Denver Direct: Culture in Our Midst

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Culture in Our Midst

Regular readers will have noticed recent articles by Dr. Phil Goodstein,

historian and creator of the Naysayer, a print-only publication. Working with our Associate David Felice, he has graciously allowed us to reprint selections from this iconoclastic opinion newsletter. I recently attended his book signing at the Castle Marne, 16th and Race, a few blocks from my own “castle”.
Visiting Jim and Diane Peiker’s Castle Marne is a singular delight.

Always the most gracious of hosts, they are constantly involved in neighborhood activities, often hosting “open castle” events. What a difference from the dark days, when the Castle sat empty for years in the 1980’s after the last real estate boom and bust. The Peikers are themselves a neighborhood treasure.
Meeting Goodstein for the first time, we immediately fell into a conversation about the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. “You can thank (former Governor) Roy Romer for the sad state of that department. There used to be a law that the head of the department had to have appropriate advanced degrees. Romer had it changed so he could install his own crony. It hasn’t been the same since.” Amazing what an historian knows.

Goodstein is the author of many books on Denver and its history, and this new one, The Spirits of South Broadway, looks like another gem. He will be talking about it at the Tattered Cover on September 24.

And, much to my delight, there were two other authors in attendance; Ann Westerberg with her new Castles of Colorado, and Annette L. Student, with Denver’s Riverside Cemetery.

Thinking I would test Westerberg’s knowledge of the eclectic, I asked if she knew Cano. “Why of course, his Antonito castle is featured in the book.” Immediate sale.

Upon seeing Student’s Riverside Cemetery, I knew I had to have a copy of that book too. Back in the 70s, when I was the Director of Sebastian High School, teacher Steve Metcalfe had created a course called HiPhoBike, history, photography, and bicycling. Students would load up their cameras, pick an historic destination, and bicycle there to take pictures. We had our own internal darkroom (there was no digital) and once they developed the film, they did the library research to understand the site’s historical significance. Experiential learning at its finest, and the Riverside Cemetery was a favorite destination. Some day I’ll dig those photos, now 30+ years old, out for publication.

How invigorating! Culture, history, and conviviality rolled into one evening. Thanks to all of those involved, I came away feeling very positive about my immediate neighborhood.

(Although I’ve provided Amazon links to the books, I’d suggest buying them at the Tattered Cover, to support another cultural gem in our midst.)