Western History & Genealogy Blog

A Joy Day: Sundays in Denver, circa 1901

A crowd of people gather around the pavilion and line the shores of the large lake, in City Park, ca. 1900. By W. H. Jackson.
32nd Avenue at Meade Street, Denver, between 1910 and 1930. By Louis Charles McClure. MCC-3852
Outdoor portrait of a picnic in City Park, between 1904 and 1915. By Charles S. Lillybridge. CHS-L1621

Reminiscences of a Blissful Sunday in Denver, circa 1901

Pearl Stevens Andrews (1896-1988) grew up in Denver’s Highland neighborhood during the early 1900s. The daughter of Ora and Daniel Stevens (a vegetable dealer), Pearl was one of three children along with older brother Charles and younger sister Florence. The family resided in a home at 3277 Meade Street.

Pearl recalls her memories of taffy candymaking, the Barnum & Bailey Circus parade, and a trip to Golden (via pet pony) in a series of nine written reminiscences (M1069), available for research in DPL’s Western History and Genealogy Department. Below is a sample from “A Joy Day,” which details a blissful Sunday in the Stevens household around 1901.

How is it possible to pack all the slices of joy and excitement into one Sunday? Sundays were special for my brother (nine years old), my sister (now three years old), and myself, an extra lively girl of five. Special day. Papa was home all day.

Weekdays were long for him, leaving before daylight to be at the City Market before the farmers arrived with their fresh produce. His stall brought small profit, but Mama knew how to stretch every dollar.

Back to the slices of Joy Day. Not a wasted moment. It was early when we three youngsters came down the stairs then pell-mell into our parents’ big bed, interrupting our father’s well-deserved sleep. Funnies are always funnier when he reads them. Good imitations of Foxy Grandpa, Happy Hooligan, Buster Brown, the mischievous Katzenjammer Kids (who always got spanked), Mutt and Jeff. There were laughs and giggles unlimited.

...The biggest, best slice of joy began about four o’clock. We walked to 32nd Avenue and boarded the street car. The fare was a nickel for adults transferring to the City Park Line in the downtown Loop. Mama always enjoyed the City Park flowers. We kids and Papa headed for the swings; all sizes, a basket type for my little sister. The picnic basket was on a table in the shade. We were hungry for sandwiches of good homemade bread and ham, pickles, cookies and an apple. When we heard the band tuning up, we cleared the table and hurried toward the lake. The big attraction was the electric fountain. We were early enough to get a good seat. What lovely colors reflected on to the lake.

What a Joy Day!

What a charming and cheerful

What a charming and cheerful thing to read. Pearl's descriptions along with the photos make it easy to really visualize her joyful Sunday. Oddly enough, what she loved is not so far from what a good weekend can be in Denver in 2014: time spent with family after a long work week, being outdoors in a Denver park, sharing a picnic, listening to music.