Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Father John A. Canjar


Humble circumstances, an immigrant community and a faith-filled family provided the environment that nurtured Father John Canjar. Born June 24, 1921 in Globeville, the sixth of 10 children of a Croatian immigrant, Frank Canjar and his wife Mary (Boytz) Canjar, John Canjar attended Holy Rosary Grade School, Annunciation High School, and St. Thomas Seminary in Denver. Father Canjar was ordained on June 4, 1949 and served at Holy Ghost, Holy Family, St. John's in Stoneham, Sacred Heart in Cheyenne Wells, Holy Rosary, Cure d' Ars, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Mark's parishes.

Father Canjar would succeed Monsignor Judnic at Holy Rosary in 1959, a time of turmoil in both the church and in the neighborhood. January 1959 signaled the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, which introduced sweeping changes in liturgy, lay participation, interaction with other Christian denominations, and involvement in social issues. In a parish where the Mass had been said in Latin, and the homily delivered in both Slovenian and English, the changes were viewed as monumental.

There were also big changes in the neighborhood. The Stapleton Public Housing brought "outsiders," Mexicans and Blacks, into the tightly-knit community - they were not welcome. But Father Canjar reached out to the newcomers, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. ”Father Canjar felt that when people asked for help, we needed to respond,” said Jerry and Janet Wagner. The Wagners owned a small grocery, and, with cash donated by Father Canjar, began making up food baskets for Christmas. “Depending on the size of the family, there would be a couple of chickens, potatoes, beans or a sack of flour, enough to make a meal.” Father Canjar was also active in anti-poverty programs and was elected to the North Denver Action Center, a part of the Model Cities program.

The construction of I-25 and I-70 during the 1950s and 60s displaced many parishioners and businesses and demoralized the neighborhood. Another blow to the community was the record-breaking Platte River Flood of 1965, but Father Canjar worked tirelessly to clean and repair the parish buildings afterward.

Father Canjar retired from active ministry June 9, 1996 after 47 years of service. He moved to the Gardens at St. Elizabeth's where his sister Mary also lived, and then to Mullen Home, facing many physical challenges with courage and grace.  Father Canjar passed away November 20, 2014 and is buried at Mt. Olivet. He is survived by sister Lucille (James) Stanaway, sister-in-law Mary (Leo) Canjar and numerous nieces and nephews, and was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Frank, Ray and Leo; sisters Helen, Mary, Catherine, Florence and Margaret.

John Canjar is the tallest young man (with glasses) in the back row.
1937 graduating class from Holy Rosary

Father John Canjar, 1969





Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Remembrance

My grandmother saved things: magazines, recipes, newspaper articles, letters, post cards, greeting cards, copies of poems and obituaries. Among those mementos was a box of holy cards, which were  a little smaller than a playing card and depict the image of a saint or religious scene on one side, and a message on the reverse. There were cards given out at funerals with the person's date of birth and death, and those that marked ordinations, first communion and confirmation.
Some, like that for the funeral of John Malenoski, reveal that Malenoski was probably a Carpatho-Russian immigrant, belonged to the Orthodox Church, was familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet and lived a long life.
Teresa Kosick's funeral card reveals her origins in her Slovenian name, that she was Roman Catholic, a parishioner of Holy Rosary Church and also lived a long life.
Some holy cards were used to reward school children, with a hand-written message, such as "from Sister Agnes, in remembrance of her" on the blank side.
Holy cards can provide clues for those piecing together a family history as well as offer a glimpse of a gentler, faith-filled era.





Thursday, September 18, 2014

Arts



Artistic expression is visible everywhere in Globeville, with hand-crafted sculptures, whirligigs and grottos in gardens, and religious images painted on garages, barns and sheds. The neighborhood has also been the recipient of several public art commissions.

The most striking examples of public art are the murals that grace the highway 
underpass at 46th Avenue and Lincoln Street. In collaboration with the Denver Urban Art Fund and city councilwoman Judy Montero, prominent Denver street artists Jeremy Silas Ulibarri, known as “Jolt”, of Guerilla Garden, and Anthony Garcia Sr. of Birdseed Collective were given the task of mentoring a group art students, who created murals celebrating the history, culture and changing face of the Globeville neighborhood. The murals have special meaning for Jolt, Garcia, and several young artists - all grew up in Globeville. 

Other neighborhood entities came together to help: Swinerton Construction provided a lift, ProCoat donated the clear coat, Habitat for Humanity the paint for the borders and neighbors contributed meals and hospitality.


Each day passersby see beautiful visual reminders of the characteristics that define Globeville: pride, ethnic diversity, respect, and cooperation. 



North-facing murals (juxtaposed) ® Mary Lou Egan


South-facing murals (juxtaposed) ® Mary Lou Egan



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Globeville and The Great War


“Globeville Smiles Despite War That Rages in Europe” proclaimed the August 2, 1914 headline in the Denver Post. The Post continued, “There are 600 foreigners working side by side at the Globe Smelter. Austrians, Servians, Prussians, Bohemians, Greeks, Italians, Germans, Montenegrans, almost every nation of Europe is represented. Officials at the Globe Smelter felt no little anxiety when hostilities broke out between Austria and Servia[sic]." There was an expectation that old national loyalties would lead to confrontations and violence in the community.
But Globeville's immigrants felt no loyalty to Germany, Austria-Hungary, or Russia, the empires that had annexed and suppressed their native countries. Many had come to America to avoid the constant wars of Europe, and to avoid mandatory service in the army of their oppressors. The Post elaborated, “John Domitsky, an intelligent Austrian, declared, ‘The foreigners in this community came here to stay . . . these fellows are much more interested in earning their bread and butter here in Globeville than they are in fighting over the murder of a crown prince and a princess in Austria or Servia’.” 1
There were unavoidable repercussions of the war, however, as travel and communication between the Old Country stopped. In February, 1914, five year old John Werner, his sisters and his mother arrived from Sussanental, Russia and joined his father in Longmont with the hope that their grandparents and uncles would join them in September. They never saw rest of the family again.
As the war continued, there were other consequences. Reports of German atrocities were circulated and anti-German feeling reached a fever pitch in the nation. People of German heritage were suspected of being disloyal or subversive and many people were harassed. “English only” legislation was enacted in Denver, German books were burned, and classes in the German language were no longer taught in the Denver public schools. By the time the United States entered the war in April 1917, the suspicion of all things German had reached Globeville.
The fact that worship services in the three Volga-German churches in the community were conducted in the German language had never been an issue before, but war hysteria called attention to the situation. When the patriotism of the congregation was questioned, minister John Strohecker and Matthew Eagleton, the principal of Garden Place School, invited Mayor Speer of Denver and other city officials to attend a Sunday service at the First German Congregational Church. Two hours of preaching and singing must have convinced the dignitaries that there was no disloyalty in Globeville. Perhaps Matthew Eagleton pointed out that George Lauck, Henry Kilthau Jr., and John Reisbeck had enlisted in the armed forces of their adopted country, or called attention to other contributions to the war effort by the citizens of Globeville. Services continued to be held in German. 2.
The abdication of Russia's Czar Nicholas II March 2, 1917, took Russia out of the conflict and aided the Axis powers. and cut support for Globeville's Transfiguration Orthodox Church, which was funded by Czar Nicholas himself (the bells in the cathedral were a personal gift of the Czar). As the Bolsheviks gained power, Globeville's Carpatho-Russians also came under suspicion and many changed their names to sound more American. Photos of church or lodge events included large American flags as a backdrop.
Two men, Martin Clements and John Wysowatcky, would sacrifice their lives for their country as Globeville and the rest of the nation would be forever changed by the Great War.
1. “Globeville Smiles Despite War That Rages in Europe,” Denver Post, August 2, 1914
2. First German Congregational Church, Diamond Jubilee. 1894-1969. by Chester G. Krieger, Schwartz Printing Company, Denver, Colorado pg 26 

Western Slavonic members proudly display their American flag

Monday, July 7, 2014

Globeville Recreation Center



In 1919, William P. McPhee, president of McPhee & McGinnity, proposed to the Denver Real Estate Exchange that the organization build a community house in Globeville. For many years his sister, Marguerite, had been involved in the immigrant community and had often urged William to consider contributing something to benefit the neighborhood. When Marguerite succumbed to the Spanish Influenza on December 30, 1918, McPhee was moved to do something in remembrance of her. Frederic R. Ross, vice president of the Exchange and one of Denver's leading realtors, took up the cause, suggesting that the Exchange present the City of Denver with the Community House as their annual gift for 1919. 1. The first donation to the building fund was $2,300 from the McPhee family, and the remaining amount was quickly raised with contributions from the Exchange members and other Denver businessmen. 2. Construction began in the summer of 1920, was completed and accepted by the city at the Denver City Council meeting on December 29, 1920.

The Community House became a welcome gathering place, with an auditorium for plays, movies, dances, social functions, meetings and the home of a thirteen-piece orchestra. The building also housed the Globeville branch of the Denver Public Library, and the University of Colorado Extension, which offered classes in home economics and American history. Two part-time social workers were available to help residents with legal and family issues, as well as learn American ways. The August 21, 1927 issue of The Denver Post reported that some 4,000 people in Globeville were served by Community House. 3. 

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 has remained constant is the neighborhood’s need for services and the battle for city funds each time the economy stalls. When Denver Parks and Recreation closed the center in 2008, Street-Kidz Inc., a community-based, privately funded organization, took over. Founded by Globeville natives Julian Nieto and Boogie Mondragon, Street-Kidz Inc. provided sports, academic and art activities, while working with Denver Public Schools to keep children in school. A book box lending library was started at the center, sports teams were organized and Globeville youth participated in creating the large murals on 46th and Lincoln. Although the focus was on the Globeville community, everyone who wanted to be a part of the program was welcome. “We never say no to any kid, ever,” said Mondragon. 4. Although the impact on individuals and the neighborhood was remarkable, the organization was unable to raise enough money to continue. 
Again the neighborhood mobilized to demand services for their tax dollars and the Denver Parks and Recreation responded with a program of youth and recreational activities. 

1. Denver Post, October 3, 1919, p. 4


2. Denver Times, April 7, 1920, p. 13

3. Denver Post, August 21, 1927, sec. 1, p. 5

4. Nieto helps Globeville community, BNSF Railway Mile High News, December 2009, pg 11 



The Community House circa 1930, photo from the Denver Public Library

The shuttered building, home of Street-Kidz Inc.



Sunday, June 1, 2014

Joe and Leah Tekavec

Joe and Leah Tekavec's roots in Globeville ran deep. Joe Tekavec was born in 1906 to parents who emigrated from Slovenia, then part of Austria-Hungary. The family lived on Elgin Place in a Slovenian enclave on Globeville’s north side, attending Holy Rosary Church and events at the Western Slavonic Association [WSA]. 
Leah Jacoby was born in 1913 in the house her grandfather built on Lincoln Street on the south end of Globeville. The Jacobys were Volga Germans from Norka, Russia and attended the First German Congregational Church. The culture of those times dictated that Joe and Leah would spend most of their time with people from the same ethnic background, but somehow they met, fell in love and were married. Daughter Janet Tekavec Wagner mused, ”People didn’t attend each other’s church services in those days, so I guess I’ll never know how they met.”
The Tekavecs enjoyed a conventional lifestyle with Joe working as an auto mechanic and Leah as a homemaker, and straddled the ethnic cultural divide by attending religious services at the First German Congregational Church and participating in the social activities of the WSA. Joe served as the supervisor of the WSA’s young people's group for many years where son Jim and daughter Janet were enrolled.
When Interstates 25 and 70 carved up the neighborhood they loved, Joe and Leah decided to stay rather than move and joined the Globeville Civic Association to fight for the survival of their community. Leah became treasurer of the organization in 1961, a post she would hold for 17 years, and Joe served as president from 1970 to 1978, a time when Globeville was under attack by the city. 
Tekavecs arranged countless meetings in churches, lodges, and associations to organize neighbors in opposition to Denver's plan to turn Globeville into an industrial area. Tekavecs and the Civic Association then fought to get the neighborhood its fair share of city services, helped neighbors obtain funds to improve their homes and successfully fought the construction of rendering plants that would produce sickening smells in the area. The Tekavecs became familiar to city officials at public meetings. “They know me when they see me,” Joe said.* 
The Civic Association was also active in improving the quality of life for Globeville's seniors, creating a health clinic, community luncheons and activities in the former First German Congregational Church. Daughter Janet continued, “The Civic Association also sponsored kids’ softball teams and held lots of pancake breakfasts to pay for the uniforms.”
When Joe and Leah stepped down in 1978, the city had dropped its plans to industrialize the area, and the neighborhood had begun to recover and improve. Tekavecs would live to see the neighborhood they loved celebrate its centennial in 1988. Joe passed away in 1989 and Leah in 1991.
*Globeville Community Spirit Renewed to Combat Blight, Denver Post, July 29, 1978, pg 21

Leah and Joe Tekavec

House on Lincoln Street built by Leah's Grandfather

Joe, far left, with WSA's young people's group







Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Laradon Hall

“I’m sorry, Mr. Calabrese, but our system simply has no place for your sons.” It was a statement Joe Calabrese had heard many times before as he tried to find a school that would admit his two developmentally disabled boys. After this last rejection, Calabrese and his wife Elizabeth decided to do what all the experts said couldn’t be done: start a school to educate these special children and give them a place in society. The school would be named Laradon Hall after their sons, Larry and Don. 
Laradon Hall opened in September of 1948 in an old house at 3129 Federal Boulevard with Larry, Don and one other pupil. Three months later, the school was at full capacity with 12 residents, 13 day students and a long waiting list. As the school struggled for survival, a powerful ally, the Colorado State Association of Elks, came to the rescue, designating Laradon as its Major Project in 1950, and contributing $25,000 for the purchase of the old Globeville School at 5100 Lincoln Street. Over the years, the organization has provided a level of friendship and support by donating food, clothing, supplies and equipment, and sponsoring social and recreational activities for participants. Members of the Elks have served on Laradon’s board of directors and committees.
Today, Laradon has an annual enrollment of over 600 children and adults with developmental disabilities in programs that include day, residential and employment services. Each client is provided with an individualized plan of support that includes academics, vocational training, and community experiences to reach his or her potential. In March 2007 the school purchased the adjacent property and continues to raise funds to expand educational services, and the parking lot and playground. 

Donald and Larry would pass away in 1962 and 1982, respectively and Joe in 1986. Elizabeth died in 2011 at age 100 but the Calabrese' dream of a better life for children with special needs lives on in Laradon Hall in the Globeville neighborhood.



Left to right, Dr. Allen Murphy and his wife Ann, 
State Elks President Lew Kitts, Elizabeth and Joe Calabrese 
at the dedication of Laradon Hall


Laradon today, 5100 Logan Street

Garden of Hope: Laradon Hall, George V. Kelly with Harry Farrar, 1980, Pruett Publishing Company, Boulder, Colorado