Saturday, December 21, 2013

Anticipating Christmas

There was a time before door-buster sales, Black Friday, Gray Thursday, Christmas in July, 24-hour advertising, piped-in carols, gift catalogs and decorations that appear in the fall. Despite the lack of constant reminders, the days leading up to Christmas in Globeville (and in America before World War II) were filled with hope and anticipation.
For months, women would set aside a little in their food budget to afford the walnuts, honey, raisins, and poppyseed to make potica, kolache, kuchen, blini or the other ethnic treats that reminded immigrants of home. Obtaining oplatek, a wafer impressed with religious scenes and eaten before Wigilia, (the Christmas dinner) required a conversation with the pastor of St. Joseph's Polish Church or a request (well ahead of time) from a relative in Poland. Baking family favorites was a day-long event that involved helpful children and the telling of family stories in the process.
And there were choir practices, play rehearsals and special scripture readings during Advent.  Traditions from Eastern Europe, such as setting an extra table setting for an unexpected visitor or to remember someone who died, were preserved. Hymns, legends and symbols from the Old Country were maintained in church services and lodge events.
Children from large immigrant families didn't expect a lot of toys, and were likely to receive practical things like socks, sweaters, or shoes. Ed Wargin longed for a bike, but got a donkey because the animal could transport building supplies for Ed's father, and June Jackson remembers the delight of receiving the doll her older sister Helen had outgrown. Many old timers fondly recall the sack of hard candy distributed at church, probably donated by grocers Carl Gerhardt or John Yelenick. And a Christmas tree was a genuine treat, maybe purchased at Bomareto's, fresh, fragrant and decorated with strings of popcorn, lights, glass ornaments and tinsel.
Our current preparations for Christmas seem to involve the non-stop activities of shopping, wrapping, eating, attending multiple gatherings, texting and posting. Yet there are many of us who miss the richness and flavor of those earlier times.
Here's wishing you some memories of a simpler time as we await the birth of Jesus.

Potica or Povitica




Friday, December 6, 2013

Frederick F. Dometrovich, Theodore Dorak, Lawrence Goreski

There is a stained glass window above the altar in Holy Rosary Church that was donated in 1920 by the Dometrovich family, immigrants from Croatia. How proud they were to have son Frederick complete school at North High, then graduate from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. At age 34, married, and the father of two children, Dometrovich would have been exempt from the draft, but enlisted in the Army Medical Corps in August, 1942. Dometrovich served as a physician in the South Pacific, including Oro Bay, New Guinea and Gilbert Islands and died as the result of typhus contracted in the line of duty. Survived by his wife, children Margo and Fred, Jr., mother Mrs. Anna Dometrovich, brothers Frank and John, and sister Mrs. Mary Hamilton, Dometrovich received the American Theater Medal, and the Asiatic Pacific Medal and Citation.

Theodore Kenneth Dorak was one of many young men who enlisted in the Navy December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After training at San Diego, California, Dorak was assigned to the Naval Air Force aboard the USS Yorktown. A later assignment took Dorak to the aircraft carrier USS Franklin, where he participated in air raids over Marcus, Wake, Kwajalein, Truk, Saipan, Palau, Hollandia, and the Japanese mainland. Killed in action March, 1945, during a battle off the Japanese coast, Dorak was remembered with a plaque on the east side of St. Michael's Chapel at Riverside Cemetery. Dorak was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Dorak, brothers Edward J. Jr. and Daniel Dorak, and sister Mary Ellen Dorak. Dorak was awarded the Purple Heart, Asiatic Pacific Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, and the American Theater, Good Conduct and World War II Victory Medals.

Lawrence Goreski was 27 years old, married to Margaret and had a young daughter, Laura Jean when he enlisted in the Army Air Force January 11, 1942, a month after Pearl Harbor. Goreski entered flight training at Ellington Field, Houston, Texas, and received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant at Victorville, California. Assigned to combat flight duties in England October 28, 1942, Goreski was reported Missing in Action December 30, 1942, while participating in a bombing mission of a submarine base in Lorient, France. Besides his wife and children, Goreski was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Pete Goreski, and a brother, Paul Goreski. Goreski received the Purple Heart, European Theater, American Theater and World War II Victory Medals. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Daniel Baker, Charles A. Carbone, Stanley Marion Czajowski

The young men smiling from the pages of the booklet published by the Globeville Veteran's Club are the sons of immigrants, confident and eager to take on the world in defense of America. Many had never been farther than their home state of Colorado when they enlisted, but would give their lives for their country in remote parts of Europe, the Pacific and the United States. The first three men from World War II are: 
Daniel Baker, one of eight children of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Baker, enlisted in the Army July 14, 1943, and received his basic training at Fort Logan, Colorado, Georgia and Virginia. Assigned to Company L, 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division, Baker was killed in action in the vicinity of Cologne, France, November 10, 1944. Baker was awarded the Purple Heart, Good Conduct, American Theater and European Theater Medals.

Charles A. Carbone's home town is listed as New Haven, Connecticut where his parents, four brothers and two sisters lived. His enlistment in the Army in December, 1939 suggests that he was one of many young men who chose military life as a temporary career solution at a time when the United States was still recovering from the Great Depression. Perhaps he met a Globeville girl, Betty Tanko, while in basic training at Fort Carson, or when he was assigned to the 102d Infantry of the Colorado National Guard. When the United States entered the conflict, Carbone was assigned to Company C, 16th Infantry, 1st Army and participated in operations in France, Belgium and Germany. Carbone died February 26, 1945 as a result of wounds received in action,was buried in the American War Cemetery at Henri-Chapelle, and was awarded the Purple Heart. He was survived by his wife Betty Tanko Carbone and daughter Charlene. 

Stanley Marion Czajowski, one of eight children, was born in 1913, enlisted in the Army in June, 1939 and served with Company F, 1st Infantry Division. Czajowski died July 20, 1940, while on maneuvers at Lake Shamineau, Little Falls, Minnesota. Czajowski was buried from St. Joseph's Polish Church, and was listed by his Polish name, Stanislaw Marion Czajkowski, in the parish ledgerCzajowski was awarded the American Defense, the American Theater and World War II Victory Medals.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Globeville Veterans

The city of Denver will celebrate Veteran's Day in 2013 with a 5K run, a parade, a remembrance ceremony at Civic Center Park, activities for veterans and their families and an evening of fireworks. The Globeville Veteran's Club, which was organized in 1947, didn't want a parade or even recognition for their recent service, but to honor and commemorate those from Globeville who had died serving their country. In their meetings, it was suggested that a memorial honoring veterans be erected in Argo Park and the idea grew from there. The club's 200 members, former servicemen of both World War I and II, spoke to neighbors, businesses, fraternal organizations and churches to raise funds for the project. The 12-foot-high granite monument was dedicated in Argo Park on August 25, 1948, with Denver Mayor Quigg Newton, Governor Henry Knous, Councilman Ernest Marranzino and Congressman John Carroll in attendance. The Denver Post reported, "It is believed to be the first monument dedicated to the dead of the last war." 1.
The memorial stands in a quiet space in Argo Park, inscribed with the names of two men killed in World War I, 12 men lost in World War II and one Korean War casualty. Information will be given about the men whose names are inscribed on the monument in future posts. It is hoped that people who visit Argo Park will pause to remember the men from Globeville who sacrificed their lives for their country.
"The tumult and the shouting dies;  
The captains and the Kings depart;  
Still stand Thine ancient sacrifice,  
A humble and contrite heart.  
Lord God of Hosts. Be with us yet
Lest we forget! Lest we forget!"2
 1. Denver Post, Globeville to Dedicate War Heroes Memorial, August 25, 1948, pg. 28

2, From the dedication booklet, August 25, 1948

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The figures

June Jackson was the last of six children - inquisitive, energetic, a tomboy and usually underfoot. To keep an eye on his youngest, Andy Jackson often took her along - to the small grocery where he worked as a meat cutter, to pick up supplies for the church picnic or to lodge meetings at the Slovenian Hall. Andy even took June with him to St. Anthony's Hospital to visit a seriously ill friend from the Old Country.
In those days, children weren't allowed to see patients and so June waited on a bench in the hall while her father climbed the stairway to the second floor. While waiting, June saw the "figures." "They were a man and a woman, dressed in old-fashioned clothing, the woman carrying a lantern as they quietly descended the stairs. And they were completely transparent." Her father came down not long after he had gone up, explaining to June that his friend had already died, and June told her father about the remarkable people she had just seen.
As she grew older, June would learn the legends about the "figures," who were known in Slovenian folklore to foretell a death or a tragedy. Eight decades later, June's great grandchildren coax her to tell them her "ghost" story and the "figures" come alive again.

June Jackson 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Habitat for Humanity

It's not often that Globeville is in the spotlight, but the neighborhood was featured prominently on local TV stations, the Denver Post, and social media each day from October 6 -11. The excitement was in response to the building of 11 townhomes and the refurbishing of 15 older homes in Globeville through Habitat for Humanity. Politicians, Denver city council representatives, as well as members of the Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets, and country music stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, contributed their time to the effort. Of course, the most recognized volunteers were former President and First Lady Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter who have been donating their time to Habitat for Humanity since 1984.
People working together is nothing new in Globeville. In fact, neighborliness and cooperation are defining characteristics of the neighborhood.
The area was originally settled by immigrants from Eastern Europe, people who would have faced each other in battle had they remained in the Old Country. Not only did people leave those centuries-old ethnic grudges behind, they cooperated with others from different backgrounds, cultures and religions to establish and govern their new town. Neighbors also came together to slaughter pigs and make sausage, to build houses, barns, outbuildings and fences with lumber from boxcars, purchased by those who worked for the railroads. Immigrants supported each other through fraternal associations, which provided a financial safety net for families in times of sickness, injury or death. Regardless of their differences, citizens of Globeville attended each others church festivals, a tradition that is continued the third weekend each July with the Orthodox Food Festival and Old Globeville Days.
The Habitat for Humanity event was a great success and an example of the amazing things that can happen when people work together toward a common goal. The new and refurbished homes will improve the lives of residents for a long time, and the citizens of Globeville will continue to do what they have been doing for 125 years - helping each other.
Orthodox Food Festival
Habitat for Humanity Globeville
Photos Denver Post

The Madrid family received a new roof

Lots of restoration for the Moyers home

A porch is being added to the Trevino home

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Floods in Globeville

Globeville has suffered its share of floods over the years whenever heavy rain or record amounts of snow melt caused the usually sleepy Platte River to run out of its banks. There were periodic attempts to correct the situation, including a WPA project during the 1930s that redirected parts of the river and installed riprap along the banks. But the neighborhood, like much of Denver, would be forever changed by the 1965 Platte River Flood.
Streams were already running high with continuous rain and heavy spring run off when a cloudburst on Wednesday afternoon, June 16, dropped record amounts of moisture over an area south of Denver. Six inches of rain at Palmer Lake and three more at Cherry Creek Reservoir caused the Platte River to grow to a 20-foot high wall of water that carried mud, cars, trailers, dead animals, parts of houses, trees and propane tanks and headed toward Denver. Police set up barricades to bridges and viaducts that crossed the Platte, and kept traffic from using the low-lying Valley Highway. Debris slammed against bridges, propane tanks exploded, power outages darkened much of the city and  radio and television stations struggle to stay on the air. The river spread across the rail yards close to Globeville as emergency sirens wailed and the National Guard went door to door in the neighborhood ordering residents to higher ground.Dorothy and John Nevelos lived on Arkins Court, right along the Platte River. Dorothy recalls, “The emergency sirens were blowing and we had seen the story on the TV news...with the trailers and boxcars in the river. John stacked as much stuff as we could on top of the furniture and we left.” Dorothy and John were fortunate; the river spilled over on the other side and their home was untouched.Others were not so lucky. The rail yards, the Slovenian Gardens, the Polish hall, Transfiguration Cathedral, the Old Saw Mill and the meat packing plants all sustained damage. Marvin Pepper recalled, "We had just remodeled the plant [Pepper Packing] but the force of the flood caused meat hanging on high rails to fall. All of it was contaminated and condemned." The city's Northside Treatment Plant shut down when the power failed and raw sewage spilled into the river, and backed up through drains into people's homes. Lalo C. de Baca recalls, "We didn't really get flooded by the river but by the sewage plant. Everything was ruined." 
There were two fatalities in Globeville associated with the flood. On Thursday morning, the body of Adam Haffnieter was found floating in three feet of water near East 48th Avenue and Lincoln Street. He and his wife Molly had left their home at 4726 Sherman about 7 pm Wednesday night to stay with a relative. Adam had decided to return to his home about 10:30 pm after he heard reports of looting in the area. His body was discovered by police the next morning, and it appeared he had suffered a heart attack. 
Madfa (Matt) and Olga Davidovich were seriously burned when the furnace in their home at 4777 Logan exploded on Thursday morning. Like their neighbors, they had been evacuated from the area, but returned after the flood crest had passed. Olga lit the stove to prepare breakfast, igniting gas that had accumulated in the home. Olga would survive the blast but Matt would not. 
The National Guard would remain in Globeville all summer and Public Service would help residents pump water, clean and light furnaces furnaces as neighbors helped each other put things back in order. But church and lodge records as well as family photos and heirlooms would be lost forever.
Globeville still lies in a flood plain, but is less likely to suffer the same kind of catastrophe since the completion of a flood-control project in June of 2008.

Body of Man Found Afloat Near Home, Denver Post, Thursday, June 17, 1965
Furnace Explosion Burns Two, Denver Post, Thursday, June 17, 1965

Lincoln Street at 45th Avenue in June, 1927
photo used with written permission from Lauren Summers

Rail yards June 1965
Denver Public Library

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Church ladies

In the Old Country, women deferred to men in the home, in government, money matters and even in worship services. But women arriving in America experienced some different treatment right away, hearing "Ladies first" when exiting from the ship and being served before men. Those who traveled to Colorado after 1893 would be astonished to learn that men had passed legislation giving women the vote in state and local elections, 27 years before the rest of the nation. Immigrant women were quick to take advantage.
In Volga-German villages, women were to keep silent in prayer meetings, were not allowed to teach or exercise authority and sat on one side of the church while men sat on the other. But the ladies of Globeville's German churches formed Ladies Aid Societies, and visited the sick, helped maintain the church buildings and raised money for items such as hymnals and baptismal fonts. In St. Joseph's Polish Church, Holy Rosary and Transfiguration Orthodox Church, women organized the Ladies Choir, Sodality and the Altar Society. Branches of the ethnic fraternals appeared too, such as the Queen of the Holy Rosary Lodge No. 7 of the WSA, St. Anna's Lodge 143 of the Croatian Fraternal Union and the women-only Slovenian Women's Union.
The ladies quickly gained respect for their skills in organizing and fund raising. Bake and craft sales, raffles, concerts and plays, church picnics, carnivals and bazaars all raised money and built community. The tradition continues with the Orthodox Food Festival, Argo Park at 47th and Logan, Saturday and Sunday, July 20 and 21st; The Polish Food Festival Sunday, August 25th in the parking lot of St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church and the Holy Rosary Bazaar, at 4688 Pearl Street, Saturday and Sunday, September 7th and 8th.
Today's women have many more opportunities to exercise authority and express creativity but churches and the community benefit when they chose to focus their efforts on Globeville.

Ladies Society from Holy Transfiguration about 1905
photo used with written permission from Steve Klimoski

Ladies Aid Society, First German Congregational Church, 1944
photo used with written permission from Janet Wagner

Ladies from Holy Transfiguration selling food and crafts
photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Orthodox Food Festival

Polish Food Festival

Holy Rosary Parish Bazaar

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A mayor from Globeville

From the time he was 10 years old and accompanying his grandmother to pancake breakfasts at Holy Rosary Church, Isaac Solano has been saying that, one day, he would be mayor of Denver. Those who know him never doubted it.
Steadfastly pursuing that goal, Isaac distinguished himself at Denver's North High, founding the Ethics Club, joining the DPS student Board of Education and taking advantage of the school's mentors and advisors. A Gates Millennium Scholarship provided four years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Isaac graduating in the spring of 2013. This fall, Isaac will take another step toward his dream, beginning a Master's program in Political Science and Education at New York's Columbia University
But when people ask the future mayor where he's from, he confidently answers, "I'm from Globeville - do you know where that is?" Isaac has never forgotten. 
Raised by his grandparents, Bill and Stella Chacon, in their modest Globeville home, Isaac is proud of his neighborhood and wants Globeville residents to succeed as he has done, by dreaming big and working hard. Speaking to fifth graders at Garden Place Academy, the neighborhood school he once attended, Isaac hoped to present a world of possibilities outside of their neighborhood. During a summer break, Isaac ran a month-long College Boot Camp at his former middle school, convincing other inner-city kids that they could be the first member of their family to attend and succeed in college. 
For all his achievements, awards and accolades, Isaac gives thanks and credit to everyone who has helped and encouraged him. A party to celebrate his graduation from the University of Wisconsin included politicians, city officials, former teachers, advisors, mentors and people from Globeville - neighbors, his religious education teachers from Holy Rosary Church, relatives and childhood friends. 
To find all his individual accomplishments and awards, type "Isaac Solano" in your computer's browser. To find our future mayor, visit Globeville, where Isaac returns often and remains the same friendly, humble person Globeville folks remember.

Isaac's religious education teacher, Romelia Carrillo, 
Grandfather Bill Chacon, Isaac and Grandmother Stella Chacon.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Decoration Day

Memorial Day has come to mean the official start of summer season with backyard barbeques, outdoor activities and three days off from work and school. But for many Globeville families, churches and fraternal orders, the day was once centered around family, ceremony, honor and remembering the dead. Lydia Heck recalled, "Years ago when we were kids, on Memorial Day — and they didn’t call it Memorial Day — they called it Decoration Day — we would take our lunch and go over to Riverside Cemetery. A lot of our family, my folks and my husband's folks, are buried there." Lydia's sister, Pauline Rodie continued, "It was like a family reunion. People would gather, pray, reminisce, clean the graves and plant flowers. We young folks would hear stories about our ancestors. It was real nice."  The day might also include military bands, orators and political speeches in ceremonies honoring the many servicemen interred at Riverside.  
Many of Globeville's Catholic families would visit their relatives at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. June Jackson remembers going with her father and the Knights of Columbus. "While they were praying, I would walk around the monuments and gravestones. Then we would visit our family members and lay wreaths on the graves. It's what people did those days." 
Before heading into a busy summer filled with activities, families might might schedule an outing that included a visit with and reminiscences about those who came before us.

Family members are still remembered at Riverside Cemetery

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Globeville is surrounded by highways and industry - the eye in a hurricane of busyness. But away from the traffic noise and activity are small islands of quiet in the yards and gardens that feature a sacred shrine. These shrines are carefully constructed of stone, cement or wood, nestled among the flowers or displayed on an apron of cement. Some honor the Sacred Heart, St. Francis, St. Joseph or St. Anthony, but the most popular subject in Globeville is the Blessed VirginThe time and craftsmanship required raise questions - does this shrine represent a life-long devotion, gratitude for prayer that was answered, or the continuation of a cultural tradition from Eastern Europe or Mexico, where roadside grottoes are common. Each shrine is a glimpse into the faith of its builder, and has the power to generate a moment of reflection in passersby.  

On 47th Avenue

Lincoln Street
Sherman Street
A lovely garden and sitting area surrounds this shrine

Friday, May 3, 2013

May 3 - Polish Constitution Day

On May 3rd, the trees are bare, the weather cool and overcast, but for Globeville's Poles, nothing could dampen their enthusiasm for Polish Constitution Day, a day to demonstrate their national pride. The festivities would begin with Mass, followed by a parade with all the Polish fraternal organizations, glee clubs and dramatic societies marching down Washington Street, and culminating in an afternoon of food, patriotic speeches, singing and story telling. Members of nearby churches and fraternal lodges would also attend, as well as local politicians (particularly if an election was near). With celebrations like Polish Constitution Day, Poles would keep their homeland alive even as the nation itself had been nearly erased.
In the late 18th century, the Republic of Poland had been carved up by its powerful neighbors, Russia, Prussia and Austria. The next 100 years saw a relentless attack on the nation's identity, with each of the conquering powers restricting the Polish language, culture and religion, and requiring young men to serve in the armies of their oppressors. Seeking political and religious freedom, as well as economic opportunity, Poles began to emigrate to America, arriving in Globeville during the 1880s. 
In Globeville, Poles would form fraternal organizations to care for each other and perpetuate their heritage, and despite their limited financial means, build St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church and School. Poles would relish the freedom to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi in June, the birthday of Casimir Pulaski in October, and the Christmas and Easter traditions dear to them.
Today, the Polish nation is again alive and Polish culture in Globeville is vibrant and robust, continued at St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church and School.
St Joseph's Polish Catholic Church
Krakowiacy Polish Dancers

Polish Constitution Day, circa 1941
photos used with written permission from Jan Gisewski Garland

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Holy Rosary Parish

Among the Eastern European immigrants seeking religious liberty, economic opportunity and freedom from serving in the Austrian army were Slovenes and Croatians, who began arriving in Globeville during the 1880s. They had been farmers in the old country, but with little education, few urban skills and no knowledge of the English language, they were relegated to industrial jobs in mills and smelters. Their one avenue for spiritual and cultural expression, as well as a connection to the Old Country, was their Catholic faith, and it was their hope to build a church of their own. 
Slovenes and Croatians in Colorado had already established ethnic parishes - St. Mary's in Pueblo in 1894 and St. Joseph's in Leadville in 1899 - but it would be a longer process for those in Globeville.
Denver's Bishop Nicholas Matz urged all of Globeville's Catholics to attend St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church and discouraged the establishment of another ethnic parish just a block away. But St. Joseph's was very small, the Polish pastor Father Jarzynski didn't speak Slovenian or Croatian and made no arrangements to bring in a priest who could. Periodically, Slavic priests from Pueblo, such as Reverend Ignatius Burgar or Father Cyril Zupan, would travel two hours by train to say Mass, hear confessions and conduct funerals at St. Jacob’s Tavern. With such sporadic attention to their spiritual needs, many people just quit attending Mass. 
Leaders in the community decided to take matters into their own hands, and on October 20, 1916, held a meeting in St. Jacob's Tavern with leaders from several fraternal lodges, dramatic societies and glee clubs. A decision was made to begin raising money in the neighborhood, appeal for funds from lodges in Leadville, Aspen, Salida and Pueblo and wait. With the death of Bishop Matz in August, 1917, a committee approached his successor Bishop J. Henry Tihen for permission to start a parish for Slovenians and Croatians. Years of planning and saving allowed the parish to move quickly after receiving the Bishop's blessing, with the ground breaking ceremony on May 27, 1919, and the completion of the building on February 20, 1920. The church was dedicated on July 4, 1920 with Bishop Tihen praising the parishioners for their efforts - reminding them that poor people, rather than princes, built the great churches of Europe.
Holy Rosary now serves the descendants of the Slovenian and Croatian founders, the Hispanic community of Globeville and new urban pioneers settling the neighborhood.

Laying the cornerstone, 1919 photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Dedication, July 4, 1920. Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Holy Rosary Church, 2012. Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Holy Rosary Parish

The youngest of the three churches receiving historic designation in Globeville, 
Holy Rosary Church, convent and school State Register 3/10/1999, 5DV.349

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Cards

I try to keep up - email, tweets, texts, Facebook, YouTube and two blogs - reporting, documenting and keeping in touch with folks. This constant chatter lies somewhere between feeling engaged and a chore.
But I have a collection of old postcards (an anachronism) addressed to family members in Globeville that I keep in a cigar box (another anachronism). These postcards include elaborate versions covered with glitter and embossing, to more simple cards with seasonal messages. All would require some effort to purchase, compose and mail.
These two Easter cards were from the Mautz family, long-time friends of my grandparents, who kept in touch while living in Salida, Pueblo, Leadville and Denver. Changes in jobs, locations and family situations can be gleaned from the messages, "Happy Easter to Andy and Ida," then to "Andy, Ida, Andy Jr and John." I enjoy the heartfelt messages, the craft of the printing and tenderness of the images. Will anyone want to save our Tweets and emails?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Historic Holy Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral

State Register 5/14/1997, 5DV.771
They look so proud, the entire congregation all dressed up and assembled in front of the church, Russian Orthodox Church, Transfiguration of Christ, about 1905. For this group of immigrants, building their own church was an amazing accomplishment and the culmination of a long journey. 
In the late 19th century, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Hungarians, Serbians and Croatians began leaving Europe after their homelands had been annexed by the Austrian-Hungarian empire. (their passports would designate them as citizens of Austria) Their Orthodox religion had been suppressed by Roman Catholic Austria or Protestant forces in Hungary, their language forbidden and their culture nearly annihilated. Denied self rule and treated as second-class citizens, they were nonetheless required to serve in the army of their conquerers. Longing for religious freedom and economic opportunity, they would begin emigrate to industrial cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland, making their way to Globeville by the 1880s. 
Working in the three large smelters in the area, men would save enough to send for wives, sweethearts and family members from the Old Country and a small community of Czechs, Slovaks, Poles and Carpatho-Russians had formed in the area around Argo Park. By 1898, they were meeting for services in Globeville's only existing church, lent by a German-Russian congregation, and making plans to build a parish of their own. Founding members, George Pristash, Stephan Kulick, John Cintala, Sr., George Slovak, John Mindzak, Michael Kohut, Panko Homyak, Peter Kohut, John Wysowatcky, George Lesko, and Michael Dugan each contributed $50, a lot of money for men who were laborers. Others like John Kohut made bricks for the building and contributed hours of time to construct the temple.
The parish would survive revolution in Russia (their source of funds), prejudice, dissention, questionable pastors, the Depression, highway construction, the 1965 flood and parishioners moving out of Globeville. The arrival of Father Joseph and Matushka Paulette Hirsch in 1984 led to a revival of both the parish and the neighborhood. 
Holy Transfiguration received state historic designation in 1997, just in time for its centennial celebration in 1998. The state register acknowledges Holy Transfiguration's significance as the first Slovak church built in Colorado and the contributions these Eastern European immigrants made to Colorado and the Globeville neighborhood
Holy Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral

Photo used with written permission from Steve Klimoski

Friday, February 22, 2013


Today's Christian congregations might be urged to prepare for Easter by simplifying their lives, giving up FaceBook, Starbucks, a favorite food, television program, movies or beer. Early settlers in Globeville didn't have many luxuries to give up but regarded Lent as an opportunity for spiritual growth with greater prayer, repentance and charity. Lent was also a way to express their faith, which had been suppressed in the Old Country, and to preserve the food, traditions and culture they had left behind. 
On the day before Ash Wednesday, or Fastenacht, a German-Russian cook would serve her family schlitzkuchla, a deep-fried pastry. While the German-Russians didn't observe a strict fast, many families served meatless meals, such as Kaseknepfla,(cheese buttons) during the season. Lent was a time of frequent church attendance, with special services every Wednesday evening, and no dancing, card playing, amusements or weddings. 
Lent began for Catholics from St. Joseph's Polish and Holy Rosary Churches on Ash Wednesday with the application of ashes on the forehead, and a reminder that "dust you are and to dust you shall return". Lenten practices included abstaining from meat on Fridays and observing a fast that required the evening meal to be no larger than the combination of breakfast and lunch, and avoiding eating between meals. (It was understood that the faithful would cut back on beer and wine during the solemn season). Fridays were for the devotion known as the Stations of the Cross, Via Crucis, or Via Dolorosa, recalling the route Jesus took on his way to Golgotha, with incense, candles and Latin hymns like Stabat Mater, Mary is Standing.
Because Russian and Serbian Orthodox observed the Julian calendar, "Great Lent" usually began later than that of Roman Catholics with fasting that included not only abstaining from meat, but also certain kinds of fish and dairy. Inside the church, the royal gates to the altar remained closed to signify man's separation from God through sin, and the priest donned vestments in the somber color of purple. The Vesper service which began the lenten season was called Vespers of Forgiveness where the faithful asked forgiveness and forgave each other.
Many of the descendants of Globeville's earlier residents return to the neighborhood parishes to continue the lenten practices they practiced as children, and use the dark, cold days of Lent to prepare for the joyful resurrection of Easter. 

One of the stained-glass windows at Holy Rosary Church

German Russian Lent
St Joseph's Polish Catholic Church 
Holy Rosary Church
Holy Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral

Monday, February 4, 2013

Historic churches in Globeville

Shot-gun houses fill the long, narrow lots, iron and wooden fences define each yard and sheds, re-purposed chicken coops and barns line the unpaved alleys. Economically, Globeville is a poor neighborhood, but historically, tiny Globeville is rich. Each small home contains the story of an immigrant with a low-paying job, sending for relatives from the Old Country and building a better life in America. Hard-working and painfully frugal, these newcomers saved and planned for a generation to build their own ethnic churches, a link to their native cultures and a celebration of the freedom of worship that brought many here. By 1920, the neighborhood was home to three Volga-German congregations, a Russian-Serbian Orthodox Church, St. Joseph's Polish Roman Catholic Church, Holy Rosary Church, the Greenwood Methodist and the Seventh Day Adventist Churches. As the founders passed on and their descendants assimilated and moved away, congregations would struggle and not all the churches would survive
As the remaining parishes reached milestone anniversaries, parishioners experienced a renewed interest in their ethnic heritage, and looked for ways to celebrate their legacy with official historic status. Three of Globeville's ethnic churches have received historic designation: St. Joseph's Polish Roman Catholic Church is on the National Register, while both Holy Transfiguration Cathedral and Holy Rosary Parish are on the Colorado State Register. St. Joseph's at 517 East 46th Avenue, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
The listing from the National Register states that "the Gothic style church was constructed in 1902 to serve Polish immigrants in the Globeville suburb of Denver." What the description doesn't say is that Globeville's Poles were from the Russian-controlled Plock region of Poland, where their religion, language and culture had been suppressed, that they would save for nearly 20 years, and then petition the German-born Bishop Matz to build a parish "exclusively for the Polanders." The congregation obtained Father Jarzynski (a Holy Cross priest from the same Plock region as many parishioners) and held Mass, confession, baptism and marriages in the home of Frank Wargin until the church was completed on Christmas Day, 1902. The church was a connection to Poland at a time the nation had ceased to exist, and much of the life of the Polish community was centered around St. Joseph's. There were processions for the feast of Corpus Christi, blessings of food before Easter, as well as Mass after the secular celebrations of Polish Constitution Day and the birthday of Casimir Pulaski. There was the Polish Literary Club, an organization for young people, that produced Polish plays, raising money for the parish and entertaining the community. There were also choirs, music performances, fraternal organizations, mock Polish weddings and parish bazaars.
The parish survived the Depression, World War II, assimilation, the division of the neighborhood by interstate highways and inadequate services from the city of Denver to make it for 110 years. With an infusion of new arrivals from Poland and enthusiastic support from the descendants of the founders, St. Joseph's is again the source of Polish culture, with Masses in both English and Polish, Polish language classes, Polish music and dance performances. Visit the website, or stop by (Lent is coming!) and experience the rich faith, food, culture and traditions of Poles in Globeville.  
St Joseph's Polish Roman Catholic Church

Funeral at St. Joseph's circa 1910, Photo® property of Mary Lou Egan

St. Joseph's circa 2013, photo® property of Mary Lou Egan

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Woman's Glory, The Kitchen

The title was "Woman's Glory, The Kitchen," (which says volumes about women's aspirations in a certain era) but there was also "Kuche Kochen," and "Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans," titles of cookbooks published mid 20th century to instruct "modern homemakers" how to prepare the ethnic dishes their mothers had made. And there were compilations of recipes published by church groups, ladies societies and fraternal organizations in an effort to preserve an ethnic culture that was vanishing as immigrants assimilated. 
But these old books offer much more than kitchen tips and recipes. Inside Woman's Glory, one would find several recipes for potica, a description of the region in which that version originated, information about the person submitting the recipe and lodge events. The German-Russian cookbook, Kuche Kochen, has an entire chapter devoted to blini, along with instructions for preserving food for the winter, customs in the author's village in Russia and prayers said before and after meals.  Published in the 1940s, "Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans"  contained insights into Polish culture as well as instructions for cooking Polish favorites. There are many vintage ethnic cookbooks, but the best ones offer a glimpse into the immigrant culture and way of life even as it was disappearing.  

Published by the Slovenian Women's Union of America

Available from the Polish Art Center

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Immigrants who settled in Globeville from the 1880s to the 1920s were mostly farmers from Eastern Europe and Russia with little education, few urban skills and no knowledge of the English language. Working in the smelters, railroads and meat packing plants made newcomers realize that better jobs and a better life came to those who could speak English and were American citizens. 
To become an American citizen a person had to be of "good moral character, have the ability to read, write, speak, and understand English, and have knowledge of the fundamentals of U.S. history and government," (also required today).
The first step was the easiest since the immigrant's sponsor (perhaps Maximilian Malich or John Wolf) would vouch for his "good moral character." But how could anyone learn to read and write English while working 12 hour days, six days a week? Schools, lodges and some churches came to the rescue. Principal Matthew Eagleton instituted night classes in English at Garden Place School, the "Slavonian" Lodge, St. Jacob's Croatian Society also held English-language lessons for members, and (after 1916) Denver's Opportunity School. As children learned English in school, they taught their parents, and, by the 1920s, there were radio programs, movies at Globeville's Cozy Theatre and baseball. Once the language was mastered, the study of U.S. history and government could be tackled with the aid of pamphlets containing the questions likely to be asked, such as ""Name the original 13 colonies, How can the president prevent a bill from becoming a law? What is the term of office of a U.S. Representative?" (The Questionnaire shown below was prepared for a Volga-German congregation in Nebraska during the 1900s).
Today's immigrants face the same challenges: a new language, different culture, unfamiliar customs, separation from family and little time to learn English and the fundamentals of U.S. history. There are classes nearby at El Centro San Juan Diego, Trevista Elementary School, Emily Griffith Opportunity School and Holy Rosary Parish Center.
Clases de Ingles: Las Clases de Inglés reinician el día lunes 14 de enero de 10:00 a.m a 12:00 p.m. en el Centro Parroquial. ¡Te esperamos!
Holy Rosary Church
Emily Griffith Opportunity School

Used with written permission from John Werner

English learner at Holy Rosary Parish Center

ESL class at Holy Rosary