25-50-100 years ago | AspenTimes.com
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25-50-100 years ago

Sara Garton
It could have been an explosive Fourth of July when a delivery to Tomkins Hardware was dropped in 1906. (Courtesy Aspen Historical Society)
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Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. These 1906 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.The paper reported on a mishap that could have been a disaster,Yesterday afternoon the delivery wagon of the Tomkins Hardware company [see photo] was standing in front of the store with 800 pounds of giant powder for the Newman tunnel and while one of the boxes was being moved, it slipped and fell off the wagon, striking the stone sidewalk and the box burst and the sticks of giant rolled all over the walk – fortunately for the city that box of powder did not explode. If it had, it would have been all off with many of us.The paper was always fired up about Aspen’s Fourth of July celebration. This story was about Ashcroft’s plans for Independence Day, with some tongue-in-cheek prescripts issued for Aspen guests by their Castle Creek neighbors.The Fourth of July will be observed at Ashcroft in the usual patriotic manner. Flag salute at sunrise. Then giant powder galore for an hour. The prodigals will then parade to the picnic grounds where dancing, feasting and boating will be the order of the day. Our invited guests from Aspen are requested to leave their cannon crackers, explosive sticks and “seech” at home, as the committee of arrangements has decided to furnish sixty per cent nitro glycerine to all participants.The nitro glycerine will be done up in cute little boxes encased in columbine bouquets fit to present to the king and queen of Spain, and can be exchanged with most striking effect with your friends when the prompter shouts “salute your partners.”N.B. – Do not bring any eatables, for the committee on refreshments has a late consignment from Packingtown done up in re-labeled cans so you won’t know the difference, for it may be embalmed beef, mule’s ear or potted ham.

N.B. – Again – No person or persons will be allows more than one bottle at a time. If two bottles are found on the same dress suit the relief committee will take charge of the extras and place them where they properly belong – on ice, till needed.The paper issued an additional warning from the City Council,The city council will enforce the state law regarding the use of cannon fire crackers on the Fourth, and the merchants are requested to not sell this terror to civilization and small boys and horses. The state statutes prohibit the sale of the cannon fire cracker.And enthused about more plans for the holiday,The Eagles are making extensive preparations to entertain a large crowd at Hallam lake on the Fourth in a royal manner, and they will do it too! The drilling contest, boat riding, the various games and races and the dancing during the afternoon and evening will surely attract the people to this favorite resort.Aspen was also sprucing up, preparing to receive her guests for the celebration. The paper proudly reported,Many notable improvements are being made about the city. A new sidewalk has been put down around the Catholic church and parsonage and at the Blakemore block as well as in front of many private residences. Much paint is being used on homes and fences in various parts of town, and this year Aspen is indeed the City Beautiful.

The hills were alive with the sound of music, as the paper reported 50 years ago. There will literally be music everywhere in Aspen this summer, due to a substantial increase in Music School enrollment.Every available nook and cranny in Aspen will be utilized as practice rooms for the music students who are required to practice three to four hours a day.Norman Singer, dean of the Music School, said this week, “We have had to find additional space in night clubs, churches, private homes and lodges for our students. “Because of our very large enrollment, practice sessions will begin in some places as early as 7:00 o’clock in the morning and continue until 10 p.m.”Singer has also met local builders urging them to speed up construction, “so that we can move pianos into those just completed buildings and let our students practice there.” …The students will be housed in six dormitories this year – the Prince Albert, the Roaring Fork, Holiday House, Holland House, the Mountain Chalet and Brand Building. Music School will begin June 25 and run through August 25.Forty-five students will return from last year. This is almost double the number of ’54 students who came back in ’55. The baton was raised for the first performance of the season, and the paper noted,

Over 800 people attended the first festival concert of the Aspen seaon last Wednesday, June 27, in the amphitheater tent [see photo] at 4:00 p.m. The program opened with Roman Totenberg, violinist, and Alexander Uninsky, pianist, playing the melodic Sonata in B-flat (.K454) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.Greeted with enthusiasm by the spectators as the first performance of the 1956 festival season and for the class with which it was rendered, the Sonata was in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. …Highlight of the concert came after the intermission when Ludwig von Beethoven’s Quartet No. 2 in E minor, opus 59, was performed by the Juilliard Quartet. With a new owner/publisher came new rates at the newspaper. The Aspen Times announced, To keep pace with the rising costs and increasing circulation, the 75-year-old Aspen Times will raise subscription and advertising rates on the first of July.The new rates, which will take effect with the next issue of the recently redesigned weekly paper, are the first increase in several years and bring prices into line with similar publications throughout the state.Formerly set at 50 cents a column inch for local display advertising and 56 cents per inch for national space, the Times will now be 65 cents per inch locally and 77 cents per inch for national advertisers.Classified ads will be increased to 5 cents a word with a minimum charge of 60 cents for each unit sold. To help defray the mailing costs of heavier paper and more, [subscriptions] will be increased to $3 per year locally and $5 for those out of the local tri-county area.

The paper’s new owner, Bil Dunaway, penned an editorial with an idea for filling the city’s coffer (and thus the potholes).”Aspen has the worst streets in the state.” This is a statement we hear frequently, and we are afraid it is true. The tank-traps called holes and the foot-high bumps are not hidden by the perfunctory oiling they receive each spring, nor is the dust placated for long.Unlike new sewers and a new water system, however, smooth streets (we even dream of paved) are improvements the city should inaugurate and finance itself. Unfortunately, such improvements cost money and a chronic lack of operating funds is one of Aspen’s dilemmas.Our city council cannot be termed spendthrift, nor can our elected officials. In fact, at times it might seem they are bending over backwards not to authorize needed expenditures; yet year after year the city budget is inadequate. …At present Aspen’s 1000-plus residents and a few businesses are taxed during the year, but city facilities must accommodate and serve four or five thousand people during the peak seasons. These people, guests of Aspen though they are, can and should be made to share the city burden.They should be taxed.In Europe a special tax on tourists, call it Kurtax, bed tax, visitors tax, or what you may, is a common measure. Every visitor, whether he rents a hotel room for one night or a furnished house for a season, is required to pay a small fee for each night spent. …It is time our city council thought seriously of such measures.

The deaf camp picnic (see photos) was legendary, drawing local celebrity musicians and huge crowds to the outdoor concert 25 years ago. The paper reported,Approximately 5,000 people turned out for the 13th annual deaf camp picnic in Snowmass Sunday, the fund-raising event that accounts for most of the Aspen Camp School for the Deaf’s yearly operating budget.Jimmy Buffet capped the afternoon of continuous music, food, beer and socializing with an hour-long concert that included his popular songs about wasting away in Margaritaville, pirates who can’t find work in contemporary society, and expatriated Americans eking out lives in the tropics.As Buffett sang to the hearing audience, the deaf listened through sign language delivered by two on-stage interpreters. …John Denver has been a mainstay at the annual picnic for many years, but missed the fund-raising event this year because of a conflicting visit to China.The picnic was held in a new location this year. The mountain meadow in Snowmass above the Krabloonik kennels with its spectacular views provided a perfect backdrop for the music.Buffet was preceded by Bobby Mason, Danny Wheetman, Twerp Anderson and other local favorites. More than 500 volunteered to coordinate the picnic.The paper reported a dream that some citizens continue to dream about 25 years later. Now that plans seem settled about keeping the Wheeler Opera House as a 400-seat theater, the Roaring Fork Valley Foundation for the Performing Arts has reactivated and is hard at work trying to get a larger 1,200-seat performing arts center and conference center built in Aspen, hopefully on the Rio Grande property. …The Roaring Fork Foundation wasn’t idle while waiting for the decision on the Wheeler.It went looking for a location.

It went before the Rio Grand Commission (the group deciding the uses for the Rio Grande Property) and got a commitment of an acre and a half of land for the large performing arts center. …[A member of the Roaring Fork Valley Foundation, Richie] Cohen said the music festival would continue to use the tent for its large concerts but that it would probably also become one of the major summer users [along with Ballet West] of the performing arts center. … “It would be a 52-week facility. The Design Conference could use it, other conferences could use it spring and fall. And in the winter we could tap into the limitless amount of groups who tour Denver and the West that would love to come to Aspen.”David beat Goliath, as the paper reported,A federal grand jury in Denver ruled last Thursday [June 18, 1981] that the Aspen Skiing Corp will have to pay Aspen Highlands $7.5 million in damages for violating antitrust laws.The jury’s actual award was $2.5 million, but antitrust damages are automatically tripled under federal law.The jury deliberated for two and a half days after a trial of two and a half weeks during which Aspen Highlands argued that Aspen Skiing Corp had monopolized 80-85 percent of the market in Aspen by refusing to honor joint area ski tickets. …The jury found that the Aspen Skiing Corp “possessed monopoly power from 1977 to 1981 and willfully acquired and maintained that power by anticompetitive and exclusionary means” in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act,Aspen Highlands suffered business losses because of the monopoly, the jury found.


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