Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

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Mrs. Necchi Maria Santi Lenzini

Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Dick Chenault
Date of Interview - 12-3-1979
Interviewed by Rosalyn McCain

Necchi Maria Santi Lenzini
Date of birth - 10-18-??
Parents - Caesar Santi and Maria Pia
Ethnic group - Italian
Family origin - near Florence, Italy
Date of family arrival in county - Father - 1895; Mother 1899 or 1900
Location of first family settlement - Toltec
Kinship ties - Lenzini's, Santi's

Husband - Alexander Sandy Lenzini
Date of birth - 4-26-1903
Parents - Joseph and Rose Lenzini
Ethnic Group - Italian
Family origin - Italy
Date of family arrival in county - 1890 started store in Walsenburg, mined at Rouse before that
Location of first family settlement - Rouse then Walsenburg

Mrs. Lenzini did not feel comfortable with the tape recorder and requested that I take notes instead. So these notes are from the interview with Mrs. Lenzini conducted by Rosalyn McCain in Mrs. Lenzini's home.

My husband, Sandy Lenzini, had a very strong personality. He had many friends throughout the state — especially political friends. He was interested in politics and in bettering Huerfano County. He especially was interested in bringing improvement to the county during the bad depression years in 1928 and 1929. He himself felt the depression in his business. There was no paying business anymore. I really did not know much of what he did during the depression for other people until after his death. I had many people write to me and tell me of things that Sandy had done for them that I had had no knowledge of before. One family In California wrote me a sympathy letter after he had passed away. The man wrote that he was too proud to accept charity or to work for the WPA during the depression. He wrote that if it wasn't for my husband, that his family would have starved.

You see, Sandy was interested in road building. He would meet with the Governor and other State officers when they were to decide which roads to build. Since he was a friend of Governor Johnson at the time of the depression, he was able to bring a project to our county to send the road over La Veta Pass. He wanted to have as many people work as possible. He brought those jobs here. He felt that it was best to have many people work a few hours a day in order to spread the work around. He didn't talk about it, and I didn't know about it until people wrote to me after he had passed away. He was interested in getting Highway 10 in from La Junta to Walsenburg.

Sandy's father, Joseph Lenzini came to Illinois and worked in the coal mines there. Then he came to Colorado, in Rouse, to work in the coal mine. Then he brought his family to Walsenburg in 1890 to open a grocery business. The miners brought him their money to take care of. They didn't bank their money then.

When my husband's brother, Albert, married, he was left with his mother to take care of the store. He went through the 8th grade in school. He went into the automobile business when he was about 16 years old. Before that he had worked in the store. Then the depression years hit. He was born in 1903. He married me in 1921. He was 42 when he retired. He wanted the boys to into the business. Lenzini Motors has been in operation for 60 years. I think it is the oldest business in the county that has survived. A lot of automobile businesses do not survive. It is a very tough business. Cars are too expensive. The merchant really makes very little on the cars he sells.

My name is Necchi Maria Santi Lenzini. I never use the Maria. My Mother came in 1899 or 1900. My Father was here before that. He was here about five years before she came. He traveled a lot. He worked in Germany. He came from near Florence, Italy. My parents were in the mines at Toltec and Pictou. He went into the saloon business at the mine. He had the Silver Bar Saloon. It was the only Coors saloon in Toltec. He lost everything in the saloon. They closed him up during prohibition. Then he worked in the mines again. He had a candy shop or a pool hall. It was really a recreation hall, and they served pop and candy. Then we moved into Walsenburg at the grocery store business on 7th Street.

When we kids grew up, the girls married real early. We were really young. The girls married at 15 or 16. My husband was 17 or 18 when we got married. We started our family right away. My brother Gaston was the youngest. He went to Grinell College. He wanted to be a surgeon. He loved athletics. He was a star in High School in both basketball and football even though he was slight. He became a coach. He coached in Wa1senburg, then in California, and then in Denver. He was a big basketball star at Grinell. When he came home, he brought his Annual. He was the shortest and the best player on their basketball team. He umpired games in Denver.

Oscar went into business, too and made a big success right out of High School. College was not necessary in those days. Practical experience was more important to be a success.

My husband was well—known in Denver political circles. He never ran for elected office. He was the Chairman of the Democratic Party here, and all the Denver politicians depended on him to help get them elected.

Grandma Lenzini told the story that on the hill over here the Militia and the men on strike had fights. The scabs took the place of the strikers in the mines. The company brought in mine guards to guard the scabs so they could work. All up and down this street (7th Street) the strikers owned homes. The ladies moved into town and stayed with friends. The guards had lights and searchlights, and they would shoot anybody they saw in the lights. This is all hear-say on my part. This is what Grandma Lenzini told me. Mike Lenzini was helping a striker friend who needed food. He went around to the back door. He went down to the cellar to get food for the strikers. Lenzinis were non partisan. They were just storekeepers. When he opened the back door, he was silhouetted in the moonlight, and the sniper saw him and shot him in the back. He fell, and his friend picked him up and ran for help from the other men. Albert got his brother. They had a horse in the barn for delivering groceries. They loaded him on the grocery wagon. Albert was always nervey and courageous. Albert hitched up the horses and waved a white flag and drove on through the grove. Erma's mother ran out when they saws them coming. They thought it was a miner, but it was their own family. She jumped on the wagon with her apron on. They got to the train. It was completely loaded. One man got up and gave him his seat. So Mike got on the train. His father came with a boy and a daughter. He met him. Mike walked into the hospital by himself, but he didn't last very long. He was just an 18 year old boy. He walked on the train and into the hospital on his own. He wasn't even involved in the strike.

Ludlow was the cruelest thing. There are pictures that I have seen of the militia sticking bayonets in a pregnant woman with six children. The militia were a well—respected outfit usually. But somehow they really picked up a lot of riff-raff that tagged along down here. They used bayonets on women, children and old people.

A lot of people come and go in this town, but the Lenzinis have always been here. Grandma and Grandpa had this house. They built it. It was only two rooms to begin with. Then two more rooms were added. Then we added two more rooms. So we are an old family here.

I have three children, Mike and Sandy and Elsie. Elsie is Jay's mother. Mike has a daughter and two sons. Elsie has a daughter in New York. Her husband is an actor. Her name is Diane. He writes plays and poetry and does commercials. He is in a play now. He had a part in a play in Washington, D.C. When they brought the play to New York, it was a flop. Then they took it to London, and it was a big success. So you never know how a play will be accepted. Her older daughter is in Colorado Springs. She has an Ad Agency called Prayco. David is in Boulder. Jeannie is teaching in Broomfield, in a Catholic School. She lives in Boulder also. Michael is in Real Estate in Denver.

I have 12 Grandchildren and 11 Great Grandchildren. Sandy's daughter is Alexis Betts. Her husband is the coach. Diedre Hamilton works at Otero Savings.

When they first started selling automobiles, they sold Hudsons and Essex automobiles. They were very good cars. I like my Buick. I never drove before Sandy died. He told me when he was ill that I should learn how to drive. I didn't believe that he was that sick, and I didn't even think about taking him seriously. After he died, Mike said that I really should learn to drive. I had Coach Betts teach me to drive. Then a friend came from Texas, and she helped teach me to drive. She said that all the teachers at the school where she taught in Wichita Falls, Texas liked the Buick best because it held the road the best of any of the cars.

I learned to drive okay, but I never learned to park right. So when I was going to take a trip to California, I decided that I wanted to have a driver's license. Everybody is always asking to see your Driver's License. So Mike took me to the courthouse to get my license. He said that because I didn't know how to park right he would hold a parking space open for me when I got done with my driving test. I was so nervous. The Driver's License Examiner made me really nervous. I did okay until I got back to the courthouse. There weren't any cars in front of the courthouse, but when I made the turn around the corner, I ran into the curb. Make was there signaling for me to take a parking place that was different from the one that he had been saving for me, and I got all mixed up and ran into the curb. The Driver's License Examiner said he really shouldn't give me my license, but because I wanted it so badly, he decided to give it to me. I just stayed in the car while Mike went in and got my license for me. Do you know, everybody in town saw me taking my drivers test. I was so embarrassed. I didn't think anybody would notice me, But afterward, everybody said they had been watching for me and had seen me take that test. So I got my license and drove out to California. Now I am a pretty good driver, but I still can't park right.

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