The woman behind the apron

Lloydia Arnett has been a waitress for 56 years and has no intention of giving up her apron now.

"The day I got to quit waiting tables, I'll be devastated," she said.

She was 15 when she took her first job at Mom's Cafe. Then she worked at Easley's, Brown's Cafe, Cosgriff's Hotel, the Yampa Inn, Desperado and the Elk's Club.

"I kind of went all over Craig, Colorado," she said.

Most of those restaurants have closed, and Arnett found her place at the Golden Cavvy, where she's been for 17 years.

"I guess I've just been there so long it's home," she said. "I love people. I love to serve them. I just love my job."

She did take a few breaks during the years, however. She cut meat at Safeway for three months and worked at Craig Sports for five years. But she was waiting tables at night during that time.

"I never did get away from it," she said.

She had plans to retire 10 years ago, but then lost her husband, Charles, and mother within a four-month span. She knew she had to stay.

"The Cavvy's my home. My friends are there," she said.

They sure are. Robert Clayton' has been a loyal customer during the whole time she's worked at the Cavvy. She works the 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift and serves coffee to the men who sit at the round table near the kitchen.

"Llyodia's a sweetheart. She always takes care of us," Clayton said.

Joe Stark, another regular, agrees.

"I call her Sunshine, because she's always got a smile and she's nice to people," he said.

Customer Ernie Allen said Arn--ett has traits that run in her family.

"You look at her daughters and granddaughters, they're gorgeous," he said. "They're all beautiful women."

Her daughter Lori lives in Clifton, and Vicki lives in Craig. Her son, Tom, is in Idaho. She has 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, but she does not see them often because none live here. She makes an annual trip to Idaho, though.

"I never started traveling until I was 61 years old," she said.

She and Charles, who were married 43 years, used to spend their free time fishing. A large mounted fish on the wall gives Arnett reason to brag.

The other animals of the house include her dogs Scooter, a purebred Chihuahua, and Ginger, a Yorkshire terrier. She also has a cat who wandered in through the doggie door seven years ago and never left.

"He doesn't have a name. I just call him Kitty," she said.

Her home's decor makes it clear who Arnett cheers for during football season. Her bathroom has a hamper, shower curtain, towels and window curtains that scream Denver Broncos fanatic.

She has blankets, photos, teddy bears and a light-up Miller Lite Broncos sign that came from the Cavvy. She keeps two Waterford crystal footballs commemorating Super Bowl wins in their boxes.

"They're my prized possessions," she said.

They came from a customer. Others have made her Broncos items.

"Through the years, I've had things made for me by customers and friends," she said. "I don't think there's anything more valuable than something somebody's made."

She loves going to work and socializing with the people with whom she's worked and served for many years.

"I haven't lived a very exciting life," Arnett said. "I've just gone around the two blocks of Craig, Colorado."

But regulars say that's what makes her loved. She's a friendly, familiar face at a classic downtown restaurant.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031 or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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