Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Apple Tree Shanty

Postcard courtesy The Colfax Museum Collection
The Apple Tree Shanty used to be at 8710 E. Colfax Avenue in Denver. The building is still there, only today it's The Word Bookstore.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Good Day for the Colfax Avenue Museum - by Mo Devany

The hair's a little gray, but Jonny B good, set up shop behind the flowers like Elvis in the hood.
With velvet painting and wall of fame, Jonny holds court, kindling the past and guarding the flame.
We set out on Old 40, where legends have played, to find tales of memories across the long city street.
Joannie has gone, faded flowers from youth, her blonde hair a memory.
But we stop in to see what Jonny found there, an old yellow submarine in total disrepair.

The snow has long melted from the blizzard of '82, but the Christmas storm has a place of its own -
in a good day for the Colfax Avenue Museum.
We found bullet holes of hate, filling in with thirty years of regret, when Rickie Lee passed the whiskey to her fans up front, Holly Near sang for love to banish all bombs, and the Pope dropped in where Perry Mason cornered the killer on the shores of East High.
It's a small world and a good day for the Colfax Avenue Museum.
                                                                                                                               -- by Mo Devany

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

U.S. 40 by Allan D'Arcangelo

Colfax Avenue became a part of Historic Route 40 in 1926. Here is US 40 by Allan D'Arcangelo from 1980.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sincerely Tattoo

Looking for a tattoo? You know what to do. Get on down to 4120 E. Colfax Avenue!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Portrait of Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley

There is no supernatural on Colfax. It's just natural. Larry Steele dropped by the Colfax Museum the other day. He was the first person to ever comment aloud on the Historic Route 40 in Indiana china plate on display, having noticed Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley's face on the plate, which also noted his childhood home was along U.S. 40 in Greenfield. He chuckled aloud, "You know that new google app that matches your face with someone in a museum? Guess who I got? James Whitcomb Riley!"

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Big Tim and Tiny Tim

A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY... at the Nashville West on East Colfax, "Big" Tim Irvin backed up Tiny Tim. Here's the photo to prove it. And here's the punchline: Tiny Tim is bigger!

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Lakewood Space Needle

If Colfax had a space needle, you're looking at it...and they are working on lighting it up again. Sweet! Way to go #WestColfax!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Virginia Dale

Postcard courtesy The Colfax Museum Collection

This plaque in Virginia Dale, Colorado reads: Famous stage station on the Overland Route to California 1862-1867, established by Joseph A. (Jack) Slade and named for his wife, Virginia. Located on the Cherokee Trail of 1842, it was a favorite camp ground for emigrants. Vice President Colfax and Party were detained here by Indian Raids in 1865. Robert J Spotswood replaced Slade.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Letters to the Editor

Hi Jonny,

I'm trying to get some info on this but I was driving east on Colfax one afternoon about 4 and
there were maybe 6 or 8 Klieg lights set up all around Pete's and camera and sound guys and about 100 people all around so I pulled over to see what all this was about...walked through the crowd and up to the front window off the sidewalk and there was RODNEY sitting at the counter doing his lines....for what I remember as a commercial for KBPI but this doesn't work on my researching....he was in town for something else and did this in between...I was there maybe 20 mins watching when  Rodney took a smoke break and stood maybe 5 feet from me when he got pestered for autographs so he had to GET RESPECT..."Hey - I'm WORKIN" he shouts out and took a real deep drag at that point....this was about 1990 I think but I'm still looking..

I know Denver VERY well from having lived there for 37 years...I once lived at 1469 Garfield St back in '73 and '74...right next to the used car lot of ROSEN NOVAK FORD and just caddy corner across the alley from MR VON'S some stories about that place...


Tim White

REPLY: You're right, Tim White! Rodney filmed this movie in Denver. Not really on par with Easy Money or Back to School, but what can I say...he gets no respect!
Filming locations: Denver, Littleton
Film office description: "In order to impress his boss and move upward in his company, Chester Lee (Rodney Dangerfield) decides to coach his employee daughters soccer team. He uses his fiance's son in order to ensure the success of his new soccer team."

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Omar Khayyam

Photo courtesy The Colfax Museum Collection
The Omar Khayyam in Aurora, Colorado, featuring continuous dinner and supper dancing for your enjoyment. It's Different. Colfax, East of Fitzsimons.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Studio Colfax presents Maynard Tischler

Artist Talk #1: Maynard Tischler

We are hosting our very first artist talk, and you're invited!
Saturday, January 27th at 4 pm.

Maynard is a legendary ceramicist in Denver.  He taught at the University of Denver from 1965-2009.  His work can be seen in the Kirkland Museum, the Denver Art Museum, as well as private collections nationwide. Join us in a discussion on life, art, and how to integrate both in the current climate. He will also bring what he's working on now, something wearable on sale at the shop this spring....

Find out more at

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Schuyler Colfax, R.I.P.

Jonny Barber as Schuyler Colfax
Colfax Avenue namesake, and former Vice President under Ulysses Grant, Schuyler Colfax died of a heart attack on January 13, 1885, in Mankato, MN while changing trains in sub-freezing weather. Join us tonight at The Owl Saloon for the first proper wake of its' kind ever held in Denver for the Honorary Schuyler Colfax, the man who ratified the 13th Amendment freeing the slaves! Colfax Avenue also turns 150 this year, as it was first named in 1868. Photo by Doc Bones Photos at 1900 E. Colfax Avenue in Denver. Costume by Disguises Costumes at 9797 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Cliff's Mobil Service

Colette Venverable Annas sent this photo in to us, and we are forever grateful. This was her grandfather's gas station! Cliff’s Mobile Service 1949 Colfax and Vaughn. Owner Cliff Venerable Sr.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The New Bourbon Grill

Photo courtesy The Colfax Museum Collection
It's like standing outside, only it's inside. The new Bourbon Grill at 571 E. Colfax Avenue features this killer mural!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Wonder Woman

It's getting harder and harder to find a hooker on Colfax these days...but I DID find Wonder Woman!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Colfax Avenue Celebrates 150 years in 2018 with a wake for Schuyler Colfax

When gold was discovered in Denver in 1858, scores of miners came West looking for the Mother Lode. Colfax Avenue was the major artery linking them to the riches of the Rockies. Originally called "Golden Road", as well as Grand Avenue, Colfax Avenue had its name changed in 1868 to honor of Schuyler Colfax (pronounced SKY-LAR), a powerful Indiana congressman and Speaker of the House of Representatives at that time.

Colorado first applied for statehood in 1865, the same year as Schuyler's western tour which brought him to Denver in May 1865. Perhaps Denver officials thought that renaming the street would help the state's cause. But if achieving statehood was the reason for the street's name change, it didn't happen overnight. Colorado did not become a state for another eleven years. Another reason for naming the street after him is most likely Schuyler's great oratory and personal charm made him popular with the citizens.

Whatever the reason, to honor Colfax, the city dedicated the road along the southern boundary of central Denver to the Hoosier politician 150 years ago, in 1868.

Schuyler Colfax was the Speaker of the House during the Civil War when the 13th Amendment was ratified, freeing the slaves. He made a point of being the last to sign the document, proud of the accomplishment.

"Live, in love of all beneath the circuit of the sun, who loathe tyranny, slavery and wrong." - Schuyler Colfax

Colfax, who went on to be Vice President of the United States under Ulysses S. Grant, had declined an invitation to accompany President Abraham Lincoln to Ford's Theatre shortly before his trip out West. A House speaker opposed to slavery could have been an additional target for John Wilkes Booth. Interesting, also, is the fact that Colfax Avenue and Lincoln Street intersect at the Northwest corner of the Colorado State Capitol Building.

As an interesting side note, Dr. Gerald Biliss, who lived at 1389 Stuart Street close to West Colfax Avenue, was a Civil War veteran and a member of the honor guard over President Lincoln’s casket.

Schuyler Colfax died in Mankato, Minnesota, on January 13, 1885, while changing trains as he was en route to Rock Rapids, Iowa to give a speech, when the temperature dipped to 30 degrees below zero.

Despite having its’ main street named after Schuyler, no one has ever thrown him a proper wake in Denver, to our knowledge. After 150 years, we think it’s Schuy High Time we do this!

Join us at the Owl Saloon, 5026 E. Colfax Avenue, Saturday, January 13th at 7:30pm, where the mummy (it’s a replica dummy) of Schuyler Colfax will be on display and a character actor will deliver one of Schuyler’s key speeches.

Colorado miners had a tradition of sticking dollar bills on the ceiling of the bar, to keep as a kind of insurance policy to give to a miner’s family in need should their fathers or husbands ever die in the mine. Honoring this long-held tradition, the Owl Saloon did this in conjunction with the Colfax Museum, where everyone will get a chance to attempt to tack a dollar to the high ceilings using two quarters as the hammer to drive it in. The Owl Saloon will match every dollar to go on the ceiling with a dollar donation to the Colfax Museum.

To curate and celebrate 150 years of everything Colfax Avenue, local Americana star and Route 40 fanatic Jonny Barber created the Colfax Museum to have a time capsule for the “longest, wickedest (as in awesome) Main Street in America!” Playboy Magazine may have never said that quote (even though it has been urban legend for 30 years), but Jonny did and still does!

Jonny Barber will sing a cowboy song, a moment of silence will be observed and a whiskey glass raised to the man who was the Speaker of the House who ratified the 13th Amendment to free the slaves, Schuyler “Smiler” Colfax!


Owl Saloon, 5026 E. Colfax Avenue, Saturday, January 13th at 7:30pm

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Frank Zappa invented "The Wave" on Colfax in 1969

by Bennett Kogon, Dangerous Minds:

 I have always been curious of the origins of The Wave. The popular spectator pastime involves a stadium crowd to lift their arms in succession, thereby creating a pulsating human current that ripples and crashes. A simple Google search of the subject reveals a man named Krazy George Henderson to be its creator. George was a local celebrity and self-proclaimed “professional cheerleader,” who would often show up at sporting events to invigorate the crowd. It was at an Oakland Athletics game on October 15th, 1981 where Krazy George was believed to have orchestrated the very first wave. After years of perfecting his craft, it was here when George’s vision was fully realized. But apparently he wasn’t the only one. Television host Robb Weller claims that he had led the first wave at a University of Washington football game on October 31st, 1981—mere weeks after Krazy George’s first tube had barreled over in Oakland. Regardless of who did it first, it was at the widely-televised 1986 FIFA World Cup that incited the tradition. For that reason, many sports fans refer to the popular activity as the “Mexican Wave.”

Crazy George
I don’t intend to be brazen with my skepticism of the subject, but The Wave wasn’t created by Weller or Krazy George. It was invented by Frank Zappa. On June 27th 1969, Zappa and the Mothers of Invention performed at the Denver Pop Festival, a psychedelic three-day concert held at the Mile High Stadium in Colorado. Joining the Mothers on the bill were some serious heavy-hitters of the era, including Creedence Clearwater Revival, Big Mama Thornton, Iron Butterfly, Three Dog Night, and the very last performance of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hendrix even performed the “Star Spangled Banner” at the Denver Pop Festival, an event that would soon be obscured by the peace & love behemoth that was Woodstock just two months later. Unlike Woodstock, however, unruly attendees and gatecrashers were tear-gassed during Hendrix’s set, causing disturbance to those in the grandstands.

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention played before Iron Butterfly on the first day of the festival. Their set contained a whimsical array of classic Mothers numbers including “Hungry Freaks Daddy,” “The String Quartet,” and “A Pound for a Brown on the Bus.” The last song of the performance was more of an improvisation, wherein Zappa attempts a stunt that he refers to as “Teenage Stereo.” Playing conductor to an audience of 50,000, Zappa calls on successive sections of the crowd to make gestures and odd noises (such as clapping and vomiting sounds) when pointed at. The sound travels throughout the stadium in a metachronal rhythm, thereby demonstrating this new human instrument “in stereo.” What Zappa hadn’t realized, however, was that his playful experiment would eventually become a sports fan phenomena that continues to make “waves” to this day.

Despite there being scarcely any documentation of the Denver Pop Festival online, I was able to dig up a bootleg live recording of the entire Mothers of Invention set. The final track “FZ Conducts the Audience” makes it very clear that Zappa was the mastermind who first organized the Wave in a stadium setting. Sorry Krazy George.

Listen to Zappa’s “Teenage Stereo” and the Mothers of Invention’s entire set from the Denver Pop Festival below:

Monday, January 1, 2018

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Godmother of Rock and Roll plays Colfax

The Godmother of Rock and Roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the first big recording star of gospel and electric guitar pioneer! Here we have a Colorado Statesmen newspaper article about her 1947 appearance at East High on Colfax Avenue, sponsored by the Ogden Street Church of God in Christ.

At this time, there seems to be some controversy over Rosetta divorcing her husband because he didn’t approve of her return to Gospel after a period of playing secular theaters.

(courtesy Historic Modern Denver, thanks to the Denver Public Library)