If you go
What: Stella Craig will be signing copies of her book
When: 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Museum of Northwest Colorado
Stella Craig, 93, didn't want to open the box by herself.
She wanted her "right arm," Suz Syvertson, by her side when she ripped open the package of fresh, crisp paperback books.
"It was like Christmas ripping that box open," Craig said about that first package of stiff, blue covers emblazoned with the names of the three authors: Craig, Suz Syvertson and the late Carol Jacobson.
Their book, "Stella Craig at Juniper Hot Springs," tells Craig's story of owning the hot springs for 45 years. About 200 copies were printed and will be available for sale soon.
Downtown Books hosted a book signing Tuesday at the Museum of Northwest Colorado for friends and community members to buy a copy of the book and have it signed with a personal message from Craig.
"I'm happy as a lark," Craig said from behind a table draped in a red cloth. "I've got my grandchildren and great-grandchildren here. It's amazing."
The little blue book on the table in front of her was a long time in the making.
The introduction of the book, written by Jacobson, told where the idea to write the book came from.
Jacobson traveled to the hot springs with her three sons and found herself wondering about its history.
She then approached Craig and asked her to contribute to an oral history of the Juniper Hot Springs, right up until its sale in 2007.
Two years ago, Carol Jacobson approached Craig and asked her to tell her story of owning and operating Juniper Hot Springs for more than 40 years.
Once a hub of health and natural healing, Juniper Hot Springs was an integral part of the community.
"I grew up in that water," Craig's granddaughter, Bev Reyher, said. "I miss that water. It's so neat to look at the old ledgers and see all of the people I knew who went there. It was definitely a part of the community."
Syvertson also has known Craig since she could remember. She recalled splashing and playing in the pools.
"It's been a part of me forever," she said.
Syvertson helped edit the book and filled in parts of the history. When Carol Jacobson died in a rafting accident in July, Syvertson took over her editing and writing duties, as well.
"It's bittersweet," Syvertson said. "I think she'd be really tickled if she saw the final product."
Reyher also helped edit the book but was surprised and a little embarrassed to find her name printed inside the book.
"I told Stella not to put it in," she said.
Reyher attended the signing with her three children - Craig's great-grandchildren - who each went up in turn to get their book signed.
In 10-year-old Sara's book, her great-grandmother wrote, "I hope you enjoy this book for many years to come."
"It's really cool," Sara said, clutching the book to her chest. "I really like it. I think it's cool that (the geothermal heat) comes from 4,000 feet down under the earth."
Craig's family members weren't the only ones who turned out in support of the first-time author.
A group of seniors, who ride a bus from Maybell every Tuesday, dropped by to see their old friend.
"I usually don't ride the bus, but I took it specially today to see you," Rosemary Hertzog said to Craig as she had her book signed.
Hertzog and Craig have known each other for a long time.
When Hertzog's son, Wes, was hurt in a car accident, Craig allowed him to come to the hot springs to bathe in the mineral water in hopes the weightlessness would help heal his bones.
Wes had been paralyzed from the neck down. In a few months, however, he gained his movement back and went on to become a rodeo "champion," as his mother called him.
Hertzog thinks the hot springs had a lot to do with her son's recovery.
"I'm sure it had a lot to do with why he was healed," she said.
As Craig handed her book back to her, Hertzog leaned in towards her old friend.
"Thank you so much for taking care of Wes when he was hurt," she said. "It really was :"
"A miracle," the two said in unison.
Craig said that although she no longer owns the hot springs, it was the most rewarding thing she could have done with her life.
"I saw so many beautiful things happen there," she said. "I'm amazed at all the people who came here for me. Friends, family, great-grandchildren. Goodness gracious."
Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or firstname.lastname@example.org.