The Day My Ancestors Survived Colorado’s Worst Disaster

May 24, 2021 649

BY: Marianna Gatto

It is said that every family heirloom holds a unique and deeply personal history. The story of my heirloom—a late Victorian golden oak dresser—begins with a flood: the 1921 Pueblo, Colorado flood. Although the dresser figures in my earliest memories and, more than any other piece of furniture, has remained a fixture in my life, it was not until recently that I came to understand the enormity of the event—the tragedy—that begot this most treasured heirloom.

I first encountered the word heirloom in the second grade when my class was reading a story about a girl who had unraveled a family mystery by way of an ancestral quilt. Not only did I find the notion of heirlooms intriguing, the sound of the word itself enchanted me, conjuring images of tintype portraits, jeweled lockets, and hope chests. We had nearly completed the book when my classmate Erin invited me to play at her house.

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