An Oral History: Larry Mcdaniel

Publication year1998
27 Colo.Law. 69
Colorado Lawyer

1998, June, Pg. 69. An Oral History: Larry McDaniel


Vol. 27, No. 6, Pg. 69

The Colorado Lawyer
June 1998
Vol. 27, No. 6 [Page 69]

An Oral History: Larry McDaniel
by Warwick Downing

This is the twelfth in a series of articles on distinguished Colorado lawyers that will be printed in The Colorado Lawyer based on interviews by members of the Colorado Bar Association Centennial Committee. The project is part of the CBA's 100th anniversary celebration, and is an effort to capture our history. This interview was conducted by Warwick Downing. An edited transcript of the interview follows

Q: Larry, you were born in Durango seventy-nine years ago in December 1917. Have you been here ever since

A: Except for my years in college and in the service, yes. My maternal grandparents homesteaded twelve miles south of Durango in 1898, and my paternal grandmother was buried in a local cemetery in 1902. So, we've been around awhile.

Q: Tell me about your mom and dad and your early life.

A: My father started working for the U.S. Postal Service in 1916. My mother was always a housewife, and in later years she did some babysitting. Both were extras in movies that were filmed here. Around the World in 80 Days comes to mind. They lived in one house until they died in 1982. Dad was 89 and Mother was 87.

I went through high school here in Durango, then spent two years at Fort Lewis College. It was out in the country then. I transferred to the University of Colorado because Fort Lewis was only a two-year school then. I'd made up my mind in the fifth grade to be an attorney. An older attorney, quite a famous criminal lawyer in the area, put the seed in my mind. Ben Russell.

Larry McDaniel and his son, Gerald B. McDaniel, in their law office.

Q: Where was Fort Lewis College then?

A: About fifteen miles west of Durango, a little south of Hesperus. It was an old Indian fort, laid out in a rectangle, with brick officers' quarters and barracks. The office was the commanding officer's post, and the gym I think was a converted barracks. They built separate dormitories for the boys and girls, and all the students lived there. We had 105 students and ate in a boarding school setting.

Q: Did you like it?

A: I really enjoyed it. Most of the kids were from Durango, Cortez, and Mancos, and some from Farmington and Aztec, the basin area. There were a lot of activities - good wholesome entertainment like taffy pulls and popcorn pops. None of the students had cars, so we all walked to wherever we were going. One time, a friend of mine went to town to see the movie wearing white duck pants.

Q: White duck pants?

A: Denim white pants. We saw two burros and rode them to the top of the hill; then we discovered the burros worked in a coal mine, which didn't do white duck pants any good.

Q: What year was that?

A: 1935. Paying for school was a problem. I'd applied for a job at the school but been turned down because my father was working. That was the rule in the Depression. Still, at the end of five weeks I had two jobs - one as a janitor starting at 4:00 a.m. and the other shovelling manure at 3:30 p.m. Later, I formed a little dance band. I did...

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