"What W.W.II Did to Fort Collins"
March 1, l995
Beginning a talk about his war experiences, Hotchkiss
reflected on life for a young man in Fort Collins in
Fort Collins Historical Society Program
"I remember Fort Collins as being a very
small backwoods town. Most of the streets were gravel at
best. I think Whedbee, Mountain Avenue, Remington, maybe,
College were paved. . . The kids that went to school here
. . . our greatest expectation was to probably graduate
from high school; maybe scrape together $25 a semester to
go to the Ag College; maybe get a degree; maybe get some
kind of a decent job for maybe $1200 a year. That's what
teachers were making at that time. No great expectations.
There was no employment for young people. . . . the war
changed all that.
I think the war did good and bad, but I think more
good. The war took a lot of us out of Fort Collins and
gave us opportunities. The war did something else for
Fort Collins that most people don't understand. The end
of the war brought the GI Bill. I came back (from the
service) in March of '46 and was Director of Veterans
Affairs. We had hardly any male students. The veterans
weren't back yet, but they were coming back.
By the fall we had 3,000 students. By the next fall,
we just multiplied. Who came to Fort Collins? These were
kids from Pennsylvania, Ohio, any place you want to name.
. . the GI bill gave them an opportunity to go to school.
It put Colorado A&M, at that time, on the map,
particularly the vet school and engineering. It brought
people from all over. People who would probably have just
gone back to the steel mills of Pittsburgh or back to the
farm in Holyoke or back to the ranch at Livermore.
I think W.W.II and the GI Bill had more impact on Fort
Collins than anything else up to that time. It led to the
growth of the university; and right or wrong, the growth
of the university has led to the development of this
community. It's brought people in and introduced them to
what a wonderful climate we have and what a good
community. Many of my students over that 32 years always
said . . . "I'm going to figure out some way to stay
here." Thus, Fort Collins became a much more
diversified place to live."