Looking Back . . . Original homeowners in Cook Park Share Memories

By Danielle Corriveau

The house at the corner of Mexico and Oneida has a pristine lawn, gracious tiny library, and an inviting winding cement walk leading to the front porch. This home shows well for the neighborhood. It should. It was the show-home for the neighborhood when it was first built.

Owners Charlie and Jan Killick know this home well. Jan’s parents were its first owners. Jan, as the oldest of seven, often visited the house, but didn’t grow up there. Her brother Tom Paprocki, the second youngest of the clan, did. The family moved in 1969 from Park Hill to Cook Park.

“When we went to look at it, I remember the house had an ‘officey’ kind of feel because it was the real estate office,” said Tom.

At the time, Cook Park was half the park we know now. The land to the east of the pool was a field begging to be explored. For 9-year-old Tom, the field was a wildlife wonderland. He, along with his brother, found another set of brothers living at the end of the block. The band of boys covered the ages 10-7.

“We’d leave the house and hunt snakes, dig holes in the field, and make a ‘boys’ den’,” said Tom. “We played in the construction areas.”

The Cook Park pool came in the 1970s. That made the Paprocki’s living situation like a country club for boys.

“We’d play in the field, swim in the pool, run home to eat,” shared Tom. His mom could look from her front window directly to the pool. She didn’t have the obstruction of the tall bushy pine trees we enjoy today. The Paprocki kids were on the swim team for six years. In addition to a formal pool, a pond formed from heavy rain. It added to the exploration factor of the area and went well with kicking around near the creek. “We caught tadpoles, snakes, frogs, crawdads,” Tom said.

When the weather was nice, Montana Street was the place to be for a neighborhood game of Kick-the-Can.

Viola Kaiser is another original homeowner. She and her husband, who worked for Honeywell, relocated from South Dakota to Denver. They bought their house on Locust Street in 1959. There they raised three of their own children, yet touched the lives of so many more as Viola operated a day care out of her home for years, serving as many as 10 kids per day.

“There were a gillion kids on this block, playing,” she recalls.

She remembers the Kmart going in. Viola remembers the field adjacent to Cook Park well, but she can’t pinpoint when it transformed into a manicured part of the park. “One day it was a field, and one day it was a park,” she shares.

Viola confesses that her house hasn’t changed much. Over the years they expanded the patio on the back and put a fireplace in the basement, but much of it has stayed the same.

The average price of a home in Colorado is around $600,000. In 1950, the U.S. Census reports average home price in the country was around $7,400.

Like the lake that would form with rainwater, Tom Paprocki’s is flooded with memories when he visits his sister’s home. Good memories.

“It sure was a good place for young boys to be, especially in the summertime!” shares Tom.

Cook Park continues to be a “country club” for people with little children, beloved pets and a wish to walk where it’s lovely.