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Crossroads

Crossroads


We have featured a number of articles about historic Colfax Avenue, and its colorful characters, as part of our “local history” series. Our neighbor Harry Puncec adds to the picture with a paean to Broadway, the centerline of Denver and home to many warm memories of his youth. 


My favorite intersection in Denver is Colfax and Broadway where the two historic streets meet marking the emotional center of the city and of Colorado itself.  Looking east you have the State Capitol with its majestic golden dome looking down on the City and County Building across the way.  Downtown was originally laid out parallel to Cherry Creek which must have caused grief for early surveyors.  At the intersection of Colfax and Broadway you can see where the city converted to the far easier north-south orientation. Making it work are the two streets that spoke out in the basic directions of the compass.

The streets are vastly different with Colfax getting the nod in every category.  Its length of about 22 miles from where it splits off from I-70 way to the east across town to where it loses its identity at the beginning of the foothills near Golden.  That far exceeds the 15 miles of Broadway which begins at Brighton Boulevard in the north and ends as a twisted suburban arterial ending abruptly at Wildcat Reserve Parkway in Highlands Ranch.  Colfax heads toward the mountains while Broadway avoids them.  Vice, corruption, and used car lots seem at home along Colfax while Broadway quietly slips into seedy old age as it approaches downtown.  Everyone talks of fixing Colfax but Broadway is permitted to wheeze and gasp in relative anonymity.

Yet Broadway holds a special place in my heart. It was my first home in Denver back in the autumn of 1941 when my parents rented a second story apartment just off 8th Avenue above a store that sold galvanized metal for sheds.  My brothers and I were permitted to play in the back of the shop until the day my youngest brother swallowed a handful of rat poison and earned a rush trip to nearby Denver General Hospital.  He survived but our freedom of movement didn’t.

Mom and Dad came to Denver in late 1940 so he could take a job with the Colorado Industries for the Blind in their shop at Speer Boulevard and Bannock.  The mostly blind staff made brooms, mops, doormats, and other household items sold by blind vendors door to door across the area.  Those were the war years and my dad’s shop had a War Department contract to make brooms for the military.  The shop had this military contract, access to unlimited gas as a result, and a pickup truck to make deliveries.  The problem was that the shop didn’t have a sighted driver and the only person who knew how to drive was my legally blind dad.  At 4-years-old I was called into service and told to stand next to him during delivery trips down Broadway and to tell him if the light ahead was red or green.  Broadway was a two-way street in those days and traffic, thanks to wartime gas rationing, was sparse which helped.  On the other hand you had to duck the streetcars that clanked their way to and from downtown.  Outside of the movie “Scent of a Woman” you don’t see that happening much anymore.

Broadway… its soul remains in the small shops and historical facades that line the route.

Broadway was also the scene of one of my early heartbreaks.  From our house at 791 Sherman, which we moved into in 1944, I’d walk the two blocks to Broadway and catch the Number 3 streetcar south to Alameda, and hike to St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church for instructions for my first Holy Communion.  It was 1947 and the carfare each way was 4¢.  My mom would give me two nickels with the understanding that I could spend the change on candy.  I loved the deal and was stunned one day when the conductor told me that inflation had forced the tramway company to increase the cost to, you guessed it, a nickel.  I broke down and cried while the poor man frantically looked for a penny of his own to give me and shut off the waterworks.

Much has changed along Broadway and yet its soul remains in the small shops and historical facades that line the route.  As long as memory permits it will be the street of my youth, with its dreams and heartache.  Colfax is just that other street.

Downtown Denver From the State Capitol Building, 1898


Harry Puncec is an original Southern Gables homeowner, having bought one of the Wood Brothers homes when the neighborhood was a noisy, dusty construction zone imposing itself on vacant land. From that beginning before the incorporation of Lakewood, forming lifelong friendships with neighbors along the way, he has been a leading contributor to the good of the community. 


 

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Throw a Block Party? Who, Me?

Throw a Block Party? Who, Me?


Yes, you! You can do it!  Invite your friends, invite neighbors you haven’t met yet and make new friends. And… the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association will pay you* to host your party.  This year, after COVID disrupted our plans for the big “Neighborhood Night Out” party, we are sponsoring individual outdoor parties throughout the Southern Gables neighborhood. 


* How much is the stipend for hosting? $100.

So… host a party with your neighbors? You bet you can. It’s easy and fun. Potluck, outside in your driveway, yard, or cul-de-sac. August 20 is the planned date but vary if you must. You set up and provide the basics. It’s all about strengthening community spirit, for mutual benefit.

Here’s how.

Planning

    1. Consider that with our curving streets going every which way, short ones and long ones, the word “block” doesn’t always work. Think in terms of an “area” centered on your home and as many as 50 homes. You can include parallel and adjacent streets. Just tell us what streets you will cover and we’ll check for overlaps with other hosts.
    2. If you give out 40 to 50 invitations, on average about 10 to 15 families will come. If you know your nearest neighbors well enough to have an idea of which ones will come, count them in as a baseline and then figure about 25% of the people you don’t know will come.
    3. Make flyers as invitations and deliver them, in person, door to door. (Sample available here.) If you have email contact with some of your neighbors, send invitations out that way in addition to delivering them.
    4. It’s probably best not to require RSVP’s. Let people feel free to just show up. With that in mind, you don’t have to get people to sign up or bring certain dishes. Just invite them to “bring something to share.”
    5. Decide what you will provide, such as soft drinks, hot dogs or hamburgers, paper goods. If you have a barbecue grill that can be used, that’s good too. In your invitations you will let people know what will be provided; that they can bring side dishes, snacks, or desserts; whether you want them to bring lawn chairs.
    6. Get some near neighbors to team up with you, for door-knocking, helping to promote, setting up tables, cleanup afterwards. Have nametag blanks and markers available. Think ahead of what you’ll do if someone wants to use the restroom.

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Before the party

    1. As soon as you can, sign up! Let us know how many homes you will invite, and which ones they are. Contact SGNA.Lakewood@gmail.com. We will keep a record so that if someone plans to overlap your invitation area, we can help you work it out.
    2. July 30 (Three weeks before the party) Design and print invitations. (You can download a sample here, or make your own however you like.) Be sure your email address is on the invitation for neighbors to respond if they want to, or ask questions. Print the number of flyers you plan to give out.
    3. August 6 (Two weeks before) Take the invitations with you and give them by hand to neighbors.
      • Whenever you can, try and get the neighbor’s email address to better facilitate your communications.
      • If no one answers the door, leave the invitation on the door. Fasten to the handle with a rubber band or stick it inside the edge. DO NOT leave anything in a mailbox and DO NOT knock or leave anything if there is a “No soliciting” sign.
    4. August 13 (a week before) If you need to borrow tables or maybe a few chairs from a near neighbor, or a portable grill, ice chest or whatever else, arrange that.
    5. A few days before. Buy the items you plan to provide.

Day of the party: August 20. Set up and enjoy your own party. Meet new neighbors.

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After the party. Notify us at sgna.lakewood@gmail.com how many families you invited and how many people showed up. We will write you a check for $100. If you like to write and have some stories to tell, or some photos to share, send them to sgna.lakewood@gmail.com and we will include them in an article on the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association website.