February 7, 2012
Chuck Leggett found out recently a dentist is moving her practice next door to his Westside home.
He expects traffic from patients might spill in front of his little home and take up his parking space. And he is prepared for other hassles associated with living next to a business.
And he’s thrilled.
That’s because of what he’s endured the past 40 years living just off West Colorado Avenue on 14th Street.
Chuck, 86, has had a front-row seat for utter nonsense.
For the first 10 years or so he lived there, he had to put up with round-the-clock lunacy generated by a 7-Eleven convenience store. Cars coming and going, night and day. Drunks hanging out in the alley between his yard and the back of the store, smashing bottles, smoking pot and causing mayhem.
Then, about 1983, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains moved in. What ensued, until it relocated in 2010, was “a mess,” he said.
“It started with one lady and two little twins protesting,” Chuck recalled. “It escalated from that.”
Planned Parenthood’s reproductive health care, birth control and abortion services, attracted upwards of 20,000 clients each year and scores of protesters, turning the sidewalk and street outside into an ugly carnival of hate at times.
There were 40-day, round-the-clock vigils on the sidewalks. Peaceful demonstrations overshadowed by angry protesters who carried graphic posters of late-term abortions and confronted everyone they saw, whether clients, simple passersby or innocent neighbors.
“The marchers were a mess,” Chuck said. “They had some real roughnecks out there.”
He described how some protesters would get hostile with neighbors at random.
“One day I was mowing my yard when one of them started yelling at me,” Chuck said. “I went down there with my ax handle.”
Chuck said there was an especially nasty pair of protesters — one carried a Bible and the other an 8-foot cross.
“They would attack anyone,” he said. “They’d get in the middle of the sidewalk and stop you. Get in your face. They thought they could take advantage of anyone who walked on the sidewalk. They were a really mean pair.”
Other neighbors echo Chuck’s assessment of the situation then.
“It wasn’t pleasant,” said Melba Bay, who lives across the alley from Chuck.
“Different church groups, they’d have parades in front of our house all the time,” she said. “We couldn’t park in front of our house. A lot of times they would get rude. They’d be down there shouting at people. I’m just glad they’re gone. It’s a lot more peaceful.”
Chuck also speaks for neighbors I met when he predicted the neighborhood’s future with a dentist in the building.
“We’ve got it made now,” he said. “The dentist will be the best yet.”