“Blue” should have been a grouch, with a name like that. Nobody who knew him seems to know why he was called this; his real name was Rudolph O. Cogdell. If one went into his little grocery store in Fraser, although his voice was gruff, he gave a peasant greeting. He did possess a temper that could be ignited, and if his blood pressure rose, his face turned a brilliant red.
However, he was kind to his wife, Gladys (Hunnicutt), a local girl, and loving to their daughter, Mary Ellen, who was a “late-comer” (Gladys was over 40 when the baby was born). On the store front, the sign read Codgell’s Market, which was located facing the highway near what is now Doc Susie Avenue. Before Blue bought the store in the mid-1940’s, he worked on the Fraser railroad section, and he also owned the Sinclair gas station at the corner of the highway and the main street, about 1940.
Codgell’s Market was quite small, and the customer base was likewise, for there weren¹t many people in the valley in those days. Three grocery stores competed: R.L. Cogdell¹s Market, The Fraser Mercantile, owned by Frank Carlson, and the Red & White Store, run by Charles Bridge, Sr. There was also a tiny store by the sawmill near “Old Town” Winter Park; that one was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Green. The economy struggled for many years after the war, and everyone lived on a shoestring. Thus, prosperous times for any of the grocery stores had marginal potential. That should have made Blue grumpy, one might think. Blue, a short, rather stocky man with dark hair and brown eyes framed in glasses and habitually clad in his grocer’s apron, took care of everything in his mercantile except for the meat counter at the rear of the store. He would be found arranging the goods on shelves, dry goods on one side, dried food on the other, and fresh food in between. He stored some of the dried foods in barrels along the aisle. Fresh food was picked up once a week. It was, of course, very seasonal, with only root vegetables, apples, oranges, and bananas being available year-round.
Granby Dairy delivered dairy products; Rube Strachman in Granby sold him meat. Nobel Mercantile from Denver serviced the dried foods and produce. Gladys, even shorter and stockier than Blue, had a fiery temper and she was known on occasion to retaliate if some customer gave her any lip. She was an expert butcher, and if a person wanted some special roast or other cut of meat, he went to see Gladys. She was good. Mary Ellen helped when she could, as she grew older. When the theater, located on the corner of Highway 40 and St. Louis Ave., or Main Street (now Eisenhower Drive) in Fraser closed its doors, Blue bought the building, doubling his available space. The layout was the same and Gladys still manned the butcher department at the rear of the store. Walking into the long skinny building always brought to mind the movies of previous days.
The economy improved as the ski area grew. It was a fact that Blue, although a hard worker, also loved to gamble, and one report speaks of certain crap games. It seems that there was a stretch of track inside one of the tunnels in the Fraser Canyon that would rise with the frost every winter. When this happened, section hands from Fraser and Tabernash, including Blue in those days, had to go into the tunnel, removed the rails, dig out the hump, and replace the rails. While the men were at it, they would take time for those crap games. A good deal of gambling occurred at the Red & White Store too. Carlson, Cogdell, and Bridge often had poker games, where the losses were considerable on occasion. If he lost, did that make Blue blue? We don’t know.
In any case, Blue and Gladys took separate vacations. Perhaps he went to gambling towns like Las Vegas; on the other hand, perhaps one of them just had to stay home and mind the store. Every Christmas season, Blue wandered over to the Fraser School to find out how many children were enrolled this year. It was Blue who furnished al the fruits, nuts, and candies for paper sacks to be given out to each child by Santa Claus at the end of the Christmas program. This was a town affair and nearly every person in town attended, sitting if there was room, standing against the walls of the gym if there wasn’t. Nobody cared to miss the play and singing performed by every single child in the school. PTA mothers filled the goody bags. Few people were aware of Blue’s generosity.