Living in Pooh’s Corner of the World
By Dawne Belloise
When Connye Smith decided to reinvent herself and set out on an entirely different and new life path, she renamed herself to reflect the change she sought. And when her partner Scott Pfister gave her the nickname Trixie, the name seemed fitting for her sparkly, sprite-like personality. Trixie is the woman behind the counter of a favorite local toy and trinket shop, Pooh’s Corner.
“It’s a fun name for the kids who come in, and their eyes light up when I tell them that my name is Trixie.” She smiles with her whole being.
Trixie grew up in Texas as the daughter of a Methodist preacher, and the church moved their ministers to a different congregation every four years to ensure not only freshness in the sermons, but also to prevent the congregation from believing that any one preacher was the church.
For a kid, this was initially difficult, to pick up and move so often, disrupting any sense of stability or lasting friendships, but Trixie feels that it actually helped her more than hindered.
“It taught me to adapt to new situations. The downside is that I don’t go back to class reunions and I don’t have childhood friends that I’ve kept. I never had a place that I could consider as home or where I grew up,” she says, but adds that she considered all of Texas home.
“I don’t look at it negatively. It made me more forward-looking and not living in the past,” which, she feels, contributed to her easily packing up, leaving everything behind in Texas and moving to Colorado without blinking an eye.
Trixie experienced a normal 1950s upbringing, her family taking vacation road trips to the Ozark and Smoky mountains. In fifth grade she took up playing the clarinet. In high school, she played bass clarinet for half the year as part of the marching band, and the other half of the year she was a baton twirler in that band.
“Looking back, it was a simpler time,” she recollects. “I can remember seeing the Beatles come on the Ed Sullivan Show and it was a really big thing.” She graduated in 1968, during “tumultuous times, but I led a pretty conservative life. Even though dad was a preacher, my parents never said I couldn’t do something because it would look bad as the preacher’s daughter. They never made me feel like that was a reason to make a particular choice. They raised me more with ethics and not as a model daughter of a preacher.”
Trixie points out that there weren’t a lot of options in women’s careers back then and women of the era became nurses, teachers or housewives. Her father encouraged a teaching career and that’s what she did, enrolling at the University of Texas in Austin, studying and leading a college life that didn’t include any of the usual crazy student antics. She graduated with a bachelor of science in science in 1972.
Trixie married and began teaching second and third grade classes in a district north of Houston called Aldine. After the couple decided to start a family in 1976, Trixie stayed at home to raise their three boys and the family moved 100 miles southwest of Houston to a very small town near Victoria, until 1985 when they moved to College Station.
Although Trixie wasn’t working she grins that she “volunteered my life away at school, and I was active in the community as a civic volunteer.” They stayed in this town for 25 years. It was the longest time she ever spent in one place.
In 1991, after she and her husband decided to go their separate ways, going back into teaching was a natural transition for her. It was important to Trixie that she have lots of quality time with her children so she spent 17 years teaching science to fifth grade classes at College Station, which allowed her to stay in one place and enjoy her kids.
On the day Trixie reached that revelatory half-century mark, her friends threw her a surprise birthday party. She knew she wanted, and needed, a change in her life and was looking for an incentive, and not necessarily a boyfriend, to recreate herself and a new path.
At the same time, a mutual friend suggested a possible compatible interest for the B-Day girl, even though this man, Scott Pfister, lived in Colorado. After an initial email introduction, she and Scott began lengthy conversations for a year and a half, exchanging emails and phone calls. It wasn’t until October 2002 that she decided to fly out and actually meet him.
The magic sparked and for the next six years Trixie came to Crested Butte to visit during her vacations. She began helping out in Pfister’s Handworks shop and discovered that she loved retail and everything about Crested Butte—the beauty and the community.
Trixie resolved that when her retirement came due in May 2008, she’d move to the mountains of Colorado. “I didn’t really know if it would work out in Crested Butte, but I never looked elsewhere and I’m not sorry!” Simultaneously, she and Scott decided they were going test the water and give the relationship a try. It clicked.
Working in the store, Trixie thought, “Retail was a good fit for me because I enjoy people interaction.” She recalls that when she first came to town, Pooh’s Corner was still owned by Linda Powers, who then sold it to a Texas couple.
“Not having young kids or grandkids, I didn’t frequent the shop,” Trixie says, but she and Scott nevertheless felt it would be a good business for them to jointly own and in March 2011 they bought it.
“I guess we’re just retail crazy,” she giggles. “We knew it would be a great fit. I love Pooh’s. I feel like I’m home when I walk in there. It’s just a comfortable place for me. I really like kids and I love exploring new things to order for the store.”
Over the holidays, there was a big buzz in town as celebrity Angelina Jolie and her kids cruised the streets of Crested Butte and ducked into Pooh’s Corner and Pfister’s four days in a row. “That was big news but I didn’t let it get me all hyped up. I realized who she was when she came up to the counter. I didn’t get all star struck because I knew she was here in town to be unnoticed, without all the attention and away from all the paparazzi. And she was able to do that here,” Trixie says. She admits though that she really doesn’t keep up with all that celebrity stuff anyway.
Scott and Trixie also opened a third store, Alley Hats.
As a kid, she wasn’t into sports but later on in her twenties, Trixie participated in the popular sport of jogging, running 10k races. These days she enjoys a variety of outdoor activities like Nordic skiing and hiking in the summer. She’s also a hobbyist bird watcher with four feeders that lure more than 20 types of birds and their songs. “I enjoy watching them. When I get up in the mornings, I look out there and the Steller’s jays are waiting on me to fill up the feeders.”
Despite not having a permanent childhood home, Trixie considers Crested Butte her forever home. “I always loved the mountains when we went to the Ozarks and the Smokeys. When you lived in hot, humid Texas, going to the mountains was a real treat and I would rather be outside than inside. I love the outdoors and nature, so teaching science was a real natural for me because I liked the earth sciences. I feel that living in Crested Butte is like being on a constant field trip.
“A lot of tourists ask me about what makes Crested Butte so wonderful. I tell them that people love it here and know that they’re fortunate to live in a place like this. I feel very fortunate that I get to live in a place that is so beautiful and positive and happy. People love life here. I can picture myself being an old person walking around, even in this snow. I don’t ever want to leave.”