Presence of the Past


"Presence of the Past" is a look backward then forward. Fifty Orthodox Jews straight from Russia show up in Cotopaxi, Colorado, 1882. Try to farm on a rocky slope six miles up Texas Creek.

A World War Two bomber pilot who won the Distinguished Flying Cross drops into Salida and tells his story at a restaurant in Salida.

A lady in a mostly deserted town in the hills shows up to talk about the time Rod Serling made a Western in her town. The Western parallels the story of the town itself.

The fun part of stories pulled from crannies and nooks is not just the tale itself. But finding connections to our lives today.

Phil Helfrich

Phil Helfrich:  Taxi driver, Havana, lead guitar player, Steely Dan, power forward, NY Knicks...wait, that was a parallel universe life.

Produced couple of PBS documentaries; public radio: comedy show, conservation spots; magazine and newspaper feature writer; ran youth corps programs; parole officer (I know, hard to believe); Director, greenway non-profit; bartender; delinquent youth fixer upper; Missouri Conservation, outreach and education.


Podcasts Available

In 1884, 50 Russian Orthodox Jews stepped off the train in tiny Cotopaxi, CO. None of them spoke English. They hiked up valley 8 miles to farm a stony plateau in the middle of nowhere.  Their tale of survival is told by two local women familiar with the tale. Their fate contrasts starkly to that of their relatives who stayed in Russia. An American immigrant tale.

A World War Two B-24 bomber pilot drops into Salida to visit a buddy. Jim Plackis tells us a story of a scared, skinny teenager during the waning days of the war in the Pacific who brought his badly damaged plane back home on two engines. He won the Distinguished Flying Cross for his feat. What these young boys did to keep the wolf from the door may have something to say about our times and troubles.