About Don Briggs

(Excerpted from Northern Arizona University Cline Library Special Collections, Oral History Project. Interview with Lew Steiger, Grand Canyon River Guides, Inc. See Interview for more.)

Lew Steiger: For starters, the way I usually start these things is if you can just give me kind of a thumbnail sketch of your family history—just cause that tends to put your experiences in perspective… brothers and sisters, the circumstances with your parents; where you were bom; where’d you grow up? How did all that go?
Don Briggs: Yeah, well, that’s kinda what I had on my list here.
Steiger: What a coincidence (laughs)!
Briggs: Yeah. But on my note, I sort of grew up fishing at the headwaters of the Colorado in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, where I grew up. And I grew up in a suburb of Denver. Wheat Ridge. Wheat Ridge, Colorado. And we were known as the Wheat Ridge Farmers. You can imagine how much ridicule I had from that from neighboring towns. Because the symbol on the uniforms and stuff was a farmer… was a farmer with a straw hat and a hayseed in his mouth (laughs).
Steiger: This is your high school. ..
Briggs: That was the high school. Yeah. I’m getting ahead of myself here. I was bom in 1940. I can remember bits and pieces of World War 11. I remember getting in trouble sticking the gas rationing stamps on the underside of the cupboard (laughs). (Both laugh)
Steiger: You just found them and .. .
Briggs: Well, you know, I was playing with them. I’d lick ’em and stick ’em on the underside of the cabinets. I used to lay up on the kitchen counter and listen to radio, cause of course there was no TV in those days. I had one sister two years older than I was. My father left when I was six years old. and so I don’t remember a whole lot before that but I kinda remember that day. Coming home from school and finding my mother crying, and I didn’t quite understand it. But grade school was fairly uneventful up until I started, well, you don’t want to know what I did in junior high.
Steiger: Well if its germane…. We don’t need all the details. But just kind of a sketch of, like, what did your dad do for a living? He wasn’t a farmer, was he?
Briggs: My dad in World War 11 worked at the ordinance plant, which is where the federal center is in Denver now. And he was there making bullets and ammunition. That’s why he did not become a soldier. Because somebody had to make the bullets. And he eventually became an auto mechanic for basically the rest of his life. Which, come to think of it, I think he was about 63, which is how old I am, when he died (laughs). So anyway, I never really knew him. I can get to that story later.

Read the oral history at NAU