Shirley Valentine's Family Has Lived in Swansea More Than a Century -- and She Plans to Stay

The train whistle cuts through the roar of the interstate, and the smell of the nearby Purina dog food plant lingers in the air. On this cold morning, Shirley Valentine shoves her walker across her garage floor, loses her balance and then catches herself on the back of her Chevrolet minivan, which sports a Colorado Native sticker and a Jesus fish. As she laughs at her near-fall, her breath floats through the air like the smoke rising from nearby factories and the exhaust fumes coming out of semis streaming along the I-70 viaduct that splits Swansea off from most of Denver.

The cold doesn't bother her; Shirley Valentine is tough. She studied auto mechanics and learned to change her own oil; she knows how to ride a motorcycle, shoot a gun, gut and skin a rabbit and chop off a chicken's head. She's weathered a lot of changes since she was born in this neighborhood in 1931; her family has lived here since 1906. No other family has stayed in Swansea as long. See also: I-70 Talk Is Getting Ugly, But New Murals Beautiful the Neighborhood

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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris