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October 11 , 2009

Ragtime for the Rockies


This tragic love story unfolds in and around the town of Platteville, Colorado in
1925 and 1926. In the Roaring Twenties, young women challenge their elders by dancing
to jazz music, wearing abbreviated clothing, and drinking prohibited alcohol.
Some men express their opposition in church. Otbers join the Klux Klan,which
expands into the Northern States, promising violent resistance to social change.

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OWEN MATTISON comes to Platteville High School as athletics coach and science
teacher, including Vocational Agriculture. Owen's bride, RUBY, a Home Economics
graduate, is an accomplished pianist and jazz fan whose clothes and bobbed hair show the
triumph of flapper fashion.

We meet Owen and Ruby, married for six weeks, sharing a picnic on the LYDELL
farm overlooking the river. Inspired by natural beauty, Owen sings a favorite hymn, and Ruby harmonizes. Returning to their tiny rented home, Owen
receives a telephone call from ARTHUR STARK, a School Board member. Stark's son later
says Stark dislikes the twentieth century and wants to hold it back. Stark changes a
meeting date with Owen to attend a luncheon where he joins the Ku Klux Klan, with
OLIVER SCOTT, the Platteville barber. Both men participate in the next Klan raid on a

Eager to teach moral values, the School Board votes to require readings of the King
James Bible as part of classroom opening ceremonies. This distresses Catholic parents,
whose children will be required to hear a proscribed text. FREDERlCK KOBLENZ, owner of
the Platteville Mercantile store, organizes a protest student walkout. FRANCIS (FRA1\K)
KOBLENZ, Frederick's son, leads the walkout from Owen's classroom. The School Board
soon writes to all parents, requiring all students to remain for the Bible readings

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