25-50-100 years ago
Aspen Times Weekly
A century ago, The Aspen Democrat-Times offered its readers this advice, regarding an upcoming city election:
The time for the election of city officers will soon be here. Have you figured on probable candidates for mayor and aldermen?
If not, it is time you were giving the matter some attention.
The qualifications of all probable candidates for office should be discussed and an earnest effort made to secure men of the caliber that will give Aspen some business administration.
It is not well that the people should remain inactive and thereby leave the various conventions in a position where nominations may of necessity be made more or less at haphazard, or leave them wide open to be dominated by cliques.
The people have plenty of good material from which to select candidates if they will but do it.
• • • •
Communication upgrades were coming to Aspen 100 years ago. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:
It is with pleasure that we announce that the Colorado Telephone company is about to improve its already excellent system in Aspen by giving the people the advantages of a joint Bell Telephone and Western Union Telegraph service beginning February 1, 1911. In the circular sent out by the telephone company relative to the new service appears the following:
If you are a subscriber to the Bell Telephone System and wish to send a telegram, a night letter or a cablegram, use your telephone.
Say “Telegram” to the operator and you will be connected with a Western Union office from which your message will be sent by telegraph and charged in your monthly account.
At night, on Sundays or holidays, when the local telegraph office may be closed, you will be connected with an open Western Union office without additional charge.
The Winter X Games again put Buttermilk in the spotlight this month, but 50 years ago, a different sort of competition was slated for the ski area. The Aspen Times reported:
Three of Austria’s greatest ski racing representatives have entered the world’s first professional ski race this Sunday, Jan. 29, at Buttermilk Mountain, it was announced today by race promoter Freidl Pfeifer.
Joining Anderl Molterer and Toni Spiss, whose entries were announced last week, will be Christian Pravda, former European and world champion, now teaching at Sun Valley. …
Pravda arrived in Aspen Thursday night to begin training for the headline-making event. It is the first known ski race to involve cash prizes for the winners.
• • • •
Private jets are commonplace at Aspen’s airport these days, but 50 years ago, the arrival of a Gulfstream was front-page news. The Aspen Times published a photo of the aircraft with this caption:
The jet age finally arrived in Aspen last weekend when the Gruman Aircraft Company landed a demonstration model of its Gulfstream turbo prop executive plane. The three-man crew of the $1,100,000 beauty found the local field more than adequate for takeoffs and landings and Monday morning, when leaving with prospective purchasers from the Gates Rubber Company, they needed less than half the runway to become airborne.
• • • •
Local resident Willard Clapper made the sporting news 50 years ago, when action at the local lanes regularly made the pages of The Aspen Times. The newspaper reported:
Willard Clapper outplayed a strong field of keglers Sunday, Jan. 22, to win Aspen’s Mid Winter Men’s Bowling Handicap Tournament after three weeks of play.
Twenty-eight local bowlers entered the tournament during the last week of December, each paying a $5 entry fee which was reserved for the three winners.
Clapper was presented a $78 check after his victory. Also winning cash awards were Robert Zick, second, and Jim Moore, third. Zick earned $32.50 and Moore won $19.50.
The high-profile slaying of an Aspen millionaire resulted in a guilty plea in local court 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:
An eleventh-hour plea bargain has headed off the scheduled two-month trial of accused murderer Keith Porter, in a deal that could have Porter out of prison in 11 years.
The deal was struck late Tuesday afternoon, only two days before court officials were to begin the six-week jury selection process, which was the anticipated length of time needed to seat a jury made up solely of people who agreed they could impose the death penalty.
In the deal, Porter plead guilty to second-degree murder in the slaying of Aspen millionaire Michael Hernstadt on April 24, 1984.
In offering Porter the plea bargain, Ninth Judicial District Attorney Milt Blakey asked Judge JE DeVilbiss to sentence Porter to a minimum of 24 years in prison on the second-degree murder charge, plus two years on an additional charge of felony menacing.
The guilty plea to menacing was prompted by an incident that occurred shortly after the grisly shooting of Hernstadt, in which Porter pointed his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle at then-police sergeant Gary White.
• • • •
Ruthie’s Restaurant doesn’t see use at any hour these days, but 25 years ago, night use of the on-mountain restaurant was an issue before the state’s highest court. The Aspen Times reported:
The dispute over the nighttime use of Ruthie’s Restaurant on Aspen Mountain reached the Colorado State Supreme Court last week, but the decision handed down was not in Pitkin County’s favor.
Instead, the court ruled that the county must conduct a special review application process to determine if Ruthie’s nighttime restaurant operations can be permitted under county land-use codes.
Ruthie’s has not yet submitted an application for such a review, but at least now it has a chance to go through the process. Until the Supreme Court ruled, the county had categorically denied the application as a prohibited use.
The county has opposed nighttime operations on the mountain due to visual impacts, noise and dust generation.
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City of Aspen officials are trying to figure out what the downtown core looks like this winter as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the state and in some parts of the country.