From Red Rocks to the big white balls of Buckley Air Force Base, Alameda Avenue runs through Lakewood, Denver and Aurora, collecting a series of religious, cultural and ethnic hubs along the way.
Westword drove Alameda from one end to another for the fifth in our ocassional profiles of metro Denver roads. Our feature story can be found here. (Our previous journeys took on Broadway, Colfax, Federal and Sheridan.) The following is a Web-only extra.
Windsor Gardens 595 South Clinton Street 9:20 a.m. My Grandma used to live at Windsor Gardens, a place that seemed infinitely far away 25 years ago when we would go to visit her. Not that my sister and I didn't enjoy the ride, past the Greek Orthodox church with its golden dome, past the Lowry Air Force Base with its guarded gates, along the green Alameda Parkway to the Sinclair gas station with its cartoon-like green dinosaur, and into the Gardens.
Known today as an “active adult community,” the best part about the place, aside from my grandma, was how each of the many buildings were painted a different shade of chalky pastel, like a package of Necco wafer candies. Past the bubblegum pink one, past the minty green, my Grandma lived in the milk chocolate brown building. It made it easy for kids to identify, especially in such a large a large complex (it’s about 143 acres, with a golf course, rec center, streets and its own security force).
Although Grandma didn't play golf or swim, she did walk around the little man made lakes and on the trails that bordered the Highline Canal. She also competed every year in an art contest with her tiny still-lifes of flowers. She won a lot of blue ribbons. Since she didn't drive, Grandma would take the #3 bus east on Alameda to the old Aurora Mall to shop, or west into Denver to visit us. At Christmas, my family would cruise through the Gardens to check out the lights, still one of the best holiday light shows in the city.
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Windsor Gardens looks much the same today. The landscaping is beautiful and the buildings still have their same funky-styled balconies, although the color scheme has been modified from pastel to more classic hues.
“A lot has changed. A lot has stayed the same,” says the “active adult” woman working in the office. Behind the counter is the old Rolodex with the names of residents -- from before they had computers -- that the staff keeps “for old time’s sake.” The woman looked up my grandma, but she wasn’t in there.
Oh well, at least I still have some of her little flower paintings hanging on my wall at home. – Jonathan Shikes