Christmas memories |

Christmas memories

Janet Urquhart
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Christmas in Aspen has been a joyous occasion since the towns beginnings as a silver camp. Through times of prosperity and times of eco nomic struggle, Aspenites have gathered with family and friends, and helped those in need at Christmastime. Long before Aspen became a posh holiday vacationland, it was home to a local populace that set aside its troubles to celebrate the season.This week, we offer a taste of Christmases past, gleaned from the yellowed, brittle pages of the towns newspapers. From the boom times of the late 1800s, when silver was king, through the silver crash, two world wars, the Great Depression and Aspens fledgling days as a ski resort, Christmas was chronicled in newsprint. From the earliest editions of The Aspen Times, now bound and preserved in the archives of the Aspen Historical Society, through the first half of the 20th century, Christmas traditions spring from the dusty pages. The stories and advertisements tell quite a tale, but weve tossed in a few other bits of holiday history from the archives, too, like a smattering of postcards Aspenites received in the mail, including one with a Finnish greeting.As for the news, we learned a few things. Santa Claus, always ahead of his time when it came to air travel, was apparently an early jet-setter in Aspen. The annual Eagles Lodge dance and free Christmas Day movies for kids at the Isis were holiday highlights for decades events that todays old-timers still remember fondly. Christmas pageants and church services were integral pieces of the celebration.Oysters, weve discovered, were a Christmas treat long before sushi was a dining option, and believe it or not, Aspens first housing lottery apparently took place in December 1887. Today, the city is mulling gas-fueled fire pits as a downtown enhancement; in 1940, Aspenites had another idea to heat up the night in festive fashion.Some things, however, never change. Then as now, Aspenites dreamed of a white Christmas, if only because a green one boded well for the undertaker. Read on.

December 1882Holiday JubileeThe work of preparation for the Christmas Jubilee still bravely goes on and children as well as the older people can depend upon enjoying a splendid time The children will remember that they are to meet at the Court House at three oclock next Thursday afternoon and bring with them a pound of candy, nuts, etc., but no child need stay away because he or she cannot get the pound. There will be enough for such as these and some to spare.Little Meggie Brown in the fullness of her great big heart has cheerfully given one hundred and fifty large nice apples for the young people who will be there.The supper for the grown people will be in the evening, after which dancing will be in order until the broke of day.Christmas dinners will be all the rage next Monday.Mrs. Mary Newton expects all of her bachelor friends next Monday from 12 oclock until 2. Everything will be served in elegant style at her restaurant on Cooper Avenue. The Aspen TimesDecember 1887A Grand DrawingThere are many a raffle schemes on the tapis during the holidays. Some of the articles to be raffled are useful and some are ornamental. To combine both is the object of the following holiday drawing.The prize to be drawn is a two-story frame home and two lots located on East Cooper Avenue . The home is well built and handsomely finished. The property is owned by Mrs. Margaret Stall, and the lady takes this means of giving some lucky man or woman a chance to secure a handsome and comfortable home at a mere nominal cost. There will be issued four hundred (400) coupon tickets at five dollars each.Buy your Christmas oysters at the Oyster Depot, Cooper avenue.What to GiveOne hundred shares of the Aspen Consolidated Mining Company stock is the most desirable Christmas or New Years present that can be given to a friend. It would be the same as giving $1,000 as in all human probability. The stock will command ready sale at par within a years time. There is no humbug scheme in this stock, there is no question about the value of the ground this company is opening. The days are limited when this stock can be had at less than $2.00 a share. Let the back cappers and skin flints buck, they shall never succeed in accomplishing their desires.If you want a fine bottle of whiskey to make as a Christmas present, go to B.T. Pearce & Co. The Aspen Times Daily

December 1890J.B. Wheelers PresentsJ.B. Wheeler yesterday rendered his many employees in this city with handsome Christmas presents. In all he distributed $2,000 among them. Five hundred dollars was divided among the 44 employees of the Hotel Jerome. He also gave the boys in the bank a like amount and those in other positions were likewise remembered.Always Fresh and PureHome-made candy for Christmas can be bought at the home-made candy factory on Mill Street near the opera house. There is no purer candy you can place on the table for family use than what is made by this house. Try it and you will use no other kind. The Aspen Daily TimesDecember 1893Christmas TimesThese are happy Christmas times. The people of Aspen will forget their cares for awhile and join in the holiday festivities. The poor and needy we have with us in largely increasing numbers, and not the least of the pleasures of those who are fortunate in worldly possessions will be the distribution of charity to those who are deserving. The Christmas turkey will be more enjoyable to those who have provided a like treat to some woman and children who are having a hard struggle for subsistence. The savior who was born on this holy day gave everything he possessed, even his life, for the happiness of man. Then let the spirit of brotherly love, charity and Christian giving characterize our acts on this, the happiest day of the year.Wanted Several miners who are out of work and want wood. One and one-eighth cords of wood, stove length, will be delivered at the residence in Aspen for eight hours shift of work. B. Clark Wheeler.Santa Claus will arrive at our store promptly at 8:30 oclock in the evening. The little folks need not expect him even one minute before that hour. (Chicago Bazaar Quick sales and small profits.)Still left, a few nice Christmas presents at the Aspen Pharmacy. Cheap.The Christmas festivities passed off pleasantly in Aspen and, as an exchange puts it, Smiles passed for currency during the day. Many of Aspens charitable citizens gave with a liberal hand to the poor of the city, and Santa Claus paid a visit to the children in nearly every home, no matter how humble. The Aspen Daily TimesDecember 1898The stores dealing in holiday goods, and this includes about all of them, are doing a rush business these days. Christmas trees are being brought down from the mountains by the hundreds, and nearly every house in Aspen will be the scene of happiness in the glad holiday season.The school teachers of the city got their salaries today for the three weeks put in since their last pay day. The board of education, appreciating the fact that the teachers cannot travel or make Christmas presents without a certain amount of dough are paying them ahead of schedule, which allowing for the holidays, would be January 14. As this date is somewhat remote, the school maams are likely to be properly grateful to the board. The Aspen Times Daily

December 1900ChristmasThis is Christmas morning and everybody should be happy and gay for one day out of three hundred and sixty-five at least. All the year we have been going about sullenly or angrily and the only smile which we have allowed to toy with our lips was a cruel one when someone was outwitted by us or suffered in some way.The smile that we can wear today is entirely different. We have spent a pretty good 1900 in spite of defeat at the polls and loss of money in speculation. We have enough to eat and enough to wear and do not apprehend starving or freezing to death. We have gained several pounds of avoirdupois and we do not expect to lose it very soon. Now comes the question of what we can do to make the day happier and the earth better. One thing we can do is to see that nobody in this county suffers for food today. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. You do not enjoy yourself and that is but justice.Another thing which may be done to cheer one person who does all he can to make the world better and does not have a snap of it is to pay up your back subscription to the newspaper man. See? The Aspen TribuneDecember 1907Record SaleMr. Holthower, of the Aspen Commission house, reports that the Xmas sale of poultry, such as turkeys, geese, ducks and chickens, amounts to 7,000 pounds.He says the poultry sale this year is the biggest in five years, and that he could have easily disposed of 1,000 pounds more if he could have gotten the order filled.This looks as if the Aspen people had money and intended to spend it.Smile and push Aspen. The Aspen Democrat

December 1910The jolliest raffle every pulled off in Aspen took place at Mansor Elishas place at the Hotel Jerome last evening. Thirty-five of the finest birds ever brought to Aspen were raffled off, and they went so rapidly that by the time the ladies arrived to take a chance at them there were only two birds left. They were no more disappointed than was the genial Mansor, whose aim is always to supply the demands of all with the best goods obtainable.When Mansor Elisha does anything it is done right. The Aspen Democrat-Times

December 1920Hully Gee but aint it great. We kids are going to have a big treat at the Isis Christmas Afternoon at 2 oclock. Come on kids and get in!Yes, indeedy, Christmas Afternoon the kiddies of Pitkin County will be entertained at the Isis with a Fine Picture Show of four reels of the funniest movies ever shown in Aspen.And as each kiddy enters the theatre, he or she will be given a nice little bag of candy and nuts by the Kobey Shoe and Clothing Company.Aint that scrumptious! The Aspen Democrat-TimesDecember 1929Dance With the Eagles on Christmas NightThe Aspen Eagles are planning big things for your Christmas pleasure and amusement at their annual Christmas Night Dance and you are assured the best time of your life.The Roamers Rhythm Kings will furnish the music and will sing Christmas carols and do other things that will make everyone dance and dance until the Eagles say go home and theres no tellin when they will say it.Everybody knows that when the Eagles do anything in the way of entertaining there is nothing left to be desired by their guests, and the Eagles Christmas Dance this year will be bigger and better than ever.So, after putting your Christmas dinner where it will do the most good, and after putting in the day playing with the toys Santy brought your children, put on your bib and tucker and join the Eagles in a most fitting windup of the Christmas spirit.Everybody invited. Tickets, only $1.00. The Aspen Times

December 1932Our Christmas GreetingThe future looks Brighter for Aspen than it has in years as New Blood is expected to Make Things Boom.This is Not Hot Air, but Straight Goods. The Aspen Times. The Aspen Times

December 1940Plan Disposal of Xmas Trees This SeasonA novel way of disposing of Christmas trees has been suggested by Ranger Fred Cook and the idea has met with such unanimous approval from the City Council and the Aspen Fire Department, plans are being made to carry out this scheme in Aspen this year.As outlined by the Forest Service, the plan is briefly this: After New Years people will be ready to discard their Christmas trees and possibly some of the decoration. Instead of piling them in the garage or basement, those trees to be disposed of will be taken to a central point in the city and piled together for the purpose of a bonfire.Quite a ceremonious affair is to be made of the occasion, with the mayor lighting the bonfire and possibly a band playing if weather is not too severe.Such an event will serve as the official closing of the Christmas season in Aspen. The Aspen TimesDecember 1945The Lions Club and the Mountain Utilities Corporation have been cooperating in placing and decorating four trees with lights. These trees were hauled down by the Midnight Mine Co. trucks and were placed in the street intersections near the following buildings: Hotel Jerome, Opera House, Court House and Bank.House and street decorations, which have been severely curtailed because of war conditions, are very little better this year due to the shortage of lights. Strings of lights used in former years have been repaired and placed in the best condition possible for another season. The Aspen TimesPrevent TBBuy Christmas SealsAn appeal to residents of Aspen and Pitkin County who have not yet purchased their Christmas Seals to do so promptly was made today by Robert S. Killey, Seal Sale chairman. The Aspen TimesDecember 1947New Plan for Aspenite SkiersAspen Ski School heads, Friedl Pfeifer, Fred Iselin and Percy Rideout, announced on Tuesday that the Ski School is offering a special holiday program for Aspen people. In order to accommodate residents and working people who are not in a position to attend regular consecutive class schedules, the school has worked out a new plan that should prove both convenient and inexpensive.A single ticket for twenty-four hours of instruction may now be purchased by a single person or, in partnership, by more than one. These tickets, which will cost twenty dollars (ninety cents for each hour) may be used, hour by hour, at any time during the ski season. The Aspen Times

December 1950Eagles Christmas PartyHey, Kids! The Eagles have just announced that old Santa is coming to Aspen and will be here at 8 oclock Friday evening at the Armory Hall.Santa, they claim, is coming by a new and improved jet plane and 8 sharp means just that. A few minutes earlier or later would place the old boy some hundreds of miles from Aspen. Better be on time.Candy and treats for every child will be on hand and Santa and his helpers will be ready to see that every child is remembered.WANTED Old fashioned pinch-on candle holders for Christmas tree, 3366, Loey Ringquist.Christmas WeatherYou may not believe them, but here are a few of the varied and conflicting beliefs about Christmas weather:If the sun shines through the apple tree on Christmas Day, there will be a good crop the following year.A warm Christmas means a cold Easter.A green Christmas means a fat graveyard. The Aspen Times