People of the Times |

People of the Times

Marty Keller took a road trip to Aspen in 1921 and eventually settled here.

In 1921 Marty (then 10) and brother Ralph (then 14) took a 1918 Ford Runabout (which was like a pickup) on a round trip from Denver to Aspen and back via Colorado Springs. It took them two days to get to Hot Sulfur Springs via Granby. They may have driven through the Moffat Railroad tunnel or over Berthod Pass. Near Wolcott, they blew a tire and used a “cactus patch” for repair. It wore through several times until they ran out of inside patches. Then they tried cutting up canvas many layers thick and putting them over the hole. They pumped up the tire to 65 pounds by hand and blam – canvas everywhere! They ended up driving to Wolcott on the rim. The railroad store had the 30-by-3.5-inch tires, but they didn’t have enough money. They told the owner who their parents were and the owner called them long distance. Their parents promised to send a check for $14 and so the owner gave them the tire.They continued on to Aspen where Marty remembered seeing miners waiting for work and a few fishermen. Those were off years for Aspen as mining had decreased since 1893 when silver was no longer the monetary standard. The railroad came into town from Glenwood. Not many people drove over Independence Pass, but Marty and Ralph wanted to go that way. They bought a set of transmission bands at the Bernard Building, which was a drive-through corner gas station. In starting up the pass, the Keller brothers had to cool the Ford’s engine with water from the river about every mile. They got as far as the town of Independence when the bands wore out. This was before the days of “quick-change” bands, so they camped there. They had to remove the transmission cover and be careful not to drop the screws, as they could get into the magneto. They popped out the old rivets and installed new lining, rivets and bands.The next day they went on over the pass carrying lots of water as the road left the river. Going down the other side, they had to divide the braking between the brakes, the low-gear band and the reverse band. They continued their trip from Twin Lakes to Buena Vista to Colorado Springs and back to Denver.As an adult, Marty returned to Aspen and raised a family while teaching skiing and inventing a long list of impressive tools and machines.-Annette Keller

In the 1880s a tramway ran from Tourtelotte to Aspen. Back then the valuable cargo was hauled down the mountain. Henry Tourtelotte was born to farming parents in 1839 in Downers Grove, Ill. Having a limited education, he tried his hand in several difficult occupations, including once working as an Indian trader at the Winnebago agency in 1860. He worked placer claims on Clear Creek near present-day Boulder without much success. He served with the Union Army in the Civil War. After an attempt at hunting, in 1879 he ventured once again to Colorado – this time to Leadville and on to Aspen.Hank arrived in the Aspen area in 1880. The walk to his mining claims on Aspen Mountain consumed too much time and energy, so he established the community of Tourtelotte. Though it was reported to have had a bowling alley and there was also talk of establishing a school, Tourtelotte was never a true community. It was composed of mostly boarding houses and a few saloons. The population never exceeded 500 residents and that is probably inflated. Interestingly, it was often a popular venue for local politicians to conduct fundraising parties. Though not much remains of the original Tourtelotte, winter skiers and summer hikers with a keen eye may glimpse an odd remnant or two and reflect back on a bygone era. -Larry Fredrick

Terese arrived at our B & B inn on Main Street in 1951. She immediately fell in love with Aspen and was welcomed by locals who were delighted that she was planning to open a children’s preschool.After buying two adjoining houses on Main and Aspen streets, she started her boutique in the one and lived in the other, where the playroom and toy corner for her little “tots” were close to the kitchen where she taught them how to make sausage rolls and cambric tea.She was the “Pied Piper” of Aspen and was always available, costumed children in tow, to enter Aspen’s frequent parades. Proudly she led her flock through the town, wearing an elegant Victorian gown and high buttoned shoes.She was an excellent fashion designer and many an artist performer scheduled to play or sing in the Aspen Music Festival tent came to her “Terese David Boutique” for inspired concert apparel. She also imported children’s Tyrolian dirndls and lederhosen which many of the European musicians enjoyed seeing on their children, especially in these mountains, which reminded them of their alpine backgrounds.She was our family’s fairy godmother and friend. We loved her company, her vivid stories of her World War II experiences that included her leading bombed-out London children to safe country shelters and escorting a boatload of children to foster homes in the United States for the war’s duration.Terese was my fairy godmother for another, very meaningful reason. She often invited my young kids to join her preschool for a few hours so I could get away from lodge business and take a few ski runs on Aspen Mountain. She never charged me tuition – that was a really generous gift! This special, lovely lady left her beloved Aspen due to illness. It was with heavy hearts that we learned of her death in Maryland, where she lived through the last stages of leukemia, surrounded by her family and the loving thoughts of her numerous friends.-Jony Larrowe

Kathryn arrived in Aspen by mistake. In 1969 she was moving from California to Boulder, but when she descended into the valley from Independence Pass she saw Aspen, fell in love and drove no farther. She thought it was paradise on Earth. She still does.She began her career in 1970 as secretary for the chief of police. She became city clerk in 1974, and has remained in that capacity ever since. She’s worked for eight mayors.She married her husband John in 1978, driving in a white Cadillac convertible through the downtown mall to celebrate, led by Baltimore Jim on his Harley. She considers staying happily married in Aspen one of her most significant accomplishments. She is also enjoying the three grandchildren her daughter Megan so kindly provided: Henry and the twins, Sam and Amelia.She loves Aspen because there’s nothing you can’t do here – the Music Festival, plays and ballet, movies and shows at the Wheeler, book clubs, knitting clubs, visiting political pundits. She cross-country skis, snowshoes and hikes, and has climbed 11 fourteeners.Kathryn is truly a woman with her finger on the pulse of Aspen the community and Aspen city government in particular.-Carla Peltonen

Kurt Bresnitz is one of many Europeans who settled in Aspen after World War II. They brought their Old World culture, cuisine, art, love of nature and sports, a strong work ethic and the ability to remake themselves to a Western mountain town. Colorful Aspen became even more brilliant because of their locating here.Kurt was born in Vienna, Austria, and escaped from the Nazis in 1938. He served for more than four years with the U.S. Military Government in Germany as an undercover agent and interpreter. He married Lotte, a refugee from Nuremberg, Germany, in Cincinnati in 1944 and then studied watchmaking at the American Academy of Horology in Denver.While on a road trip in 1950, the Bresnitzes drove into Aspen, and it was love at first sight. They thought it was the most beautiful place they had seen in the United States, and Jim Moore mentioned they needed a watchmaker, so Aspen gained two new citizens.Alpine Jewelers opened in November 1950, specializing in imported art pieces, fine watches and jewelry. Kurt also represented local artists, selling silversmith Jim Hayes’ buckles and rings, and Freddie Fisher’s electroplated aspen leaves (“Made by Freddie Fisher – and God”). Kurt was an officer with the early Chamber of Commerce, and he volunteered tirelessly for the Aspen Music Festival.His beloved Lotte is gone, but Kurt’s love affair with Aspen continues, with the courtly charm, grace and devotion only a Viennese gentleman could bring to a long liaison. -Sara Garton