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Ticket to the past

click to enlarge BRUCE ELLIOTT

Art Chambers spends every working day in a room filled with 80-year-old machines and memories. The 79-year-old printer bought into Acme Ticket Company on Kiowa Street downtown 58 years ago after returning from World War II. The ticket shop, originally a full-service printer founded in 1906, doesn't get much business these days. But Chambers, born and raised in Colorado Springs, can tell a story or two about the city's past.

"It was a lot different," he said. "Oh heavens yes. Everything was downtown then.

"When I was growing up, there was a barber shop in the alley and my mom would give my brother and I [a quarter] for a haircut," he said. "Haircuts cost 15 cents and you could get into Tompkins Theater for a dime. There were always Westerns on Saturday... and they ran all day, you didn't need to leave."

After the war, Chambers lived with his wife, whose grandfather founded Acme Ticket, in an apartment above the Piggly Wiggly supermarket on Tejon Street. "The streets used to be jammed with shoppers on the weekends," he said.

Using hand-laid print type and a lot of labor, Chambers created millions of event tickets for customers like the University of Colorado and the Air Force athletic departments. Now, because most venues use computers to generate tickets, he creates only a handful. The Air Force still uses his services to print give-away passes to games.

His well-oiled machines are relics -- he's already sold two machines to a printing museum in Arkansas. It's not realistic to pass the business on to his children, he says. His granddaughter hopes to open up a dress shop next door this winter. But Chambers isn't moping about the changing times. Like it or leave it, he said, "it's just progress."

-- by Dan Wilcock

photo by Bruce Elliot

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