Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Video: 4 Seasons Nightclub Fire in 1986

The 4 Seasons Nightclub was a popular country western bar in Denver until it burned down in the April of 1986. Formerly located at the intersection of East Colfax Avenue and Sable Boulevard, The 4 Seasons hosted many well known country acts, including Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Brik on York

Brik is Denver's neighborhood wine bar featuring local musicians and artisan pizza, located on the cross streets of Colfax Avenue and York Street in Denver, CO.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Chvrches coming to the Fillmore Auditorium

Fillmore Auditorium
October 22
Showtime 7:30 pm / Doors 6:30 pm 



Chvrches announce new tour kicking off in New York City at the iconic Central Park SummerStage on September 29. Just last week the band announced the release of their highly anticipated sophomore album, Every Open Eye, due out September 25 via Glassnote Records. The album’s debut single ‘Leave A Trace’ (LISTEN HERE) premiered this past Thursday simultaneously on Sirius XMU and Alt Nation and has already been praised by music critics across the board, with Billboard calling it “an arena-sized banger. The track is available to download now as an instant-grat for those pre-ordering the album.

Known for their mesmerizing live show, CHVRCHES will be hitting the road in support of Every Open Eye this fall playing a combination of new music off the album and their classics.

Available now through Wednesday, July 22 at 10 PM EST fans can get access to pre-sale tickets by pre-ordering Every Open Eye from the CHVRCHES store HERE:

Every Open Eye is the follow up to the band’s breakthrough debut album The Bones of What You Believe, which was released in autumn 2013 to widespread critical acclaim and went on to sell over 500,000 copies worldwide. The Brit Award nominated band clocked in 364 shows in 2 years, selling out venues across the world and making signature appearances at SXSW (where they were awarded the inaugural prize for best new act in 2013), Glastonbury, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Reading & Leeds, and myriad others.

Check in regularly at for all band and tour updates.

at the Fillmore Auditorium Box Office, online at or call 800 – 745 – 3000. 

Tickets are $30.50 GA ADV and $36.00 GA DOS plus applicable service charges.

The Fillmore box office is open Monday - Friday from 12:00 Noon - 6:00pm & Saturdays from 10:00am - 2:00pm.  On days of Fillmore shows, the box office is open from 12:00 Noon – 9:00pm.  The box office accepts cash, MasterCard, Visa and American Express – No checks!  Service charges may apply. 

THE FILLMORE AUDITORIUM IS LOCATED AT 1510 CLARKSON ST. AT COLFAX.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
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Media Contacts:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dutch Mill Cottage Court

The windmill from the Dutch Mill Cottage Court at 11937 E. Colfax Avenue survived for many years and incarnations, including a gift shop and a barber shop, but unfortunately is not around today.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Hill: A historic Jewish cemetery in Lakewood goes forsaken

by Marianne Goodland - September 14, 2015

There are 800 Jews buried on a scraggly hill on the outskirts of Lakewood, their graves unmarked, unkempt and vandalized. Most years, the Hill, as the old cemetery is known, doesn’t get mowed more than once in the spring, leaving graves lost by summer’s end beneath a tangle of weeds.

When asked why the Hill doesn’t get mowed more than that, one caretaker said, “Because they didn’t pay.”

This year, days before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, weeds were cut down – a rare sign of care for a plot of land that’s all too often ignored.

Denver resident Ted Ruskin was shocked when he first saw the Hill, in 1989, which had already suffered from 30 years of neglect. Ruskin owned a memorial company and also was vice-president of the Synagogue Council of Greater Denver.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said. “There were a tremendous number of memorials knocked over, weeds and garbage. It was terrible. I was appalled.”

Ruskin began marshaling volunteers for an annual cleanup with help from the Council. He did so until a few years ago, when his eyesight failed and he had to stop. Since then, more tombstones have been knocked over, more trash has built up amid the snarl of weeds and rusted markers, and broken beer bottles litter the cemetery’s “Genizah” grave, a sacred place for worn-out prayer books.


The main section of the Golden Hill cemetery, started in 1908, is on the south side of Wide Acres Road in west Lakewood and is still active. The Hill, on the north side of the road and overlooking downtown Denver, was established in 1915. The first burial took place that year. No one has been buried there since the 1980s.

In 1995, the Hill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of only three Jewish cemeteries nationwide with that distinction.

The whole cemetery was built for Jewish tuberculosis victims, many who came from Eastern Europe in the early 1900s for the Colorado cure: isolation from the general population, a good diet, temperate weather and fresh, dry air. Many faced poverty. Tuberculosis was a disease of the poor, spread through crowded living conditions.

Jewish tuberculosis patients went to one of two sanitariums in Denver for the Colorado cure: National Jewish Hospital and the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society. National Jewish opened in 1899 with a motto of “none who pay may enter, and none who enter may pay.”

Jeanne Abrams of the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver said that while the hospital did great work, it had rigid rules. Patients were limited to six months of care, and had to have at least $50 in savings so they could return home and not be a burden on their communities.

National Jewish also was nonsectarian, and didn’t observe kosher laws until almost two decades after it opened.

In response to Denver’s need for an observant sanitarium, working class Jewish men founded the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society in 1904 and recruited Dr. Charles Spivak, a Russian immigrant, to run it. The organization’s motto, from the Talmud, is “he who saves one life saves the world.”

Spivak was a pioneer in the treatment of tuberculosis. He believed people would heal faster in an environment in which they felt comfortable. So, JCRS had a kosher kitchen from day one, and its staff respected the Yiddish language spoken by many of its patients.

The Relief Society also differed from National Jewish in another key way — it took tuberculosis patients in all stages of the disease, including people who might die just days after their arrival. More than 7,000 were treated at the JCRS sanitarium in its 36-year history, and scores of them didn’t survive.


Both sanitariums needed a cemetery. Golden Hill, near the foothills, was the result. It was started by the West Side Benevolent Society, a mutual aid organization founded by prominent members of Denver’s Jewish community to buy the land for the cemetery.

For the first few years, all tuberculosis victims, rich and poor, from JCRS and National Jewish, were buried in the main section of Golden Hill. Those from JCRS — who tended to be more devout and less well-off financially — were mostly buried in unmarked graves.

But by 1915, according to a cemetery ledger from the Foothills Genealogical Society, the poor began to be buried on the Hill so they wouldn’t “infect” those buried in the main section. According to records from the Jefferson County Historical Commission, burying tuberculosis victims on the Hill was a way to segregate them from the general population, since it was believed back then that people “visiting a cemetery could contract the disease through the deceased.” The practice also reflected more than a bit of elitism from wealthy families who buried their loved ones on more level ground in a meticulously manicured part of the cemetery just down the hill and to the south.

Records show that families with money spent between 30 cents and a dollar for a burial. But if burial expenses weren’t paid for, graves were marked with temporary metal plates, most of which rusted, disintegrated or have been stolen. Of the 200 tombstones placed on the hillside, many have succumbed to wind, rain and snow. Or worse. Dozens have been toppled and shattered by vandals.

“The second there are signs no one’s paying attention, that’s when the wrong people pay attention,” according to local historian Jennifer Goodland, who has researched the stories of some of the people buried on the Hill.

Most of the dead on the Hill were men, since Jewish cemeteries, at least until the mid-20th century, were segregated by gender. Many were young — in their 20s and 30s — who had come from their respective “old countries” in search of promise in the western U.S.

There was Joel Kagan who during World War I served in the “Jewish Unit” of the Royal Fusiliers, a British army battalion, and was a prisoner of war in Palestine.

And Martin (Mendel) Abelson, a World War I veteran turned stockbroker who was a delegate to the 1916 Republican convention, according to a local paper. Abelson ran on a platform of respecting the rights of everyone, regardless of nationality, a radical notion in those days.

Morris Rosenberg immigrated from Adampol, Poland, a town of middle-class and upper-class Jews. He came to the United States during the 1912-14 peak of Polish immigration. About 20 years later during World War II, his town of Adampol became a slave-labor subcamp connected to Sobibor, one of three main Nazi extermination camps. Adampol has no memorial to its Jews. The last synagogue was torn down in the 1970s and turned into a parking lot.

CI Golden Hill Cem Lakewood 05042015 05

One of the first women buried on the Hill was Ida Hayum, who was born in Lohrhaupten, Germany in 1910. Like many Jews fleeing the rise of the Nazi Party, she and her husband came to the United States from Europe in 1935. Her town, Lohrhaupten, had already suffered its share of anti-Semitic attacks. Violence against Jews cut the population from 59 in 1861 to 21 by 1933. By 1940, the last 18 Jews in Lohrhaupten were sent to the concentration camps and to their deaths. Like Adampol and many other communities throughout Europe, Lohrhaupten also never memorialized its Jewish residents.

Hayum’s and Rosenberg’s graves on the Hill are some of the last reminders that those communities ever existed.

“Never forget,” goes the solemn vow borne out of the Holocaust.

But remembering takes both time and money.

Despite its historical importance for Denver and the Front Range Jewish community, the Hill shows signs of years of benign neglect because few funds are available to pay for even the most minimal care. That care now consists of mowing the hill once a year for Memorial Day, leaving it overgrown by early summer and looking like a wasteland by the Jewish high holy days this time of year.
Restoring the Hill and the memory of the 800 buried there will take money, according to cemetery director Neal Price. But making the Hill a replica of the main section, with its manicured grass, isn’t in keeping with the Hill’s historic designation. The cemetery needs new security fencing, road improvements and foundations for toppled tombstones. The yucca plants that have overtaken much of the grounds need yanking. The dirt should be seeded with native grass. Each grave should be properly marked.

Now nearly blind, Ruskin isn’t able to do the work himself. So he’s applying for a $25,000 restoration grant to Historic Denver. Price estimates the total budget at around $100,000, and he also is looking for funding. The work is vast, Price said.

When the sanitariums needed a place to bury their dead, the West Side Benevolent Society bought land that was once part of a farm owned by John Clark Welch, a Golden pioneer who helped found the Colorado School of Mines.

Today, the farm is long gone. In its place, on the north side of West Colfax and across the street from the Hill, a multi-story office building is going up. Businesses line West Colfax from that part of Lakewood all the way to Denver.

Houses line the streets surrounding the main section of the cemetery on its south and west sides.
But somewhat telling of the Hill, its nearest neighbor, on its west side, is an empty warehouse that has been vacant for years.

Photo credit: Jennifer Goodland

Thanks to Historian Jennifer Goodland of Big Year Colorado for this story and for her invaluable assistance throughout this project.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Chateau Motor Lodge

The old Chateau Motor Lodge at 8300 East Colfax Avenue at Valentia Street in Denver. Today it's the Orlando Apartments.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Aladdin Theatre

One of the city’s most celebrated neighborhood theatres opened in October, 1926 to great fanfare. The premier was covered by a throng of reporters and was attended by some of Denver’s most notable names. Flowers piled high and telegrams arrived from Hollywood studio heads and movie stars.

The public was held in awe at what they found inside: thick, luxurious carpets in jade green, wide, plush seats, an expansive auditorium ceiling painted sky blue with hundreds of tiny, twinkling lights that looked like stars when the house lights were turned down, a completely equipped nursery, a large waiting room and an exotic smoking lounge. They found Arabian murals and decorations, and even a bubbling fountain. Everything inside was worthy of Ali Baba himself, down to the drapes and furnishings, wrought iron and blown glass hanging lanterns and standing lamps.

It was truly “The Arabian Nights Meets the Rockies”. The auditorium had a large orchestra pit and a 14 rank electric theater organ. When movies weren’t being shown, the screen was lifted to expose the large stage, big enough to hold almost any entertainment venue.

Opening night featured a short organ concert followed by a soprano solo of “Allah’s Garden of Roses”, which was written especially for the premier. That was followed by “A Dream of India”, and several numbers played by Dahl’s Arabian Nights Orchestra. A stage show included a bevy of girls in blond wigs and black shorts and tops dancing the Black Bottom. The first movie shown at the Aladdin was “Across the Pacific”, starring Monte Blue and Myrna Loy.

The Aladdin Theatre opened in the days of the silent movies, but management was quick to pick up on the latest technology: sound. Although a few theatres in Denver had experimented with the sound process, in February, 1927 the Aladdin Theatre had a showing of its first Vitaphone film, “Don Juan”, starring John Barrymore, grandfather of actress Drew Barrymore. The film featured synchronized music and a short lecture by Will Hays, Hollywood movie czar. Later that same year, the public was treated to a run of “The Jazz Singer”, with Al Jolson, which is generally recognized by movie historians as the film that ushered in the talkies.

The Aladdin Theatre was built on a site formerly occupied by a mansion belonging to Ed Chase, an early theater owner and well-known gambling kingpin.

The Aladdin Theatre enjoyed a long, successful run as a first-run movie house. It survived after many of the big screen theatres downtown had closed their doors. It even survived the introduction of television to Denver – for a while, at least. The theatre tried beefing up its patronage by showing cutting-edge films such as “The Moon Is Blue”, with William Holden, a racy (for its time) story about a love triangle, and “The Man With the Golden Arm”, a movie about a strung out junkie, starring Frank Sinatra. The neighborhood kids weren’t left out, though. Saturdays were the days when children would pack the theatre to see the latest Western or sci-fi flick, usually followed by a talent show or yo-yo contest, where prizes were given: anything from free passes to a brand new bike.

In the late-1970’s, revenues started to slip, in spite of showing such Hollywood hits as “The Omen” and “The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox”. Part of the reason was the continuing flight by many to the suburbs, the growing popularity of the smaller multiplex theatres, and the decline of the Aladdin’s neighborhood in general.

In the early-1980’s, Aladdin management decided to drop film fare entirely and replace it with live theatre. The interior was remodeled to accommodate the necessary scenery, and the seating arrangement was reduced to a smaller, more intimate design. A liquor license was applied for, and a team of non-union actors was formed as a sort of in-house troupe. The offerings over the next few years included “West Side Story”, “Man of La Mancha”, “Pippin”, and “Pirates of Penzance”. While this venue was mildly successful, it never really caught on. Reasons varied, one of which was that, by then, Capitol Hill had gained a wide reputation as a rough neighborhood, and many people were reluctant to travel to the area, particularly after dark.

By 1984, the Aladdin Theatre was up for sale. City council gave the okay to level the theatre for a planned retail and condo complex. Nothing ever came of it. Capitol Hill United Neighbors (CHUN) wanted the theatre designated an historic landmark, a prospect that was fought by the current owner. After a few meek attempts to find a use for the aging building, including a proposed restaurant and nightclub, the Aladdin Theatre was wrecked in August, 1984 to make way for a Walgreen drugstore.

Contributed by James Bretz

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Watch Advocates Transform West Colfax Into a Place for People


Here’s a cool video from the Reimagine West Colfax event last month that converted West Colfax Avenue from a street designed strictly for cars into a place for people to gather, walk, and bike safely. The above time lapse shows volunteers constructing a parklet — a miniature gathering place reclaimed from traffic lanes or parking spaces — from basic materials.

The event was a success, and proved that West Colfax is in dire need of a permanent transformation. It also showed how advocates, merchants, and neighborhood residents can create a spark by taking ownership of city streets. They raised the money and put in the work to show city agencies what the neighborhood can be, and now it’s up to those agencies to listen and act.

To capitalize on the demo’s success, the West Colfax Business Improvement District, which led the effort, is hosting a charrette on “artist-inspired” crosswalks. Head over to Studio Completiva at 3275 West 14th Ave. #201 at noon this Tuesday if you’re interested in helping.

In the meantime, check out this time lapse of volunteers converting a lifeless West Colfax wall into a work of art.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

World Premiere of Colfax 3 AM

World Premiere of Colfax 3AM @ the Sie Film Center, 2510 E Colfax, Tuesday Sept 29 @ 8pm. $7 suggested donation.
A disabled teen, his crazy uncle & a ghost on the Colfax bus on a dark night! 3 disabled actors in a psycho comedy!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tours by Phil Goodstein August-October 2015

Saturday, September 26: Mount Olivet Cemetery, 11:00 am–1:00 pm

Meet by the fence across the road from the Madonna Mausoleum. The main entrance to Mount Olivet is west of Youngfield Street on West 44th Avenue. Go up the hill past the administration building to near where there is a big crucifix. On your left is the Madonna Mausoleum. (Coming from the east take exit 266 on Ward Road from I-70 and go west about a half mile to the cemetery. Coming from the west take exit 265 at Youngfield. and go north about a mile to West 44th Avenue and turn left. The cemetery is the first exit on the right.) The cost is $10.

Sunday, September 27: Park Hill Promise, 11:00 am–4:00 pm

Phil Goodstein will be hustling his books, especially Park Hill Promise, at the Park Hill Street Fair. This is a free event. The booth should be near Montview Boulevard and Forest Street Parkway.

Sunday, October 4: Crown Hill Cemetery, 11:00 am–1:00 pm

Gather at the parking lot along the main road of the graveyard, just west of the administration building
along West 29th Avenue about two blocks west of Wadsworth Boulevard. The cost is $10.00.

Saturday, October 10: Ghosts of Cheesman Park, 11:00 am–1:00 pm

Meet at the wooden gazebo near the equivalent of 12th Avenue and Gilpin Street. It is directly south
of the RTD bus stop on the 12th Avenue loop in the park. Gilpin Street is the 1700 east block. Park
in the park, east bound, on the 12th Avenue loop to the east of the RTD stop. The cost is $10.

Saturday, October 17: Ghost Walk, 7:00 pm–9:00 pm

Meet at the statute of the Indian on the east lawn of the Capitol along Grant Street between Colfax
and 14th avenues. The cost is $20.00.

Friday, October 23: Ghost Walk, 7:00 pm–9:00 pm

Meet at the statute of the Indian on the east lawn of the Capitol along Grant Street between Colfax
and 14th avenues. The cost is $20.00.

Saturday, October 24: Ghost Walk, 7:00 pm–9:00 pm

Meet at the statute of the Indian on the east lawn of the Capitol along Grant Street between Colfax
and 14th avenues. The cost is $20.00.

Friday, October 30: Ghost Walk, 7:00 pm–9:00 pm

Meet at the statute of the Indian on the east lawn of the Capitol along Grant Street between Colfax
and 14th avenues. The cost is $20.00.

Saturday, October 31: Ghost Walk, 7:00 pm–9:00 pm

Meet at the statute of the Indian on the east lawn of the Capitol along Grant Street between Colfax
and 14th avenues. The cost is $20.00.

Monday, November 16: How the West Side Won, 7:00 pm

This is a free talk at the Colfax Tattered Cover (at Elizabeth Street) on the publication of Phil Goodstein’s
new book, How the West Side Won.

To book a tour, call Phil Goodstein at (303) 333-1095.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tour de Fat Returns to Denver

New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat Returns to Denver 
on September 12 
for a Day of Bikes, Beer and Bon Vivants  
Daylong celebration includes ridiculous entertainment, wild and crazy costumes, hilarity in charity
and New Belgium beer! 

Ft. Collins, Colo., August 25, 2015 – Dust off the costume, shine up the bike and get ready for another epic and bewildering day as Tour de Fat rolls into Denver. Tour de Fat arrives in City Park on Saturday, September 12. The daylong event is free, yet all donations and proceeds from beer and merchandise sales go to Denver-area non-profits.

“Maybe you already bike all over town, or you’re a weekend warrior, or just a little bike curious,” said Matt Kowal, New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat Impresario. “If so, this is for you. It’s a summer stew of sorts where we all come together, let our alter egos shine with no inhibitions. You’ll find dancing, contests, bike swapping, music making and a tiny tent where anything can happen. It’s one carnival you’ll actually regret missing.”

Some of the eclectic entertainment includes co-headliners Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds – who recently performed on The Today Show– and The Suffers, a ten-piece band from Houston recently featured on the Late Show with David Letterman, who will bring the redefined sound of Gulf Coast Soul to the Mile High City. Brewing education, a bicycle revival, rideable art bikes, a “Thousand Person Dance Contest” to win a New Belgium cruiser bike, yo-yo performers, vaudeville acts and a fashion show are also in the mix. In addition, Tour de Fat’s Le Tigre Grande variety tent ups the ante, adding more entertainment options from past years.

Everyone 21 and older can sample new and classic favorites from New Belgium, including the brewery’s flagship brew, Fat Tire, New Belgium’s latest year-round offering, Slow Ride Session IPA, and selections from the acclaimed Lips of Faith series.

As for the fundraising, the entire 2014 season raised more than $625,000, with the Denver stop bringing in a record-breaking $101,003. This year, all funds raised in Denver will go to BikeDenver and The Denver Cruisers.

100th! Car-for-Bike Swap
Every year, New Belgium gets one brave role model to step on stage to trade in his or her car keys for a bike, pledging to live car-free for one year. Each swapper is awarded a stipend to buy his or her own commuter bike. Car-for-Bike swappers are chosen after submitting an application describing why they are ready to give up their vehicle for the gift of two wheels. This year, the Car-for-Bike swapper in Denver will be New Belgium’s 100th bicycling hero! We’d love to hear from interested swappers. Apply at -

Tour de Fat – Denver Details

Saturday, September 12

City Park

Main Stage:               
10:00 a.m. — Parade Registration
11:00 a.m. — Parade Kick-Off
12:45 p.m. — Fashion! (Best Costumes of Tour de Fat)
1:00 p.m. — Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds
2:10 p.m. — The Slow Ride Races
2:40 p.m. — Barb’s Charms Puppet Comedy
3:10 p.m. — 1,000 Person Dance Contest – Winner receives a New Belgium Cruiser!
3:40 p.m. — Car for Bike Trade
3:50 p.m. — SSSSnake! Rides Sputnik!
5:00 p.m. — The Suffers
6:00 p.m. — Finale

Stage Stage:
1:10 p.m. and 4:10 p.m.
Superfriends Variety Hour: Death Defying Comedy, Chain Saws, Yo-Yos and Bananas

Le Tigre Circus Tent:
10:50 a.m. — The Other One
11:15 a.m. — Marnie Sams Muffin Show (Kids Show)
12:00 p.m. — Yo-Yo Time Machine
12:45 p.m. — Zip Code Man
1:20 p.m. — Fire Leopard
2:10 p.m. — The Kroup
3:00 p.m. — Yo-Yo Time Machine
3:30 p.m. — Honeymoon Cabaret
4:30 p.m. — The Other One
5:20 p.m. — Etiquette School

Grotto Stage:
12:00 p.m. — The Jekylls
1:15 p.m. — Wild High
2:30 p.m. — Eldren
3:45 p.m. — Bud Bronson and the Good Timers
5:00 p.m. — In The Whale

The Denver Cruisers

Admission – FREE!
Donations for non-profits are accepted
Beer – $5

You can pre-register and donate to receive a limited edition Tour de Fat license plate or bike light at

See for the Tour de Fat credo, schedules, videos and to submit an entry to swap your vehicle for a fancy new bicycle. For more on the Denver stop, click here.

About New Belgium Brewing Company 
New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses. The 100% employee-owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, one of World Blu’s Most Freedom-Centered Workplaces, and a Certified B Corp. In addition to Fat Tire, New Belgium brews ten year-round beers; Ranger IPA, Rampant Imperial IPA, Shift Pale Lager, Slow Ride Session IPA, Snapshot Wheat, Sunshine Wheat, 1554 Black Lager, Blue Paddle Pilsner, Abbey Belgian Ale and Trippel. Learn more at

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

First Kmart Blue Light Special was flashed on Colfax Avenue

I have this on no less of an authority than Bob Anderson, one of the Kmart workers who conceived the blue-light idea. It took place 30 years ago at the first Kmart store in the Denver area, No. 4101 at 7325 W. Colfax Avenue.

“Self-help department stores were a new idea, “Anderson writes,” we had a whole new merchandising system. I was managing men's wear. We had to have a fast turnover for it to work.

“When we had slow moving items, we had to move them out. We announced “15 minute specials” (on the store’s public address system), but people couldn’t find out where they were. We tried helium balloons, beach balls suspended in the air over vacuum cleaners, but customers still couldn’t find us.

“We rigged up a cart used to carry shirts and other items to the counters where they were to be displayed. There was a tub on the top and a shelf at the bottom. We put the car battery on the shelf, a chrome tube through the middle of the cart with a blinking red light at the top.

“We would move it from department to department, and on Saturdays and Sundays, we kept it going all day long. It was a instant success. The Fire Department made us change the light from red to blue because the color red had the exclusive function of marking exits.

The district manager saw it and put the system in all his stores. Within six months, flashing blue lights were in every Kmart store in the nation. I’ll be that even the Kmart historians don’t know how it got started but I do—and now you do too!

“The story might bore the hell out of people, but it is an event in the history of merchandising and perhaps the closes thing I have to achieve celebrity status.”

Not only that, but the “Attention, Kmart Shoppers” announcements over the stores’ PA systems are still the stock and trade of comedians who stand in front of brick walls on cable TV and think they are making people laugh by using the MF words.

We are indebted to celebrity Bob Anderson for the information. Now, if we can just find out how “red-tag sales” started. My earliest recollection of them was 40 years ago at Nessie Nides’ appliance store on East Colfax during one of her frequent “sell-a-brations”.

Author Gene Amole - from his book "Amole One More Time" - October 8, 1992