Friday, April 26, 2019

Rocky Mountain Land Library in Globeville

Globeville’s North Washington Street is a hodge podge of auto repair shops, salvage lots, and cannabis and liquor stores. Nestled in this industrial mix is the newest branch of the Rocky Mountain Land Library, who’s tagline proclaims - A resource linking land and the community. An oxymoron? Globeville is not often associated with open space and its been a long time since the community had a library of its own.
First, a little history.

In the 1870s, the area was sparsely settled by homesteaders and ranchers. Within a decade, the arrival of railroads, smelters, foundries and meatpacking transformed the region into an industrial town.
 Sanguinette farm at 51st and Washington about 1880
Photo used with permission from Nora Duryea

The building at at 4800 Washington was once home to meat packers like Mountain States Packing (1924) and K & B Packing and Provisions (1934) that provided blue-collar jobs in the neighborhood. The packers were also major polluters, dumping their refuse directly into the Platte River, and generating a smell that would take your breath away.
But things are looking up.
Since the 1970s, with the founding of the Platte River Greenway the Platte River has received the care it deserved. Polluters were pressured to clean up and fined for dumping, while volunteers and municipalities pitched in to create trails, parks and recreation areas. A former sewage treatment plant at 54th Avenue and Washington has been transformed into Carpio Sanguinette Park, an oasis of cottonwoods, cattails and wildlife. Nearby is Heron Pond, home to herons, avocets, red-tail hawks and waterfowl.
Globeville’s library was founded in 1920 and located in the Globeville Community House at 45th and Grant Street. Eighty-five years ago, during the Depression, Denver closed the library. Although the Valdez Perry opened in 1996, Globeville citizens avoid crossing the railroad tracks to Elyria and rely on the little library in front of the Rec Center.
Enter Jeff Lee and Ann Martin, founders of the Rocky Mountain Land Library, who are restoring a former ranch near Fairplay to house their collection of 40,000 books about nature and the west. In March 2019, the couple opened a branch library in the urban frontier of Globeville, complete with books, events, a Book Club, book discussions, author signings and the cozy, civilized atmosphere of a real library.
Join the conversation. Nick Arvin will lead a discussion about Globeville’s first Book Club pick, The Summer Book written by Tove Jansson. Come by and get acquainted on Sunday, April 28th, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Register for this event on the website:

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Globeville Did Its Part

In the decade before World War II, Globeville’s population had struggled to find jobs, but the demands of war now created a labor shortage. Women filled vacancies at factories and foundries when men left for the service. June Jackson Egan rode the streetcar to 10th and Inca to make fuses for PT boats at Slack-Horner Foundry; Carol Christenson worked on aircraft, (including Eleanor Roosevelt’s plane), at McClellan Field near Sacramento.

 Mary Reed, left and Carol Christenson
® Mary Lou Egan

The Globeville community offered support in the way it always had: through its churches and lodges. Members of the First German Congregational Church formed the Blue Star Letter Writing Committee to keep the congregation’s 175 members in the service informed about church activities, and a newsletter called “The Minister’s Mailbag” kept the men in contact with each other as well.

The children at Garden Place School collected scrap and contributed to bond drives, while the young women of Holy Rosary Young Ladies’ Sodality volunteered at the Catholic USO at 16th and Logan. The Polish Harmony Club, a young-people’s social group affiliated with Polish National Alliance, entertained servicemen who were recovering at Fitzsimons Army Hospital and sponsored weekly dances at the Polish hall for military personnel of Polish descent. Paul Goreski recalls, “During the war my folks used to go out to Lowry and invite a Polish serviceman over for dinner. He had to be Polish.” 

Mary Canjar joined the Red Cross and attended classes to become an Air Raid warden.
She was issued a uniform with a shirt, pants, helmet and armband, and made sure that windows were covered and lights turned off during blackout periods. Canjar also won an award for persuading every family on Logan Street to purchase War Bonds. Residents were rewarded with a bus tour of Lowry field, a lunch and serenade by a marching band. 

                   Mary Canjar, photo used with permission from Father John Canjar

Victory Gardens became the name for the substantial gardens Globeville’s citizens had always planted. The community’s traditional frugality and resourcefulness made the
war rationing of
gas, sugar, meat, and cooking oil, easier.

 Fathers Robert and Joseph Meznar's 1940 Ford
with its "A" gas sticker (highlighted in red).
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

On both V-E Day and V-J Day, church bells rang, factory whistles and car horns blared. Twelve young men from Globeville lost their lives in the conflict; the nation and the neighborhood were forever changed by the experience.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Remembering Lent

The short, dark days in February and March were the perfect setting for Lent. There were the weekly rituals of stations of the cross, recitation of the rosary, benediction and confession. Before Vatican II, everything was in Latin and people of a certain age know all the words to Pange Lingua Gloriosi (Praise We Christ's Immortal Body) and Stabat Mater (for the stations of the cross). 
Adults were required to observe a complicated set of rules for fasting (not eating between meals) and abstinence from meat, while youngsters under the age of fourteen were granted a little more leeway. (I looked forward to Friday dinners with Mac 'n Cheese, potato pancakes and Mrs. Paul's Fishsticks). Everyone was urged to “give up” something like soda, candy, gum or TV.
By Holy Week, the days were getting longer and brighter, and the preparation more intense. More church visits, more rosaries, longer choir practice, baking Potica, apple strudel and painstakingly coloring pysanky eggs (every eastern European celebration seems to be time consuming).

Lent is about transformation - darkness to light, from distraction to contemplation, from busyness to solitude. Christ is risen, indeed He is risen from the dead. 
Customs that used to annoy me, now comfort and reassure me. I enjoy the symbolism of ashes, incense, the washing of feet, lighting the new fire and blessing of oils. Ash Wednesday is next week and I'm rehearsing Latin hymns.

Stations of the Cross at Holy Rosary Church

Potica or Povitica
Pysanky eggs - ours never looked this good

Friday, January 18, 2019

Neighborhood Memory Project - Globeville, Elyria, Swansea

Gracious, intelligent and sharp - Bob Padboy has almost a century of memories and is a good storyteller. Padboy was born in 1924 in a coal town in New Mexico, where his Slovenian-born father, Anton, worked in the mines. His mother Mary insisted that none of her three boys would would follow their father in the coal fields and the family moved to Globeville. Padboy is the oldest Globeville resident whose reminiscences were recorded for the Globeville, Elyria and Swansea Memory Project, and still lives in the family’s home in the neighborhood. 

 Bob Padboy in 2018. Photo® Mary Lou Egan

The Padboy house was purchased in 1940. Photo® Mary Lou Egan 

Anthony Garcia is the youngest person interviewed for the Memory Project, but his roots in the neighborhood run deep.“I was born and raised in Globeville, my mother worked at the Globeville Recreation Center for years, and my grandmother was an artist. Garcia brought his family heritage of service to the community and creating art together. He is the co-founder of the BirdSeed Collective and has been named the director of the Globeville Recreation Center at 4496 Grant Street. Garcia hopes the center will again be a source of information and activity - “to keep the community a community.

 Anthony Garcia at work. Photo® Mary Lou Egan  

BirdSeed Collective Mural - Where Wood Meets Steel
on Washington Street,
Photo® Mary Lou Egan
To hear the stories of Globeville, Elyria and Swansea, view these priceless interviews 
Globeville, Elyria, Swansea Memory Project

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Cozy Theater

In Globeville’s early years, Washington Street hummed with small businesses - grocers, feed stores, barber shops, blacksmiths, shoe repair shops and billiard and soft drink parlors. For kids, the only building they remembered was the Cozy Theater.
Andy Jackson recalled, “When we were kids, we used to go to the Cozy Theater - we’d pay a nickle to get in and a nickle to buy popcorn. An old Italian, Belforte, had a popcorn wagon that was glassed in with a gas burner, and he’d sit there and shake it. He had a little teapot that he’d melt butter in. We’d go in there with a bag of popcorn in our hand. And Annie Peterson, she used to play the piano in there — they were silent movies, you know — and when she got excited by something that was happening on the screen, she’d beat the hell out of that piano.

Ed Wargin was another kid who loved going to the movies. “They used to have these serials that would just keep goin’ and goin’ and so we would just keep goin’ and goin.’ ‘Ruth of the Rockies’ was the main feature with Ruth Roland. I remember that because we went all the time. Sometimes we’d go twice a week and see the same one. They weren’t open every day — it was Wednesday, Saturday and I think Sunday. It seemed like vacation time for us kids. We had so much to do, but this was really special.”
The theater was one of the many properties owned by Konstantly Klimoski. Originally located at 47th and Washington and then relocated farther north across the railroad tracks. Jackson recalled, “It was a storefront kind of thing, not very big.”
The repeal of prohibition led to the demise of the Cozy Theater since Klimoski could make more profit from a saloon than from dime movies. The tavern and the theater are both gone now, but the memories of Belforte and his popcorn wagon, live music and the drama of Western serials live on.

4855 Washington in 2016 - one of the addresses for the Cozy Theater

Ruth Roland starred in many Western serials

Theme music helped set the mood

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Midwives: Margaret Gugger and Emma Reisbick

Margaret Gugger and Emma Reisbick. Everyone knew them. They lived in the neighborhood, and were recommended by women you knew. More prominent than politicians, and more reliable. They were Globeville's midwives.
In Globeville, most babies were born at home with one of these two women in attendance; Mrs. Margaret Gugger served Catholic women and Mrs. Emma Reisbick tended to German-Russian ladies. In addition to delivering the baby, these women provided care for two weeks following the birth, coming each day to check on the mother and infant. They also did some light housekeeping, washed the diapers, looked after the siblings if necessary, encouraged and advised the mother. Neighbors would bring chicken soup, angel food cake or fruit soup - meals considered nourishing and appropriate for the confinement. Margaret Gugger and Emma Reisbick were both widows, and their profession became their livelihood. To mothers in Globeville, these ladies offered valuable help and a welcome respite during a special time.

Margaret Gugger's home on 4559 Washington Street
is gone now. Photo DPL

Emma Reisbick's home at 4367 Sherman
is freshly painted
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Friday, November 16, 2018

Thanksgiving - Share in the Community Feast

The Globeville Recreation Center was dedicated in 1920 as the Community House and became a gathering place, with an auditorium for plays, movies, dances, social functions, meetings and the home of a thirteen-piece orchestra.
The August 21, 1927 issue of the Denver Post reported that some 4,000 people in Globeville were served by Community House. 1. Over the years, additions and modifications have been made to the building, and the name has been changed to the Globeville Youth Center, then the Globeville Recreation Center. What seems to be constant is the city's lack of commitment to the neighborhood - residents pay taxes for services they don't receive.

That is about to change.

On August 13, 2018 Denver Parks and Recreation awarded Birdseed Collective a four-year contract to operate the Globeville Recreation Center, with Globeville native Anthony Garcia appointed Executive Director. 

Birdseed Collective had been operating a food pantry at the center, as well as art programs. Now Birdseed will be able to develop programs for the community it knows so well.

Join the community for a Thanksgiving dinner at the center on Saturday, November 17th from 2:00 pm until 6:00 pm and see what the future will bring.

1. Denver Post, August 21, 1927