25-50-100 years ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 years ago

Compiled by Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Weekly

Aspen Times fileMayor Bill Stirling prepares to cut the ribbon for the reopening of the J-Bar at the Hotel Jerome in December 1985. At the time, the hotel had just spent some $7 million on renovations.

“‘Peace on earth, good will to men’ permeates the crisp December air,” noted The Aspen Democrat-Times on Christmas Eve, 1910. The newspaper reported:

Tonight, Santa Claus, that jolly, rotund Old Fellow, will pay his annual visit to every city, village and hamlet in this broad land of ours. He will spread cheer and happiness wherever he appears and on the dawn of Christmas morn, many happy little ones will sing the praises of this Kindly Old Saint. We only hope that after his visit in Aspen, every child will have been remembered bounteously.

• • • •

There was talk of a new organization in Aspen a century ago. The Democrat-Times offered this update on the goings-on:

It has been suggested that immediately after the holidays, an energetic effort will be made to organize a Commercial or Booster’s Club in Aspen. A number of prominent business men are interested in the matter and there is no question but their efforts will be crowned with success.

No definite plan of action has been advanced, but it is the intention to obtain all the publicity possible of our mining and agricultural possibilities and the attractions that will draw the tourist to our mountains and to our fishing and hunting localities.

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Almost daily inquiries are received at this office regarding these matters and frequently circulars from publicity bureaus come with pertinent suggestions along these lines.

• • • •

A wintertime trip over Taylor Pass a century ago was no easy feat. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported on the efforts of two men who made the trip, breaking a trail for a horse and pulling the animal out of deep snow twice when it slid off the route on the way down the pass. According to the newspaper:

The chance that men will take in the hills in the winter time is an old story – so old that the graybeards cease to wonder at a new experience.

What to a mountaineer would be commonplace events would be thrilling situations to those not accustomed to crossing the snow-covered mountains in a blinding snowstorm.

The first thrilling adventure of the season culminated last night by the arrival in Aspen of K.G. Eckberg of the Star mine and “Reddy” Wicks, the mail carrier, from Dorchester.

“Gus” Eckberg left the Star mine Wednesday on snowshoes for Dorchester, where he remained overnight.

Thursday morning he and “Reddy” set out for Aspen with the mail sacks strapped upon a horse.

Things went fairly well until the foot of the hill was reached, but the boys were rather tired with their tramp over the snow. To make the top of the range, it was a case of making a trail for the horse that Uncle Sam’s mail might be brought through.

The Aspen Times was filled with news of holiday happenings, including plenty of movies, 50 years ago. The newspaper reported:

An event-packed week of special attractions, with classic films, folk-song concerts, ski movies and theatrical productions await residents and visitors to Aspen over the Christmas holidays.

In addition to entertainment in the various bars and nightclubs and regularly scheduled films in the Isis Theater, the Opera House has been reserved almost every night during the coming week for holiday attractions.

Tonight, Friday, Dec. 23, Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier will come to the Opera House screen in an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, “Pride and Prejudice.”

On Christmas night, Sunday, Dec. 25, the Opera House screen will be filled by a color film of the 1958 FIS World Ski Championships at Bad Gastein, Austria.

The following evening, Monday, Dec. 26, another ski film, Warren Miller’s “Let’s Go Skiing with Warren Miller,” will be shown.

• • • •

The Times also reported on the results of a holiday decorating contest:

A dazzling group of lighted ice figures in their front yard earned for Mr. and Mrs. Tom Maddalone the first prize in the Chamber of Commerce Christmas decoration contest.

Homes and businesses in the Aspen area were scored for the contest Tuesday evening, Dec. 20, by a panel of three judges. Judges were Mrs. Tom Sardy, Mrs. Nate Feinsinger and Mayor Mike Garrish.

The Maddalones won a cash prize of $15. Winners of the $10 second prize were Mr. and Mrs. Mike Magnifico for the lighting of their lower Red Mountain house.

Eight other prizes, consisting of six-piece sets of imported steak knives, were awarded in the residential category.

The reopening of what’s now known as the J-Bar was duly noted in The Aspen Times 25 years ago. The newspaper published a page of photos of the watering hole’s return to the local bar scene, along with this:

It was the beginning of a whole new era when The Hotel Jerome Bar reopened for business on Monday night, Dec. 23.

People who had loved the place for years just couldn’t wait … so they waited outside while the last-minute touches were made.

Mayor of Aspen Bill Stirling cut the ribbon and then the hordes of Aspenites and visitors swarmed into the bar for the “drinks on the house.”

After over $7 million spent in renovations, the Hotel Jerome is going to look quite spiffed up.

However, the old deer head trophies and the old bar and the old gang are all back in the old bar.

• • • •

Foreclosures and bankruptcy proceedings are much in the news these days, but such actions made front-page news 25 years ago, as well. The Aspen Times reported:

John Roberts, a Texas entrepreneur who acquired the Aspen empire assembled by Hans Cantrup through his bankruptcy, may face the same fate that befell his predecessor as Aspen’s largest property owner.

Tuesday, it was announced that Commerce Savings, Angleton, Texas, had commenced foreclosure proceedings on the long list of Cantrup properties for failure to pay a $42 million mortgage note, plus interest, due November 27.

The properties were acquired in 1984 by Commerce from the Cantrup estate in bankruptcy through payment of $9.15 million in cash, plus an estimated $45 million to acquire outstanding mortgages.

They included 11.7 acres at the base of Aspen Mountain holding the Continental Inn, Aspen Inn, Blue Spruce and other lodges, as well as the 60-acre Aspen Meadows property with its hotel and health club.

• • • •

The Aspen Foundation was preparing to host a gala in Snowmass Village 25 years ago. It was to feature an appearance by a Broadway star. The Aspen Times reported:

La Grande Affaire was the first of Aspen’s big fundraisers, with a black tie, sit-down, elegant dinner and dancing to a big band.

This year, La Grande Affaire will have all that, plus the onstage appearance of Carol Channing, legendary Broadway star of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “Hello Dolly.” Channing has also been the winner of 10 gold albums for her recordings.

As well as performing her show, Channing will serve as auctioneer during the evening for a small assortment of very special items.

Invitations went out in the mail this week for La Grande Affaire, Aspen’s most prestigious charitable event, which is traditionally held during World Cup Ski Week festivities.

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