Aspen ‘Thumbing Station’ sign hits chord
ASPEN The disappearance of the Thumbing Station sign on Main Street in Aspen appears to have struck a chord in the hearts and minds of some locals.After publishing a story Tuesday about the sign, which used to stand next to the old Cortina Lodge at 230 E. Main St., The Aspen Times has received numerous telephone calls and e-mails about the matter, including an offer by a local sign maker to make a new sign for free if the city will put it up.The sign, displaying a fist with thumb extended and the words, Thumbing Station, is believed to have been put up in the 1960s, possibly after a local judge got tired of prosecuting hitchhikers and declared the activity legal inside the boundaries of Pitkin County.At least one longtime local, attorney Charles Fagan, recalled moving to Aspen in the early 1970s and helping to convince that jurist, Pitkin County Judge John A. F. Wendt, to legalize hitchhiking.Another longtime local, Bob Grueter, owner of Aspen Wine & Spirits, recalled that Wendt decided the best way to free up his judicial calendar was by declaring hitchhiking to be acceptable and legal, and cautioning local cops that he would no longer be accepting cases against hitchhikers.Others, however, said the sign went up in the 1960s, probably with the blessing of City Hall, although current city officials have not been able to come up with any details about the sign or its provenance.The names of three artists, Jim Ford, Kenny Oakes and Gaard Moses, have all been mentioned as candidates for having painted either the original sign or a replacement.I seem to remember that there was a second sign painted, after the original disappeared, and thats when I might have gotten involved, recalled Moses, who still works in the valley as a sign painter.Moses said this week that he remembers a local sign painter named Jimmy Ford, and remarked, You know, I think he might have painted the original sign.As for the disappearance of the sign, Moses said, it is likely it was stolen by someone wanting a unique bit of memorabilia from Aspen.Im surprised that sign hasnt gone walking before, he remarked, adding, Im surprised I didnt grab it myself.Moses said he has called City Hall and offered to paint another replacement sign, if the city will agree to put it up in the same place as the old one.Calls to Randy Ready, the assistant city manager that Moses said he contacted, were not returned on Wednesday.firstname.lastname@example.org
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