PAT HAUPT AND HER husband had a running bet.

“We had this agreement that when we were downtown having coffee [in their home of Durango, Colo.], the first person to see a tourist that we recognized and knew, [that person] would have to take [the other] out to dinner,” Pat said.

But her husband, Jim, passed away before crowning a winner.

Had he lived long enough, Jim might have owed Pat a night out on the town after she heard these words recently: “Are you Patty Haupt?”

Uttering the phrase? Pat’s former neighbor from the late-’60s from right here in Ripon.

“It startled me, and at the same time it made me smile,” Pat said. ...

She is one of 23 Rail Rangers for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad that operates on 45 miles of track in Colorado. ...

IT WAS ON JUST SUCH a tour recently that Pat won the contest she had with husband Jim.

“I always start my quick introduction [on the train] by telling people that ‘My name is Trisha [the version of her name she uses for the job] and that I am a volunteer Rail Ranger with the U.S. Forest Service,’” she said. “I like to ask people about what country or what state they are from. And of course I’m always looking for people from Minnesota [where she also lived as a child] or Wisconsin.”

In this particular car that day was a big Wisconsin tour group, she explained. “I said, ‘Well that’s wonderful because I’m from Ripon.’”

So, as the trip began, Pat wandered her way down the aisle, chatting with each guest on the tour.

“Then all of a sudden I see this guy raise his hand ...,” she said, “and he’s about four rows from the back and he said, ‘I think I know you; I think you’re my old neighbor!’

“I just cracked up.” ...

To read the entire column, see the Nov. 1, 2018 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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