Lisa Smith

Lisa, a Springs local who’s worked at the college for 32 years, talks about her previous employment, her son, and living with her sister. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Interview & Photo By Pema Baldwin

“We were poor, but it was really fun, and I had wonderful parents. We would walk to school, and walk home to have lunch with my mom, and then go back. She didn’t start working until my brother was in the first grade. And then she started working again. She was a teacher, but her voice was too quiet. Then she did other things too. Dad was a house painter. We had a great childhood. 

My sister is three years older and my brother is five years younger. So we were all pretty close. Very different, but we enjoyed each other. My brother’s really into sports. He coaches and he does all that kind of stuff, and I don’t even watch sports. Then my sister is very artsy and she was a straight A student. 

I went to Coronado High School. I was in the very first year of the school. That was so fun because for the first six months we went to Palmer even though we were Coronado. We only had half days. Then after that it was normal, but it was very fun.

After high school I went with my friend — we moved to Kentucky. Just for an adventure, just to figure out what I wanted to do. I worked in an institution for children with mental disabilities. I noticed that the men were much easier to deal with and handle than the women. The women were very hard. That was very interesting. I worked there for maybe a year, and then I came back home. 

After Kentucky I was working at the Air Force Academy cadet tailor shop. It’s where they make all the uniforms for the cadets to wear. I didn’t make uniforms. I just was a clerk, but then my dad got cancer, so I quit and started working here at Colorado College. 

Air Force was long hours. It was a lot higher pay, but my dad was sick and I needed to be around, and it was close, and I have a lot of ties here, so it just worked out. I started working in the faculty mailroom, then the student mailroom, and then I went to the laundry in residential life. Now I work at the desk. 

My mother worked here and my uncle graduated from here. My son graduated from here, too, and then he said, ‘Oh, I think I wanna go into real estate,’ so then he went to real estate school. Now he’s a broker and he owns a managed properties business. He also started a business called Gateway. 

His wife’s friend married this guy who was a felon, and he wanted to change his life, but, of course, people don’t hire felons, so they started this business called Gateway. It’s a construction type business and they hire a lot of felons that want to turn their life around. It’s a roller coaster business. A lot of people don’t make it. Some people do, but it’s high risk and he puts a lot of time and money into that. It kind of breaks even sometimes.

I was married, but it didn’t work out. I married a man who had hunting season, fishing season, gambling season, and drinking season, but he forgot to have a married season. After quite a few years of that I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ I had a baby. I just said, ‘This is too hard of a life for a baby,’ so I left.

A lot of things about being a single parent are easier because you don’t have to compromise. You don’t have to go with somebody else’s point of view. You just go: ‘This is what I think. This is what I’m trying to do.’ A lot of it’s easier. I would have loved to have more kids, but I didn’t want to marry someone else and bring another man into the house. 

After my sister and I were both divorced — we lived in separate houses — we just decided to move into our old home together to try to save some money with our kids. 

We moved in there with 19 cats, three dogs, and seven birds, plus fish. It was crazy. Then we had to find homes for all these pets. It was a lot of animals.

My son was a teenager, and so was my sister’s son. They moved in before us. We stayed in our houses and we were having it fixed by contractors. They just moved in even though contractors were there, and then we came when the contractors were gone. 

Her kids used to call me the dad and my kid called her the dad, even though their dads were still in the picture. 

I was ready for them to grow up and watch them become adults. An adult relationship with your child is really, really special. It’s really cool. You’re still their parent, but you become their friend.   

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