Down at the Radio Café – Cast of Characters: Part 3

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Senter, Clive

Police Sergeant assigned to the York Street Station, brother of Rico Girard, owner of the Radio Café. Clive was, in fact, on duty when Charles Ginsberg arrived at his station after the City Park car chase, which did happen.

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Senter, Gano

Owner of the Radio Café, Gano had a wild history that included being kidnapped by pirates as a young man. His family founded a series of bakeries and restaurants that did well in Denver, and his association with the KKK helped his business. He also was ahead of his time in marketing, using the association of the first radio station in the Western Front Range to promote the café. The family moved to Texas and continued the restaurant business. In the 1950s, the Senters returned to Colorado and made a fortune with a string of Dairy Queen restaurants. 

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Senter, Laurena

This is a long form text area designed for your content that you can fill up with as many words as your heart desires. You can write articles, long mission statements, company policies, executive profiles, company awards/distinctions, office locations, shareholder reports, whitepapers, media mentions and other pieces of content that don’t fit into a shorter, more succinct space.


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Laurena Senter's Kluckerettes with the Minute Men in 1925. Laurena is on the far left.
Laurena Senter's Kluckerettes with the Minute Men in 1925. Laurena is on the far left.

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Simmons, William Joseph

Simmons founded the second incarnation of the KKK in 1915.  That year, the racist, nationalist film “Birth of a Nation” captivated the public with the new technology of moving pictures, and in Atlanta helped inspire the lynching of a Jewish man by a mob calling themselves “knights.” Simmons was also motivated by the stories of his own family’s terrorism against newly-freed African-Americans following the Civil War. He took the imagery of the burning cross and white robes from the movie (neither had been part of the original Klan), incorporated some rituals copied from the Masonic tradition and even the Catholic Church (apparently not seeing the irony), and created a “Fraternal Organization” called the “Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, with himself as “Imperial Wizard.” (Today, we would call his little group of racist nerds a Troll Army and make fun of them)


However, once Simmons hired Bessie Tyler’s Southern Publicity Association to help him promote it, the KKK grew exponentially from 1920-25, starting a slow slide down after scandals. By then Simmons was rich, but marginalized and ignored by the group. Hiram Evans became Imperial Wizard in November 1922. 

Imperial Wizard William Simmons
Imperial Wizard William Simmons

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Stapleton, Benjamin

Mayor of Denver 1923-31, and again 1935-47. First elected in 1923 with Klan support although he campaigned as opposed to racial and religious prejudice in order to garner minority votes. Once in office he stuffed appointed positions with known Klan members and named Candlish his Chief of Police (official title: "Manager of Safety") in May of 1924. An early Klan member (#1,128), Stapleton never withdrew his membership even after the KKK fell from public favor. When the recall threatened his office in the summer of 1924, he openly declared his Klan affiliation and loyalty to Locke in order to get the Klan vote again (the declaration in the July scene on Table Mountain is quoted accurately). Over the years he pushed through measures to get an airport at Denver (considered a boondoggle at the time) and civic projects like Red Rocks Amphitheater (although he wanted that to be a rock garden, not a performance venue). So, many locations and civic assets in Denver were named for him, which is controversial now that his racist record has come to light. He did host the 1925 NAACP convention in Denver which was a very successful event. Many saw that as a direct rebuke to Locke, who had openly controlled him earlier in his mayoral term. 

Benjamin Stapleton
Benjamin Stapleton

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Sweet, William

Colorado's Governor until the 1924 election brought in the Klan-backed Morley. Sweet was a Progressive Democrat & constantly berated as a “Red” even by the local African-American weekly (run by a conservative Black Republican) -– Sweet despised the Klan but did not get credit for his efforts until years later. 


Governor Sweet is not a character in Down At The Radio Cafe, but he is mentioned. During his tenure he was very controversial and deserves more historical attention.

William Sweet
William Sweet

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Tyler, Mary Elizabeth “Bessie”

Bessie was born dirt poor in Georgia in 1881, married at age 15, a mother at 16, a widow at 17. Brilliant, ruthless and steeped in racism and greed, she developed a business savvy that made the reconstituted KKK a national phenomenon when Simmons signed the management of his fraternal organization over to her.


By  the time she was 40 (see photo) she was one of the richest women in America, and one of the most powerful. It was the power that brought her down, though: the rank-and-file membership of the KKK was horrified to discover the power wielded by a female when when the scandal of her affair with her married  partner Edward Young Clarke became national news. She was forced to resign in 1922, when her lover and business partner Edward Young Clarke appropriated her role and  most of her money. She died at the age of 43 in 1924, in Southern California, rejected by the Klan she had  created. 

Mary Elizabeth “Bessie” Tyler
Mary Elizabeth “Bessie” Tyler

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Van Cise, Philip

A Denver District Attorney who until Morley was elected governor in 1924 shared the office with him. Van Cise (pronounced "seyes" was   adamantly opposed to the KKK for its criminality and corruption. He believed in democracy and open government. However like most white men of his generation, he was a bigot, and gave speeches opposing immigration of Italians in particular (he called them "uneducated and crime-ridden") 

Philip Van Cise
Philip Van Cise