Lively days in Denver light up new book

‘Rich People Behaving Badly’ written by former Post editor

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“The foibles of people, rich or poor, remain the same: Only fashions change,” Dick Kreck wrote in his introductory note after comparing his stories to today’s reality and gossip shows on TV. The introduction is to his latest book, “Rich People Behaving Badly.”

His gossipy tales — 15 stories with historic photos — are culled from early newspaper stories and public records (he had a 38-year career as editor and columnist for the Denver Post). He is very familiar with the extensive resources of the Western History Department at Denver Public Library and regional libraries and museums.

Readers may be familiar with his previous books, entertaining looks at area history, including: “Murder at the Brown Palace: A True Story of Seduction and Betrayal” (involves the owner of the Highlands Ranch Mansion); “Hell on Wheels: Wicked Towns Along the Union Pacific Railroad”; and “Smaldone: The Untold Story of an American Crime Family.”

There are chapters about William Newton Byers, owner/publisher of the Rocky Mountain News (“The Great Scandal”) and about Frederick Bonfils, who bought the Denver Post with Harry Tammen in 1895 for $12,500 and pursued what Kreck calls “fire-wagon journalism.”

Both became involved with other women, politics and a quest for personal power …

The tale of Isabel Springer, whose wealthy husband owned the Highlands Ranch Mansion, is condensed into a chapter here, but those who want to know more can find Kreck’s “Murder at the Brown Palace,” which really gives a picture of journalism at the time — competition was for the wildest storyline. Isabel, living in a Brown Palace apartment (she didn’t like being in the country), was entertaining two lovers, also staying at the famous hotel, who found out about each other! Shooting followed.

“The Prince and the Socialite” tells of society woman Jane Tomberlain, who met dashing Hawaiian Prince Samuel Crowningburg-Amalu, the chief Kapiikauinamoku, Prince of Keawe, on an elevator at the Brown Palace, where she lived. He missed their wedding and managed to build up a string of debts and bad checks across the world …

Pastor Charles E. Blair, who built a large and gullible congregation at Calvary Temple in Denver in the 1960s, might “have paid more attention to the Good Book and less attention to cooking the books,” the author wrote. Blair built a striking new church and relieved many elderly parishioners of large sums of money for a Life Center, senior housing.

Published by Fulcrum Press in Golden, this new collection of stories is available in a trade paperback edition.

“And so it goes. They made us look,” Kreck writes.

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