Lucky 13, Live From Beautiful Southern Cripple Creek

If Cripple Creek were run by Bojons, it would be successful.  Instead, it’s a one block long piece of history surrounded by trash and weeds.  It’s run by a city government and city leaders that would just as soon see it stay that way.  When we bought a house here 13 or so years ago, they were going to build a new Parks and Rec center for the kids.  13 years later, they refurbished an old jail, and the mayor used 7 million dollars of the town surplus to build a ‘Heritage Center’ that gets visited by 3 people a day, and just happened to use his own construction company to build it.  The kids are still waiting for their Rec Center because the surplus is now gone, and politicians and rich business owners continue to line their pockets.

I want to say this one more time, because it’s important.  I just didn’t happen to get this idea in my sleep.  I was inspired by my cousin Anne Kocman Robinson.  I stumbled on her family blog, and the love that she showed to her family and her traditions jumped off the page at me.  All I could think is that I had to do this.  And if one of you reads this and becomes inspired to write about their memories, I’d consider it a major success.  Are you reading this, Mike Deverich?

I was about 45 years old when I moved from Pueblo to Cripple Creek.  I had a house and a job waiting for me and my family was only 100 miles away.  And when I came here, I was scared shitless.  I think about my Grandpa Medved and Grandpa Kocman and those people that jumped on a boat and left their family to go across an ocean, knowing that they would probably never see their parents and siblings again.  That took some courage.  More courage than I have.  It shows in the things that they did and the legacy that they left us.

When Jesus did the miracle with the loaves and fishes, he must have inspired Father Dan.  I saw Father Dan put 28 boys in full football uniforms in a truck that couldn’t hold 10 people.  That was a miracle.  And a bigger miracle that we all made it to Sacred Heart Orphanage without getting killed.  If that happened today, it would be national news and Father Dan would be put in prison.  Different times.  On the day that the flood hit in 1965, I was fishing with my dad and Wayne and Leo Anzick at Twin Lakes.  We were in Wayne’s truck with a canvas top on it.   We were in Salida and the radio said that there was a huge surge coming down the river, so we hauled down the canyon with Wayne driving like crazy.  Rain was pouring into the back of the truck and Leo and I were soaked by the time we got to Canon City.  Now if you see a kid in the back of a truck, someone’s calling the cops.  Different times.

There are some really cool houses in Bojon Town.  My mom and dad’s house is my all time favorite, for sentimental reasons, but here are some other houses that I always liked.  Ray and Hedy Krall’s house on Mesa.  That house looks so cool that you almost expect June and Ward to come out of the front door looking for Wally and the Beaver.  Mishmash’s house on Egan with those cool heart shapes.  Beba Glavich’s house on Hill Place, mainly because it was built by my Grandpa Bear and my mom lived there until they built the house on Santa Fe.  Jack and Anna Mae Paulovec’s house!  Man, that was a portrait of gaudy!  The colors were visible at night!  A litle white house in the 1100 block of Mahern, next door to Mehle’s.  It’s still there but you can’t see it.  I think it was Jimmy Anzlovar who bought it and kept some of the walls and built a brand new house around it.  My Uncle Sam and Aunt Millie Cosimano lived there when I was a kid.  I used to go down there and Uncle Sam would give me a haircut.  Basement had a dirt floor  My mom told me that she lived there when she was little.  There are others.  I’ll throw some more out there later.

We went down to one of the casinos to get a burger for supper.  There is a rodeo in town this weekend and Larry Mahan was at the casino signing autographs.  I’m not sure how old he is, but he’s getting up there.  And he still looks like he could wrestle a steer to the ground.  Man, he looks in good shape.  He’s gotta be part Bojon!

Well, Cripple Creek for one more night, and then to Denver tomorrow with my favorite people.  Hudson Gardens and George Thorogood.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

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One response to this post.

  1. Somebody has to keep talking about our heritage Mike and you are doing a grand job! When my mom passed away many of the cousins said she was the Auntie who gave them their first taste of beer. Today she would have been locked up and the key tossed away. I remember getting drunk with some gals I worked with at Transamerica Tiitle Co. across from a bar on Main Street. It was wintertime and by the time I got home, drunk as a skunk on Riunite wine, the snow was falling! My dad never touched any of that stuff, said when a man marries, he has different priorities! But my mom shushed me and took me outside. She held my belt loops as I puked purple wine into that fresh snow! She just kept saying, “Don’t let your dad see you like this” and she took care of me. Today, young people drink Vodka flavored with cherries and chocolates and bananas and when they are found dead alone in some unused frat or sorority house people, especially the parents, are mortified! We always took care of each other. In college once, some guy I do not even remember, except his name was Mike and he lived on Orman near the city park, was so drunk he could not stand up by himself. One of the guys driving, with one eye closed probably, killed the lights and we coasted up to his house. Two guys hauled him to the front porch. They ran, I rang the doorbell and we hid in the bushes across the street til his folks found him passed out on the front porch! All I know is, God does exist and He sent angels to protect our stupid selves when we were young. We never left anyone behind. This crap today, No Child Left Behind! Please, rally those old school nuns, mean as most of them were, they would beat your a** but By the Grace of God Himself, you learned the school work. For that, I will always be grateful! Kay mentioned my dad and his “man cave” in our basement! Holy Batman, my brother Eddie was the “Golden Child”. My dad set him up with a ham operators radio and they built that miniature train set. I was so mad, I wanted that damn train for myself and as an adult I often thought, I wish someone would buy me a cool train set! You know my dad loved music. He had a nice strong baritone voice! He would listen to Mario Lanza, Caruso and Eddie Arnold! I learned to love Opera, classical music as well as country and western! Today I still listen to it all. My grandson will come over with the latest Eminem ! My opinion of his cursing and totally horrible inappropriate lyrics is this, “If you mom fed you rat poison with your breakfast cereal, you might be a grump too:! I remember Auntie Anna Skender would walk into a room, see you across the room, and pinch the crap outta your cheeks until they were as red as ole Rudolph’s nose! She was a pincher supreme! But they all loved us and cared for us. I remember working at the ripe old age of 10 or 11 with Auntie Mima and all the ladies at various functions like the Columbus Day dinner. Now there are protests about the man and you can not even enjoy the Columbus Day parade! But I learned how to set a table properly and I was able to smooze with the political elites, having met governor Dick Lamm and a host of other politicians! We worked side by side with our mom’s and Auntie Mima could tell a story. She would have us rolling on the floor! I always thought Father Daniel Gnidica was an angel of God because he was, afterall, a carpenter, just like Jesus Himself! I can still see him wandering around the school yard in his overalls! He was always working on some project in his work shed and he kept the school and the grounds in perfect order. They do not make priests like him anymore! You know my Auntie Ang Steblay taught me how to smoke and she use to puff those Pall Mall straights, no filter! First time she offered me one, I nearly fainted! I may have mentioned this before but when her dad passed away and my my great grandfather Vedetitch, her dad married my great grandmother Agnes! I think all bojons are related somehow. My mom’s dad had three sisters and I found a photo of them with their mom on ancestry. My mom’s cousins from Colorado Springs, the Marold’s had that photo and it is dated 1899 approx. and my grandfather Steblay’s mom was Mrs. Maija (Mary) Virant-Steblaj! The Virant’s lives behind us on Hill Place too! The thing about our ancestors is, they had different spellings of their names and sometime even used someone else’s papers to come over here. I did find Grandpa Joe Kocman’s draft card and his naturalization papers! I remember him saying he kissed the ground in the USA when he arrived in NYC and he would not go back to the old country! One time, many years ago, my grandma Steblay’s neighbor Raymond Trontel went to Yugoslavia (before they changed the name to Slovenia). He said they say everyone has a twin and he saw a young woman (I was young back than too lol) that was my twin! He said she was holding a baby, but he called out my name and she turned to look at him! Scary stuff! If I have not told you, remind me, and I will share the story of my five year old self, the late Bishop of Pueblo and my grandma Steblay’s youngest sister passing away! Til next time, keep writing cousin! xo

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