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Days of Prohibition on 7th street

WALSENBURG — Louis Guigli, born about 1915, recorded his life story in 1979 as part of an oral history project. This continues his story from last week; this week the stories are about Prohibition and work and the strike. “This is the days of prohibition where everybody on 7th street made whiskey, wine and beer to help them make a living.” And every once in a while Jack Rose and Robert, the federal men, would come up and take samples of this wine and fine them $25 or $30, and they would take samples of their wine and leave them alone till the following year. “And one year one bachelor living behind our house was making whiskey and they were involved in him and they were mad that he didn’t want to give them no more whiskey, so they told him that they were going to report him and raid him, and he took out a German lugar and he shot them both between the eyes, killing them on the spot.” “My mother and all 5 of us children heard the shots and seen him come out of the

door and head for the hills. They later found him out by Rye and the Sheriff Cornwall and Shorty Martinez went after him. But he would not surrender. He shot himself in the head and died right on the spot, and there was nothing they could do about him.” Louis’ interviewer for this history project was Frances Daher, who recorded the interview. Later it was typed – these typed copies are in the Tirey Local History Center in Washington School. The interview includes stories about school. “I later started school on 7th street and then went to Washington School and went as far as the 7th grade and what they called the Jr. High School at the Huerfano County High School at that time. I quit then because my father and mother couldn’t afford to send us to school any more. “We had to earn some wages, so on my way to school my mother said, “Look for a job.’ I stopped in at the Chevrolet garage on West 6th street and got a job working for $6 a week, 6 days a week, $6 a week, yea. Helping mechanics, selling gas, washing parts, janitor, and driving used cars in and out of the building…” “Before we went to school the whole family only spoke Italian. And we learned how to speak English when we went to first grade on 7th street. We played soccer, football, baseball, and all kinds of things in the gym, just mostly baseball and football…” “Our house was right in line with the strike, during the strike with the company store. And the shooting went on so bad. We were all down the cellar and they were shooting machine gun bullets straight down 7th street and we all stayed in the cellar and hid for 2 days. We were eating apples and then when it was all over with, my mother’s home was shot full of bullets and through the windows, and later we heard one of the Lenzini brothers was killed in the shooting.” “Across the street Mr. Bak, federal men shot right in the keyhole, shooting him right in the eye and killing him. And they were always after folks with bayonets to (go to work). Rather starve than go to work, and they never could make him go. And later he lost his job because he was out on strike and had to move to other Coal Camps to get work. And they finally called him back to his job later in the years, when they forgot all about the strikers.” The History Detective has put Louis’ stories in a different order than in the original, but has not changed the wording. The History Detective is a service of the Huerfano County Historical Society