25-50-100 Years Ago | AspenTimes.com
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25-50-100 Years Ago

Compiled by John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly
Courtesy Aspen Historical SocietyThis detail was cropped from what apparently was a 1930s- or 1940s-era photo of Aspen's commercial core, apparently taken from some distance up Aspen Mountain. Among other things, it shows the 100 block of South Mill Street, just off the Mill and Main intersection, that housed the local landmark building later known as Elli of Aspen (center). The building was expanded in the 1950s to reach to the corner (see related entry on this page) and expanded again in the 1980s. It currently houses several boutiques and the local offices of the American National Bank.
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The “Aspen Fair” opened on Oct. 7, with more than 3,000 fair goers in attendance from around the valley and the state, a wide range of arts, crafts, farm produce and baked goods on hand, livestock judging, foot races, horse races, chariot races, concerts, tugs-of-war and more. The Aspen Democrat, which shamelessly boosted the fair for months, kept up the drumbeat of civic pride throughout the week.

…This is the way the Aspen people do things. There isn’t a town in the state where the people turn out as liberally and are as patriotic as here in Aspen. We just “cain’t” help it! … You ought to see the displays and decorations in the Mammoth Art Building … the fountain is up and running and the water … dropping on the large white ducks swimming about the basin is a sight good for sore eyes … the Osgood display of magnificent house plans ferns and palms bow you a welcome … and Al Maurin has two live cub cinnamon bears on exhibition, and these alone are worth the price of admission. The members of the Maroon Camp, Woodmen of the World, are going to make things hum today. You bet! Did you ever see a “chopper” or a “sawyer” out for a good time?

As the week’s festivities wore on, even the paper’s daily columns of local affairs, the doings of the people of Aspen, got into the act.

Isn’t it great?

Billy Meehan was among the visitors from Redstone yesterday.

Dr. Smiley of Carbondale was an arrival in the city yesterday to attend the Fair.

Orrin Barnes was among the arrivals from Marble yesterday and spent a delightful day at the fair grounds examining the exhibits, etc.

Your baby may win a prize at the Fair today.

But the columns, titled “About The City” and “Local Briefs,” still did their duty in reporting the ordinary affairs of the town’s citizenry.

Mrs. Rose McMahon was reported quite ill yesterday.

Mr. Everett’s find black horse, “Dandy,” died Tuesday evening from colic. It was a valuable animal and took sick on its return trip from Ashcroft.

And, naturally, politics could never be kept off the front page of the paper for long, as shown by the following item concerning the perils of letting machines count ballots.

Denver, Oct. 10 ” The Democratic county central committee through its chairman Wm. T. Davoren has begun action to prevent the possible use of the voting machines in the coming election … The complaint alleges that the construction of the machine is such that it will be almost impossible for voters to properly register their vote and that there will be an immense number of defective ballots … It is also alleged that the provisions for secret ballot will be set as naught as every voter using the machine for the first time on election day will require the assistance of a judge in casting his ballot. It is also pointed out that [corruption of judges] would make it possible for the judge to tamper with the machine [to] prevent … a vote against his party, and permit voters favorable to his party to cast more than one vote.

While local baseball leagues dominated the sports coverage in the paper, it also made space to note the progress of the national teams.

The [Chicago] Cubs are once more the champs of the National league and it is the Cubs that the [Detroit] Tigers must play for the championship of the world. Forty thousand hostile Gotham fans saw Chicago’s Dutchman wipe the earth with the [New York] Giants [Chicago 4, New York 2]. Frank Shane’s team won a clean cut victory this afternoon and the Giants were defeated in a manner which leaves nothing to the imagination.

(Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. These 1908 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.)

Growth and development were as big a part of local news coverage 50 years ago as they are today, but sometimes things took an odd twist.

The fastest action seen around Aspen in some time occurred early this week, when the Main building at Villa Lamarr went up in two days. Pre-fabbed in Denver, the 28 X 58-foot one-story building arrived by truck in eight-foot sections at noon last Sunday. Walls, roof and all were in place by noon on Tuesday. The brick and wood building … will house storage space, office and registration desk, lobby-lounge with a fireplace and a coffee bar.

Dog-sled entrepreneur and art-gallery owner Stuart Mace returned from an exploratory trip to Hollywood with promising news for the local business community.

There is a good chance that two film companies will use Aspen as a base for the production of TV films during the next few months, directors of the Chamber of Commerce learned Tuesday from Stuart Mace. At a previous meeting, the directors had voted to sent Mace to Hollywood … to induce the film companies to come here instead of going to Durango [which had created] a special committee of its chamber … devoted … entirely to promoting the use of Durango as a film center. [Mace reported] he had talked to both the Rather Production Co., makers of the Sergeant Preston series, and the CBS crew responsible for ‘Gunsmoke” and “Have Gun, Will Travel” [two popular westerns from the era] … both were seriously considering coming here to make films.

The paper offered an object lesson for local pilots ” never leave your crashed airplane unattended for too long a time.

Thousands of dollars worth of equipment has been stripped from a wrecked airplane belonging to Joseph B. Thomas IV, which cracked up in a take-off attempt in a snow field near Conundrum Basin last May 22. Since the demolished aircraft immediately became the property of the insurance company, Thomas made no attempt at the time of the crash to salvage anything … not until his return [from a summer spent in Maine] did he discover that the company hadn’t done anything about the plane.

Even in the 1950s, renovations of old buildings in the heart of town were news, even if the announcement was limited to a one-column item on page 13.

Joining the list of building enlargements announced or started is a new section to the Elli of Aspen shop on the corner of Mill and Main [it now houses several boutiques and the American National Bank]. The addition, which is on the north side of the building, will be of cinderblock construction. It will house the ski repair operation of the shop.

An Aspen Libertarian who had been in prison over a fight with the Internal Revenue Service announced he would try to be elected to Congress.

Aspen resident Paul “Stormy” Mon, 38, … has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Bill Armstrong. He called Armstrong and “Ron Ray-Gun” [President Ronald Reagan] “centralized government counterfeiters” who, with the help of [Lt. Gov. Nancy] Dick and “Colorado’s bureaucrazies,” are swindling Americans through the Federal Reserve system. Mon maintains that the Federal Reserve System is a hidden tax created by “demopublican” politicians who have gotten “carried away with the lure of easily printed paper money.”

Another Aspen character, the late artist Tom Benton, made the news when he went after a con man who was convicted of swindling Benton’s then-wife, the late Katy Smith, out of $300,000.

[Benton] has sought justice in the courts and in the streets, and had, apparently, found satisfaction in neither. [He was trying] to settle accounts with Joseph Costa of Rifle. His latest attempt, however, netted him a $50 fine in Aspen Municipal Court after he pleaded guilty to trying to pick a fight with Costa on Sept. 15. [Benton referred to Costa] as “the swindler” and as “the lowest form of human scum” … as he entered his plea before Municipal Judge Brooke Peterson.


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