Summertime is always a great time to hold birthday celebrations in Aspen. One very gala event was Jim Pitt’s 90th birthday party, held by Jim and Vitashka Kirshen in the conference room at the Mountain Chalet with mostly locals attending, music by locals and great food. Jim is an expert guitar player … hence all the music.Later in the summer, Molly Beattie Bedell and her husband, Tom Bedell, celebrated Molly’s 50th birthday party with a big bash at their Peace Ranch in the Fryingpan Valley. Again, lots of locals and music and great food. I had to miss the party so Jim Pitt took a shot for me.
Undercurrent … Another end of an era. I see that “Whispering Pines,” the Thurston home on Independence Pass, is for sale. This is a little tale about that place. When I had been in Aspen a few weeks back in 1952, one of my housemates, Pat Lumsden, took me to a turkey shoot at the Stapleton Ranch up Owl Creek. Since I couldn’t shoot a gun, I rolled dice – and won a turkey! Since I was a girl from the East Coast, I didn’t know what to do with a live turkey. So Pat’s parents took the turkey up to their place, the Bigelow Ranch way up at the top of the Fryingpan Valley and they took care of that turkey for me, bringing it back ready to cook, and putting it into one of the freezer lockers at Beck & Bishop’s. Jim Hayes and I were married in spring 1953, and at the end of the summer his brother and wife came for a visit, so we decided to cook the turkey. We didn’t have an oven in our little cottage, so Hilda and Hank (Buzz) Thurston offered their wood stove in their place up Independence Pass. The land had originally been owned by Bob (Jughead) Dennis, and he was going to raise chickens and had built a chicken coop. Buzz and Hilda transformed the chicken coop into a cabin. Buzz was a weaver and had a loom in the cabin (he also had a bicycle repair shop in the Golden Horn building), and Hilda was a dressmaker (she made my wedding dress). Anyway, we baked that turkey all day in the wood stove and served it with stuffing, a great salad (from my garden) and potatoes. What a feast! In a few years, Buzz and Hilda moved to Denver, where Buzz worked for Martin Marietta and Hilda ran the University Thrift Shop. They later moved back to Aspen and built two houses on the property. Buzz was city building inspector, and Hilda ran the children’s room at the library for many years. Living on the property the last several years has been their son, Henry Thurston, and his family.
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It’s hard to fight City Hall and even harder to fight well-funded neighbors who don’t want any development near them, a local man has realized. So he settled for less than what he and his partner bought the property for.