College convenes for Aspen ‘freshmen’
The “freshman class” of newcomers to town are invited Dec. 4 to “Aspen History 101” at the Wheeler Opera House, at 1 p.m. and again at 5:30 p.m., where short vignettes will sketch out certain critical portions of Aspen’s history.The exercise is being done in the guise of a revival of one of Aspen’s more irreverent institutions from the fabled ’70s, The Aspen State Teacher’s College.The ASTC was a fanciful invention of a few bored Aspenites who felt the town’s image would benefit from having a “school” as an intellectual anchor.Al Pendorf and Marc Demmon are credited with founding the college in 1975, but last year Demmon told The Aspen Times it really sprang from a remark Pendorf made about the new crop of ski-season arrivals, known as the freshman class.Demmon, then a bar and restaurant manager, became Dr. Slats Cabbage, college president. He is expected to be at the Wheeler event.Pendorf, also known as Fulton Begley III, dean of women, worked in a local print shop, facilitating the production of Aspen State Teachers College T-shirts; hats; a monthly newsletter, the Clean Sweep; and a host of other memorabilia the college sold out of its “offices” – a basement space off what is now the Mill Street mall.A broom was part of the college’s insignia – all the old pickups sported one poking out of the back – along with a beer mug and an aspen leaf.In keeping with next week’s revival of the ASTC, Tom Egan of the AHS said the vignettes will be performed on stage in lieu of lectures. Topics will range from the town’s heyday as a mining boomtown to the “Quiet Years” following the silver crash to the advent of skiing and Aspen’s rebirth as a cultural and sports mecca. The skits will feature local actors, props and sets.Student ID cards will be issued to attendees of the two distinct shows, each of which will last about an hour and be followed by a “mixer” in the Wheeler lobby.The event is free and meant as a true introduction for newcomers, not as a reunion of old “alumni” (they had one of those a year ago, check http://www.aspentimes.com, click on “archives” to read about it), although they will be welcome, too. Egan said alcohol will not be served at the event, though there will be other refreshments.Egan said prizes will be handed out, donated by local businesses. Information handouts also will be provided for those who like their history in hard copy.The event is one of many planned over the course of the coming year as the AHS works to bring Aspen’s history alive in ways that are relevant to newcomers and old timers alike, Egan said.”Like a phoenix from the ashes, it’s going to rise again over the course of the winter,” Egan said of the ASTC, explaining that the “school” will be part of the theme of coming events, which are still in the planning stages.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.
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