Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago
December 1903Editors note: Copies of The Aspen Times from October 1903 until 1911 are missing from the Colorado Historical Societys archives and the Pitkin County Librarys microfilm reels. In order to continue our journalistic history of Aspen, we will copy excerpts from The Aspen Democrat, the Times rival newspaper 100 years ago. Wondering what to give your boss for Christmas this year? According to the editors of The Aspen Democrat, a turkey is always in good taste.A turkey is always an acceptable gift no matter at what time of the year it chances to be received but at this time of year it is exceptionally welcome. Mr. and Mrs. Beath who reside on East Main Street had the fortune to receive one of these birds from relatives in Kansas Wednesday. The turkey is quite a wonder owing to its immense size, weighing twenty-six pounds after being dressed. This was a rare present and they are very fortunate in being the recipients of such a useful gift.The county courthouse was to receive a face-lift for the new year. The paper wrote,A number of carpets have been purchased by the county and are being put in different rooms of the courthouse. You will have to wipe off your feet hereafter when calling on the county officials.A New Years wish that is as true today as it was 100 years ago.This is the closing day of the holiday season, universally dedicated to mirth and festivity, and when feelings are warmer and our sympathies quicker to act. Why is it not possible for us all to carry a little piece of the merry Christmas and happy New Year spirit in our heart for the year. …In starting out this morning with the fair clean page of the first day of 1904 let us follow the old custom of resolving to do better, live higher lives, full of richest endeavor which shall be crowned with the blossoms of contentment. Look to a higher ideal and strive manfully for it, ever remembering that each effort makes us so much stronger. …Of course we wish one and all prosperity. This is a prime factor in our good nature and a necessary one. A prosperous year for the merchants and business men, the miners, the leasers, one and all, a goodly share of this worlds good. A prosperous year for our own little city and a prayer for deliverance from the labor troubles that have been so grievous in 1903. If it were only impossible for all labor difficulties to be settled with the beginning of the New Year, what a day of rejoicing it would truly be.December 1953Winter had just begun, but Aspens summer season was already making headlines. The Times reported,The 1954 Aspen Festival will embrace ten weeks instead of nine weeks, according to an announcement just released by Walter Paepcke, President of the Institute. This extension of the Festival period marks another step forward in the Institutes plan to enlarge the scope of Aspens summer activities, and so broaden the base of the communitys busy season. …It will comprise four weekly concerts, including a Student Concert; lectures, forums and panel discussions in the field of Humanities; fortnightly meetings of business executives; film showings; and occasional special events.The Times covered some high-flying fun in December 1953.Where else in the world than at Aspen can a photographer get two such jumpers in his lens at the same time. This photo shows a diver at the Aspen Pool in the air at the same time that a ski jumper (circled) takes off on the hill during the four-way college invitational meet here on December 29th. The Aspen Pool is situated across the street from the Little Nell slope where skiers can, in two minutes, complete their runs and step into the heated pool for a swim or use of the steam baths.Speaking of public bath houses …The Golden Horn Badstu, a dry heat bath, was officially opened in the Golden Horn building Tuesday. The Badstu is located immediately behind the space occupied by the Aspen Sports.The stove used for this bath house was sent complete from Norway. It is stove equipped with special heating stones. This type of bath is very beneficial for some types of ailments and relieves tired and exhausted people after a hard days work or play.The Red Onion changed hands 50 years ago, with its new owner helping turn the bar and restaurant into one of Aspens favorites.Aspens Red Onion has been sold to Mr. Werner Kuster, effective Friday, January 1, 1954. Formerly owned by John Sihler, the Red Onion has become one of this resorts famous dining and entertainment spots. …Mr. Kuster, who came to the United States from his native Switzerland in 1949, is noted as an outstanding cook and has had experience in managing several kitchens in both the U.S. and Europe. The Red Onion will be operated primarily as a steak house and will serve delicious brunch, luncheons and dinners.December 1978Tis the season for furs and festivities. The Times wrote,People were in the holiday spirit.They came through the snowy evening, wrapped in furs. They crowded The Playhouse Theatre lobby where the champagne flowed.Celebrities Annie and John Denver, Cher, members of Kiss, Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters were there. And so were lots and lots of locals and visitors.It was the gala premiere of Superman last Friday night in Aspen and the show netted $13,500 for the Wildwood School.People were in the holiday spirit.They visited and sipped the champagne. They laughed at John Denvers jokes as he conducted the drawing for the door prizes.And watched the movie of Superman … the comic book story of a crusader for truth and justice and the American Way. Four-lane highways made headlines 25 years ago, but not on Highway 82. The Times reported,The Colorado Department of Highways was authorized last week to submit preliminary designs for a four-lane highway through Glenwood Canyon to the Federal Highway Administration.The federal agency must approve designs to qualify the project for federal matching funds.The matching funds are critical since they would cover 90% of the cost estimated at from $317.5 million to $370.4 million, depending on whether the highway is built on a five- or eight-year schedule.Under the five-year timetable, construction could begin in 1980. The eight-year timetable calls for work to be finished in 1987.In other transportation news, the editor in chief of the Times offered this opinion,We join Pitkin and Garfield County commissioners in urging the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad to continue its passenger service to Salt Lake City.If the Salt Lake portion of the passenger service is dropped, the D&RG loses its status as an interstate carrier and could more easily drop its service between Denver and Glenwood Springs.We still like to dream that the railroad service should not only be retained, but expanded so that a ski train could run from Denver all the way to Aspen.The train option could be an alternative in the ski package plans. The scenic trip through Gore Canyon and on up the Roaring Fork Valley could be a memorable part of a ski vacation.As it stands now, taking the train from Denver is a reasonable alternative. It costs only $13.75. (The county is considering arranging for a bus to meet the train.)The possibilities become more remote, however, if the railroad drops its service to Salt Lake.Wonder how you, too, can be a local? In 1978, The Talk of the Times columnist Peggy Clifford wrote,For as long as I can remember, one ambition has dominated the hearts and minds of everyone in Aspen: to become a local.It is no small thing, of course, this ambition. There are people who have lived here for decades who have not yet achieved it, who still look, for some reason, as if they were just off the bus. …There are several characteristics that genuine, 100 per cent locals have in common, that separates them from the hordes, makes them identifiable to anyone with a keen eye.First, if not foremost, every authentic local has some article of clothing that no one else has or would have. …Second, every true-blue local has, at one time or another, had a job that no one else can imagine. …Third, every local of any style is a weather expert. …Fourth, genuine locals use language in original ways. …Finally, every 100 per cent local has at least one opinion with which no one can agree, an opinion so old, so perverse that not even family and close friends can understand it, much less accept it.
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