Low-rent lifestyle

Dear Editor:I enjoyed reading Janet Urquhart’s report on the Airport Ranch historical preservation project (The Aspen Times, Nov. 26). She mentioned that Lada Vrany had rented out every enclosure on the property, including the horse stalls, as affordable housing. I can recall some other examples of below-the-radar affordable housing.At one time during the ’80s, I had next-door neighbors who built a roofed kennel structure about 40 inches high for their Dobermans in the backyard. For years after they moved, new renters occasionally would allow their friends to camp out in the kennel until they found their own places. Dogs have a higher standard of personal hygiene than horses as long as you let them out in time. The odor wasn’t too bad. Around 1988, Susie Sinnicks spent a few weeks in it at the beginning of her career as a chef at Explore and Gordon & Grimsley’s.For years in the ’90s, I knew people who knew people who lived “behind Jack Nicholson’s house.” There must have been at least a pit toilet back there. The late Ralph Jackson rented out a few chuck-wagon-sized living units on his Ute Avenue property very close to Tom and Cathy Crum’s house. These were World War II surplus units set on house-trailer-type foundations. They were covered with white canvas. I didn’t take a very close look at the time, but I doubt they had city water and sewer. In the mid-’70s, one of the renters was David Gershon, a nonpracticing psychiatrist who had become a low-key mystic. After he was forced to leave Ralph’s estate, David spent several winters at the St. Moritz.Another variety is the camper or van parked in someone’s backyard or in an alley. My favorite example is Charles Garlick, who lived in a van behind what is now the Shell gas station that is kitty-corner from the courthouse. For several summers, he drove the horse-drawn carriage with partners Terry Harpe and Kay Clark. Charles bragged that he had not paid rent for 15 years. He was quite laconic and made long stories short. I asked him how he came to be a father of six children in view of how he was living now. He replied, “She wanted kids, and I wanted sex.” David BentleyAspen