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.