Fairy tales are usually stories about the past. That’s why they always begin “once upon a time” somewhere “far, far away.”
But Cheryl Gowdy is writing her Wyoming fairy tale for the future, one that she hopes will be very near and dear, instead of far, far away.
Its is personified by a new feature at Curt Gowdy State Park called The Little House on the Park. It debuts this weekend in Curt Gowdy State Park, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, and it will look just like that little house on the prairie of old.
There’s a good reason for that.
“We described it as going back to the old homestead of the West, when life was simple, and families were kind, and neighbors were kind to each other,” Gowdy said. “But it’s also a fairy tale of the future. We believe in love and kindness. We believe in healing.”
Gowdy is making plans for kindness parades and walks at the Little House on the Park, and lots of other activities that will teach children that kindness is love, and love is kindness.
“I hope to bring up some animals, puppies, dogs and cats from the Humane Society to teach them to be kind to animals,” Gowdy said. “So, this is very new. It’s brand new. There’s nothing in any American park system like this that we know of.”
Gowdy’s idea for The Little House on the Park began with a whisper between father and daughter.
“I have always felt very, very close to my dad,” Gowdy said. “And when my father was leaving the Earth, I whispered in his ear that wherever he was, I would always hear him. I would always see him. And to always talk to me, to let me know he’s there.”
So, one day as Gowdy was walking on Kate’s trail in Curt Gowdy State Park, she was not surprised to feel her father’s presence walking along beside her.
“It was Heaven sent,” Gowdy said. “And it was just whispered to me in the wind when I was walking.”
“Little House on the Park,” that whisper said to Cheryl. “Love and kindness for children.”
Along with those words came a vision of what she should build.
“I saw it, and I felt it,” Gowdy said. “And I just knew what I needed to do. And I know who did that. And I always stand by that.”
Over the past five years working on this vision and making it reality, Gowdy has seen other signs she believes were also Heaven sent.
The contractor building Little House, for example, had a nephew named Ben who passed away at age 10.
“His little nephew had put these seeds of wildflowers into kindness packages to spread kindness,” Gowdy recalled. “So, when Rich found out what we were doing, I’ll never forget what he said. He said, ‘God wanted me to build this house.’”
This is how Gowdy feels as well.
“I think that the power of love is what’s going to make Little House special,” she said.
Kindness Was His Gift
Many people remember Curt Gowdy as the voice of American sports and some of its most storied moments.
Ted Williams’ final at bat in the Major Leagues in 1960, a home run.
Super Bowl III in 1969, where Joe Namath and the New York Jets sent the Baltimore Colts running, toppling the champions and stealing away their crown.
Or how about the longest pro football game in history — 1971 Miami Dolphins vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, which lasted 82 minutes, 40 seconds and ended in a 27-24 Dolphins win.
Gowdy was known for being a Wyoming cowboy, too, and for his love of the great outdoors. He would often tout Wyoming during The American Sportsman television show, where in addition to sharing celebrity fishing and hunting trips, he boosted tourism for the Cowboy State.
Cheryl Gowdy’s memories of her dad, though, are just a little bit different. What she remembers best is his kindness, and it’s the simple things that today still mean so much.
Among her favorite photographs is one of her dad pushing her on a swing when she was just 3 or 4 years old. It’s a picture she’s had reprinted to hang in Little House.
A favorite memory, meanwhile, is just sitting up in the press box at Fenway Park in Boston, home of The Green Monster, watching her dad announce a game.
“They would bring us Coke and popcorn, and we got to, you know, there were little pretend microphones in there for us,” she recalled. “We could pretend we are announcing. It was really fun. That’s such a great memory.”
Before he died in 2006 of leukemia, Curt Gowdy had been inducted to 23 halls of fame, Cheryl told Cowboy State Daily. But the honor he counted as greatest of them all was the day Curt Gowdy State Park was dedicated to him.
“They decided that daddy had done so much for tourism,” she said. “And he had put them all over his ‘American Sportsman’ show, so they just decided, hey, you know, we want to thank you a lot. And I love that because it wasn’t because he’s famous. It was because he was a good person.”
Renée Jean can be reached at Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com.