North Denver and Me

— by Michael Thornton

North Denver was settled later than other parts of the city of Denver. A river called the Platte – or “flat” is what I knew the translation to be – divided most of the city, Denver proper and Auraria, and the town across the river where the poor people migrated. There wasn’t a bridge across the confluence creeks till late in the 1800s, and then the Irish, Italian, and Scottish made their homes there. The climb out of the riverbed was steep, so this land was less than desirable, at least for successful Denverites, who flocked to Curtis Park, Capitol Hill, and parts south and east. My mother and her three girls did not arrive until the late 1940s, when the neighborhoods on the north side had long established themselves as the enclaves of recent immigrants. There was Mount Carmel church, where the Italians worshipped; St. Patrick’s where the Irish attended services; and the streets around 32nd and Zuni – Argyle, Caithness, and Dunkeld Place – where the Scots lived. This was good ground, above the flood plain, where the immigrants of the late 19th century found a home.

I grew up in North Denver. On a corner populated by the Pergolas, Pontarellis, and Zarlengos. We were at the edge of the new Italian population that was on its exodus, from the Lower Highlands immediately above the river to more suburban properties to the north and west. The Italians were moving to Harkness Heights and Berkeley Park, and further west to Lakewood. It was in the Lower Highlands that my mother found a house, an older house with a piece of land surrounding it. It was one of those original mansion properties that now developers glom on – a corner lot, a house built in 1886. She had three young daughters to take care of, no husband, but hopes for a decent life.

But I started this story thinking that I would talk about my youth in North Denver. It was grand, although not a Neal Cassady story of adventure. My mother came to Denver because her husband, an investigator in Chicago – who at one time was on the tail of Al Capone – had died on the Zephyr back to Chicago, after checking out Denver as a place of relief for his tubercular condition. She moved out to Denver anyway. Her aunt helped. They moved first to Las Vegas, New Mexico. Aunt Helen later traveled to Denver, to find a house for this mother who had lost a husband. When my great aunt identified Denver as a locale full of opportunity, my mother and her three daughters skipped on the lease in Las Vegas, fleeing in the middle of the night. Mom would eventually divide the big house on the corner to include an apartment upstairs to rent to returning soldiers from the war. She met my father, I was conceived, and he left in a hurry after realizing the difficult prospects of raising this family of girls and a new boy born.

So I grew up on the North Side, surrounded by Italians, and three older sisters who had been comfortable in the good life of Chicago Heights, now transplanted to a far western suburb – further than Aurora, Illinois, all the way to Denver – where they put on neighborhood shows of drama, the whole Garland and Rooney routine as kids, impressing the neighbors with their wherewithal. But I wanted this to be the story of my upbringing in North Denver. I sat on Santa’s lap at Gaetano’s, at the age of four, and who knows what Smaldone or surrogate was playing the part. We got pizza at the Subway Tavern, usually visiting the takeout window because the bar represented a cultural underground we didn’t know. It was the best thin-crust pizza that I ever ate. We grabbed sausage canolis from Carbones on Tejon – what a treat, homemade sausage wrapped in dough. When I told my wife about these, she said that was no canoli she ever knew, coming from Connecticut where canolis are dessert shells wrapped around sweet cream cheese or mascarpone. I felt like the provincial fool, but have always loved those sausage wraps, which my mother duplicated at home, since we couldn’t afford the pricey takeout. And then there was the bread – Carbones bread, an Italian loaf that you could buy at Safeway in those days. But to get a loaf of hot Italian bread, at the original bakery, was a treat. One time my mother sent my sister Norine with me tagging along to go buy two loaves at the bakery down at 33rd and Pecos. We were walking from 36th and Bryant, so it was a bit of a trek. The bread was warm from the oven, and we ate most of one loaf on the way home. It was heavenly, and we didn’t get in too much trouble.

Carbones the bread bakery opened a restaurant where Lechugas is now, which still features sausage canolis for takeout. Carbones deli on 38th Avenue, next to Chubbys, is owned by a different family, but it’s the best old-style Italian deli in Denver. The old Carbones bread factory is now a construction site, no doubt scheduled for condos, in the Lower Highlands where at one time the Italians, Irish, and Scots built their homes, where no one else wanted to venture, across that flat creek called the Platte, up the incline to higher ground.

B-50 notes: the original Subway is still at 38th and Lipan. Lechuga’s sells square pizza and sausage canoli’s at 36th and Tejon. Carbone’s Deli is at 1221 W 38th Ave, Denver, CO 80211.

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49 Responses to North Denver and Me

  1. Kevin says:

    Now that’s the north Denver I know, not this gentrified yuppie playground of today.

  2. Schelgunov says:

    From Portland, OR

    Lechuga’s will always hold a special place in my heart. Love your stories and I love this site


  3. Gary says:

    Oh, man. Loved the Carbones cannoli. And at the time, they were the only pizza joint I knew about with rectangle pizzas.

  4. Cecelia says:

    I like this.

  5. Victoria says:

    North Denver was working class. It was definitely not a hot, chichi neighborhood.

    A quote from a North Denverite, now sadly deceased, that always makes me laugh:

    “He wasn’t just drunk…he was North Denver drunk!” — James Gibbons

  6. Christina Carbone says:

    The owner of the bakery was my grandpa, George Carbone. Man! I sure do miss his homemade bread, and his lasagna…to die for! It puts a smile on my face to read about how many people know of the “Carbone’s.” Hopefully my brother decides to open up another Carbone’s, I know he’s been thinking about it and if so, his cooking definitely takes you back to the way you remember. :]

    Christina Carbone

  7. Allen says:

    North Denver Highlands area was home to me, my two brothers and many neighborhood friends during the 50’s and 60’s. As a matter of fact we moved into the same house my mom grew up in and lived there throughout my elementary through junior high school years. A wonderful neighborhood…you didn’t need to lock the doors back then…neighbors cared for eachother.
    I remember the roar of the midgets racing at Lakeside Speedway during the Summer nights and those exciting times when we could go to Elitch’s or Lakeside Amusement Park and every July 4th watch the fireworks over Lakeside from Berkeley Park.
    There were no video games or cellphones, but we had more fun everyday and were never bored.
    The Italian restaurants in the neighborhood had the best food…I loved Carl’s Sausage pizzas. I could go on and on…great memories.
    I’m glad to see the old neighborhood being restored after being rundown for so many years.

  8. Victor Gardino says:

    There used to be a theatre on W.25th ave. just east of Federal Blvd. I almost have the name of it on the tip of my tounge but just can’t get there. Does anyone remember it’s name? thanks, Victor

  9. Trish says:

    I remember Carbone’s bread, we would buy it from King Soopers when it was still at Lakeside, I was born and raised in North Denver two blocks away from where my mom and her seven siblings were raised on Wolff St. I used to love listening to the roller coaster at Elitchs, and the car races at Lakeside. Reading your column brought tears to my eyes, I miss the way it used to be so bad.

  10. Bob Garramone says:

    Who can forget the Feast at Potenza Lodge every August. Like the Eveready Bunny, it’s still running.
    We lived close to Elitch’s and we all (three brothers) worked there in our teenage years, played Old Timers ball there and spent time at the Trocadero Ballroom at the Saturday Matinee dances to big band music.
    I believe the movie theater just east of Federal Blvd. on 25th was called the Granada.

    And who can forget the ice skating on Sloan’s and Rocky Mountain Lake, swimming in Berkley Lake. Then there was the pool at Lakeside which cost a whopping 35 cents to get in.

  11. Paul Wulff says:

    The name of the theatre on W 25th was the Granada! I lived at 25th and Grove.

  12. Matt Kramer says:

    GRANADA !!!!!!! Between Elliot and Federal on 25th Ave. I lived at 23rd. and Clay…
    Go Vikings…..North High

  13. R Varon says:

    I can’t help but wonder how the Jews of Denver have been ignored. North Denver had a large Orthodox population that produce some influential Denverites. I see no mention in any of the articles that they existed, let alone contributed.

    Very disturbing.

  14. J Pavlakovich says:

    I grew up on 48th and Vallejo street way back in the 50’s. Went to school at Mount carmel. Ate at Patsy’s Inn, Carbones and bought fresh Raviolies from somewhere on 38th street.Played little league ball at Horace Mann school.My Grandma lived at 39th Navajo across from Columbus Park. Rode our bikes to Rocky Mountain Park and spent summer evenning at Elitches. Loved it all.My dad would go in the back of Carbones bakery to pick up a big box of hot sweet rolls on Sunday after mass. Great place to grow up.

  15. Gerald J. Fresquez says:

    Grew up in North Denver as well. I miss the old neighborhood. My next door lady Mrs. Spring and the rest of the neighbors were Italians. All of which moved out to the suburbs of Westminister, Arvada, Wheat Ridge, or Broomfield. I grew up near 38th and Zuni during the 80’s and 90’s. Went to school at St. Catherines was an altar boy there as well as Holy Family High School when it was at 43rd and Utica St. (For School masses at Holy Family) Lots of memories and like I mentioned I do miss the old neighborhood.

  16. D. Trujillo says:

    Grew up in North Denver too, I remember the Carbone’s Bakery and when Carbone’s opened on Tejon. They would bring the bizmarks & long johns along with the rest of the donuts to sell with their bread & pizza. They had many different kinds of bread & I loved the twist. We to would go to get bread for the family dinner and eat it on the way home and we only lived a block away. I remember Lechuga’s being built and when the mini hots used to be called the little devil conoli’s. I went to Bryant Webster, Mount Carmel, St. Patricks, Horace Mann and then North. La Raza park in the 70’s, wow, mameories. Subway and Grandma’s Pizza on 32nd Federal after going to the library. Chubby’s when it had pineapple shakes and we would sit across the street on the duplex lawn to eat. When Mr. Dardano had the car lot on the corner and the Dardano’s band would practice in the garage. Yes, Lakeside, their pool, the fun house and the car races plus fireworks on the 4th. Gaetanos and so many other bars around there, Alpine, Pic’s Corner and The Keg. Ah yeah, La Poblano’s on 41st & Tejon. The first restaurant in that building. Remember the Ole’ Mexican Cafe next to Mancinelli’s on 33rd & Osage. Across from Horace Mann they had the home of the first Tijuana Tostada which now is called taco salad. Loved them but can’t remember the name of the restaurant right now, it will come to me later. That was when it was called Junior high and we had competition sports with other junior highs. i’m sure many will remember Mr. Van Epps and the Horace Mann Choir, we were famous back then. Rocky Built on Fed & Speer and Cinnamon cokes at The Scotchman around 50th Federal, I think that is where Kmart was built. If you grew up here, you remember Shutto’s (sp?) on 46th and Tejon, not very many big stores back then however we did have Safeway’s. We used to go to Polidori’s on 34th & Shoshone. Have ice cream or shakes at the Creamry on 32nd & Tejon or go to the drug store on 33rd & Tejon. There was a little store called Eddie’s off of Boulder street & Umatilla, the owner Eddie had one leg shorter than the other and had a really thick shoe, he had so much penny candy and that was when a penny could buy several pieces of candy that you now get for a quarter. This was by Olingers and the ball park. My sisters and cousins would ride our bikes for hours all over the place, and we never worried about the crazy people that are out there now. We had KIMN and KDKO, Dr. Daddy-o! Yes, it was mostly Italian when I lived there, this was the time of intergration in school and my last year in jr high, girls were finally allowed to wear pants to school, no jeans, only pant suits. Leggs came out and girls used to drive the little mail truck looking trucks to deliver the Eggs Panty hose to the stores. Finally by high school we could wear jeans. The times when you went to Catholic Church you wore a ‘mantia’ on your head if you were female and if you didn’t have one, your mom bobby pinned a tissue. The Federal, Oriental and slips my mind again, but the theater on 32nd & Clay. We would ride the bus downtown to go to the movies or shop at Woolworths or Lerner’s. See the windows at May D&F for christmas or skate in the ice rink. Christmas was majical back then, the shops of Denver Dry, Joslins, the Stage, Fashion Bar and Neustetters. Not like we always shopped there but when I started working, we did. Oh yeah, reminds me of the Sunshine Creamry too over by Horace Mann. Remember Yellow Front, yeah, we shopped there. The old gas stations all over where they would come out and pump your gas, check your oil or wash your windows. They were there if you had car trouble too. The old pop machines where pop was a nickle or dime and you could get the flavors of Duffy’s. How do you feel, I feel like a Duffy’s. Well, so many more memories, and time to end this. The Northside has changed just like all the other areas of town, its sad that the old neighboods were not saved and kept up and it would be nice to see it back to what it was, nice good old neighborhood.

  17. Regina Lopez Carrington says:

    R Varon–I was wondering the same thing, I grew up closer to Sloan’s Lake. We’d see the Jewish men walking around the lake every Saturday. The Jewish community added greatly to the mix of our beautiful north Denver. I also had many Japanese neighbors, and they too brought a different and appreciated spectrum of beauty.

  18. Greg Yost says:

    When I was kid we used to love to eat at the Marigold Café on Tejon. I loved those sausage sandwiches and I liked the spaghetti and meatballs too. On the way out I would stick a penny in the weight machine to make sure things were still ok in that department.

    My uncle worked at Gaetano’s for the Smalldone’s and my cousin was married at Mount Carmel. I am not even Italian.

  19. Mike A says:

    The theater on 32nd and Clay was originally the Egyptian, then the Holiday. I grew up in North Denver 50s-60s, almost nothing but wonderful memories from Bryant-Webster, Horace-Mann and North High. Carbone’s bakery was originally in an alley off 34rd and Quivas. I used to ride my bike there on Saturday morning for two loaves of twist bread and sugar donuts. Mancinelli’s just down the street on 32nd, Nick’s Grocery (‘Nigro Bros’) on 32nd and Tejon, Mack’s Five-and-Ten on 33rd and of course Tejon Drug ‘Gerald’s’ run by the wonderful Gerald Natale on 33rd & Tejon.

  20. Chuck Davis (80) says:

    I went to Regis High (Class of 1952) in a class of about 85 boys–girls came many years later. Probably about 15-20 of those boys were Italian. We all got along.

    I lived at 38th and Pierce in Wheatridge, which was hick country at that time. An Elitch Gardens, Lakeside Fan, and discovered girls and beer during those years. A buddy and I were big on Swing Music and dancing in those years just before Rock and Roll.

    Attended Regis College until the family moved do Spokane, WA in 1954.

    More later,
    Chuck Davis

  21. Donna says:

    Neal Cassidy? Did you mean to say “Jack Kerouac” type story??

  22. David Earl Ewing says:

    I remember going to Marigolds with my family in the 60’s as a small boy and having dinner with our Family. Best Meatball Sandwich inmy life! I remember playing the shuffle board bowling game for what seemed hours…probably 20 minutes. My Father had lived there in the late 50’s to 62 after His stint in the Air Force and serving in Korea. He sang in nightclubs until he met my Mother. He would tell a story about how he hung out with a Don’s (Godfather) nephew and about a hit that went down in Marigolds! I think we went there when visiting from Michigan in the 70’s and the Marigolds was gone. My Father was so Sad. Don’t Most of the Jewish live South of 285 now!

  23. Norm says:

    Thank you all for the memories. I graduated from North in 1961. I had forgotten about so many things
    (including swimming at Berkeley Lake, but of course, it all started with Carbone’s bread. Especially the braided bread. Worked at Gardner-Denver for a while and about 1 Friday a month we would order enough bread at the plant that they had to bring a truck to deliver it all. Fond memories of a wonderful neighborhood.

  24. Don Seelinger says:

    We used to frequent the Marigold cafe in North Denver on Tejon. I would love to have a picture of the
    building if it still exits. One of the wildest and remarkable stories of my life unfolded there. Please contact me if further information, an exact address or picture is available.

    Thanks for the memories and the mention of infamous Smaldones. Great memories of my Denver years from 1954-1962 and visits therafter.

  25. M Perez says:

    Loved all the memories from D. Trujillo. Although I come from southern Colorado, Trinidad, I can remember ALL of the places she mentioned I use to come to Denver when I was 11-14 years old and moved here in 1971 after graduation. A lot of these places were still around. Yes there is a lot of memories of North Denver. Nice to walk down memory lane thank you
    March 5 2016. 3:15

  26. Mark Jenkins says:

    I grew up right off of 47th and Wyandot we moved there in 1956 when I was just 4.
    I watched the clocktower in Denver get surrounded by tall skyscrapers, worked at places on Federal like Der Weinerschnitzel, took orders over the speaker at the Scotchman, busboy at the Howard Johnsons, and the Burger Chef, bus boy at the Denver Continental when I went to North High, walked to school quite a lot from I-70 to Speer, so about 3 miles I guess. had a paper route with a bicycle peddling the Rocky Mountain News paper getting up at 4 am to fold and then deliver 225 papers every day. yeah, played a lot in the fields and streams in those old days seeming so long ago now..

  27. GALEN SCOTT says:

    MARIGOLD CAFE–I would really like more info on it. I frequented it often 1962-1967–actually proposed there over one of their great pepperoni pizzas and a pitcher of beer. i knew the family of cops who lost a son in the shooting there. ironically, the owner of MARIGOLD CAFE installed new brakes on my car. I can’t remember his name but he was working as a mechanic at this shop on Wads. He lived in Wheat Ridge about 38th and west of Wads. I miss it !!!
    Same longing for other favorites–MON PETIT ON W 38TH, FOOTERS AT 11TH & LOGAN BY A 7–11 STOR AND EL MADEROS ON S SANTE FE AT EVANS next to seedy motel.

  28. Mike A says:

    Mon Petit was our favorite restaurant in the mid-1980s. We always had the beef wellington for two. I want to say the owner was Frank Soledad (?) and it all came to an end when he died in an automobile accident… My favorite haunt as a kid was the Model Hobby Shop on 38th, just above Federal. It was run by Ernie Katz and his son Gene. Loved the slot racing track in the basement that Gene built!… Also McClean’s bike shop on 44th & Zuni. Always liked looking at all the new Schwinn bicycles… Gerald’s (‘Tejon Drug’) served four generations of our family; Gerald was such a special guy! He referred to me as ‘Mr Archer’ even when I was a kid… Mack’s 5 & 10 with the back wall full of inexpensive toys in trays and hanging above…There was the liquor store on 37th & Federal where I went with my Dad once-a-year just before the holidays to do our annual buy. Whiskey was $5 a bottle for a long time…Cirrone’s on Pecos or Osage with the vats of olives…What we called ‘Snake Alley’ going from 34th & Tejon to 33rd and Vallejo…Everything is gone now on the block where I grew up – 34th-35th & Tejon. Starting on 35th there was the duplex where I lived next to my grandparents Rocco and Louisa, then Musso’s where they bottled Italian specialties for their store on 37th & Tejon right next to the drugstore with the wonderful soda fountain, in the alley next to the Mussos, Mike and Louise, a Mr. Kellog ran a carpentry shop, next a small grocery store, then the Gustafson’s house (Mr Gustafson became a TV repairman and took over the grocery store space), Snyder’s radiator shop and on the 34th corner the Mobil station…The vacant lot on that block was a great playground! Good luck finding a vacant lot in North Denver these days.

  29. Gary Thomas says:

    My family took me to the Marigold for pizza the night I graduated from Lakewood High School in 1965. That was my choice of any place I wanted. It was the best pizza ever. In later years I would take my adult friends there.

    My dad worked at the old Look Furniture Store at 44th and Yates in the early 1960s. That building included the former Coronet Theater, a former corner drug store, and attached shops which were merged into a fairly large furniture store which sold new and used furniture and appliances. I started working there on weekends when I was 14. At age 16 I helped deliver furniture where I made $1.00 an hour.

    We lived one block south of Lakeside Amusement Park when i was a kid. I would hear the stock cars racing around the track every sweaty night. I also remember the blast of train horns as the sound echoed across North Denver to the suburbs in Jefferson County.

  30. Lisa Colonell-Kastner says:

    ANYONE IN THEIR 80’S THAT GREW UP IN NORTH DENVER KNOW OF THE COLONELL FAMILY. 3559 Mariposa was one of the addresses of Frank and Paul Colonell. Just looking for some family history.

  31. Michael, I believe we were childhood friends! I grew up on 37th and Alcott, we played together often as children. I remember sleepovers at your house and David who lived down the block. Your mother was always so kind and gracious. I remember once a conversation we had as maybe six-year-olds, you told me we would be alive in the year 2000. I found that fascinating and for some reason never forgot it. Here we are well past that, I hope life is good.
    Allen J.

  32. Cynthia Blezek Smith says:

    Where was the Marigold cafe located? We ate there after the teamsters bingo every Friday night.

  33. North Denver history buffs might be interested in my book “Nonno tell us a story” by Pietrantonio Lombardi.
    My story of growing up in Italy and immigrating to north Denver in 1966.
    Book is available at Amazon, my office on 5203 Marshall St. Arvada, Gargaro Bakery and Cafe Jordano.

  34. Mike A says:

    The Marigold was on 39th or 40th and Tejon…not sure which.

    Anyone remember or go to Van’s Barber Shop on the corner of 35th and Irving? He was there for years, we lived close but I never went to him.

    My barber as a kid was Al’s Barber Shop on 36th and Tejon across from the firehouse. Al drove in the Indy 500 once and he could tell the story many, many times. :) If Al was real busy I would go to Frank’s just across 36th, same side of the street. Everyone called him the Airplane Barber because he was so fast…in-out in 10 minutes or less!

    How about Dr. (John) Piserchio? He started on 37th & Tejon taking over Dr. Altiere’s (sic?) practice, then moved up to 38th and Grove. Wonderful family doctor, house calls and all!

  35. Jim Roney says:

    My stepfather delivered for Carbone’s bakery back in the day and I will never forget the best Italian bread I ever had, it was the best! My stepfather eventually opened an Italian restaurant on Federal and I often wonder what happened to his new family he gained after my mother passed since I lost track after I had to move several times.

  36. Lisa Goode says:

    I am trying to put together names and places from the 1940’s in North Denver. There was a drugstore around 41st and Tejon. The name was something like Seesay or Seeshal.
    Any clarification on name would be appreciated.

  37. Michael Archer says:

    I was remembering some of the bars around my part of North Denver – Dog House Tavern (on 33rd & Shoshone), Blue Goose (33rd Navajo), The Junction Grill (32nd & Tejon), Pike’s Corner( 32nd around Zuni) and the Alpine Inn (36th & Tejon). The Alpine Inn was a tough place, lots of fights, some shootings. Others?

    The Marigold was on 40th & Tejon if memory serves.

  38. Karen Pace says:

    My husband of 47 years, grew up in North Denver. I grew in West Denver. His grandfather
    Was a stone cutter in Northern Italy, and came to Colorado through Ellis Island ant the turn of the century to work on the Denver capital
    Building. He was Jacob Ferretti and his wife was Henrietta (Kate) Malnatti Ferretti. The moved to a small house at 42nd & Tejon. Although Kate, always wanted to move into the big house across the street, they settled in their little house. She was a milner, she began making totally handmade hats, having children and starting a buisness. First she had my husband’s mother, Anne, then came Denver’s 1st ever set of triplets, Joan, Jack & Joe. They were followed by another girl, Virginia. Kate became very famous for her beautiful hats and her triplets.
    The house she had admired, was for sale. Jack & Kate , and their 5 children bought it, and painted it pink, Kate’s favorite color. They lived in the big house, and turned the carriage house into the famous , Kate Ferretti hat shop, which would have limos driving up, with Colorado’s High Society women, to order hats and buy the
    Latest fashions , handbags, shoes and accessories that were handpicked, by Kate, Jack, Joe and Anne on their trips to the Fashion
    Houses and shows in Europe in the mid 19th
    Kate would go to the Denver Dry every day after school at St. Joe’s to watch the milners,
    making beautiful one of a kind hats as hats were one accessory all fashion minded women,
    had on their ‘must have’ list.
    Buell Pace, brought his mother, Lea Robinson,
    to buys hats , clothes and furs, when he met Anne, Kate’s eldest daughter, was married in 1945. Buell and Anne , had two sons, Donald and Chris. Chris and I met in 1972 and married in 1973. We have one daughter, Brittany, who has been married to Jason for 17 years.
    Last but not least Kate made hats for Denver’s Molly Brown. Kate was also an artist , and the sweetest women you would ever know!

  39. Michael Archer says:

    Lisa – I remember the drugstore on 41st/Tejon but, alas, not the name. It was on the southwest corner.

    There was, of course, Tejon Drug on 33rd/Tejon ‘Gerald’s’ and in between on the corner of 37th another drugstore with a great soda fountain. The cherry vanilla coke was awesome – REAL vanilla and maraschino cherry juice. Lubin’s on 38th/Clay also had a small soda fountains…used to get limeades there. Amazing now, all those drugstores so close to one-another and all doing a good trade!

    Karen – Nice remembrance; thank you for sharing!

  40. Mike Archer says:

    Who remembers the Model Hobby Shop on 38th just west of Federal? It was run by Ernie Katz and his son, Gene. Both of them were very nice to the kids, patient with us even though we might only have a dollar or two to spend. Ernie actually talked me out of buying a slot car when the money was burning a hole in my pocket. “Save a little more money and buy a better car,” he advised.

    I purchased Matchbox cars and collected them for several years. My pal, Dick. collected them also. We each had nice collections. I see on eBay cars I bought for fifty-cents now go for 50 dollars!

    I was there from the age of 8-12 for AMT model cars. I won second in the local version of a national model making contest. I think it was a Revell sponsorship but my car was a 1957 AMT Ford painted a Coppertone color. The kits were $1.49 and $2.00 but the paint, putty, parts, accessories could add up if you decided to customize the car. I never got the hang of the ‘candy’ colors like candy apple red. Anyone remember the names of the other Pactra candy colors blue, green, orange?

    Around 13 I migrated to slot cars. Gene built a track in the basement of the shop and it was a dandy. They had races regularly, I think on Saturdays. Practice was 75-cents for an hour if memory serves. My favorite car was a red Chaparral with a Kemtron 6-volt motor. Alas, the adults killed that hobby. Expensive motors and parts started to become available, like the Globe SS Screamer. They could also do things such as rewinding the armature – beyond a kid’s capabilities. ‘Tin can’ motors – once mocked- became popular and pricey. Kids couldn’t afford them and with the adults always winning the kids left…plus, of course, us Boomers were getting older, towards high school and college. I still have a few motors – mostly Pittman. My favorite is the DC-85 which was used in dragsters mostly. The Holy Grail of motors was the Lindsay 1010.

    After the Boomers moved on, the Katz’ tried to make a go as a ceramics shop, I think that lasted a year or two and they – like the Boomers – were gone.

  41. Look for info. Smaldones loaded dice gambling at
    Spaghetti to go 80th/federal owned by frank shutto,
    1953 FBI raid. FRONT PAGE article either rocky mountain or denver post of raid

  42. Debbie Limon says:

    I grew up in North Denver, lived on 44th & Raritan till I was 12. Went Smedley Elementary, Horace Mann jr high then a few days of North high. I remember my mom putting me in a wagon to go grocery shopping at Safeway near I-70 & Pecos, Shutto’s opened a grocery market on 46th & Tejon, loved going there as kid, I knew I was going to get one of those big dill pickles from the jar at meat counter.
    My dad raced at Lakeside race track until his accident in 1959, I believe it was at the end of August, he passed away in December 1960 due to his injuries. Not sure what year it was when my mom went to work at Gaetano’s, I was in elementary school. I loved going there with my best friend who lived on 44th east of Pecos, we would get a hamburger deluxe & Chauncey Smaldone would bring us a Shirley Temple. I hated it when we had to move, at least it wasn’t real far, 34th & Clay. I spent a lot of time walking 34th & Clay to my friends house or school, I refused to transfer from Horace Mann to Skinner, I met my 1st boyfriend on one of my return trips.
    I had my wedding reception for family in the back room of Gaetano’s in 1976, took my daughter there when she was so tiny some of guys were afraid of breaking her.
    I miss my old life growing up in North Denver, I stopped going to Gaetano’s in 96 when my mom retired, never went back after all the Smaldone’s were gone. I wish I could turn the clock back to when life was easier & I always felt safe.

  43. Mike Archer says:

    Hi, Debbie – Good memories; thank you for sharing. When we moved from Tejon up to Newton I also refused to leave Horace-Mann. My years there were 1962-65. It was my favorite school, seemed like a big family to me.
    44th & Raritan – I always liked that neighborhood, near Chaffee Park…My Uncle Gene Archer was a letter carrier to that area from the early 1950s-early 1970s. Around 1962 our dog, Snuffy, went lost for three weeks. Uncle Gene spotted him during his route but couldn’t catch him. Dad and I went out early Sunday morning and found him sitting on the porch of the corner (NE) house on 43rd and Raritan.
    I used to go with my Dad on Sundays occasionally to either Gaetano’s, the Blue Goose or the Dog House Tavern. He knew all the Smaldones from his old gambling days playing Barbooth. I remember Anthony running the bar at Gaetano’s most of the time.
    I also miss the old North Denver life and years.

  44. Martin Jacoby says:

    Mike Archer, I remember Ernie and Gene. I worked there for about a week when Ernie had to be away. My brother and I had quite a few planes hanging from the shop’s ceiling. Gene had a beautiful, red MGA. Great people, great shop. Sixty years or so later I’m back in the model plane hobby and I miss Ernies, Lake Jr and North High and the area

  45. Mike Archer says:

    Hi, Martin. I remember the airplanes! There was another kid who worked there for awhile, I think evenings and weekends when they were busy.

    Good you are back into the hobby. I still have a Cox PeeWee engine… I’d do slot racing but I don’t think there are any tracks left in the Denver area. From viewing some YouTubes it seems the cars are extremely fast and rarely go off the lane. For a couple of years there was another hobby shop on Tennyson – I think around 42nd on the east side of the street. But it didn’t have the magic of Gene and Ernie’s place. Thanks for the memories and for checking in.

  46. Jean Kimber says:

    It was fun reading all the comments. It brought back a lot of good memories. I grew up on 33rd and Shoshone from 1956 to 1977. Went to Bryant Webster, Horace Mann and North. Remember all the places that were mention. One place I remember was the Humpty Dumpty drive in, (I believe that was the name) It was known for their cheeseburgers. At Shutto’s we used to get a meat spread from the deli. I believe it was made from the ends of the lunch meat.
    Would love to have that recipe

  47. Mike Archer says:

    If you image search ‘Bryant-Webster’ and scroll a little ways down you’ll see a picture of 3rd graders sitting on the corner of 35th & Quivas, I’m guessing around 1968 or so.

  48. The restaurant that served Tijuana Tostada was named after my mom Nita Muniz who owned Nina’s Mexican Restaurant. Before it was a groceries store she owned. I worked there as a teenager. The bakery that was on 33rd Osage named Carbones,I remember getting fresh donuts after church at Mt. Carmel everyday as we walked up the hill to school at Mt. Carmel grade school. Tijuana Tostada are still being made at Wondervu Cafe in Coal Creek Canyon. I carried on my mom’s tradition and just retired from the restaurant business,after 45 years. You can still get a Tijuana Tostada there.

  49. Helen stoner says:

    I remember living on 32nd and Bryant. Tap dancing lessons, the Holiday theatre, the bakery, the grocery store, drug store with cherry cokes. And living at 2751 Wyandot overlooking downtown Denver, watching I25 being built in mid 1950s, the big blocks of ice brought by the ice man. And 33rd and Yates listening to Elich’s roller coaster.

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