25-50-100 Years Ago

Courtesy Aspen Historical Society

An entertaining night at Aspens Wheeler Opera House was front-page news in late May 1909. The Aspen Democrat reported:A record-breaking audience crowded the Wheeler Opera House last evening to witness the really meritorius production by the Lady Minstrels given to raise funds for the equipment of a hospital building at the fair grounds.The rising curtain disclosed the fairest picture ever seen on the local boards. In the front row appeared the lady interlocutor, four soloists and six end ladies. Behind them were ranged in semi-circles the chorus of twenty-six of the best singers of this country.The opening chorus, accompanied by Harringtons mammoth orchestra, was something to be remembered. Besides the opening chorus the first part consisted of four solos, three songs and the finale by the entire company The jokes by the end ladies were new, original and composed of local hits, each furnishing a hearty laugh for all and some of them were screamers and exceptionally witty.(Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Societys archives. This excerpt is from The Aspen Democrat.)

An Aspen writer was in the news in 1959, when Alabama libraries kept his childrens book off the shelves. The Aspen Times reported:Aspen author and illustrator Garth Williams has been accorded the honor of having one of his books banned. The restriction was made in Montgomery, Alabama not Boston, Mass.Actually, it was not banned. We have put it on the reserve shelf where the public can get it by request only, Emily Wheelock Reed, director of the Alabama Public Library Service, explained.This action, according to librarian Reed, does not constitute banning. That would not be morally right, she explained. But the book is still not allowed on the open shelves of Alabama public libraries because of segregationist criticism.Williams book, called The Rabbits Wedding, is meant for children. In it, a white rabbit marries a black one.Smuggler Mountain on the edge of Aspen has been in the news of late thanks to the threat of dead trees, courtesy of pine beetles. In 1959, it was the mountains moss getting the attention. The Times reported:The Aspen, Colorado name will soon be appearing on black, white and red peat moss bags across the country, according to Mike Carrasco, owner of the Smuggler Mt. property on which deposits have been found.Carrasco is also president of the Royal Land Corp. of 2640 Washington Blvd., Ogden, Utah, which has other interests besides the peat moss activity here in Aspen. He is presently assisting in the construction of a one story, 32 by 40 foot corrugated iron building on the D&RG siding near the Centerline which will house bagging and shipping operations.Peat moss is now imported principally from Canada and Germany. The business from Canada alone runs into several millions of dollars each year.At the start, the firm will employ about ten people when shipments begin around June 15. We hope to employ local people if we can find the right talents, Carrasco said.Present plans call for the firm to ship between two and three hundred thousand cubic feet of peat moss in 1959.

These days, homeowners in the Centennial employee housing complex are struggling to cover the cost of needed repairs to the buildings. In 1984, the project was under construction. Under the headline, Centennial starts digging at last, The Aspen Times reported:Despite some minor sabotage on the construction site, the Centennial employee housing project is going ahead almost, but not quite, full-bore, according to developer Sam Brown.Brown, in fact, dismisses the sabotage, which apparently consisted of the removal of some survey stakes and the blocking of a ditch, which led to a small flood.It was really nothing important, says Brown. We have a fence around the site and that should take care of it. We dont have armed guards on patrol.Sabotage whether the work of kids or disgruntled neighbors is the least of Browns problems.Money, as always, remains the key issue.Right now, explains Brown, the final details of his agreement with the city on water service remain unresolved. Until those points are worked out, the project cannot obtain its final financing. compiled by Janet Urquhart