Good life in the new world
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Guido Bagett was born Guido Bagetto in Italy in 1912. He came to the United States with his mother and brother in 1914 when his father sent for them. Here he remembers how his family got started in their new country.
Bagett: My name is Guido Bagett, son of James and Madeleine Bagett of Carbondale. My dad came here in 1888. He came to New Castle to work in the mines. He worked there for a while but he crushed his hand and couldn’t do that kind of work anymore.
He came back to Italy and married my mother and had my brother and me. He ran a store there in Italy for a while. Then he decided to come back to America. He got him a little saloon in Glenwood there by the bridge. He had that for a while and then he got one up in the town of Sunlight. When the mines shut down there he had to leave that and move out to Marble.
Then he sent for my mother, my brother and myself. We came to America in 1914 during the war. My mother didn’t know how to speak American when she came across from New York to Colorado on the train with us. I still don’t know how she did that by herself not speaking English. She must have had somebody helping her out along the way.
I will always remember landing in Carbondale because of the snow. I stepped out on the boardwalk at the train depot there. I had knicker pants on up to my knees and button shoes and I jumped up and down in the snow. I was 21⁄2.
After a stop there, we went on the train back up to Marble. My dad had come down to Carbondale to meet us, but he missed us there and went on to Glenwood to find us. We didn’t get to see him until the following day.
When we got to Marble we were lost. We didn’t know what to do. But there was a fella named Barns. He was carrying the packages from the train and he gave us a ride on his horse drawn sled down to where my dad had the house.
My dad had the meat part of the store in Marble, and his partner John had the grocery part. We lived there until the marble mill was ready to shut down. That’s when my dad decided that he had better come to Carbondale. He bought a store there down by the depot, the James Sheridan saloon. He ran that as a saloon for a while until he started the meat market.
I remember the saloon. It was a typical saloon with a big bar, two pool tables and three card tables. The upstairs had 10 rooms in it and, before my dad bought it, the rooms were being run as a brothel.
When Prohibition started in the ’20s my dad changed the saloon into a grocery store and I helped him. I used to deliver groceries down in Satank and other out-of-the-way places. My dad had an old Ford truck that he taught me to drive. I was delivering groceries when I was 14.
My parents managed well. My mother ran the house, and my dad took care of the store. My mom was a quiet woman. She hardly ever raised her voice at us kids. She had every reason to but she didn’t. She learned to speak English after she got here. She picked it up right away; us kids got it right away, too.
My dad was a good man. I never saw him angry. He had a good voice. We’d go fishin’ and he’d have these Italian cigars and he would put one in his mouth and pretty quick he’d break out in song. He’d sing his Italian songs these guys like Pavarotti sing today. That’s the kind of voice he had. He taught me how to fly-fish. We’d go down to the river and spend time together.
Immigrant Stories runs every Monday in the Post Independent (unless the copy editor forgets to put it in.)
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