had a couple of groups who play poker quite often, yet I haven’t heard of a single game in the Meeker area.
I don’t know if no one is playing or they just keep it quiet. I’m betting it does go on around here, I just wish it wasn’t so secret.

Congratulations go to the Meeker High School boys’ wrestling team for a great showing at the Colorado State Wrestling Tournament in Denver and to the MHS boys’ basketbll team, which just ended is regular season with an 18-1 record and the No. 1 seeding at Regionals, which is this weekend.
Meeker is proud of the efforts of both teams.
The wrestlers should be overly proud as they finished No. 2 in the state behind the coaching of J.C. Watt, and the boys’ basketball team stands to advance a long way toward the state 2A title under what should be a proud Coach Klark Kindler.
Great season, wrestlers! Go for it all, cagers!