Zancanella Family Reflections

Submitted by: Buzz Zancanella

Spanning the Generations

Glenwood Springs, CO

My grandfather, Lawrence Zancanella, came to the area in the late 1800s when he was 15 years old. He and his brother were looking for work and found it in the coal mines of Spring Gulch Mine and later at the Sunlight Mine. The mining life was a hard one and in 1907 my granddad opened his own shoemaking shop on Seventh Street in downtown Glenwood Springs which he operated until he died.

My grandparents had 12 kids, two of whom died of influenza. Of the twelve, my dad “Bugo,” was the oldest and it fell to him to support the family when my grandpa passed. He had to quit school and start working which he did without complaint. In addition to working, dad was a volunteer fireman but it was tough to join the fire department in those days because it was run like a club. They told him he couldn’t join right away because he was Catholic and Italian and they were only allowed to have a certain number of Catholics and Italians. With the help of Mike Bosco, Hank Bosco’s dad, he was allowed on and served as a volunteer fireman for nearly 50 years.

When I was born, I had such bad rheumatism that I couldn’t walk at the age of three. My parents took me to see Dr. Hopkins who instructed them to bathe me in the hot springs pool daily because the mineral water was effective for rheumatism. My mom told me that when they couldn’t take me every day, they would fill up jugs with hot spring water to bathe me in at home. I guess it must have worked, because I’ve gotten around pretty well since then. My mom, Ruth, who is now 100 years old, remembers when the price of admission to the pool was 25 cents. It cost a little more, 50 cents, when I was in high school.

When the Navy took over the pool in the 1940s I was pretty young, but my grandfather still had the shoe shop on Seventh Street and I loved to watch the troop trains come into town. Many of them were from Camp Hale in Leadville and would spend their liberty weekend at the pool. At that time there were still a few houses of ill repute that the soldiers would also frequent on their leave.

I graduated from Glenwood Springs High School in 1958 and some of my best memories of the pool are spending the day there, eating hamburgers, playing on the logs, the teeter totter that was in the pool and jumping off the fountain. In high school we would sneak in after midnight by hopping over the fence. There was one night guard who was on to us though. Instead of chasing after us, he would steal our clothes and you were forced to either ask him for your clothes back or go home naked. I was only caught once when my dog gave me away by barking at the fence. In 1968, we had our 10 year class reunion at the pool. You would have thought after ten years we would have some more sense, but someone got the crazy idea to make our own hot springs cocktails using pool water and vodka. Needless to say, it was a little rough the next morning.

One of the highlights of the summer was the annual Strawberry Days celebration. The pool was closely associated with the event because the parade used to end at the pool. Also, it was where the Strawberry Days Queen contest took place which would always draw a crowd. Jack Mitchell, Kjell’s dad, would make ice cream non-stop at the Creamery for about a week before Strawberry Days and pretty much all of West Glenwood was strawberry farms. It was always a treat to have the Creamery ice cream and fresh strawberries.

Growing up, Glenwood Hot Springs was a place of healing and a place for fun. Happy Birthday!

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