Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 36

the voice as that of my own brother with whom I had traveled, eaten and slept for the last eight weeks; he had simply got a general cleanup and a change to civilized and Sunday wear, but the transition was so great and so unexpected that the eye was completely deceived while the voice was unchanged to the ear. I don’t think we were all as bad off as that, but perhaps we all needed to be scrubbed and dressed up a little.

          In the outskirts of Denver we found two small vacant houses which we rented and moved into at once. They belonged to a family named Clifford and were located on Walton Street behind the Catholic church just two streets away. Most of the ground, however, in the vicinity was vacant and the streets were on paper yet. I used to sit at our door and shoot at owls and prairie dogs as they sat in the sunshine and fraternized in their little community just across the supposed street. Not a house was visible beyond us, but a bust town lay behind us.

          Denver was a busy city for its size in those days. The streets were generally well filled with wagons mostly heavy freight wagons, bringing in supplies of all kinds, except perishable goods, and distributing them to the various mining camps throughout the district. Freight rates with time of delivery unlimited were about twenty cents a pound, and a considerably higher rate by limited transport; that is, twenty-one days from St Joseph on the Missouri River. The population was uncertain, as many were coming and going from and to the mountains and “The States.” The authorities managed to get an estimate on the resident portion of it and set it down as about 4500, with men in the majority. Still there were a good many families at that time, and the residence portion of it built up with brick houses as well as compactly along several streets, but mostly within a radius of half a mile from where the city hall now stands. Several hotels were doing a good business, such as the Planters, the Broadwell, and the Lindell. Several banks were flourishing, and a branch of the U S Mint was ready to receive all the gold brought in by the miners. A theater gave opportunity to an Irish actor, Jack Langrishe, to give exhibitions of dramatic and melodramatic skill of the lighter order to fair audiences of the best people. Gambling was a recognized business and there were two large halls for that purpose on Blake Street; one called the Progressive, and the other the Diana. Heatley and Chase ran the former, while the latter was operated by a popular little Jew called Chancer Bob. These institutions were run on the plan of Monte Carlo, with all the devices of the profession and music day and night. One of the musicians was Alex Sutherland, a Scotchman, a Catholic and an ex-British soldier. He was on [one] of those who sounded the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava which Tennyson immortalized in verse. I often sauntered in to see the play and hear the music, but I never risked anything at the tables. I did not understand any of the games, and besides I had no money to bet with and I never wished for any.

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