25-50-100 years ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 years ago

Sara Garton

An Aspen home wasn't complete without a piano in the living room, according to the paper in 1906. (Courtesy Aspen Historical Society)

Microfilm of The Aspen Times 19041909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. These 1906 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.Whether it’s a performance at home, a band on parade, a concert on a mountainside or an orchestra in the tent, the people of Aspen love music. The paper affirmed, Aspen is a sure winner when it comes to music and a piano town, as nearly every home is equipped with a piano [see photo] to furnish pleasure. Yet all the homes are not supplied as was proven yesterday when pianos were places in the homes of Mrs. Ida Hull and Mrs. Oby.A series of articles recounted the dismissal of Aspen’s fire chief. The first mention of brewing trouble was in a report of a “Lively Session Of The Council.”That there has been some friction between the fire chief and his assistant, since the latter was appointed by the council, was well known, and Chief Smith was called on for statement, which he made.

At the request of the mayor, a number of firemen addressed the council relative to the matter under discussion, and all were unanimous in believing the chief should be the chief.The situation was thoroughly discussed by all members of the council. The following day’s paper reported a surprise move by City Council, perhaps reminding the fire department who was really in charge. The story was not an example of unbiased journalism. Monday evening, the city council summarily removed Fire Chief Smith without any known reason, and the fire boys believe that the chief should have a hearing before the city council takes such action. For many years Mr. Smith has filled the position of fire chief with satisfaction to all. The people have felt their homes were being protected from the Demon Fire by an able fire-fighter, and the record of Mr. Smith has proved that confidence was well placed. He has, so far as The Democrat knows, been a model and courteous official, and if the council knows anything different that body should make it known, at least to the fire department, as the Aspen Fire Department is composed of men that are ever willing to mete out justice.The Democrat has every confidence in the members of the city council, and it believes the city officials will re-instate Mr. Smith to the position he has so ably and conscientiously filled for so many years.Fair play is the motto of every Aspen man, and it’s a good motto.Three days later the paper reported, Fifty-four members of the Aspen Fire Department assembled at the station last evening in response to a call for a firemen’s meeting to consider the recent action of the city council in removing Fire Chief Smith. …

Mr. Smith took the floor and asked all present to express their candid opinion of the affair, and hoped that the action taken at this meeting would be in the interest of harmony and fair play. The following resolution was then introduced by M. Pearce, which was adopted by a unanimous vote:”Resolved. That the chairman appoint a committee of three to wait on the city council and demand that ex-Fire Chief Smith be accorded a trial in open council meeting.” …Mr. Fred Pearce moved that it is the sense of the meeting that the city council violated the privilege of the fire department in taking the matter of the election of chief and assistant chief out of its hands and that the council be requested to refer the election of chief and assistant chief to the department, and that a committee of three be appointed to present the resolution to the council.The motion was adopted by unanimous vote.Fortunately Aspen’s firefighters (or neighbors) were still ready at the alarm, the paper reported,Considerable excitement was in order last evening in Oklahoma flats when the cabin which is occupied by Moses Trout, the blind boy, was set on fire by a candle which he had placed too near the wall. He, however, soon knew his home was on fire and called for help and a number responded at once, and his personal effects were saved.

The Times alerted its readers that primary elections were around the corner, but there was no contest.Pitkin County voters will go to the polls Tuesday, Sept. 11, for the primary elections but will have no choices to make among aspirants for county offices unless they choose to write in the names of other candidates.At the county level, Republicans will have three names to confirm. William R. Shaw, Aspen for county judge and Ruby Bandy, Aspen, candidate for “two justices of peace,” and Roy Bandy, Aspen, for “two constables justice precinct No. 1.” All are presently unopposed by Democratic nominees.Democratic voters will have four names to affirm. Robert Delaney, Glenwood Springs, is sole designate for district attorney; Peggy E. Coble for county clerk; T.J. Sardy, Aspen, for county commissioner’s office, district one, and Orest A. Gerbaz, Woody Creek, for the second district commissioner’s spot. All four Democratic candidates are presently unopposed by Republican nominees … . However, write in votes, which are allowed on all primary ballots, may add new names.The school bell would ring again the day after Labor Day, reported The Aspen Times.School will open for over 300 elementary and high school students at the Aspen Public School [see photo] next Tuesday, Sept. 4.Pupils through sixth grade will report to their teachers in their respective rooms for enrollment at 9 o’clock Tuesday morning. For students in grade 7 through 12, school will commence with a high school assembly at 9 o’clock in the gymnasium, after which they, with the assistance of their advisors, will enroll.Here’s a fish story for the books:

Pitkin County’s largest fish was caught Saturday, Aug. 18, by Bert Bidwell, Aspen merchant.Weighing 6 pounds 5 ounces, and measuring 27 inches long, the record-size fish was a Mackinaw Trout and was taken in Weller Lake near Aspen.Bidwell made his surprising catch using a 2-pound line and a one-tenth ounce Daredevil lure. The fish fought for five minutes before giving in.Witness to the catch was Charles Stierwell, Martinsville, Ind.The fish is believed to be a descendant of several Mackinaws planted in Weller and other lakes by Hod Nicholson Sr. about 20 years ago.Offseason work was scheduled to ready Aspen Mountain for the 1956-57 ski season, the paper reported. The chairlift will close down for the season on Sept. 16.During the fall, a new cable will be installed on the Big Lift. It will be ready for operation at the beginning of the winter season.The Sundeck, leased by Paul Wirth from the Ski Corporation, closed several weeks go for extensive remodeling and enlarging. It too will be ready by winter.Stan Bealmear’s construction crew is doing the new building work at the Sundeck.

The march of traffic lights on Highway 82 was growing, reported the paper.The addition of two more stoplights on Main Street to improve pedestrian and vehicular safety is in the plans for Aspen this fall, the city council learned Monday.The information came from members of the staff after city council member Susan Michael asked other council members to reconsider a past decision to permit right turns on red at the corner of Mill and Main. …Now, it is obvious that something should be done at the busy, dangerous corner to improve safety, she explained.City Engineer Dan MacArthur replied the state highway department had announced its intention of installing two additional stoplights on Main.One would be at the corner of Main and Monarch [see photo] and the other at the corner of Main and Galena, making four lights in a row, he explained.Editor Bil Dunaway wrote, “Are more red lights needed on every block?”There is a question about the need for, or beneficial effects of, stoplights on every corner.

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With the existing two lights, spaced two blocks apart, cars approaching Main from the north or south are given intervals to cross or enter Main when traffic is stopped at the lights. …Having the lights spaced a block apart for four blocks may actually increase the danger, because they will induce drivers to speed up in order to make all four during each green cycle. If the state highway department and city council, in all their wisdom, feel that additional red lights are needed, it would be better for traffic flow and safety to space them at greater intervals.But we don’t feel that Aspen is ready yet for lights at every corner of Main Street.Movie houses have been an endangered species the past 25 years in Aspen, the paper reported,Use of space in the city-owned Wheeler Opera House for a small art film theater is still up in the air, concerned residents were told Monday. …Mayor Herman Edel stated that he personally considered the small film theater “essential” and was willing to consider all proposals…. The statements were in reply to a request by Jon Busch, operator of the existing opera house film theater, urging the council not to forget that many residents were eager to have a small screening room in the renovated building. …Other council members appeared to concur with Edel that having a small theater in the opera house would be worthwhile, but how it was developed would depend on financing or private proposals.Asked about rumors that the opera house would be sold and others that it definitely would not be sold, Edel replied that the council was still considering a possible sale.