25-50-100 years ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 years ago

Compiled by Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Weekly

Posses were hunting a murderer a century ago, and law enforcement officials figured the suspect might be in or around Aspen. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:

James Puh, the Austrian miner who shot and instantly killed his wife at the home of her father, John Gredia, at the South Canyon coal camp three miles west of Glenwood last Monday afternoon, was formerly a resident of Aspen, having worked on the Smuggler and at the Newman tunnel a few years ago. He has a sister and brother-in-law living in East Aspen, and is well known to all the Austrians here. He is considered a bright and intelligent man, speaking German fluently as well as having a good command of the English language.

After killing his wife, Puh made his escape, but Sheriff Divilbiss of Garfield County and [a] posse was soon on his trail, which ended on a sandbar in the Grand River, where the fugitive’s hat was found and it was thought that the murderer had committed suicide or that he had drowned while attempting to cross the river. This conclusion was arrived at after an examination of the bank failed to show any marks where Puh might have emerged from the water.

Notwithstanding the suicide and accident theories, a vigilant search for the murderer was kept up and the peace officers of the surrounding counties [were] notified to look out for the man.

Thinking that Puh, having relatives here, might make his way to Aspen, Sheriff Everett instituted a still hunt but could learn nothing as to the whereabouts of the man sought for.

An Aspen man’s ski invention made news 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

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Ever want to ski on a challenging slope at top speed without snow and indoors? You can on a machine recently invented by Aspenite Ray Hall.

Skiers by the thousands got their first look at Hall’s creation, the Ski Deck, this week at the Winter Sports Show at the New York Coliseum, Nov. 30 to Dec. 4.

Covered by 59 basic patents, now pending, the indoor ski slope was developed by Hall with the aid of Cyril Farney in Morristown, N.J. Farney met Hall on a recent visit to his son, Dave Farney, in Aspen.

The new Ski Deck consists of a moving surface of nylon twist on an endless belt. The speed of the surface, which runs uphill, as well as the degree of slope, can be changed by the skier to simulate all types of skiing conditions.

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Prospective ski instructors were learning the ropes in early December, 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

One hundred and fifty-eight instructors and aspirant instructors turned out this week for the annual ski instructors training sponsored by the Aspen Ski School.

This is the largest group ever to take the course, Fred Iselin, co-director of the school, stated. He and Friedl Pfeifer, aided by Anderl Molterer, are personally conducting the 10-day series of classes.

A similar training school for instructors, conducted by Stein Eriksen, is due to begin at the Aspen Highlands next Friday, Dec. 16.

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When it came to skiing, nurses were jinxed, The Aspen Times noted in 1960:

A study of ski accidents in Aspen might indicate that nurses are jinxed.

Thanksgiving weekend, Mrs. Lash Laursoo, a nurse at the Pitkin County Hospital, broke her leg in a fall. Last season, a different nurse was one of the winter’s first casualties – again on the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Mrs. Laursoo is said to be mending well.

“Grabow saga ends in bomb blast” read a banner headline in The Aspen Times 25 years ago. The explosion killed an alleged drug dealer who was soon to stand trial in Denver as the mastermind behind a drug ring that brought $35 million in cocaine into Aspen every year, according to The Aspen Times. The newspaper reported:

The saga of Steven Hunt Grabow, a story that had in many ways taken on mythic proportions in this mountain resort, came to an abrupt end this week when a bomb blast tore through a borrowed Jeep and killed the reputed drug ring mastermind.

For the second time in less than two years, Aspen made headlines around the nation as a result of barbaric violence visited on a well-known member of the community.

But this incident sent shock waves deeper, seemingly, than the killing of controversial local investor Michael Hernstadt in 1984.

For Grabow’s death was no crime of passion, as the other killing has been called.

Although police decline to discuss the possible motives of Grabow’s killer, but admit that it definitely was murder, rampant speculation lays the blame for Grabow’s death on his alleged association with cocaine kingpins and their hirelings.

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Congestion at the local airport made news 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

Mother’s Day is usually the busiest one for the year for Ma Bell, but for the Aspen Airport it’s always the weekends before and after holidays. The Sunday following Thanksgiving was no exception.

There were 178 “operations” Sunday, Dec. 1 (an operation is a takeoff or landing). Twenty-two of those were commercial operations, either Aspen Airways or Rocky Mountain. The rest were comprised of general aviation (private) operations. …

Aggravating the problem of everyone wanting to fly in or out on that particular day was the bad weather. Between 3 and 5 p.m., Dec. 1, there were about 40 planes waiting to depart.

“The upshot of this was that hundreds of commercial passengers suffered extensive delays and, most likely, missed their connecting flights out of Denver. All for the benefit of the privileged few who fly private aircraft,” wrote one irate Aspen visitor from Racine, Wis.

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