An invitation to Willie Brown |

An invitation to Willie Brown

Dear Editor:

I have lived in Aspen for 34 years. I have never heard of racial discrimination here in all those years until your comments. Aspen is indeed snowy white. There are very few blacks here, but I don’t think that is by design. I am white, and it saddens me that I am having this electronic exchange. One of the things I have always loved about the core of Aspen is the degree to which all cultures are one. I have never had black-and-white discussions like this in Aspen. I am a northerner from Minnesota. I grew up without racial bias. I remember when I was in second grade I lived in Atlanta. I remember drinking out of a “coloreds only” water fountain at the train station. That was probably my first act of defiance – other than to my parents.

As to your comment about nothing to do in Aspen – oh my God. What did you think you were getting into when you came to Aspen in the middle of the winter? We do have springs, summers and falls here. You may find the weather more to your liking in the summer. It is said that people come to Aspen for the winter and stay for the summers. Come on, you live in SFO. As Mark Twain said, “The coldest winter I ever had was a summer in San Francisco.” My youngest daughter now lives in Oakland but was across the bay for her first year and a half in SFO. She complained last June that now the cold weather starts. What do you do in your tropical paradise for fun? The saving grace of San Francisco is that good weather is a short drive away.

To be honest with you the people that frequent the high-end establishments are the hardest to please. Did you try a burger at Little Annie’s? That is where the real Aspenites eat. In the time I have lived here the guest base seems to have changed. Maybe it just that we Americans have changed. It used to be that when the upper crust came here they wanted to hang with the locals. Now they want nothing to do with the locals. The only discrimination I recall was when one restaurant was quoted as saying, “we don’t want downvalley riffraff here.” That prompted the Woody Creek Tavern to post a sign “Down Valley Riffraff Welcome.” Did you get to the Woody Creek Tavern – Hunter Thompson’s hang out? Did you explore the rest of Aspen? Or did you just want to hang out in the sterilized froufrou places with no character?

You need to come back in the summer and really experience Aspen. If you do, call me. I’ll show you around. You may even enjoy yourself, if you will allow yourself that joy.

Ward Hauenstein


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