June 28th. And Down the Stretch They Come!

It’s getting close to the end of the month.  I thought I’d be tired of writing by now, but I actually feel like writing even more than when we started this adventure.

We had a lot of different businesses in Bojon Town.  One of the businessmen that really stood out in a crowd lived right across the street from us.  In fact, probably the biggest businessman that ever came out of the neighborhood.  I’m talking about Bobby Okorn.  Now, that was a large man!  I’m not sure how much he weighed, but I know that if he got on a scale, it would groan and beg him to get off.  450 pounds, I’m guessing.  How he ever got to be a jeweler is beyond me, because his fingers were the size of klobasi.  But he was an artist!  He could fix the tiniest gears in a broken watch, change the crystal, put on a new band, and have it done in 5 minutes.  And then he’d put it on a shelf and call you in a week!  I used to visit with him a lot when I was a kid.  He was really nice to me and my sister Julie.  One time he told me he’d pay me to cut his grass.  His grass was about 3 feet high and hadn’t been cut for about a year.  He had an old push mower that he wanted me to use.  My skinny little 100 pounds pushed that mower into that grass and it just stopped dead.  I couldn’t get a foot into that jungle.  Bobby told me to move over and he’d show me how to do it.  He put all of his quarter ton behind that lawnmower and it went 50 feet in about 3 seconds.  Grass clippings were flying to the Mill!  Jesus, that big guy was strong!  He ended up cutting it himself and still paying me.  That’s the kind of guy he was.  He showed me some really cool jewelry that he kept, and he had a huge box of silver coins under his counter.  He’d make a fruitcake for my family every Christmas.  His recipe called for some alcohol.   Like enough alcohol that you’d have to put out the pilot lights before you cut it to keep your house from burning down.  No one would really dare eat it.  But me.  I gave it a shot.  Literally, I should have put it in a shot glass.

There were a lot of other Bojons that owned businesses and ran them from the neighborhood or from their homes.  Frank Rebol owned Sunset Electric on Northern, and I still remember that old truck full of conduit and wire and connectors.  His son Dave went to the School of Mines, and I saw him a few times when I was going there.  Nicest guy in the world, and another super smart Bojon.  Ray “Killer” Krasovec was an excellent brick layer.  And a hell of a softball player.  Mike Dovgan ran a pretty successful lawn service company for several years.  His dad owned a bar.  Frank Youhouse made awesome sausage.  Fritzie Anzlovar is a top notch electrician.  Billy Kocman and Harvey Koshak painted houses when they were on summer break from school, and Billy worked at the dog track and Harvey ran recreation programs at the schools.  They were always working.  A lot of Bojons had that entrepreneurial spirit.

When I was working at one of the bowling alleys in town, a team with Harvey, Bill, Rich Zabuckovick, Squanto and Ronnie Oreskovich was bowling.  I don’t know which one it was that bowled a high score, but Squanto asked me to announce it, but instead of saying his name, he wanted me to say ‘Joe Kurac’.  I knew what it meant, and I knew how to say it, and every Bojon in the place busted out laughing.  I’m still working on my quest for the ultimate Slovenian curse word dictionary.  I may have found it, but I need to verify it for accuracy.  If it’s not accurate, it’s not worth drek.

I’ve been looking at old maps and in 1905, before the freeway was a thought, there was a block of houses in the area between Northern Avenue and Mesa Avenue that was just east of Elm Street, right where the freeway is now.  There was also a big lumberyard, called the T.H. Foley Lumber Company that sat in that same area.  The south edge of their building would be directly under what is now the Northern Avenue bridge.  I’d never known this.  The maps that I found have detail right down to the houses and yards, and it’s interesting to see what was there and what wasn’t.  Another interesting thing is that there were two fairly good sized ponds on the smelter land.  I’m doing some overlays of the maps to try to pinpoint exactly where they were, but they seem to have been in the area near Newton’s Lumberyard and Meadow Gold Dairy.  I’ll keep you updated.

Velma worked with her new foreign exchange workers this weekend.  Two from Russian, two from China.  I finally met all of them, and they’re really nice young ladies.  So, in that spirit, Adios for now!


2 responses to this post.

  1. Hello cousin, I feel like we are reading each other’s minds! I thought I better have a little bojon material to write with so I have created 22 drafts! One of them was Bobby Okorn! Oh my goodness , he was a large man but a kind one! My dad loved to stand on that corner and shoot the breeze with those bojons! You have great stories! All we need are lots of pictures to go along with these stories ! I was thinking of bojon words that are , shall we say colorful ! My Uncle Louie Steblay was a master of words kids should never hear! My dad never talked about anyone in a negative way but once he heard something we said, not very appropriate and never used in our house! He looked at my mother and said “That brother of yours ma! I don’t like the things he says around the kids but I know he is your brother and you defend him! Ma, if I told you the sky is blue and your brother said it was green you would believe him!” This was not a bojon phrase but Uncle would pull up behind someone at a red light, roll his window down and yell “That lights not going to get any greener you yellow bellied sap sucker! ” He’d blow that car horn and yell M O R A N !!! A different day and age because today no matter where you live people will shot you, flip the middle finger at you and once and awhile follow you home! Oh the tales we tell! Always my pleasure to be here with you! Take take and keep the stories coming! Goodnight cousin! Xo Anne


  2. Posted by Jeanette litherland on June 28, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Mike, I believe your Dad bought your Mom’s engagement ring from Bobby Okorns jewelry store. Bobby would really like the kind words you wrote about him.


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