The last name of a man in the dues ledger of the South Slavic Socialist Organization, No. 136, startled me -- “Putz.” I glimpsed it not long ago in old documents at the “Slovenski Dom” in Rock Springs, Wyo., a town where politics once mingled with lodge fraternalism in the Old West. It’s because my grandfather’s name on my mother’s side is Putz, a version of “Puc.” The name originates from Slovenia, which was once a part of Yugoslavia and achieved independence following the upheavals of the 1990s. A “socialist” in the family? Nobody uttered that word when I was growing up, a third-generation Slovene in gritty Rock Springs. Back then, anything that hinted of leftist leanings raised suspicions. But now, as the 2012 election suggested, and President Obama outlined at his inaugural, working collectively is the new political normal – solving our problems “together.” Rock Springs was a
When frontier socialism thrived in Wyoming
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