North Denver Italian Culture

I just spent the weekend working with a group of Italians creating digital stories (through the Center for Digital Storytelling, storycenter.org) about their lives in Denver and Colorado. It was amazing how many of the stories had Highland connections.

For instance, Duke’s story was all about Mount Carmel Church. He was baptised there, his sons were baptised there, his grandkids were baptised there, and he hopes his great-grandkids will be baptised there soon.

Louis Polidori, whose family still makes sausage near 33rd and Tejon, told the story of growing up during the depression behind the market at 34th and Shoshone (the market is now the home to our friends Jim and Michael). According to my buddy Michael Thornton, who grew up in the hood, Polidori sausage is the best in town (as a vegetarian I’ll just have to take his word for it). They are now being made by the fourth generation of the same family. check it out at: polidorimeats.com.

There were stories of holiday meals on Shoshone street, with homemade wine for the adults and sprite for the kids, and memories of the grandparents house on Osage. And I got to help Jess Gerardi create his story. Jess plays the trombone, was the director of the Englewood Marching Band, and is the sixth director of the Denver Feast Band. The Denver Feast band has been around since 1895 and plays at the feast of St. Rocco and other events. It made me wish summer was here so I could go play bingo and gamble to win olive oil at the Mount Carmel fair.

It’s great to be in a place where there is so much history. What’s frightening is that so much of it is at risk of being lost.The Italian stories will be shown at the Colorado History Museum downtown starting in April. I know that many of the Highland stories have been recorded in oral histories and lots of photos have been scanned. But many more, even most, are bound to be lost.

Hopefully this group can serve as an opportunity to make sure we don’t forget.

One thought on “North Denver Italian Culture”

  1. My family and i lived directly across the street from Polidori’s on the corner of 34th and Shoshone. Exact address was 1861 west 34th Avenue which was razed. My mother and father bought the house in 1952 and we stayed there until 1976. Wonderful memories of Augie and Louie Polidori who worked together for so many years and their mother whose name I can’t recall lived right next door.

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