Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Memories

Larry Summers is the grandson of Carl Gerhardt, proprietor of Gerhardt Mercantile, and remembers Christmas as a youngster during the Depression. “Mrs. Metzger was a Sunday School teacher who organized the children's program on Christmas Eve at St. Paul’s German Lutheran Church. Everyone had a few lines to say and some was in German. Afterward, we each got a little bag with an orange and a pyramid-looking chocolate with cream inside. I think Grandpa Gerhardt and Mr. Schaffer probably supplied most of the stuff inside the bag."
Globeville's Poles would celebrate with a special dinner on Christmas Eve known as wigilia with mushroom soup, boiled potatoes (kartofle), pickled herring (sledzie), fried fish, pierogi, beans and sauerkraut (groch i kapusta). A lighted candle in the windows symbolized the hope that the Christ child, in the form of a stranger, would come and an extra place was set at the table for the unexpected guest.
Southern Slavs enjoyed homemade wine and delicacies not eaten at other times of the year, such as smoked meats or potica (pronounced po-tee-sa), a Slovenian nut bread.
Using the old Julian calendar, Globeville's Orthodox Slavs observed Christmas on January 7th. Elaborate church services, feasting and visits with family remained the same when the switch was made to the Gregorian calendar in 1968.
Bea Trevino's Hispanic Christmas traditions are those her family observed growing up in New Mexico. "For Christmas and Easter we make meat empanadas. For New Years a lot of us make a chicken mole, or we make menudo with hominy. In New Mexico, we do hominy with ham or pork."
Commemorative Christmas plate, a gift of the Gerhardt Mercantile. Photo Larry Summers.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Southern Slavs

Most of the Southern Slavs in Globeville were from Slovenia and Croatia but were citizens of the Austrian empire, which had absorbed their homelands, as well as those of Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia. They began arriving in the 1880s, attracted by political and religious freedom and by jobs in the Grant and the Globe Smelters.
Work in the smelters was hard and dangerous with men risking death or disability from extreme heat, toxic fumes and dust from heavy metals. To provide financial security for themselves and their families, Slavs formed fraternal societies or lodges that offered sick and death benefits while seeking to preserve the language, culture and heritage of the home country. The lodge was like a clubhouse where members felt at home and Globeville's residents had many choices: St. Jacob's Croatian Society, the American Fraternal Union, the Slovene National Benefit Society, the American Slovenian Catholic Union or the Western Slavonic Association (Zapadna Slovanska Zveza). Croatians met in St. Jacob's Hall, now the Sidewinder Tavern at 4485 Logan, and many of the Slovenian lodges held their activities at the Slovenian Home at 44th and Washington. Weddings, funerals, labor rallies, Catholic Mass and confession were held in the lodge halls until Holy Rosary Church was built. Members of the fraternal organizations petitioned Bishop Tihen for permission to build a church and then set about raising the funds. Holy Rosary was dedicated in July 1920 with Reverend Cyril Zupan as the first pastor. The church, convent and school received state historic designation in 1999.

Holy Rosary Church and convent about 1930. Photo June Jackson Egan

In 1919, Slovenian Societies hold a fund-raising bazaar 
outside the unfinished church. Photo Joseph Yelenick.