We Are All Immigrants

Owen Gentry, San Francisco, Colorado

While looking at a book on our family history my grandson commented, “We are all immigrants!” What a true statement that is! My great-grandfather, Owen, was part of the great wave of 19th century emigrants who came to America to seek a better life.  He settled in San Francisco. Many came to escape persecution and bleak economic conditions at home. Early Colorado pioneers included immigrants from Italy, Ireland, Wales, China, Germany and Russia.  Life was often extremely difficult, especially in the Colorado mines, and the locals often didn’t welcome the new arrivals with open arms.  Can you imagine what life was like in a Colorado mining town? There was adventure and danger, but also opportunity for the industrious.


Setting sail for a new life in America.

Chinise, 1880 riots

Chinese emigrants traveled far for work in the West. They helped build railroads and dig tunnels, but found a great degree of prejudice and suspicion. This is an image of an anti-Chinese riot of 1880.

gold, silver, Colorado

As word of spread about gold and silver discoveries in Colorado, many people came to seek their fortune working the mines and supplying goods to the miners. It must have been an exciting time!

Samuel Cohen, Fairplay, Colorado

This is the Samuel Cohen store in Fairplay, Colorado, in 1890.

saloon, Telluride

Saloons like this one in the mining town of Telluride were very common.

Stein's Market, Pueblo, Colorado

I’m fascinated by images of early merchants. This is Stein’s Market in Pueblo in 1913.

Italian American Bank, 1920 Denver

Italian immigrants were important in early life in Denver, often settling in Northwest suburbs. This is Denver’s “Italian American Bank” in 1920.

Mizpah Arch, Union Station, Hebrew

The Mizpah Arch in front of Denver’s Union Station was the first sight when arriving by train in 1908. In Hebrew this means, “God watch over you while we are apart.”  It was torn down in 1930.

Shwayder brothers, Isaac Shwayder, Poland, Samsonite

Isaac Shwayder was born in Poland in 1855 and came to America to work for his wife’s uncle in Central City, Colorado in 1879. He began peddling in surrounding mining towns out of his heavy back pack.  A few years later, his wife convinced him to move the family to Denver where he opened a used furniture store.  His son, Jesse, was a born sales person like his father and started a luggage manufacturing business in Denver in 1910 called the Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company. It was renamed Samsonite in 1941 and became the largest luggage company in the world. This image is of the Shwayder brothers showing how strong their luggage was. The case was called “Samson.”

immigrants, Mexico, India, China

Early immigrants came with hope and a bit of fear when arriving in America. It is the same today I am sure for our new visitors.  Fear of new immigration is a hot topic today just like it was in the past. It may come as surprise that Chinese immigrants made up the largest number of arrivals in the U.S. last year, followed by India, and then Mexico.  In the heated rhetoric of today’s political climate it is easy to forget.…”We are all immigrants.”

No Rain No Rainbows

May, snow, Seattle, Kauai

I can’t believe how everyone is complaining about the weather this week in Denver. One guy at my athletic club was comparing our weather to Seattle! To be honest we have received a lot of May snow, and it has rained a bunch lately! It has made a few people a little depressed as they want our normal sunshine back! We usually average over 300 days of sunshine a year. Even when it is a bit gloomy I try to look at the bright side of things! On a trip long ago to Kauai I remember seeing something written on the wall of a bar that I take to heart; “No Rain, No Rainbows.” How true that is! Don’t you think?

snow, Denver

Even on a snowy early morning last week the sunrise was still glorious!

People are still skiing in late May! Arapahoe Basin received over a foot of snow this week and the place is supposedly crowded with enthusiasts squeezing in some end of the season runs. Bad weather is always good for somebody, somewhere! Our lawn is green as can be with all the rain and our trees are very happy.

Dick and Marla Gentry, Hilo, Hawaii, orchids

I find a lot about dealing with weather is attitude! My brother lives in the wettest city in the U.S., Hilo, Hawaii. It rains almost every day, benefitting all the tropical plants. Instead of getting down about it, he just opens his eyes to the amazing beauty around him and soaks in the joy. And you should see his orchids! Even on cloudy days there is a wonderful world to experience and savor.