Aspen Crud, the sequel?
March 31, 2002
After reading a tad about the bottled water controversy in the local papers, I have come to the conclusion that history is only as ancient as the collective memory of newspaper reporters and their cronies.Commercially bottled water is not a new concept to Aspen, and this recent attempt at such an enterprise will undoubtedly not be the last, as such endeavors are usually better left to the imagination than to reality. In the 1950s, Henry Stein of the Mill Iron Ranches on McClain Flats, bottled his famous Mill Iron spring water and had it delivered around town on a flat-bed truck, driven by Jesse Maddalone’s son, Jesse. It was a unique concept for the time, and the water was kept safe from harm in 5-gallon glass containers, unlike today where we worry about harm to the environment.The driving force for this business, other than Henry’s enjoyment of doing something fun and perhaps beneficial, was Aspen’s international reputation for having some of the worst water on the planet. In the ’50s and ’60s the “Aspen Crud” was a polite euphemism for diarrhea brought on by Aspen’s water, rather than today’s marginally famous alcoholic drink of the same name. Matthew Drug, and later Carl’s Pharmacy, did a bang-up job of selling Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol to wan-looking tourists, and in later years Henry might have been heard to muse that he got in on the wrong end of Aspen’s water business. It should also be noted that in those days, most of Aspen’s townsfolk (including my great-uncle, Thomas Nappertandy Stapleton, and his sisters) could be found in the middle of the Roaring Fork River, in mid-January, down by the Mill Street Bridge, gathering up creek water in milk cans to be used at home for the washing of clothes and other gray-water tasks. This because Aspen really didn’t have much in the way of water in the winter, and what they did have could be beat by water straight out of the Roaring Fork. Anyway, good luck on an adventure that has been tried before. All I can say is that as long as water in a bottle costs more than gasoline in a can, no one should bitch about SUVs.Tony Vagneur, B.S.Water Engineer EmeritusVagneur Land & Cattle Company