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A Brief Interlude

Good Grief!

As I was researching a more than slight tangent for the previous blog post because that's how I roll, I was flummoxed.

First, some back ground.

When I write, whether it be a client report, blog post, or in my upcoming book, I like to add details to the story that you would not normally get. Newspapers often sensationalized the events of the day, giving details that most people would love to gossip about. I like to go deeper, take advantage that I don't have a space limit, and give personal details that give the people I'm writing about depth of character as well as a true persona.

Here in lies the false statements that I stumbled across while researching Alberta Pike, who had a byline in the last blog for her story, "Ransom Captive Is Still Alive And Unhurt, Say City Leaders," published in the Rocky Mountain News on 22 January 1932.

I knew Alberta wrote for the Rocky Mountain News, so being a good historian and resident of the Denver Metro for my entire life, I figured that she would have been a member of the Denver Women's Press Club. Now the Press Club had been started in 1898, so I needed more biographical information on Alberta, mainly her age, and how long she had lived in Denver, to prove this as fact.

I started in my normal genealogical databases looking for an Albert Pike, and couldn't find her. Then I started to think, perhaps, this was a nom de plume. So I was back to checking on the Press Club, did they have list of former member, posted online? No.

As with most genealogy research, not all answers are available online. You have to keep digging.

The collection of the Denver Women's Press Club records have been archived at the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository, a gift that has been repeatedly updated since 1971. The collection contains annual membership booklets, a Who's Who in the Denver Women's Press, and photographs.

So, I normally write my blog posts in the evening, when there is nothing around to disturb me. This negated the ability for me to call up my favorite librarians at DPL and request a quick answer.

My next step therefore was to Google the combination of Albert Pike and Denver Women's Press Club and hope for an answer.

Now, being a good house historian, I knew the current location of the Denver Women's Press Club, the former home and studio of renowned artist George Elbert Burr, had been designated a State Historic Place.

I was shocked that Alberta's name showed up on the application from 1995. How lucky could I have gotten? Thanks to History Colorado, I could review the nomination and see for myself.

On page 11 of the 24 page nomination form, "Alberta Pike, founder of Vogue magazine," is listed as one of the early members of the Denver Women's Press Club. I'm curious and confused. I am familiar with Vogue, have read it occasionally over the past 30+ years and had a vague notion that it was a very old publication.

So, what do I do when a rabbit hole presents a new door in the floor? I take a DEEP dive into its history. According to everyone in the world, online, not including the reference above, Arthur Baldwin Turnure of New York founded Vogue as a weekly publication in 1892 before selling it to Condé Montrose Nast in 1909. So, a man started it, and another man purchased it, and by the way, his company still owes the monthly magazine in all its iterations.

Now that I have debunked the myth* I have found published on the internet, it is time to find the truth.

Alberta Pike 1925 University of Colorado yearbook

Of course, after Googling her name multiple times and checking my genealogy databases for any sign of this woman in a census, my next step was to look her up in the old newspapers. There, I found my elusive Ms. Pike and the answer to my question.

Alberta V. Pike was the second daughter of Otis Albert Pike (1877-1955) and Mollie Viola Dyer Pike (1883-1961). She was born in Morrison, Colorado on 9 July 1905. With her sisters Genevieve and Esta, Alberta lived a gentile life. Their father Otis was the great-nephew of famous explorer Zebulon Pike and had lived in Morrison, Colorado most of his life. According to his obituary, "he served as mayor 14 years and also as a police magistrate and justice of the peace. He operated a mercantile store until he suffered a heart attack in 1945."

By the time she was in high school, Alberta was attending Golden High School, acting in their local productions and writing and editing for the Maroon and White. She continued her education at the University of Colorado in Boulder, graduating in 1926. Alberta was what we call an over achiever. Her list of accomplishments in The Coloradoan is over twice as long as anyone else on her page and includes: member of the Silver and Gold staff all four years; Editor of the Summer edition in her Junior year; Editor of the Co-ed edition in her sophomore year; Assistant editor in her sophomore year; Women's Press Club; Volleyball; Basketball; Track; Baseball; and Dance Drama, to name a few.

Alberta Pike 1926 University of Colorado yearbook

She married Raymond J Saller on 19 September 1926 in Denver.

Raymond J. Saller 1926 University of Colorado yearbook

Alberta and Raymond had two sons, Ronald in 1928 and Raymond in 1930. They lived in Walsenburg in 1928-1929, where R. J. was the managing editor and Alberta wrote the society column for the Walsenburg World under the name Alberta Pike Saller. In late 1929, the family moved back to the Golden area. R. J. became the managing editor of the Colorado Transcript. It wasn't long before Alberta took over the society column at the paper and resumed her previous acquaintances.

Alberta was hired by the Rocky Mountain News in January 1932 as a feature reporter. It appears that Alberta was spending her weekdays in Denver and returning to Golden only when necessary. By June, it would appear the Sallers were leading separate lives, as Alberta's parents and the boys traveled to Denver to celebrate Raymond's birthday with her. The Sallers divorced in 1932.

By January 1934, Robert Boyd, the circulation manager at the Rocky and Ms. Pike were seen together at society functions in Golden with her parents in attendance. By March, it seemed serious as they were reportedly dining at her parent's home. Boyd would receive a divorce from his wife in April.

Would this have scandalized her parents? My guess is, no. Afterall, who was the writer of the Mt. Morrison society gossip page in the Colorado Transcript? None other than Mrs. Otis Pike, Alberta's mother. In fact, Mrs. Pike documented all the goings on of her daughter's social life, occasionally referring to her as Alberta Pike Saller, until their marriage on 6 June 1936 in Denver.

Now we must skip much of Alberta's story to get to the point of this entire blog.

Why would the nomination form have listed Alberta as the "founder of Vogue magazine?"

We fast forward to 1950 and the headline in the 29th of July issue of the Rocky Mountain News, "Alberta Pike Boyd's Firm Buys Long Lease on Vogue."

The Vogue Art Cinema, located at 1465 S. Pearl St. in Denver, was purchased by Alberta Pike Boyd Enterprises, Inc. Well, that certainly clears that up.

1465 S. Pearl St, former location of the Vogue Art Cinema, circa June 2014

Alberta was not only the founder of the Vogue Art Cinema, she was a member of it's founding staff. She was the manager of the cinema when the theater opened in December 1948. The previous lease which was owned by Trueman T. Rembusch and Joseph P. Finneran had allowed Alberta an equity in the profits. The building was owned Fred P. Brown and Julia Brown.

Alberta who was appointed regent of the University of Colorado in 1947, made her name anew with the popularity of films shown at the Vogue. In 1951, "The Wizard of Oz," broke the previous held box office record for the theater's opening day performance of Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights." She held open houses and sponsored film festivals, displaying art and movies from around the globe.

Alberta Pike Boyd 1947-1952, University of Colorado Regent

In 1952, the Vogue was one of only two theaters in the United States to present the feature length film of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1955, Alberta sold the Vogue Art Cinema to Fred P. Brown when she became the associated with the Fox Denver Theaters. She had handled public relations programs for "the development of Aspen, Colo., as an international center for sports and humanities; the launching of Red Rocks Theater as an outdoor concert and spectacle facility; the opening of May D & F Department store in 1958; the opening of the Capitol Life Center in 1963, and the 100th anniversary of the Kuner-Empson Co." in Brighton in 1964. She would join Ball & Davidson Advertising Agency as a principle in 1964. In 1965, she resumed private practice under Alberta Pike & Associates.

So, you might be asking yourself, what happened to Robert W. Boyd? If not, I certainly did. Alberta filed for divorce in March 1952 claiming cruelty. He later married Mrs. Brownie Bell Merrill of Thermopolis, Wyoming in 1953.

Alberta never remarried. She died on 31 May 1975 of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. She was cremated and is memorialized in Morrison, Colorado, sharing a headstone with her sisters, Esta Pike Burke (1903-1991) and Genevieve Pike Moore (1907-1974). She left behind her two sons Raymond and Ronald and their families which included nine grandchildren.

*No judgement is being passed along to the author(s) of the Denver Press Club State Register of Historic Properties Nomination Form. We're all human. "To err is human." Alexander Pope.

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