Monday, February 27, 2017

Ed Wargin and Polack Valley

I became acquainted with Ed Wargin in 1999. I called and asked Ed if I could interview him about Globeville for a history of the area I was writing. He was originally reluctant to meet with me - I was a total stranger - but we finally got together, sat on his back porch and he answered my questions. As we got more comfortable with each other, he shared memories of his father and grandfather, stories of the kids he played with, what people did for fun, and the gypsies. Each time we met, Ed regaled me with his memories and reminded me that Globeville was a very special place. He suggested we take a tour and he could show me various places in the neighborhood and what Globeville was really like.

I picked him up on a Saturday in April 2000 and we followed the old Interurban tracks through the neighborhood. His enthusiasm was contagious as he pointed out the different houses where his family had lived, the churches, lodges, and sites of former grocery stores and saloons. The finale was a trip to "Polack Valley" on the north side of the highway, between the railroad tracks.

Ed pointed to where Kowalczyks, Ryszkowskis and Oletskis had settled in the 1880s and where their descendants still lived. At the Oletski's house, the entire family was gathered to make sausage, but they stopped what they were doing and visited with us. Everyone was laughing and waving their hands as they told stories about their grandfathers Wargin and Oletski, who knew each other.

They were forceful men who worked as blacksmiths, in the smelters and on the railroad and built houses so all their family members could live nearby. They organized the local chapter of the Polish National Alliance, and then built St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church and school. John Oletski excused himself, and when he returned, he gave us each a pound of the sausage they had just made.

I saw then the Globeville that Ed wanted me to see. The Eastern European hospitality where folks dropped what they are doing to talk with an elderly visitor and amateur historian, and treat each of us to a pound of home made Polish sausage. It doesn't get much better than that.

Ed Wargin, April 2000
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Oletskis still live in Polack Valley

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