Archive for June, 2015

Day 30. The End…………..of this Chapter. .

It’s been a long 30 days.  A few screwups, a few setbacks, a lot of good conversation, and we still haven’t scratched the surface of what it means to grow up in Bojon Town.  It’s been a long month, but it sure hasn’t been a chore!  I’ve enjoyed every minute of the writing, the remembering, and the reading of the comments.  Tomorrow, I’ll go back and read the posts and comments.  I know I have typos that I need to clean up, because I did a lot of them in a hurry, and that’s not how I usually do it.  After that, I’m doing research and more writing about what I find.  Thanks to everyone that has made this as much fun as it has been!  The response has been awesome.  I get some pretty detailed stats from the website, and one day last week, the site had over 100 hits.  When I started this, I never imagined 100 hits in total, let alone in one day.  I even have followers in foreign countries!

I really try to stay away from negative stuff.  I learned early on that some offhand comment could really offend someone, so I try to keep it positive.  But I had a conversation the other day and it brought back some not so good memories.  So, breaking with my tradition, I’m going to share it, without naming names.  I had a wonderful bunch of friends.  Kids my age, kids younger than me, and older people as well.  I tried to get along with everyone.  But one guy went out of his way to make that impossible for me and him.  He was about 7 or 8 years older, and about 7 times my size.  I have no idea why he hated me, but it was probably because someone I knew did something to him 10 years ago or something.  Maybe he was just a bully and he didn’t like the way I looked.  But from the time I was about 7 or 8, until I went to college, he never missed a chance to punch me, kick me, shove me, steal my bike, or any of a dozen other fun things.  I think it was a game for him some times, because I’d try to avoid him and he’d just pop in front of me.  I never told anyone, because you didn’t want to have anyone else know.  I haven’t seen this bully for 30 years, but I’ll bet if I ran into him somewhere, he’d punch me.  But I’m a good person.  I have nothing but good wishes for him.  I wish he’d get hit really good by a safe that fell out of a plane.

I have no musical talent, with one exception.  My musical instrument of choice was radio, record player, and 8 Track Player, and I could play each one of them very well.  We had the best repairman of those devices right in our neighborhood.  His name was Gail Hathaway, and he could fix any TV or sound playing device known to man.  He had a shop on the west side of the 1200 block of S. Santa Fe, and a house in the back.  He was a tall, skinny red headed guy that was always nice to me.  I think he recognized that I was curious about radios and stuff.  He showed me some stuff that really helped me out, like how to adjust tracking on a cassette or an 8 Track player.  And this was back in the day when your TV stopped working, you popped off the back of it, took out all the tubes, and took them to get tested.  If you found a bad tube, you’d buy a replacement, put them all back in, and your TV would work.  TVs were a bit simpler than they were now.  They only had to get 3 channels.  That was all we had.  Mr. Hathaway had a few boys, and one of them, Billy, was a bit odd.  He was about 6’4″ tall and weighed about 23 pounds.  He was fascinated by animals.  He always had a baby bird or a rabbit or something live in a box.  I saw him stick his arm in a hole in the ground about a foot past his elbow and pull out a 4 foot long red racer snake.  One time he lost his baby rabbit in the house and looked for it under the bed with a candle for light.  He found the rabbit.  He was so happy he forgot the candle.  The house wasn’t a total loss.

Here’s a good TV story.  Anyone remember the carnival that they used to have in the church basement at St. Mary’s?  When we were kids, we called it the bazaar.  Once a  year, they’d have games for kids, hamburgers, Pepsi and candy, and all sorts of good stuff.  They would always raffle off something pretty nice.  The kids sold raffle tickets for weeks before.  They were 10 cents a ticket, and the tickets were on cardboard cards with 11 tickets per card.  If the kid sold 10 of the tickets, he could either put his name on the 11th ticket or sell it and keep the dime.  I sold a bunch of them one year, and the grand prize was a 13″ color TV.  This was probably about 1964 or 65, so color TV was still pretty new, and on top of it, a 13″ TV that I could have in my room would make my life complete.  Luck smiled on me, and I won the TV!  I was ecstatic.  I was the envy of my friends, and my sisters hated me.  Life was good.  For about 2 weeks.  I’m upstairs after school, watching cartoons.  In color.  Star Trek?  Color.  Downstairs, my family is watching the old 20 inch black and white with the special remote control.  Whichever kid was closest.  Well, that big old piece of crap takes a crap and stops working.  So, Chuck pulls the tubes out, I walk down to Hathaway’s, and the tubes are all good.  So we put them back and we take the TV to Mr. Hathaway and he pronounces it dead of natural causes.  Well, times were tight and a new TV wasn’t in the budget.  So, my new TV took a place of honor on top of that broken TV.  Not in my room.  In the living room.  Now, you’d think that since it was my TV, I’d have some say in what we watched.  Yeah.  And you’d be wrong.  I never got that TV back.  The next year when we sold the tickets, I kept the frigging dimes.  I figured if I won, someone would just end up taking it when they needed it.  The minute I got the dime, it went right to candy and Pepsi.

June is now officially over for this experiment.  I’m honored that you took the time to read it.

July 29. Another Awesome Day to Be a Bojon

I spent more time looking at maps and old pictures today.  My Dad had some cool old pictures, and one of them was my Aunt Liz, when she was probably in her 20’s, in a swimming suit.  And she was wound pretty tight!  But there was another lady in the picture that was much prettier, and I asked my Dad if he knew who she was.  Yeah.  He knew.  It was my Grandma Steffie!  Man, she was pretty!  Much prettier than her sister!  There was also a few pictures of my Mom and Dad on their wedding day.  I swear that in one of the pictures, my Dad looks exactly like Wally Cleaver when he was in the 10th grade.  No way that kid looked old enough to get married!

When we were about 8 or 9, my Grandma and Grandpa Medved took me and my sister Julie to the movies.  We went to the Chief Theater on Main Street and saw John Wayne in McLintock.  They bought us both a bag of candy at the concession stand.  Not just a candy bar, but one of the bags!  I had such a good time.  I saw my Grandma laugh a lot.  She was a funny lady.  My Grandpa was more reserved.  But on that day, he laughed his ass off.  When they had that big fight in the mud, he was laughing harder than any time I ever saw in my life!  To this day, if I’m flipping through the channels and that movie is on, I can’t help myself and end up watching it until it’s over.

I was doing more research on the T H Foley Lumber Co.   It’s official address was 1300 Elm. Street.  It burned to the ground in a fire in November of 1920, but it’s still listed in a Pueblo City Directory in 1923.  It may have been rebuilt, but I haven’t gotten to the bottom of everything yet.  It’s interesting to see the old maps.  Some of them go down to the level of detail where they show the outlines of the houses on the blocks.  It’s odd to see a blank spot on the map where a house is now.

Kids today need a special field with bumpers and cushions to keep them from getting hurt.  We played wherever there was an empty space.  The best football games ever had 3 people on a side and were played in a street with parked cars on both sides.  “Go down to the driveway and break left to the front bumper on the red Buick”.    Go and watch a baseball game at Runyon Field with 8 year old kids playing.  Each one of them shows up with a $50 bag, a $120 bat, a $75 glove, and a new pair of rubber cleats.  And 9 out of 10 of them don’t even know which end of the bat to hold.  When we were kids, we’d have 18 kids playing.  6 gloves, 1 bat with tape around the cracks, and a ball that had more tape than leather.  And we knew which end of the bat to hold.  Most of us, anyway.  We always knew the score, too.  None of this ‘We don’t keep score.  It’s bad for the self-esteem of the kids that don’t excel’.  Yeah, we get it.  We kept score.  The kids that didn’t excel eventually went on to do something that they enjoyed more.  We grew up and didn’t shoot a theater full of innocent people because we couldn’t catch a frigging fly ball and someone laughed at us.  I got into one fight in high school.  I got my ass handed to me.  I had a gun in my trunk.  I didn’t go and get it.  It was for hunting, and it was always there.  The thought of using it on a person just because he whipped my ass never crossed my mind.  I was too busy trying to figure out how not to piss that guy off again.

When we were about 12, some older guy showed us how to make match guns.  I will not go into details, because this dangerous secret should die with my generation.  I haven’t seen one since I was a kid and I will not do anything to change that.  But I will say that you could take one of those wooden matches that would light on anything, and launch it about 20 feet, and have it light as you shot it.  We’d load up one of those ‘safety matches’ into our little gun, and one flick of the thumb and your buddy had a burning match stuck to his shirt.  Man, it was funny to watch each other try to put out various parts of clothing and skin.  But like all fun things, eventually someone is going to get really hurt.  Jerry Cortese was running from someone, and he had his entire stockpile of ‘safety matches’ in his front pants pocket.  He cut the corner around a car a bit too close and bumped into the car, leg first.  And those matches caught on fire.  All of them.  And he couldn’t get his pants off that fast.  He burned the crap out of his leg, and we never saw what happened because like good 12 year olds, we were all running for home.  That ended the match gun wars.  A good thing, in retrospect.  But hey, you’re talking about kids from Bojon Town.  We used to have BB gun fights.  Match guns were just a logical progression.

June 27th, Live from Donkey Derby Days

Oops.  Not so live.  It seems that the internet connection in Cripple Creek is still a bit fickle on some days.  Couldn’t connect, and given the awful state of computing today, my computer is almost useless without a connection.  So, sorry for the slight delay!  Think of it as having Saturday off from me.

If you are reading this and you aren’t reading the comments, you’re missing out on the best part.  There are so many different memories from so many different people that it’s going to take me a week to go through them all and another week to reply.  It’s incredible how Bojons interact.  Tell a story in a room with 9 other Bojons and you might as well get ready to hear 20 stories.

Growing up like I did, in places like the filling station and the pool hall and the bars, you got to hear a lot of stories from a lot of good story tellers.  And there were some world class story tellers that came out of that neighborhood.  Sammy Burin would stop by his mom’s house and the filling station every day after he got off of work.  Not just some days.  Every day.  He had a story for every day, and he could tell them.  Depending on who else was there, you may need a pair of chest high waders to get through the BS.  Jimmy Papish is still one of the funniest guys I ever met.  His stories were epic, and I got a chance to talk to him a few weeks ago, and he pulls out a goose story that had me rolling on the floor.  All of my mom’s brothers are world class story tellers.  If Ray, Danny and Kenny get into the same room, you can bet you’re going to laugh until your sides hurt.  Bojons have great senses of humor.  They’re not afraid to make fun of themselves or of anything, frankly.  We’re a happy sort of people, from what I’ve seen.

When we were in about the 5th or 6th grade at St. Mary’s, something happened at some of the other schools, Mt. Carmel and St. Leanders, I think, where some of their kids ended up going to school with us.  Most of the kids were from the Grove, and some were from the East Side.  They really changed the makeup of our social group.  Most of us had known each other since Kindergarten and the first grade, so it was pretty cool to get some new kids.  Chuckie Hernandez lived in the Grove right down by Runyon Field.  He was a little guy and all the girls liked him.  He was pretty funny, so he fit right in.  Alberta Valdez could hit a softball further than any guy in our school at the time.  If you’ve ever played at Benedict Park, imagine this.  She hit a fly ball to left field that we never found.  Ever.  We looked for a long time because it was the only ball we had.  That’s a shot.  We got two girls that took me a while to know.  Carolyn Flores was from the Grove, and Carol Martinez was from the East Side, if I remember right.  They almost had the same name, so it took me a while to figure out which one was which, and I was pretty shy with girls back then anyway.  Carolyn was really nice.  She never got into trouble.  Always obeyed the nuns.  Carol was awesome!  She was funny and sweet and nice.  Actually, she still is!  We also had some kids that we knew when we were little that moved away.  I remember a kid named Benito Valero.  He had a bad leg and it was kind of twisted and he limped really bad.  And somehow, he could kick a football further than anyone we ever saw.  He moved away about the time we were in the 3rd or 4th grade, and I never saw him again.  Venko Dragovich lived with his Uncle, Matha, who was one of the funniest characters ever to live in Bojon Town.  Venko was almost blind.  He had glasses that were about an inch thick, and he would hold a book right up to his face and was still barely able to see.  He was from Slovenia and his English wasn’t that good.  He moved away about the same time as Benito, and I never saw him again.  In fact there were more than a few of those kids.  Billy Spinuzzi.  A girl named Sherry, that I can’t even remember her last name.  The more I think about this, the more I seem to remember, so I may manage a story about it one day.  Billy Mramor and Jimmy Zunick!  Man, I miss those guys.  I haven’s seen Jimmy since grade school.  I saw Billy at the St. Mary’s reunion a few years back.  That was a treat!

The Divje Babe flute is considered by many to be oldest musical instrument ever discovered.  It was found in Slovenia.  It is made out of a hollowed out bear’s femur.  I’d love to hear the guy that killed the bear tell that story.  If he’s a true Bojon, it would be a good one!

Well, Cripple Creek is now connected again.  I’m going to make this one official while I still have access to the outside world.  As a side note, about 6 or 7 years ago, someone cut a fiber optic line somewhere on Fort Carson.  It literally knocked out all communication to Cripple Creek for 6 hours.  Nothing.  Land lines, cell phones, internet, nothing.  No dial tones.  No internet traffic.  Just dead silence.  People thought the worst.  The police came to the casino and saw me and knew I was the IT guy and were asking me for answers.  I knew something was up when even the cops were out of touch.  They actually sent an officer down the hill with red lights and sirens and had him find out what was going on.  I’m sometimes amazed at how much we rely on a lot of this stuff, but that really drove it home, seeing people standing out on the sidewalks, looking nervously into the sky……

Until tonight, when I bring you the latest news from Donkey Derby Days!  Here’s a teaser.  “There are still donkeys, and they are still crapping everywhere”.

June 26th. Sorting Out the Memories

Once again, I had a light bulb start to flicker over my head as a memory hit me, and just before it was over, it flickered out and left me with questions.  So, where better to ask than here?

Tezak Street is an alley to me.  It starts at the top of Santa Fe hill and goes east, from behind the old Blacksmith Shop, and goes all the way down across Egan.  You can also catch it at the north end of Mahern, next to Lepik’s old house.  Now, if you go east from Santa Fe, the first thing you come to is the alley behind the houses on Santa Fe hill.  That alley is a story in itself, steep and a challenge for the hardiest of mountain bike riders…..and Bojon kids.  Just past the alley, there is a little house.  It always struck me as odd that there would be a house in that spot, which was basically the intersection of two dirt alleys.  Now here’s my question.  Someone in my family lived in that house when I was little.  I’m not sure what side of the family, Kocman, Medved, Anzick?????  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Barnett, but I know someone that was related to me lived there, and I remember being in that house.

Things to do in Ljubljana.  Visit the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (Stoinica Sv. Nikolaja).  Take a tour of  Ljubljana Castle.  Walk over the Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most), with it’s statues of dragons.  I’ve been seeing a lot of references to dragons in Slovenian folklore.  It’s a recurring theme in a lot of their tales and stories from their pagan days.  You can also tour the Railroad Museum.  And on top of all of those fun things, you can eat and drink all sorts of Slovenian dishes and delicacies in the many fine cafes and restaurants.

 

I started thinking about some of the stuff that Mike Deverich mentioned about the 1100 block of Eilers.  We spent a lot of time on that block when we were kids.  Football games with Horse and Joe Kocman in front of Auntie Elsie’s house and the Vertovec’s house.  Football games that often involved hard tackles, punches thrown, and a shared Pepsi and candy bar later.  I think that Mike or I tried to punch each other for something about one out of ten days.  We’d play for 7 hours, throw two punches, and then play until Mike’s mom or dad came by.  We hung out a lot in Auntie Elsie’s basement, watching cartoons and playing games.  A lot of times we’d end up spending the night at each other’s house.  I spent a lot of time up on Maple Avenue, and that was a pretty cool place in itself back then.  I always enjoyed staying with the Deverich’s and Mickey and Eileen were always so nice to me.

 

Mike and I never really got into real trouble in all of the time we spent together.  Some stupid petty crap, but never anything bad.  We had that potential, but we were like a check and balance for each other.  There were times when Mike wanted to do something and I talked him out of it.  There was one time where I had an idea that I can’t even remember now, and when I told Mike, he looked at me like I was an alien and he just walked away.  I’m sure it had to be a pretty dumbass idea, given the look on his face.  I think it was the summer after we got out of the 8th grade at St. Mary’s, that Mike and I had our camping adventure.  We were maybe 11 or 12 years old, and we wanted to go camping at San Isabel.  Our dads agreed to it.  Mike and I got all of our camping gear together, got our fishing stuff, and scrounged groceries from houses in Bojon Town.  Some eggs and milk from Auntie Elsie, some ham and bread from Grandma Bear, bacon from Grandma Steffie, and stuff from mom and dad and anyone that would donate to the cause.  We loaded up everything in my dad’s station wagon (we always had a station wagon), and he hauled us up to San Isabel, waited for us to unpack, and left us there.  This was in 1970 or so, when you didn’t have to pay for camping, but there wasn’t an old couple checking on you 5 times a day.  We were pretty much alone in the woods.  We set up the tent, gathered firewood, stored the food away and made a nice camp.  We spent the days fishing and hanging around the old recreation center at the lodge.  They had a pinball machine and a pool table and we hung around until we ran out of cash.  They rented a rowboat to us!  Two kids, eleven or twelve years old, not an adult in sight, and they give us the keys to the padlock, the oars, and two life jackets.    They didn’t have us sign any forms or waivers.  “Fork over the ten bucks and here’s your ticket to possible drowning, kid!”  Man, those were different times.  We managed not to drown, and we lived through it and managed to not burn down the forest.  When Mike’s dad showed up at the time he told us to be ready, our camp was down, everything was ready, and I could tell that he was impressed that we didn’t screw things up.  I don’t remember a lot of details, and I know there had to be a bunch of them in a week, but it’s just like a blur of fun.  I do know that we did a lot of wishing for a campsite full of girls to show up, but I remember that never happened.

 

When I was 7 or 8, my mom and dad signed me up for Old Timer’s Baseball.  I was too young by a few months, but my mom’s cousin, Bill Kocman, was running the program at City Park.  Bessemer Park was closer, but I’d have to wait another year to start, so Bill let me play.  Back then it was huge.  Every team would go down to Memorial Hall on the same day to get a uniform.  Antique pants and unmatched stirrup socks  and baseball hats in either blue, red, yellow, or black.  The shirts were all grey the first few years, and then they got colored t shirts that matched the socks and hats.  No one on the team had matching pants.  Some came down to the bottom of the kid’s knees, while others had to roll them up to keep from tripping on them.  So, my mom is having to haul me to games twice a week and chase my sisters in the park for 2 hours while I played.  And she got tired of that after a bit, so by the time I’m 9, I’m riding my bike to City Park twice a week.  I have a nine year old grandson and I’m afraid to let him cross the street.  Different times.  I used to make it a morning.  I’d ride up an hour before the game, check out the ducks at the lake, ride over to the zoo and look into the bear pits, maybe take a quick climb up Monkey Mountain, play the game, and take an hour or two to ride home.  One time I cut through the State Fair and came out by my Great Grandma Barnett’s house on Euclid.  She was getting pretty old by that time and her sight was failing.  I saw her in the yard and stopped to see her and she was so happy to have some company.  It was probably a few years after my Great Grandpa passed away.  She took me inside and got me a glass of lemonade, and she asked me to do something that really stuck with me.  She told me that she loved reading from the Bible, but she couldn’t see well enough and asked me if I’d read to her.  I could read really well when I was a kid, so it was easy.  She would tell me what to read, and I’d find the passages and read it and she’d stop me sometimes and tell me things about what I was reading.  I made it a point to stop and read to her after that.  I didn’t do it nearly enough, and I wish I had gone over there every day.  She was the sweetest little lady ever.

 

But I ramble.  Billy Kocman was my coach in quite a few different sports.  He coached me in Old Timer’s Baseball, and football and basketball at St. Mary’s.  Sports at St. Mary’s was usually limited to 7th and 8th grade boys, with a 6th grader that was really good sneaking in from time to time.  Again, thanks to Bill, I got in a bit early.  I was pretty good at basketball and was tall for my age, so I made the team when I was in the 5th grade.  Billy was pretty old school.  He didn’t put up with crap, and if you didn’t listen, you might get a reminder with a clipboard.  He actually tried kicking me in the ass in basketball practice one time, but I saw it coming and he just grazed me!  So, I make the team, and he tells me that I probably won’t get to play because I’m just a 5th grader, and then a miracle happens.  We’re playing in the old gym at St. Patrick’s School up behind Central High.  The gym is so small that when you were throwing the ball in from out of bounds, you had to turn your feet sideways or they’d be over the line.  A kid named Johnny Mihalich is in the 8th grade, and he’s a starter.  He’s running down the court after a basket, and he reaches in his trunks and pulls out a comb and starts combing his hair.  Billy sees him and goes totally apeshit!  Not only did he take him out of the game, he wouldn’t let him sit on the bench and made him leave the gym.  And guess who got to go in?  The skinny 5th grader.  I’m scared as hell, because the coach is pacing up and down the sidelines with steam coming out of his ears, and some jerk throws me the ball.  I’m standing in the corner, and no one is within 10 feet of me, so I toss one up and it goes in!  Cheerleaders are cheering!  The coach almost cracks a smile.  The next time down the court, they throw me the ball again.  Same spot, only this time some guy is running at me.  I toss one up, and it goes in, and the guy fouls me.  I make the free throw.  We won by 3 points.  I scored 5.  I still take credit!  That was big for my playground credibility.  I started looking past the 5th grade girls and getting visions of 6th and 7th graders.   Reality came back later, but man, that was a good day!  Thanks Bill!

 

Heading up the hill for Day 1 of Donkey Derby Days tomorrow.  If you want to see the fun side of Cripple Creek (the part not in a casino), this is as close as it gets.  Until tomorrow night!

June 25th. A Make-Up Double Header

Ankylosing Spondylitis.  I’ll say it again.  If you are of Slovenian or any eastern European ancestry, please have your children checked for this when they get into their late teens.  If untreated, you end up like me.  Missing day 24 of your project because it feels like someone stuck a huge vacuum cleaner into your soul and sucked it dry.  I really did try.  I was lucky that I got what I did written.  But I’m ready to make up for it today!  No excuses!

I’ve been looking into the street names that we talked about a while back and found some interesting stuff.  I’m still digging through piles of old maps, but it’s really a lot of fun.  I found some great resources.  I don’t like to brag…..well, actually I do like to brag, and it’s my blog, so here I go.  I was on the internet early.  Due to the timing of my career change to IT, and my connections at PCC, I had Internet access before most people heard of the internet.  And I learned a few things, mainly the ability to dig up stuff with a search engine.   I even scored a googlewhack, and you have to be beyond an internet search nerd to even know what that is.  So, let’s just say, I dug up some good stuff on street names, and that stuff led me to more stuff, and now I have some stuff to write about!

I found a huge collection of old maps from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company.  These are detailed maps in .jpg format of historic Pueblo, with various years between 1883 and 1905 being available.  I’m still going over the various years, but here’s a peek at 1905 Bojon Town.  There was Rio Grande, Boxelder, (as opposed to Box Elder on the current maps), Taylor, Berwind, Santa Fe, Bohmen, Mahren, Egan, Arroyo, Roitz and the 1200 block of Eilers.  It appears that the 1100 block of “Eilers Heights” didn’t exist back that far.  There was also no Tezak, School, Russ, Topeka, or Hill Place listed.  I’m still digging and I want to go back further, but this sheds some light for me.  The story about the city changing Bohemian to Bohmen looks like it was just a story.  It looks like it was Bohmen from the start, and given the information that Mike Lamb had about Bohmen-Mahren and the German connection looks pretty good.  I’ll let you know more of what I find.  I had a thought that I’m trying to fill in.  I know that Interstate 25 didn’t exist before the 60’s or so, and I’m thinking that there may have been some streets that disappeared from that area when the highway was build.  I’m looking at the maps so I can see if there was anything there.  Now, the really interesting part to me is that I found all of this info in the 1905 maps.  In the 1904 versions, I have yet to find a mention to any of these streets .  I’m not sure if the maps aren’t complete or if I’m missing something, or if the streets were actually put in between 1904 and 1905.

Speaking of I-25, I was getting on the northbound at Abriendo the other day when I noticed a ton of heavy equipment and a bunch of materials in a fenced in area where we used to play by the old train bridge.  It’s the area kind of east of the old Passkey Restaurant, and from the back of where they have the fence built, you can see the Grove and St. Joe’s Hall.  I’m not sure what’s going on there, but I hope it’s nothing to do with that EPA Superfund fiasco, because they had enough heavy equipment to take Bojon Town down to bedrock.

Old time Bojons seemed to mistrust banks.  The stories about people burying cans of money in their yards are too numerous and widespread to be false.  I know of two cases that kind of give credence to this idea.  When we were about 11 or 12, a kid named Walter Dovgan found some coins buried on the hill behind his house.  He lived on Santa Fe Drive, directly down the hill from the end of School Street.  He saw some coins after a rainstorm, and when he was picking them up, he noticed more in the dirt and started digging.  If I remember correctly, he found about 120 dollars in old coins.  And that was face value.  It was old silver coins and a gold piece as well.  He found most of it in an old rusted tin can.  So, somebody had to trust a shovel more than a bank.  The other story was about an old Bojon lady that never married and lived in the same house by herself.  She worked all of her life and after she died, her niece or nephew or whoever inherited her stuff was cleaning out her house.  She had one of the old brass beds with the tubes for the headboard and the foot, and when they went to move it, they couldn’t budge it.  Each of the tubes was filled with stacks of silver dollars from the 1800’s and early 1900’s.  She’d just pop the top off of the bedpost and drop them in there.  Not too much trust for banks, and she felt better sleeping on that money.  How many of you were in a house in Bojon Town when you were a kid and saw one of those big quart sized metal juice cans with a slot cut into the lid that was full of coins?  I’d bet almost every one over 50.

Bojons were savers, and they took care of their stuff.  Especially their cars.  I started working at my Grandpa’s gas station when I was 14.  I hung around my Uncle Dan and he taught me about cars.  By the time I was 16, I was doing oil changes, belts and hoses, and simple stuff.  By the time I was 18, he taught me to do tune-ups and brake jobs.  So, I got to get my hands on a lot of cars.  And Bojons had nice cars.  Most of them, anyway.  The older guys believed in maintenance.  Car manufacturers recommended changing oil every 3000 miles or 3 months back then.  Not Bojons.  2000 miles and 2 months for some.  1500 for a few.  They didn’t worry about the cost.  As they would always say, ‘5 quarts of oil is a lot cheaper than a new engine’.  They believed that and they lived it.  The took pride in their cars and trucks, to the point that they could be a pain in the ass at times.  I’d be doing a grease job and an oil change.  I learned from the best, my Uncle and my Grandpa.  When I greased a car, I wiped off the excess grease.  I cleaned up any oil drips.  At least I tried to do that.  Most of the time, some old guy was right behind me with a red rag, wiping up after me as I went from one part to the next.  They didn’t even give me time to do it right.  That’s just how they were.  But I was doing this in 1973 and 1974, and I got to work on 1939 Chevys and 1940 Chryslers, and Studebakers so old that you almost expected to see a crank on the engine.  They took care of their cars, and their cars took care of them back, and lasted a long, long time.  Take a look at that neighborhood.  Nice house, nice yard, nice car in the driveway, probably a Bojon in the house.

I read in the papers today that the police busted a large high-tech marijuana grow in the 1200 block of Bohmen.  At first I thought that area sounded familiar, and then I remembered that I grew up in the 1200 block of Bohmen!  Hell, this was on my block!  OK, here’s my disclaimer.  I’m a medical marijuana patient.  It works well for my condition without the side effects of the pharmaceuticals that I used to take.  That being said, there is NO ROOM FOR THIS in Bojon Town.  They were criminals, flaunting the law and endangering their neighbors in the process.  My dad is their neighbor.  I hope they go to jail for quite a while.  There are right ways to do things, and wrong ways to do things.  If the way you are doing things gets you arrested,l you are doing them wrong.  Stay out of our neighborhood.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned how even Salt Creek has a nice sign commemorating their neighborhood, and all we have is a hokey looking bulletin board with flowers that look like they were created by the illustrators of ‘Yellow Submarine’. I went past the Salt Creek sign the other day and you couldn’t even read it because it’s overgrown with weeds.  I’m not sure if there is a reason for that, but it would never happen in Bojon Town.  Eight men with shovels and nine women with hoes and brooms would have shown up by now and cleaned it up.  Give us a sign, and we’ll show you how to take care of it.

June 24th. Another Fine Day to Be Slovenian.

I’m amazed when I wake up every morning and see all of the comments that you guys are leaving here.  It’s so awesome to get the other perspectives and the memories.  I never really expected that!.  I’m so far behind in answering comments that it will probably take me most of July.

Not feeling well tonight, so if I don’t get this out until the morning, don’t hold it against me.  My condition sometimes feels like someone just wrapped me in a big blanket of exhaustion, and it’s got me now.

So, it’s the morning, and I missed this one.  Sorry.  I’ll make it up tonight.  Sometimes a Bojon just can’t go anymore.

June 23, Turning for the Stretch!

Took a ride through the old neighborhood this evening.  It was too late to stop, but I just had the urge to be in my Dad and Mom’s house for a while.  That house is so comfortable to me.  It fits me like one of my favorite sweatshirts.  It just feels cozy and warm and right.  And right across the street is my Grandma and Grandpa Bear’s house.  I lived in the basement when I was a kid.  I lived upstairs and my kids lived in the basement when I was older.  It feels the same way.  Like I could open the back door, turn left to see if there were cookies in the pantry, turn right to go to the refrigerator, walk over to the little opening with the telephone to see who was in the living room, check to see what’s cooking on the stove, and out the door!  Then I went down to the 800 block of East Mesa.  814, where Steffie and Charlie lived.  In the back door, (see a pattern with Bojon kids and back doors?  Front doors were for company) up the 3 steps into the kitchen and straight to the refrigerator.  Down the cabinet to the cookie jar.  Check to see who is there, and out the door to the next stop.  Probably next door at Uncle Steve and Aunt Francis Hiza’s house.  Cookies and candy.  Guaranteed.  Maybe an odd job and a few bucks.  Always at least a quarter.  They were so generous to me.  My Uncle Steve was always so happy.  Next door to 806 E. Mesa, where my Uncle Tony lived when I was a kid, and where I lived when I first got married.  Right after my sister who lived there when she first got married.  Those houses have seen a lot of family.  I could do this all day.  I did when I was a kid.  One house to the next, gathering nourishment and small bits of money.

 

Speaking of my sister, Julie is almost exactly a  year younger than I am, and exactly 5 years ahead of me in everything.  When we were kids, by the time she learned to walk I was her crash test dummy.   Julie thinks to herself “I wonder what would happen if I opened the gate and left the yard.  I think I’ll open the gate, let Mike out, and see what happens to him”.  Or “I wonder if you could ride a cardboard box down the basement stairs like a bobsled.  Mike!  Come over here and see if you can fit in this box”.  But when we were older, she always had my back!  And she was usually covering for me.  I love you, Julie!

 

I was told that we would be closing on the sale of our house in Cripple Creek next Tuesday.  Keep your fingers crossed that it happens this time.  Pray.  Sacrifice chickens, goats, whatever.  I need this to happen!

 

I have good kids.  Not so much because I thought about being a good father.  The things I did right, I did out of instinct from seeing it done when I grew up.  The things I did wrong, I tried to learn from.  If I ever have a reverse vasectomy and 2 more kids, I’ll probably do a better job.  Some consolation for those two offspring of mine.  But they both came out right.  I have to believe that Velma had tons to do with that, as well as contributions from Grandmas and Grandpas and Aunts and Uncles and the usual suspects.  They spent a lot of years growing up in Bojon Town, and when they didn’t live there, they were there a lot.  There must be something to this place!

 

I’ve been checking out some Slovenian language web sites and I’m going to figure some of that stuff out.  I saw that there are actually a couple of Slovenian language schools in the country.  So, try not to laugh as I attempt to get these into my vocabulary.  Slovenija je krasna –  Slovenia is beautiful.  prosim —please; hvala —thank you.

 

Some more good old Americans of Slovenian descent.  Sunita Williams, whose mother’s maiden name was Zaloker, is a female American Astronaut who has spent over 320 days in outer space on the International Space Station.  She holds the record for most spacewalks by a woman (seven) and most hours on spacewalks (over 50 hours)  She is a Captain in the United States Navy.

 

Téa Obreht, maiden name, Tea Bajraktarevic, is an American novelist of Slovenian descent.  She won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction for her first novel.  There are a lot of talented Slovenians.  A lot of them are ladies.  And of the ladies that I’ve looked up so far, of course all of them are gorgeous!

 

I found this article about a Slovenian neighborhood in Cleveland.  Some of it sounds pretty familiar!

http://www.cleveland.com/heritage/index.ssf?/heritage/more/slovenia/sloven1.html

And with that, I wish you all lahko noč.