MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
It's time now for your letters, and some of you wrote to us in memory of a popular tourist destination in Colorado Springs.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) Ropes and saddles and steers and steaks, cowboys, guitars, fiddle and bass, little wranglers love this place, Flying W Ranch.
BLOCK: The Flying W Ranch billed itself as a step back into the Old West and featured historic memorabilia and cowboy entertainment.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
But the ranch burned to the ground Tuesday in the ongoing wildfire. We talked to Aaron Winter, who worked at the Flying W for 15 years and asked him about what happens next.
AARON WINTER: Right now we really want to stress that the Flying W can be rebuilt. What we feel, you know, strongly about is the devastation that it's caused to the neighbors that live around us in Mountain Shadows, and our hearts go out to them. It's just going to take time to rebuild.
BLOCK: Candace Claybourne(ph) of Moscow, Idaho, writes: I'm greatly saddened for the people of Colorado Springs, the Air Force Academy and for all of us for whom memories of summer evenings spent at the Flying W Ranch still warm our hearts. I grew up at the academy, and each year our saddle club rode over to the Flying W for a ranch-style dinner and old-time cowboy music. Then we rode back to the stables by moonlight.
CORNISH: Michael Short(ph) of Melee, Kentucky, went on a family vacation to the Flying W Ranch more than 40 years ago. He writes: I was 12 years old. I remember enjoying the cowboy music, even though in 1966 it wasn't what a lot of 12-year-olds listened to. I also remember the dinner, going through the food line with a metal plate getting filled with hot food and one cold pickled peach.
We were told to be sure to hold the plate where the peach was, otherwise it would be too hot to carry. It was easy to pick out the ones who ignored that: They would be the ones running back to their table.
BLOCK: But Michael Short's letter goes on to say that the memory for him is bittersweet. He adds this: My mother was ill on that trip. Six months later, she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor that took her life a few years later. My father died in an accident the following spring. So this was the last family vacation we ever had.
It goes without saying that a lot of that trip is embedded in my memory. One of the sweeter memories, and there were several, was the evening at the Flying W Ranch.
CORNISH: Thanks for the memories and your letters. Write to us at npr.org. Just click on contact us at the bottom of the page. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.