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People of the Times

Hannibal Brown was a well-known Aspenite during the so-called "Quiet Years."

Hannibal Brown was a man of many hats. Arriving in Aspen at a young age, he worked in the home of DRC Brown during the 1880s and at various jobs around the community. He was a saloon porter at the Elks, a janitor at the post office and the Elks, the town handy man, and he even bootlegged liquor out of his Main Street home during Prohibition. Since Hannibal was one of the few residents who could drive, he served as a chauffeur for the Browns when they were in town, drove the doctor to patients, and took people to Glenwood and to baseball games in his Hudson. He was well-known for tending bar at the Elks Club and for his signature Tom and Jerry cocktail, which was more or less concocted like this (from “Aspen, The Quiet Years”):Tom & Jerry12 eggs, separated3 1/2 pounds bar sugar1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/4 teaspoon ground cloves1/4 teaspoon cream of tartarBeat egg yolks with 3 pounds of sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves until thick and light. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining 1/2 pound sugar in the egg whites until soft. Gently fold egg whites into yolks.Preheat Tom & Jerry mugs in hot water. To each mug add 1/2 ounce dark Jamaican Rum. Fill half of mug with boiling water; add 2 tablespoons of Tom & Jerry batter to boiling water.- Anna Lookabill Scott

As a kid, there were two qualities I always appreciated in Tony; he was inclusive, and he had Yogi Berra’s gift for oratory. One summer when a few of us 15-year-olds were honored to be chosen to buck bales out at the Elkhorn Ranch, he made it clear that everyone who knew how to drive would have a turn at the wheel of the 1940s vintage Diamond T farm truck used to gather up the hay. I was sweating a bit, because a few previous outings in the cantankerous machine, with its two gearshifts and a hard clutch, had resulted mostly in my being the object of some serious ridicule from my peers, but Tony insisted that everyone had to get a turn. Things went smoothly for a minute or so, but when I had to stop to let the guys catch up, I had a hard time shifting gears and ended up in second rather than first. The result was a forward lurch that ended with my killing the engine and dislodging a few dozen bales of hay, knocking Vagneur against the headboard and eliciting a chorus of jeers from the crew. “Hey you guys, knock it off!” Vagneur yelled. “That wasn’t so bad considering that he can’t drive worth a shit.”- Art Jarboe

Back in the ’60s, Vagneur taught me how to drive. Here’s how: After a typical all-nighter, he suddenly pulls over into the parking area at the top of Independence Pass. He mutters, “Damn, I gotta get some sleep. YOU drive.” And he climbs into the back seat and snores all the way to Denver, leaving me to figure it out. – Doug Franklin We were branding one year, and Tony’s dad walked up and said, “Hey, brand me!” Tony turned around with a hot iron in his hand and let his dad have it right in the stomach. Cliff had on plenty of clothing, but after the nervous chuckles subsided, he lifted his shirt and there was a distinct red mark. Best to think twice before trying to order Tony around.- Roy Holloway

Tony knows every square inch of Aspen Mountain, and he’s immensely generous about sharing the location of even his most prized powder shot. There’s only one rule, though – he gets to be the first one down it! – Bob Snyder I was up making coffee one morning on Owl Creek when Tony staggered in from an all-nighter. He fell on the couch and was just starting to sleep it off when I saw the wild-horse-race team pulling up to pick Tony up for the W/J Rodeo – he was the team’s rider. I went in and poked him awake. Without even lifting his hat from his face, he got up and headed for the door. As he went out I heard him growling, “Where you guys been? I been waitin’ all morning!”- Don Neal StapletonAt Aspen High School, in the early ’60s, Tony was an athlete who lettered in basketball, football (owning Most Valuable Player presented to him by Doak Walker, the All-American, Heisman Trophy winner and Detroit Lions football player, his senior year), and track (for which he went to the state championships). We were sweethearts back then, and he taught me many life lessons, among which was how to love. He was and is my friend. Obstreperous, cantankerous, curmudgeon, good-looking cowboy, skier, developer, rancher, musician, historian-writer, storyteller, intellectual and lettered, all descriptive words of Tony. I wonder which one he would prefer to one day be remembered by? – Lawren Ethridge Bradford

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