Thursday, November 30, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Hey Jonny,

I saw the article in the LA Times today, and it reminded me of a story.

My mom, Betty Cohen, was born in Denver 1907 and lived with her parents at 2704 Marion St. After her parents divorced, she lived for a time at the Clifton Hughes Training School for Girls, which I tried to find on a visit last summer, but it's now a park.

She described "Clifton" as a Methodist boarding school, which must have influenced her theology a bit!

She said she used to pray that if her parents got back together, she would "go down to Colfax and convert all the Jews."

Thanks for your great work.

Don't Agonize — Organize!

Alan Weiner

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Colfax Avenue Walk of Fame: Bill Frisell

Poster courtesy The Colfax Museum Collection
Today we are inducting legendary guitarist/East High graduate Bill Frisell into the Colfax Avenue Walk of Fame and Museum, and this poster is going on the wall. My favorite work of his was with the Ginger Baker Trio. One of their albums was called "Falling Off the Roof", and I was actually at Ginger Baker's house when he fell off the roof.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

Louis Charles McClure/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/MCC-1920
The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, taken soon after construction was completed.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Story of Modern East Denver by Phil Goodstein

Phil Goodstein, The Story of Modern East Denver: Magnificent Mayfair, Beautiful Bellevue, Hale, Hilltop, Hospitals.  Denver: New Social Publications, 2017.  ISBN 0–9860748–3–7.  vi + 474 pp.  Illustrations.  Index.  $24.95.

Nobody has written more about Colfax than Phil Goodstein.  In such volumes as the Ghosts of Denver, The Denver Civic Center, and North Side Story, he has looked at the character of the road between Colorado Boulevard west to the city limits at Sheridan Boulevard.  His Park Hill Promise covers the north side of the street from Colorado Boulevard to Syracuse Street.  Now he has added to this by focusing on the south side of Colfax between Colorado Boulevard and Monaco Street Parkway in The Story of Modern East Denver: Magnificent Mayfair, Beautiful Bellevue, Hale, Hilltop, Hospitals.

When residential development started to emerge east of Colorado Boulevard near Colfax in the 1880s, Colfax was still something of a rural road.  A branch of the Mayfair Ditch ran along it, eventually draining into City Park.  Efforts soon saw the extension of streetcar lines east of York Street.  Businesses popped up on the boulevard near substantial houses.  In 1902, the Denver Orphans’ Home occupied its new premises at the northwest corner of Colfax Avenue and Albion Street.  For a while, it had a school of its own, Albion Street, across the road at the northeast corner of the intersections.

In the course of the mid-20th century, Colfax east of Colorado Boulevard was an exemplar of middle-class retail.  Some stores, such as the Dolly Madison at Colfax Avenue and Forest Street and the nearby Colfax Radio & Appliance at 5128 Colfax Avenue were crucial parts of the city’s business scene.  The Mayfair Shopping Center at 14th Avenue and Krameria Street, opened in 1951, was once the city’s busiest shopping center.  It blended it with stores on Colfax.  Among them was the city’s leading toy store, Guys and Dolls, at the southeast corner of Krameria Street next to a Walgreens.

During much of the 20th century, Colfax was a premier automobile-oriented boulevard.  Not only were there numerous filling stations along the road, but such new car dealers as Empire Olds, Seifert Pontiac, and Deane Buick were on the arterial.  So were car washes, body shops, car rental agencies, and tire dealerships.  As The Story of Modern East Denver notes, such businesses are still part of the fabric of Colfax.

Business improvement and leadership has been another Colfax theme.  In the mid-20th century, the East Denver Civic Association claimed ownership of the strip.  Then, in the 1980s, groups such as Colfax United and Colfax to the Limits emerged, seeking to forge business partnerships to improve the image of the famed arterial.  The 21st century, as the volume observes, has been marked by the formation of the Fax Partnership and the Colfax–Mayfair Business Improvement District.

This is but the beginning of the volume’s wide-ranging emphasis on Colfax.  Included is the time when stripper joints invaded the road in the 1970s, followed by used bookstores in the 1980s.  The Story of Modern East Denver highlights both achievements and failures.  Not only does it address the people who have lived nearby, but it is a balanced measure of what Colfax has been all about.  Anybody interested in the road will want to read it.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Cahoots - Legend of the Parlangua

Because the lyrics of the Legend of the Parlangua deal with the theme of the Louisiana Swamps, many people think it was recorded by a Cajun band. However, it was actually recorded by a Colorado based band.

Cahoots was a house band in Aurora Colorado in the mid-eighties. They played at a historic country music club called 4 Seasons. The band was fronted by Lloyd Barnett, an talented songwriter and performer. His wife Annie backed him on vocals and did lead on several songs.

The Cahoots band was comprised of Lloyd Barnett (bass, vocals and wrote most of the songs), Ann Marie Barnette (his wife and singer), Willy Angel (lead guitar), Mac Eisensohn (drums), Vaughn Meyer (keyboards) and a few others. The group broke up after recording the Legend of the Parlangua.

Many people confuse this band with other similarly named groups. This is not the group named IN CAHOOTS based in England. Also, it is not the Cajun band named The Cahoots. (Legend of the Parlangua song was released in the 1983. The cajun band "Cahoots" didn't get together until 1997.)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Aurora Pharmacy / Distillery

Photo courtesy The Colfax Museum Collection
Another Classic Colfax story! Gustin was only a doctor at the Aurora Pharmacy on East Colfax and Dayton Street for a year, before being arrested for selling whiskey and leaving town.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Chapel of the Angels

Postcard courtesy The Colfax Museum Collection
Chapel of the Angels used to be at 7177 West Colfax Avenue.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Davie's Chuck Wagon Diner

Davies Chuck Wagon Diner at 9495 W. Colfax hasn't changed much from 1957 to present. Here's a J.L. McGuire photo from 1992.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lakewood Farm Dairy

Lakewood Heritage Center / JL McGuire photo
Vintage milk bottles from the Lakewood Farm Dairy and the West Colfax Farm Dairy.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Fairfax Plaza Sign

Photo courtesy Erick Roorda
In the 5000 block of E. Colfax Avenue, (across from the Abby Tavern) they are peeling off layers of the facade of several connected buildings, getting ready to open the Owl Tavern. In doing so they exposed a sign erected in the 50's. It had largely been covered over by the Power at Hand signage for decades.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Eddie Bohn's Pig 'N Whistle

Located on West Colfax, Eddie Bohn’s Pig ’N Whistle was much more than just another motel along Highway 40. Rib joint, filling station and repair shop, boxer training facility, Hollywood movie location and celebrity hot spot; when Colfax Ave. was the heart line of Denver, Eddie Bohn’s was an institution. Colorado Boxing Commissioner and a fighter himself, Eddie Bohn was sparring partner for Jack Dempsey. Over the years, the Pig ‘N Whistle hosted a number of pugilists including Max and Buddy Bear, Primo Carnera, Gene Fullmer and even the young Corky Gonzales, Denver-born Chicano Rights Activist. The walls of the Pig ’N Whistle’s restaurant were adorned with photos of the sports, entertainment and political stars Eddie Bohn was friends with. Like so many landmarks, the advent of the Interstate Highway heralded the end times for the Pig ’N Whistle, which eventually burned down in 2010.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Senator Bob Hagedorn visits The Colfax Museum

Former Colorado State Senator Bob Hagedorn stopped by The Colfax Museum for a preview today. He’s the one who introduced the resolution in 1998 that designated Colfax Avenue as a Heritage Corridor.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Grand Opening of The Colfax Museum!

Great news! The Colfax Museum, dedicated to Historic Route 40, Schuyler Colfax, and the longest, wickedest (as in awesome) street in America that bears his name, Colfax Avenue, opens 11/18/2017! Join us 2:00-5:00pm on Saturday to celebrate the accomplishment, at 6109 E. Colfax Avenue in Denver.

We have an extensive collection of rare and one-of-a-kind items, and a very good friend of ours has offered up a lovely space for us to begin the genesis of what will become the Ultimate Colfax Museum Experience. The call went out the length of Colfax and the only one to step up to the plate was Lydia Mary of Ed Moore Florist and More, who offered the museum its first home. We had to start out relatively small, but there is still a ton to see! Write us if you have photos, film, video, stories, postcards, memorabilia, etc. that you are willing to contribute to the cause at Thanks!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ruth Handler, inventor of the Barbie Doll

Ruth Marianna Handler (née Mosko; November 4, 1916 – April 27, 2002) was an American businesswoman and inventor. Handler was born as Ruth Marianna Mosko in Denver, Colorado, to Polish Jewish immigrants Ida Mosko (née Rubenstein) and Jacob Mosko. She married her high school boyfriend, Elliot Handler, and moved to Los Angeles in 1938.
She served as the president of the toy manufacturer Mattel Inc., and is best remembered for inventing the Barbie doll. Ruth Handler claimed her daughter Barbara, who was becoming a pre-teen, played with paper dolls by pretending they were adults.
Handler noticed that in such play, children would act out future events, rather than the present.
Handler noted the limitations of the paper dolls, including how the paper clothing failed to attach well. She wanted to produce a three-dimensional plastic "paper doll" with an adult body and a wardrobe of fabric clothing, but her husband and Mr. Matson thought parents would not buy their children a doll with a voluptuous figure. While the Handler family was vacationing in Europe, Ruth Handler saw the German Bild Lilli doll (which was not a children's toy, but rather an adult gag gift) in a Swiss shop and brought it home. The Lilli doll was a representation of the same concept Ruth had been trying to sell to other Mattel executives.

Once home, she reworked the design of the doll and named her Barbie after the Handlers' daughter, Barbara.
Barbie debuted at the New York toy fair on March 9, 1959, but was not an immediate success. When Disney introduced The Mickey Mouse Club children's television show, Mattel invested heavily in television advertising. The TV commercials for the Barbie doll paid off and Barbie rocketed Mattel and the Handlers to fame and fortune. Subsequently, they would add a boyfriend for Barbie named Ken, after the Handlers' son, and many other "friends and family" to Barbie's world.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Empire Oldsmobile

Advertisement courtesy the Colfax Avenue Museum Collection
"There's a Rocket for every Pocket" at your local Oldsmobile dealer for 1959! Empire Oldsmobile used to be at East Colfax Avenue and Krameria Street.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Charlie Chan Village

Today a great mystery was solved. For years I had been trying to track down an old East Colfax motel called Charlie Chan Village. In my mind, I saw something mythical, like Grauman's Chinese Theater. The good news is Jennifer and Bonnie at the Aurora History Museum found something about it today! The (not so bad I guess) news is that it was a laundry service...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ms. C's

By Daniel M.

Are you kidding me that no one has Yelped C's yet? (7900 E. Colfax Avenue)

For shame Denver.  For shame.

This place is the most shit-kickin', ghetto-fabulous, country western(ish), lesbian dive bar in the world.  Ok, that's a pretty grand claim, so I'll limit the scope to Denver.  This place is the most (see above) in Denver.

Make no mistake, the place is a hole but that adds to its charm.  There are pool tables, darts, pitchers, and line dancing, (natch) and the place can get crazy busy.  Prepare for a truly random listening experience as you'll hear everything from Barry White to The Dixie Chicks.  They also take requests.  (I found it handy to add an extra L and E to the end of my name.  Do with that what you will.)

For the most part the clientele is laid-back and chill to be around.  To be fair, I have been attacked by angry lesbians who don't understand this 'mos deep love for the 'bos.  But that's ok, the cool chicks came to my rescue and then they played 'Let's Stay Together' so everything was better.

In the world of gay Denver you have to experience C's at least once.  It's little, it's funky, it's way the eff out on east Colfax, and it's a part of our history.  Viva C's.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pink Elephant Bar

Photo courtesy Save the Signs
East Colfax, 1961. The Pink Elephant Bar is pictured in this slide along with a parking sign for Argonaut Hotel, Quorum Restaurant and Senate Lounge.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Black is the New Orange

Photo courtesy Jonny B.
Black is the new Orange? I know Colfax Avenue is down in there somewhere...

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Greek Theater in Civic Center Park

Photo by Louis Charles McClure, Western History and Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library
Concert Theater and Stadium, Civic Center, Denver, CO - December 22nd 1917. Early phase of construction of the Greek Theater and Colonnade of Civic Benefactors in Civic Center, Denver, Colorado.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Colfax and Logan Street, 1917

Photo courtesy the Western History and Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library
Colfax Avenue and Logan Street, Denver, Colorado; shows a drugstore with window display signs: "Prescriptions" "Ruy-Lopez Key West Segars" "Y-B Havana Segars" "Stationary" and "Mendel Havana Cigars." A horse drawn delivery cart has letters: "Speth Floral Co., Artistic Designs And Decorations; 1215 E. Colfax Ave;" the Colorado State Capitol dome shows in background.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Guido's Nickel Bar

Photos by Jonny B.
You haven't lived until you've made Guido's Nickel Bar a part of your West Colfax Crawl! 
Still pouring drinks at 9500 West Colfax Avenue.