Marijuana in the Grand Valley: It’s been a long, strange trip By Susan Elenz
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y husband, Frank, and I met in Greeley in 1973 while attending the University of Northern Colorado. We both enjoyed rock music and concerts, and along with that came marijuana—lots of it. I remember going to friends’ houses to watch “Saturday Night Live” in the ’70s and laughing our heads off while stoned. Weed was free-flowing back then. We knew it to be a harmless, natural substance that simply made you feel happy, hungry and sleepy. After graduation, we contemplated our futures. I was following my dream of being an early childhood
teacher. Frank, a psychology major, wanted to open a record store with his friend Mike. Greeley already had a great record store, The Finest Record Store, and Frank and Mike wanted one just like it. We’d heard that Grand Junction was a boomtown, and the two of them made a scouting trip here to check it out. The city did, indeed, need a record store. Frank and I had an outdoor wedding in Estes Park on August 23, 1975. The very next day, we packed the moving truck and headed west to Grand Junction.
Getting a business off the ground Frank and Mike had each received a loan of $1,500 from their parents to help open the store. Because the starting amount was so small and we had no income yet, the bulk of its merchandise had to be used records. The three of us, plus Mike’s girlfriend, donated our own record collections to sell at the store. We donated our stereos as well. The next question became what to call it. We settled on Smokestack Records. The name alluded to the marijuana that would be smoked while listening to records from a factory. By the time Smokestack Records settled on Rood Avenue (it later moved downtown to Fifth Street), other small record stores had moved into town as well. But a little healthy competition was good for business. Smokestack grew quickly from a used record store to one that sold new albums and drug paraphernalia like rolling papers, clamps, pipes and bongs, provided by Susan and Frank Elenz left for Grand Junction the day after their Estes Park wedding to begin their dream of opening the first record store in the Grand Valley.
Published on Apr 4, 2017