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Piles Peak Paget

While attending the School of Design at North Carolina State University in the mid-1960s, I had had the pleasure of taking a speech class being taught by Dr. Edwin Paget, an English and speech professor.

Dr. Paget was born in Kansas City around 1902, though he never would give his true age. His parents brought him to Colorado on vacations during his childhood, where, as a teen, he climbed Pikes Peak for the first time.

Starting in about 1950, he began visiting Colorado every summer to climb Pikes Peak. He had a fear of flying so he took a train to Colorado. He would rent an apartment at the old Navajo Motel, between Colorado Springs and Manitou, and would stop by the newsroom of "The Gazette" during each visit to just to say he was back in town. Every other morning, he hiked to the 14,110-foot summit at least once.

Paget did not hike up Barr Trail, the usual route. Instead, he preferred to take the tracks of the Cog Railway and then hitch rides back down. His record was four ascents in a 19-hour span, and he made the climb three times in one day while he was in his 70s.

Paget’s philosophy of life was that a man should strive for health, wealth, and beautiful wife. To achieve health, he believed everyone should run at least 10 miles a day to reach what he called "full manhood" by the tender age of 85. Near NC State University was a city park named the Rose Garden. In one area of the park, Paget daily ran up a hill, around a tree and back down again; making numerous laps. Over the years, he wore a groove into the hillside. Paget would run to the market for groceries and run back. He played "speed golf” where the goal was to attain the lowest score and the lowest time to complete the 18 holes. This meant you hit the ball, ran to its location, and hit it again. He was a proponent of "speed basketball” where the game was played continuously; all free throws were shot at once at the end of the game.

For wealth, Paget had a number of schemes. One of one student in our class pursued one. The student quit school and started a partnership with other students where they bought a powerful computer (rare in the 1960’s) and sold time on it to businesses. I don't know if the scheme worked out or not.

For the beautiful wife, Paget said all you had to do was ask every beautiful woman you saw to marry you. Most would say "no," some may slap you, but there would inevitably be the one who said "yes."

In his speech classes at NC State, if you were late to a class, you had to bring donuts for all the students to the next class. When you were presenting your speech, Paget would stand on a desk at the back of the classroom, waving his arms, and make faces to distract you. The best speech would receive the "Paget Peace Prize." He had a coffee can with a variety of candy bars inside. You could choose one of the candy bars and be allowed to eat it during class. Paget was always melodramatic and liked to use a title given him by an N.C. Research Triangle organization: "History's Most Significant Man." He also called himself a "Modern Michelangelo."

By the end of 1983, Paget had reached the top of Pike's Peak 985 times. His goal was to make it to 1,000 during the summer of 1984 but regrettably he had surgery, his health deteriorated, and he never returned. He died in July 1989.

From Dr. Paget, I learned that it was okay to be different. As long as you are productive, do not think the world owes you something, do not break the law, and do not harm others, you can be whatever you want to be.

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