Day 17. Be Aware of Bojons! It’s Bojon Awareness Month

One of my favorite hobbies is going to thrift stores and second hand stores and looking for interesting stuff.  Interesting to me isn’t always interesting to everyone else, though.  I was at a garage sale a while back, and the guy had boxes of record albums, and they were 10 for a dollar.  It was pretty easy to pick out 5 or 6 decent ones, but then I needed to find 4 more.  One of the 4 was a copy of Frankie Yankovic Plays in Person The All-Time Great Polkas.  It was recorded in 1959 at WEWS-TV in the Bojon stronghold of Cleveland, Ohio.  Good stuff!  I love accordion music.  Must be the Bojon in me.

My heart is happy because some people have actually gotten through to the Chieftain on the Bojon Town/Eilers Heights Issue.  Several comments have been published with the dreaded B word in them!  We’re getting somewhere.

When we were kids at St. Mary’s, one of the nuns took us to the church, and there were boxes and boxes of the candles that people paid to light that were burned out.  All that was left was the little glass container on the small candles, and the bigger glass ones for the large candles.  She had us carry all of the boxes behind Father Dan’s workshop, to the edge of the hill that went down to the railroad tracks behind the lumber yard.  She told us to throw them down to the bottom of the hill.  So we got to throw pieces of glass onto rocks for about a half hour.  That’s a treat that few kids ever get.  We loved to break glass, but we always got in trouble for it.  This was a dream come true.  All the glass we could break, and nobody to holler at us for doing it.

Right after we graduated from the 8th grade, a girl named Beth Bratina that we went to school with invited us all up to Rye to go on an old fashioned hayride.  They had a big old wagon with straw covering it, and some blankets, and they pulled us around with a tractor.  It was in the evening and lasted until dark.  A few of us sophisticated 8th grade graduates snuck some booze out of our respective father’s favorite bottles, and got drunker than hell.  It was the first time I kissed a girl.  I liked it.  A lot.  She never spoke to me again.  I’m thinking she didn’t like it nearly as much as I did.  Oh well, her loss!  Actually, she probably showed a great deal of common sense.

I loved the sounds of the Mill when I was a kid.  As a teenager, my bedroom window faced to the south, and the north wall of the Mill was exactly one block away.  I could hear it all.  The rails dropping onto the skids, the creaking of the wheels on the slag cars, the pig machine…….man, the pig machine, I haven’t thought about that for a long time.  If anyone doesn’t know what that is, ask any Bojon that lived on Bohmen and Mahren Avenues, and they can tell you.  The whistles, the sirens, the thumps and the booms, it was ingrained into our subconscious brains.  Hell, when I was 12, I could tell you when there was a problem at the Blast Furnace just by the noises coming from them.  When I left home for college, my bedroom was in the basement of my Aunt Jeannie and Uncle Les Litherland’s house in Arvada.  It was a quiet neighborhood, and I mean quiet.  It was so quiet that I couldn’t sleep.  The first night I was there, I just lay in bed staring at the ceiling.  It was kind of scary, like the world went away.  I ended up putting on one of my state of the art 8 track tapes and my badass Radio Shack Realistic Headphones just to get enough noise to go to sleep.  To this day, I have problems sleeping without background noise.

My Grandma Bear had a very good friend named Janie Yaklich.  She was a really fun, funny lady.  She would come into the gas station every week like clockwork for gas, and I always checked under the hood, checked the tires, and washed the windows.  She’d always give me a dollar.  That was a bonus back then, in the days of 10 cent Pepsi and 5 cent Hershey Bars that were 3 times the size of the little things they sell you for 2 dollars now.  One day she was telling me that she went to the Broadmoor to see Lawrence Welk and his entourage put on a show.  During the show, Lawrence Welk danced with some of the ladies in the audience and one of them was Janie.  Now Lawrence Welk in the 60’s was like a rock star to Bojon women.  Getting to dance with him was probably one of the biggest moments of her life.  She told me the whole story, and she said these exact words to me.  “He has the shiniest shoes I ever saw”.  Now, I’m maybe 14 or 15, and an avid reader of Mad Magazine, so my humor is probably not that appreciated by 60+ ladies, so my answer was “He probably shined them up so he could look up all of the ladies’ dresses”.  That ended her story.  That ended my tips for a month or so before she stopped being mad.  Never insult Lawrence Welk in Bojon Town.  And thanks Kenny Cvar, for planting the idea of looking up girl’s dresses by putting shiny objects on your shoes in my young, impressionable mind.

Until tomorrow.

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14 responses to this post.

  1. My goodness, I was thinking of Frankie Yankovic too! He was born to Slovene immigrants you know. I always loved the polka music, always will. I loved to dance and some of the older bojon men could give a girl quite a spin at the wedding dances. Between that and the Chicken Dance, I am always a happy camper. If you ever saw the movie “Splash” with Tom Hanks, Darryl Hannah and John Candy, you will remember John Candy, as a small boy in that movie would throw a handful of change down on the ground so he could pick it up and look up the ladies skirts! LOL! As for Lawrence Welk, he was a dream boat for the older ladies. He was a T.V. icon. I always thought he was a bojon but he came from German and Ukrainian decent.
    Can you imagine what people would do today if they saw kids breaking glass by the railroad tracks? There would be an inquisition! As you say, different times.
    Funny how noise effects us differently. I remember going to my husband’s grandparents farm in Holly CO. once and I could not sleep because it was so quiet and the sky was so light because of all the stars.I will always miss the whistle at the CF&I and the church bells. They need to bring those back. When I worked for the U of Colorado Health Sciences Center in the 1980’s there was a Lutheran church on Colorado Blvd. as I headed toward work. Those church bells would always chime as I approached the stoplight at 17th and Colorado and the melody always made me smile. Funny how the simple things make us smile. I love hitting yard sales and thrift stores too. When I was a kid, my Auntie Ang had a huge collection of porcelain angels. I would have given anything to have those after she passed away. She had them in shadow boxes in her living room and bedroom. I find them in the thrift stores occasionally and my sister found a pristine one recently that she gave me. She is a June angel and she halo and wings are perfectly intact. I am always finding great stuff at the thrift stores. I had a huge record collection when I was a kid. My dad had that little house in the backyard and we had termites and all my albums, probably 200 of them, had to go to the dump! I loved all my albums! I like to buy books at the thrift stores too. I like the kids books, especially Golden Books, reminds me of my own childhood. Once I found a book I was going to give to the little grandbaby and it was signed by the author. I googled her and she had passed away in the week or so after I purchased the book so I kept it. Might be valuable one day and help some grandkid go to college.
    I am preparing some draft so I can put them on my own blog. If I get ideas I like to jot them down so I won’t forget. I keep thinking of wonderful childhood memories. But I recently googled my folks house and it made me sad. The yard was a mess and my dad never had a grease spot on his driveway. The whole street where I grew up except for Mrs. Plute’s house on the corner looked unkept and unloved. I would like to have the money to buy the whole neighborhood and revitalize it. Grandpa Joe Kocman worked at that blasted smelter and he lived well into old age. I think the government just wants to swoop down and steal the land. As for the CF&I – I heard someone at FaceBook complaining about the air quality. B A L O N E Y ! Pueblo never had the pollution we have even today in Denver. Plus all those old school bojons died when they were up there in age. I think someone has a friend who has an uncle or cousin who wants that land. They are always improving the highway until some fat cat politician fills his pockets so full of the taxpayers cash that they go on to the next scam. I have seen it happen up here with the Five Points neighborhood. Running people out of their homes so millionaire yuppies can build their dream homes. They are running people out of their homes in North Denver too. All for the young, the rich and the spoiled! I watched a documentary about a man who tried to save his apartment building in Brooklyn, NY. It was a historical building, but big brother won and they tore it down so some fat cat could build his mega mall or whatever they build! The guy who protested it all said he never regretted fighting for it . The mainstream media (i.e. the Pueblo newspaper) is just one of the pawns in the big scheme to steal land from taxpayers. The native American’s think they had it bad….
    My dad would say “If you don’t stand up for something you will fall for anything.” I think someone made a c/w song with that title, I wish the bojon community would fight for their neighborhood but a handful of them want to sell their souls to the devil for a few bucks.
    Goodnight cousin and thank you for making me remember all the wonderful childhood memories we made.
    Hugs, Anne xo

    Reply

    • I’m with you on the scam part. There are people that were born in that neighborhood that lived well into their 90’s. My Grandma Barnett was 95 when she died. When she was 92, she was outside in her yard, one block from the Steel Mill, 4 blocks from the old Smelter, directly behind the oxygen plant, next to Midwest Steel…….pulling weeds. That doesn’t sound like some sick person that lived in a toxic place. I remember Mrs. Glavich pouring beers in Eiler Bar when she was probably in her 80’s. That land is probably cleaner than the land around the Capitol Building in Denver. There’s something else behind this besides some semi-useless government trying to justify their existence.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Mike Deverich on June 18, 2015 at 5:12 am

    Whitey made it too obvious, he put mirrors an his shoes. That’s a tough one to explain. Remember the class trip to the Capital, we had a mason jar full of a mixture of whiskey’s and scotch. There were 3 or 4 of us that imbibed and we had a very pleasant day. I believe all Bojons have the curiosity to experience altered states of mind and it is usually booze that does the altering. I remember the first time I was drunk and you were there helping ( you were drunk also ), it was at Kay’s wedding. we took turns going to the punch bowl. We had like 10 or 12 glasses of that punch before we got busted. 10 years old and we had our first hangover. The lessen learned was don’t mix booze with something sweet, it must be consumed either up or with water. Anne you are correct about the pollution in Pueblo vs. Denver. Up until 1970 or so the mill did spew particular red dust when the blast furnaces were fired. I always thought my Grandma Elsie’s house had a red roof and it wasn’t until the removed it I discovered it was actually white. A little extra iron never hurt anybody. The shingles were made of asbestos and lasted well over 40 years. Another example of Government scams and over reactions all due to the thought if it saves only 1 life. Mike hit the nail on the head when he wrote if a person from the Government says he/she is here to help your first thought should be where to bury the body. I better stop before I start to rant about the immorality and deceitfulness of our government. Ok if you want to know where the country is headed read Anne Barnhardt, it is not a pretty picture.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Ray Cetin on June 18, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Hi Mike,
    you are right bojon music is great, bojon hermonka music is awesome. My father played the button box along with Frank Pauchek and Frank Habich. I have approx. 1500 Slovenian polkas, waltzes and folk songs on my ipod, ipad and computers.
    over 170 of them are Frankie Yankovic. I make my own Slovenian CDs with graphics etc. Some Slovenian music, a little Slivovitz – life is good!
    Keep your blog rolling, it’s good stuff.

    Reply

    • Hi Ray! Man, it’s good to hear from you. I was just talking about you the other day. My wife and I were sitting on the hill looking at the levee work on the river, and I was looking at the railyards. I told her how you took me down there and helped me to put in a job application when I was working at the gas station. That was a time when jobs were hard to come by, and the railroad wasn’t even taking any applications. You got me in, introduced me to the guy that did the hiring, and got me an application. That was a really nice thing, and I never forgot it. Thanks! I remember your dad playing his accordion on the front porch. Your parents also used to let us drink out of their hose. That always was appreciated by a thirsty kid! They were always nice to us.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Noelle Eveland on June 18, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Hi there. Noelle here I’m Anne Marie’s oldest (and most awesome kid) First let me say when my Mom told me to take a look at this blog I didn’t think I was going to like it so much that I would spend an entire hour last night reading every single post you have written since you started!! My husband was trying to sleep and I kept literally laughing out loud, I finally had to go to the living room to finish reading for fear of getting the ” if you laugh one more time glare”!! You and I have several things in common we are both the eldest of 5 kids and you seem to be a real smartass, something else I exceed at! My Mom always used to say I was very independent and stubborn ( I think this translates to being a difficult pain in the ass! LOL) I never knew I was stubborn because I was a Bojon, hehehe. I grew up in Bojon town also at 710 Topeka with my Grandpa and Grandma Kocman, it melts my heart to hear you tell stories about my Gramps I never in a million years could imagine him raising his voice or arguing with anyone ever, it a very interesting perspective to hear you share your memories of him and I just love it keep the stories coming! When we were little the highlight of the month would be riding in the back of his pickup truck to go to the dump sitting back there with all the smelly trash was the coolest thing ever!! Different times for sure! As I was reading through the comments on here I noticed the one about some evil person sending my Gramdpa K a poison pen letter I hope whoever did that is rotting in the bowels of hell!! I’ll end this on a happy note! BOJON TOWN rocks then now and always! Keep up the awesome blog and keep giving everyone who disagrees with you hell! (-;

    Reply

    • Hi Noelle, I’m so glad you read it. I remember you when you were a baby. Your Grandma and Grandpa used to take you for rides in that truck. I’d see them all over the place. Your Grandpa loved to go in that truck, and that big old green land yacht that he used to have. I think it was an Oldsmobile. I should know. I changed the oil in it every 2500 miles. Like clockwork. He took care of his stuff. I bought his old Chevy Impala when it had over 100,000 miles on it, which was rare back then. I drove the crap out of it for 2 years, my dad bought it and give it to my sister, and she drove the crap out of it. After she sold it, I still saw it around Pueblo for another 10 years. It lasted that long because he took pride in his stuff and took care of it.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Jeanette litherland on June 18, 2015 at 10:25 am

    I loved it when you lived with us when you went to college. You were the best big brother to Tim and the girls that anyone could ever hope for. I cried when you moved back to Pueblo because I missed you so much. Some of my grand kids think my basement is haunted. I never felt that way but if spirits are hanging out here, I would like to talk to them. They would have been terrified of Grandma Kocman’s basement!! Auntie Millie would ask me to stay with her sometimes and going past the furnace to get to her room was pretty scary!! Next time I get to Pueblo I will share some stories with you. You need to listen to Uncle Kenny’s stories sometime. He could write a best seller about them!!

    Reply

    • I cried when I left home to move in with you guys. When I moved back to Pueblo, I cried all the way back. I loved your basement. We had a lot of fun down there. Uncle Kenny is one of the greatest story tellers on the planet. I could listen to him every day. He’d drive down to Pueblo when he was living in Denver, and he’d pick me up and take me hunting or fishing. Those were some of my favorite times ever!

      Reply

      • Posted by Kay on June 19, 2015 at 11:55 pm

        Jeanie I was terrified of Grandpa Kocman’s basement too. I remember watching Grandpa stoke the furnace and feeling like I was looking into the bowels of hell. I would not have accepted an invitation to sleep down there.

  6. Posted by Jeanette litherland on June 20, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Kay, I might have been the only one of us kids to spend a night in Grandma’s basement. One night when I was there I told Auntie Milliie that I could hardly breathe and I thought I might be dying, and her answer to me was’ “shut up and go to sleep, it’s not that easy to die”. It was just a good thing that it never entered my mind that if that furnace started a fire we would have no chance to get past it to get out!!

    Reply

    • That’s classic Auntie Millie. Only she could come up with that! I never went down into that basement. I remember making it down about 3 or 4 steps one time when Grandpa was going down there. I took a good look, and I didn’t even turn around. I just backed myself up and went and got a vanilla wafer and went outside.

      Reply

  7. Aw….that basement is perfectly fine! I loved the bedroom down there and my niece Karla’s son Ryan has it today! Hee Hee! Auntie MIllie was a character. I miss her laugh as well as Auntie Mima and all the precious aunties. Hugs, Anne xo

    Reply

  8. Posted by Mike Deverich on June 24, 2015 at 5:50 am

    Always vanilla wafers at Grandma and Grandpa Kocman’s. Every Sunday all of their grandchildren and great grandchildren seemed to show up.

    Reply

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