Edith Seppi is Grand Marshal for Boom Days 2012
This year’s Grand Marshal of the Boom Days Parade is Edith Seppi. If you’ve been around Leadville for any length of time, you certainly know Edith. But if you’re not familiar with her or have never had the opportunity to hear some of her stories, Leadville Today is going to share some of those with you. Congratulations Edith, we’ll be waving to you in the parade!
You didn’t grow up in Leadville. Why did you move here?
My dad got a job with a contractor building schools and Safeway stores. So in February of 1942, they sent my dad to Leadville to build a new Safeway store, which is now Sayer-McKee. My mother and I came up to Leadville for 6 months, which was how long it took for the store to be built. So I’d just say my six months isn’t up yet.
What did you think of Leadville when you first arrived?
This was the friendliest town. I had just lived in Glenwood Springs. And Glenwood was a cold community. Then I came to Leadville, and it was just the opposite.
What did you do for fun in Leadville in the 1940s?
That first summer we had a hayride: There must have been 20 of us, piled on to this hay wagon with two horses, and they drove around the fish hatchery and around the lakes. One time we had a huge group and we went down to Escondido Ranch. We each got a horse and we rode under the overpass and on up the road to the east—on the old highway. I went bowling at Climax. They had a bowling alley. And about once a month there was a dance at the 6th Street Gym. We always had great bands, especially during the war: the bands from Camp Hale used to come. And back then, you went to the show anytime there was a change of feature. I had a date to every show. It was the friendliest, neatest place I’d ever been. Still is.
What was Leadville like during World War II?
The Tenth Mountain Division was out at Camp Hale. When I first came to Leadville, they had just given the contracts to build the barracks out at Camp Hale. So the town was flooded with construction people. There wasn’t a place for them to stay. Apparently during the Depression, Leadville had a very bad time. Most people had left and the people who had stayed had struggling times. But a lot of the men who had stayed had been able to work in the mines to get by. Then, during the war, everything boomed. Every store, every place on the avenue was filled. The men started coming, and thousands came. They would come into Leadville—we were the closest community. The Silver Dollar Saloon was just absolutely packed and the dry cleaning establishment at the end of the avenue—it had just rows and rows of their winter clothing. Everywhere you looked was Army. Leadville citizens, they opened up their homes, they invited them in, they made them part of their family. A USO came to Leadville. And we had dances at the 6th Street Gym. We used to ride in the Gl trucks. We’d be in formals and high heels and we’d climb into the trucks and there’d be these down blankets and we would wrap them around us. We had all kinds of chaperones, of course. Then our city council and mayor decided they didn’t want these soldiers in town, so they put Leadville off limits. The soldiers couldn’t come in: they had military police walking the streets to arrest them. During 50-year anniversary of the Tenth Mountain Division, we put a big sign up: “Leadville is no longer off limits.”
You ran a service station in town in the 1940s. Can you talk about that?
In 1946 my husband was Joe Zaitz. We started a service station, the Serv’U Station. It was a Texaco station. We remodeled it. There was just a tiny white shop and you had to go down in a pit to service your car. But my husband had rheumatic fever, and we had to leave here because his cheeks and elbows were turning black from lack of oxygen. So we went to Pueblo and opened up a new Texaco station. But my husband was too ill; he was filling with fluid. Then our son was born, at the end of May. By November 10, we’d been in Pueblo exactly one year, and my husband died. A couple years later I married Aldo Seppi. And Aldo ran the service station. We changed the name to Seppi Auto Clinic (note: located across from the present-day Kiddie Korral). We ran that until they made Poplar a one-way street—it ruined our business. The sign said “no right hand turn.” Nobody’s going to turn into your service station if the sign says not to.Aldo went to work in construction, in the Boustead Tunnel. A man was killed in the tunnel and Aldo took his job. I said to Aldo, give me $5,000, and I’ll start a campground: Sugar Loafin’ Campground. Back then it was one of the very first campgrounds in the state. The business took a while to build up. When it took off, it was a booming business. But it was too late to save the service station. I retired in 2007 after 40 years at Sugar Loafin’. My son Don runs it now. He was 10 years old when I started it, and he grew up with it.
What do you want to tell people about Leadville?
It’s the friendliest, best place to live. Leadville always has open arms: come, come.
It’s PARTY TIME in Fabulous Lead Vegas!
CLICK to read all about Boom Days Nightlife!