People of the Times |

People of the Times

Ray Adams (Aspen Times Weekly file)

Ray Adams is youthful-looking, with longish white hair that quite fits his role as musical impresario. He is the creator and conductor of the Aspen Choral Society, the mostly volunteer group that puts on the sublime holiday performances of Handel’s “Messiah” each year. He has been doing this for 28 years, ever since he moved to Aspen in 1977.The impression one gets from Ray is intensity and passion. When music happens with passion, it makes all the difference in the world, he believes.Not only does he put on the “Messiah” annually, he is also a composer, having written the first four of “Five Sacred Pieces,” choral works of surpassing lyrical beauty; four have had their world premieres here in Aspen, and the fifth will be performed March 31 and April 1, 2006.His aim is to bring all of us – chorus, orchestra and audience – to the edge of our seats. And he will be up there, conducting, pouring his passion into the music, touching us all with a little bit of radiance.- Carla Peltonen

Though Durant is an avenue and not a street, the center of Aspen’s one-time red-light district during the silver mining days of the 1880s and ’90s came to be known in the Aspen Daily Times as “the jungles of Durant Street.” Because of the concentration of small shacks there called “cribs,” the stretch running between Galena and Hunter west of the Midland Railroad Depot (where the gondola plaza now stands) was known as “the row.” Piano player Gertie Mason of Keeney’s Dance Hall, Gracie Mullen, Hattie Wilson, Nellie Clark, French Lulu, “bleary-eyed cyprian Emma Barton,” and Lizzie Lee who “died of lunacy in her cabin” behind what is now the Big Wrap, regularly graced the Times police blotter. If they couldn’t pay the fine they might spend the night in the “County Bastille,” aka the “Hotel de White” (named after Sheriff White).Fueled by a growing male population, low female wages, cheap liquor and bonanza mania, the girls were not all to blame. Everybody knew but didn’t speak of the husbands, fathers and “decent men” who frequented such places as Lou Fuller’s and Laura Spray’s houses, or the upscale bordellos such as the Silver Queen and the Old Homestead.- Tim Cooney

She was born Hildur Hoaglund on the family ranch in Brush Creek, youngest daughter of Swedish immigrants, who had moved to the ranch when the mines in Aspen closed.She was a math whiz, a talented student, an inspiring teacher back in the days when a female teacher couldn’t be married. (She finally retired from teaching in 1973.) She was also a gifted musician, playing the piano and the accordion all her life. When she was a little girl, she rode her horse from the ranch into Aspen to take piano lessons, galloping all the way home so she arrived before dark.Hildur married Bill Anderson, whom she met while teaching school in Rifle; they had four children on the family ranch, which they ran until it was sold in 1954. It is the site of the present-day Anderson Ranch Arts Center.Everyone remembers her accordion playing – she could make people forget their troubles for a time with her toe-tapping rhythms. She played every type of music there is, from classical to dance to swing.Once she said, “I must have Colorado in my heart.” I guess Colorado has Hildur in its heart, too.- Carla Peltonen

We all know our sheriff as a man more concerned with justice then the mere letter of the law. And his idea of justice included what you might or might not be doing in your own home that hurts no one at all. He’s a man that cares about the essential dignity of every person, whether or not in his custody.Because I live way out in the country, and a call to report a break-in is not liable to result in action prompt enough to make a difference, I once asked Bob; “Can I just shoot the person first and call you second?” I understand that the burglar may claim it was all an innocent mistake, etc. and etc. but there is an immediate problem to be solved. Bob’s reply was, “Just make sure he’s dead before I get there. I don’t want him or her to be able to answer any questions.”- George Stranahan

Ted Bundy’s name became a household word around the United States in the late ’70s when his career as a serial killer was slowly unveiled. When Ted was incarcerated in Pitkin County Jail in 1977, I remember I was skeptical. It just didn’t seem possible that anyone could be as diabolical as the then-unproven theories would have you believe this man was. I think most of us were relieved to have the pieces of an unsolved murder puzzle from 1975 finally fall into place. But still, a serial killer, in our valley? Hard to fathom, it just didn’t seem compatible with our crystal-clear beauty.

Then Ted escaped from jail. He jumped from a second-story window in the courthouse and took off. Suddenly it was all real, or surreal to be more accurate. We were quickly under siege with helicopters hovering just above the treetops, and sirens and emergency announcements on television and radio, and roadblocks. It was exciting on one level but also scary as rumors flew that put him in our neighborhood.A knock on the door. My husband disappears to load his shotgun. I open the door a crack (one might, in hindsight, ask “why?”) and see a bearded man. I sneak a side glance at the picture GrassRoots TV is broadcasting. They show a bearded man but we all know that Ted is now clean-shaven. Or is he? The man says he is from the water department and is working on the water tank in the cemetery adjacent to our home. He needs to use the phone. Heart racing I let him in just as the helicopter overhead turns to take another sweep literally 10 feet from our roof. The man makes his call, says “thank you” and leaves. So does the helicopter. My husband resurfaces to tell me he had been aiming at the bathroom mirror practicing shooting someone in his leg – just in case.Several days later, Ted was captured as he drove erratically down Cemetery Lane on the other side of town. Turns out that our magnificent terrain did him in. He tried several valleys but he was too lost to find a way out.- Georgia Hanson

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