25-50-100 Years Ago

compiled by Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado
Devon Meyers/Aspen Times fileThe Aspen Music Festival and School recently wrapped up its 2010 season. Twenty-five years ago, festival staffers celebrated the end of the season with a party on the music school grounds that included a watery tug-o-war and the dunking of Director of Operations Jesse Berger.

A century ago, The Aspen Democrat-Times was urging citizens to attend a meeting regarding the local fire department. The newspaper reported:

The publication of the notice that a special meeting of the city council would be held at 7:30 p.m. next Monday evening to discuss the doing away of the fire department in its present form as an economic measure, has been productive of much adverse criticism.

As at present constituted, the paid fire department consists of one fire chief and a span of horses, which must be fed and shod, and a volunteer force of between 60 and 70 men, whose compensation is nothing but hard work in case of a fire with the privileges of the billiard, card and bath rooms and the library at the station.

As we understand it, it is the plan of the city council to get rid of the fire chief, the fire horses and depend entirely upon an absolute volunteer department for the protection of the city in the case of fire.

On the lighter side, a picnic party also made the news a century ago. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:

Mrs. S.I. Hallett is entertaining her friends at a picnic up Maroon Creek today and a wireless communication informs this paper that they are having the time of their lives climbing the hills, viewing the scenery, taking kodak pictures, swinging, jumping the rope, and, last but not least, eating the fine refreshments furnished by the charming hostess.

The husbands of the ladies enjoying the picnic are to join them or did join them at 4 o’clock this afternoon to share in the hospitality of Senator Hallett and his good wife – we hope it rains on ’em because our boss, the linotype, wouldn’t let us go – “ain’t that just too mean?”

Oil drilling in Pitkin County was in the news 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

Pitkin County was the scene of increased oil activity last week, when work preliminary to the placement of a 138-foot rotary rig on the Coal Doam structure in Coal Basin near Redstone continued.

Wadkins Producing Co. of Englewood has been drilling on this site since last fall in what is considered a major test of the Coal Dome structure.

Using cable tools, the company has gone to 3,240 feet. Commercial shows of gas and oil have been reported by company officials.

Rotary drilling will permit the company to push through to 5,000 feet under terms of its agreement with Union Oil, major leaseholder in the area.

The Coal Dome structure is six miles east of Divide Creek in Pitkin County. Company officials believe there is the possibility of a major strike in the area.

Fifty years ago, the local hospital was expanding, and in need of funds. The Aspen Times reported:

Contrary to some rumors, the Pitkin County Public Hospital still welcomes donations, manager of the local institution, Mrs. Pat Maddalone, told The Aspen Times recently.

She explained that contributions have dropped in the last few months, a decline which she attributed to the belief that sufficient Hill Burton federal funds and county monies are available for the expansion project now in progress.

This theory is not true, Mrs. Maddalone emphasized.

While government funds have been allotted for the new building and much of the equipment needed in it, there is other necessary apparatus which is lacking.

More recently, the state has outlawed smoking in places like bars and restaurants, but 25 years ago, Aspen was moving forward with its own regulations. The Aspen Times reported:

Despite impassioned pleas from restaurant owners, Aspen’s city council adopted a compromise smoking control law Monday, but only after it had been amended again to make it more palatable to opponents.

First proposed as a ban on smoking in all public areas, including 100 percent of eating spaces, the law was modified before first reading Aug. 12 to permit smoking and non-smoking areas in restaurants.

Monday, before the public hearing was opened, the council adopted additional amendments proposed by Tom Isaac to give restaurants until June 1, 1986 to create “physically separated and independently ventilated smoking areas.”

A gas station once sat at the corner of Cooper and Galena in Aspen, where Paradise Bakery exists today. Twenty-five years ago, the city debated buying the property. The Aspen Times reported:

Should Aspen acquire the Sinclair site at the corner of Cooper and Galena for public use? Yes, said three residents Monday, and their reasoning was strong enough to persuade the city council to request a staff analysis.

The subject was raised by Aspen architect Robin Molny and former Mayor Stacey Standley, during a report by the planning office on efforts to initiate a downtown planning study, as requested Aug. 6 by the council.

In a letter to the council, Molny and Standley pointed out that several residents had attended recent planning and zoning commission meetings to discuss the impacts of commercial development on the corner.

“The property is unique to the downtown area, and prior to its being developed for commercial uses, it deserves … careful evaluation of … acquisition for open space use,” their letter stated.

A lunch service spat made news in Aspen 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

An attempt by a longtime Aspen restaurateur to force the current manager of his restaurant to serve lunch has been shot down in court.

Howard Awrey, who for 35 years ran the Skier’s Chalet Steakhouse at the base of Aspen Mountain, was told last week he could not evict current restaurant manager Stephen Wright based on an oral agreement between the two that lunch would continue to be served.

Wright said he decided to stop serving lunch, as well as apres ski morsels, as a “business decision,” and would not elaborate.

– compiled by Janet Urquhart