25-50-100 years ago…
A “smoker” hosted by the Fraternal Order of Eagles received plenty of pre-publicity in The Aspen Democrat-Times a century ago. After the big event – a series of boxing matches – the newspaper reported:
A very small crowd attended the boxing entertainment at the Wheeler Opera House last evening by the Eagles, and this despite the fact that it has been several years since Aspen’s lovers of fistiana have had a chance to enjoy their favorite sport.
It had been hoped by the management that the boxing game in this city would be revived again and that other and better entertainments of this sort could be furnished in the future from time to time, but it appears that there is a sad dearth of sporting blood here. The committee in charge of the affair worked very hard and spared no expense to make last night’s affair a success and certainly deserved a much larger attendance.
The Aspen Democrat-Times also worked to dispel a rumor regarding one of Aspen’s mining investors. The newspaper reported:
With the return from Denver of Manager Elias Cohn and Superintendent Wilcox of the Smuggler Mining Company, last Saturday, a rumor has been persistent to the effect that Mr. D. M. Hyman had sold his Aspen interests to the Guggenheims.
The rumor was of such dimensions that the editor of The Democrat-Times credited it to the extent of calling on Manager Cohn this morning, asking him if it were true.
Mr. Cohn replied that it was the first he had heard of it he hardly thought it could be possible as while in Denver last week, he had several interviews with Mr. Hyman but did not have the pleasure of seeing any one of the Guggenheim brothers nor any one of their representatives.
Aspen hasn’t yet gotten firmly behind a plan for the Entrance to Aspen, but the city was at work on it 25 years ago, intending to submit a preferred alternative to the then-Colorado Department of Highways. The Aspen Times reported:
A controversial issue for the past two decades, the highway approach to Aspen will be the subject of intensive study until the city election in May.
The process of selecting a preferred alternative for the western highway entrance was launched last week at a meeting of the city’s traffic committee and continued this week at Tuesday’s planning and zoning session.
The two groups were told by Assistant Planner Tom Baker that “the city council has directed the planning staff to complete the selection process in time for a preferred alternative to be put before the voters in the upcoming May election.”
These days, a fractional interest in a luxury residence hotel in Aspen can easily run $1 million plus, but when the town’s first timeshare property opened its doors, prices were a little more modest (actually, shares of the Prospector are still a pretty reasonable buy). In 1985, three-week shares ranged from $23,500 to $45,000. The Aspen Times reported:
The Prospector Lodge, 301 E. Hyman Ave., has passed the $1 million sales mark after only a few months of marketing, according to marketing director Buzz Fedorka.
Most of the sales took place in the last two months, Fedorka said, and as the public becomes more educated of the alternative method of home ownership, sales will continue to climb.
“Most of our time up to this point has been spent educating people about fractional fee ownership,” Fedorka said. “It’s a relatively new concept, and as people become introduced to it, word of mouth will become a tremendous marketing tool.”
Law enforcement in Aspen stepped into the modern era 50 years ago, retiring the local equivalent of comic book lore’s “bat signal” to summon a certain superhero. The Aspen Times reported:
Need for more efficient police protection caused the demise of a well-known Aspen tradition, it was reported this week by the local marshal.
A searchlight beamed on the west ridge of Aspen Mountain will no longer signal officers that they are needed, new city police chief Cris Kralicek explained.
Instead, modern walkie-talkie equipment, now on order, will be installed in the County sheriff’s office and policemen will be called on the patrol car radio. In addition, other radio equipment, formerly in the Hotel Jerome, was moved to the courthouse.
A symbol of Aspen charm for many writers, the practice of shining the light from the roof of the hotel to the mountain was described in a number of national magazine articles.
Kralicek pointed out that, although the signal could be considered romantic, it was not practical on snowy evenings or when policemen were not in a position to view that part of the mountain.
He also noted that much time was lost when officers had to check back to the hotel to determine where the trouble was.
Many Aspenites still choose to pick up their mail at the post office. Fifty years ago, they didn’t have any choice – yet. The Aspen Times reported:
Aspen may soon have postal delivery service if a report now being prepared by Denver Region postal inspectors is favorable.
Two of the inspectors, Charles J. Lerable, Grand Junction, and Mattson Howard, Salt Lake City, are currently in Aspen gathering information to submit to postal authorities.
Aspen was made a first-class post office last July when its posted receipts exceeded $40,000 and thus became eligible for delivery service, The Aspen Times was told.
However, the fact that a town is considered to be a first-class station does not necessarily mean that delivery service will be forthcoming, one of the postal officials stated.
-compiled by Janet Urquhart
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Oral family history provides context that textbooks lack. Tying personal experience to collective events renders them relevant. Most of us have family oral history going back only a few generations, but that spans more history than you might think.