It was fun while it lasted |

It was fun while it lasted

Dear Editor:

Good-bye, Aspen.

It was nice knowing you and having a ball with you. I am so happy that we knew each other when we were still young. You were sweet, fun, naughty and seemly always innocent. But a few times you did show a dark side of yourself.

The Aspen I am talking about is the small town tucked into the Rocky Mountains. What has happened to you over the years? I am so glad I wasn’t around to see you get mean and old. No more innocence, just greed after everyone’s dollar. You didn’t see me today, but I came by to see you. I did see you, and you looked like a high-priced, over-the-hill hooker. I was so shaken as to what I saw I decided not to stay or even say hello.

I stopped by my old home at the Holland House, and it was gone, gone. I guess you are more satisfied with an empty lot than a warm vibrant building. Jack and Anica must be sick if they are still alive.

As to the dark side of you, I still crack up when you ran the buried sewer pipes on top of the freshwater-supply pipes. Aspen revenge comes to mind. Bad girl! Another was the time you painted the finger on the water tank above Little Nell. They could never get it painted over right. I think they had to tear it down to get rid of it. I think that is about the time you started to change. More PC, more chi-chi. Less humor.

The last time I was there was November 1963 to work and ski. That era was about your best. Ralph Jackson ran the underground ski school. Buggsey Barnard had his small sports-car races in downtown Aspen. In the fall, they would drive the cattle right through town out of the high country. It didn’t smell too bad and was an easy cleanup.

Freddie “Schickelfritz” Fisher and his baritone sax would play at the old opera house. One last thing: I helped build and pave the road into the Maroon Bells area. It was hard work, and the ribbon was cut upon us. After a few speeches from the blowhard politicians, we drank their beer and went home after everyone had left. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go directly home, as we all had to stop every few hundred feet and pick up the slobs’ beer cans and trash.

Now back to today. In my heart I wanted to take one last look at Aspen Lake and the Maroon Bells. On my road is a ranger station. “Sorry sir,” you have to go back to some hotel – get in line. Pay a hefty fee, and then you can go in. I explained to the young man that all I wanted to do is look and maybe shed a tear or two and leave. Nope, not good enough. Back you go if you want to see them. I turned around and left Colorado for good.

I could not believe what you did to that gem in the Rockies. I took one last drive around town and headed west. I couldn’t even find a parking spot to go in and have a beer at the Red Onion. Instead of convenient parking, there is a damn park. I wonder if the bulletholes are still in the ceiling that some cowboy shot up while on horseback in the bar!? Probably not acceptable behavior today.

Damn, that town was fun! As I drove out of town, I noticed for the first time all the Learjets parked at the airport. That should’ve warned me what to expect in my old town. By now I am really in a funk. What to do? What to do about it? I look at my CDs, and the first I one pull out is my favorite get-me-out-of-a-funk music. It is James Brown singing, now get this, “I Feel Good.” By this time I am skirting Basalt, and I am feeling pretty good. I turned all my car mirrors around so I won’t force myself for one last look at your once beautiful face.

Never again, Aspen.

Jim Donaldson

Yountville, Calif.

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