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