Wednesday, April 5, 2017

East Colfax/East Montclair Neighborhood History

East Colfax\East Montclair Neighborhood History

This interview was in regards to one of the older residents in the neighborhood whose house on Ulster was built in 1925.

My parents built this house in 1925. My dad was a patient at Fitzsimmons and my mother was an Army nurse. That's where they met. They moved here in 1925. After my mother died my father's health was not so good so when I got married I didn't leave home. I brought my husband home instead. The house has been remodeled repeatedly because it was so small. I was not born yet when they moved here. I am the youngest of three. My sisters went to Ashley elementary the day it opened in 1929. All three of us went to Ashley. Of course it was just the little corner part at that time. We had a half-time kindergarten teacher and a half time principal and we shared them with Montclair Elementary which is now the Paddington School at Quebec and E. 13th Ave.. Miss Lyons was the kindergarten teacher and Mrs. Godsmitten was the principal. I know the last year I was at Ashley elementary it was small enough that we didn't have a fifth-grade class, the fifth grade class was divided between the fourth and the sixth grades.

There wasn't much around here at that time. The 1700 block of Spruce Street was filled in on the side. 19th Ave. stopped at Rosemary and the house on the north east corner with its redbrick was there. Between Rosemary and Quebec people had driven cars through it but it wasn't a Road. There was one little house that was there but most of it was vacant land except for a couple of houses on E. 17th Ave.

There is that big house at E. 17th Ave. and Quince Street, the pretty White one belonged to the Carsons and the Carsons grocery Company. It was a real big house that they remodeled and put the garage on it used to have the great huge lilac bushes. Then there was a house across from that. Then there was a house at 17th Ave. and Rosemary a red brick house nothing further up those blocks.

Of course the park (McNichols) had a greenhouse and a little Old house with windows out. It was simply four walls. Where McNichols park is now was just a vacant lot and the greenhouse. The greenhouse was a active business.

My folks built our house in 1925 and I was born here in 1929. The winter of 1932-1933 was the first years I could remember. I know that over here on Ulster Street those two big houses on the Eastside were there. The National Greeters Home was for retired hotel people. They had a big orchard. Over where Evergeen Apartments (now Advenir at Stapleton) is now that was the Jewish Tubercular patients home. They had three or four buildings.

Tamarac never went through from E. 19th Ave. to Colfax. I think there were four buildings. Then down about Ulster Street At Colfax I think were some little business buildings that were torn down eventually. These were all people who lived in the back of their stores. Next to the store there was some kind of feed store with turkeys. It was only there a few years. There were a few other little things on Colfax. No businesses on the south side, none at all. But there were a few people who lived on East Colfax.

I had friends who lived east of here and they had running water but there were not on the sewer line. I would say that probably about 1940 over at E. 19th Ave. and Spruce Street that they just got indoor plumbing about that time. When this house was built it wasn't on the sewer line. They had a cesspool and had running water and electricity.

The streets were not paved until 1946 after the war, it may have been closer to 1950. Montview Blvd had a surface and E. 17th Ave. did and of course East Colfax Avenue, but the rest of the neighborhood streets were gravel. There was a sidewalk in the 1600 block of Trenton Street. We couldn't rollerskate around here because there weren't any sidewalks.

My husband was raised over at E. 16th Ave. in Pontiac street. Of course, he was allowed out and he said he and his friends used to go over and rollerskate on the runways at the old Stapleton Airport. I remember going up on the hill by the school when they had airshows with parachute jumpers and wing walkers to watch and when we went over the hill to get pollywogs. Used to be lots of little swamps over at the airport.

The little house across the street that sets back was the garage and they were going to build a house in front and they dug a basement and then 20 years somebody built a home on the foundation. In the corner house was Tom and Marie Hendricks. Tom made leather jackets. The guys would bring in their deer hides. He would send them into be tanned and then would make jackets out of them. They were there for years and years. She had typhoid fever and was an invalid for many years. We had chickens but that wasn't unusual at the time. During the war lots of people had chickens because there wasn't enough to read points for meat. We had chickens for a long time. My mother brought us to ducks and my sister dropped one duck after she had it 15 minutes and it died, and the other one lived for about 15 years. That duck had never seen another duck and she thought she was a chicken. For many years my dad kept the chickens simply to keep the duck company. We called her Donald of course what else would you call a duck.

We didn't have a library of any kind except for libraries in each classroom and school. Once a week we go over to the Montclair school. I guess you could call it a forerunner of the bookmobile they would come up and set the books up inside. I went to St. Luke's church and that was expanded a lot over the years. There wasn't much built south of Colfax. The kids on the southside went to Montclair elementary and on the northside to Ashley elementary. We went to Smiley and they went to Gove. When we were kids here that was the only church except for the Catholic Church. There was a little Baptist Church where the Zion Church is now. That was there for many years. We went to vacation Bible school there. Right after the second world war we had 500 children in the Sunday school. That was the only church except the Catholic Church. Aurora didn't have any church so to speak of.

In the 1940s times we're not good and when the war came along they were not building anything. They didn't send a bus around for the children. You got there on your own. In the late 1940s and early 1950s there were big families with five or six kids in the neighborhood. I was at the end of that period. Many kids were born in 1956 in 1957.

We have to make our own amusement so it was kick the can and very simple game is because and if you own a baseball and a bat you were almost wealthy. Jacks, paper dolls, Momoli Paiges and jacks. Of course, at that time you could go down to the museum and the zoo for free. I can remember when we were kids they have some kind of band at city Park in the fountain and I can remember our parents taking us down there for the band concerts. Park Hill was built up not as thick as now but it was a very established neighborhood. West of Monaco was built up pretty good. We would go to Cheeseman Park because the Denver Post put on an opera there for years and years. You went to the park and sat on blankets. One year there was a terrible forest fire that was so big you could see it burning from cheesman park. That is the only thing I can distinctly remember about it. That was probably in the late 1930s.

When I finish six grade there were 10 or 11 of us in that grade. Mary Grace used to live about 1610 Ulster St. and she was raised in this neighborhood. I don't think Rose Wilson came until after the world war. I don't think those houses were built yet.

Mr. Woods had a body shop and they owned the red house and then they built the cream colored brick house and moved into it. On the side of Spruce Street it was built up. The house on the corner is a stucco house with a porch and a little bitty house. I think where they built the last vacant lot. On the other side there were houses down on this end of the other side.

My husband and I went to the Beacon supper club very frequently before we were married. That was in the 1950s the first time I can remember going to the Beacon was when I went there with the man I married. We started going together in 1951. Willy and Jerry Hartsell. They didn't have dancing. It was so jammed into dance. I'll put it differently they were more interested in selling booze and food than putting people on the dance floor. Part of the deal was that they would have a show and then they would stop and then it was Time to have drinks. They push the booze on Saturday nights it would be very crowded. We would also go to the famous chef restaurant where Saturday's (PT's) strip club is now. That was an excellent restaurant the same people had a restaurant downtown. The food was superb. We would also go to the Yucca which was in a big building on the north side of East Colfax maybe at Beeler St. in Aurora. It was a big Mexican hacienda tight building. After the war the Yucca traded for a little place further down. What was the Yucca turned into one of those veterans organizations that showed up and disappeared and it was basically illegal gambling.

Regarding the heavy vine covering all the front of her house my mother planted that vine and she was an invalid by 40 or 45 so it must be at least 50 years old. The trees are older than I am around the house. I know my mother worked at Colorado women's college when I was in high school. A lot of us in the neighborhood worked at the women's college. We set the tables clear the tables and made meals and if I remember clearly we were paid something like a dollar 25 a day plus our supper.

The first job I had a 1945 was for millers supermarket I made $.50 an hour. That was a Miller's for that $.99 store is opening up and it was one Elm and Colfax Avenue and one in Aurora.

The streetcar is turned around at Poplar Street and E. Colfax Ave. they sat back from where the streetcars turned around. They had a streetcar turn over there. It didn't turn on a turntable. And it was almost a complete circle so we had to slow down quite a bit to get around it. It was a little building in there and the buses came in on one side in the street cars on the other. My family had a little concession stand there for years and years and that was a place you could go inside and eat. Every so often something would happen on the streetcar. One of them would jump the track or when that happened the whole line would close down because there was no way to get around it. The streetcars went out about 1949 or 1950. Then they put an electric buses that ran like a bus but they ran on an overhead wire they didn't run on the track they were a lot more comfortable than the streetcar.

In my younger dating days you went either to the moon drive-in, the pick a rib, or the oasis. They were all East of Colorado Boulevard down on E. Colfax Ave. about Cherry Street. I think there is a Winchells donuts shop there now.

When I was a kid there was a barrel shaped one down there I know in the early 1950s that was an A&W root beer stand east of where the Apple tree shanty (Xanthia & Colfax) is on the same side of the street. That was the first drive I can remember in this part of town. When that opened it opened as the famous restaurant. It was really busy they had good food. I remember we had always have chicken livers they made beautiful chef salads.

Article courtesy East Montclair Neighborhood Association

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