People of the Times | AspenTimes.com

People of the Times

Courtesy Aspen Historical Society The George Ford Pharmacy.

George R. ForddeceasedDuring the mining boom, George Ford arrived with little, established a drugstore and invested wisely in various mining interests. His apparent outgoing congeniality won over many of Aspen’s leading citizens. In fact, many were eager to request Ford’s aid in investment advice, to the point of turning over large sums of money and in some cases even entrusting their bank accounts to him. But rumors began to fly when Ford mysteriously left town. The Aspen Times reported in October 1891 that, “The name of George Ford will be remembered for many a long day in Aspen, and his very long head in financial matters will give him precedence over all topics for the next six months. His work done in the past two years stamps him as the cleverest and at the same time the galliest (sic) bunko man and flim-flamer that the West has ever produced, for his operations, which have embraced nearly all of the crimes known to the calendar, have been covering the major portion of his stay in the city.”

Ford was eventually arrested in Chicago and returned to Aspen for trial. The newspapers had a field day with speculation of his misdeeds and it was even suggested that George had managed to sell the awnings off the old courthouse and pocket the funds before leaving town. Surprisingly, George Ford was acquitted by the jury. Larry Fredrick

Jasmin Kyana Hanson2000-presentJasmin is lucky to be able to claim citizenship in two countries. She was born in Australia and her mom sounds funny when she talks. Her dad grew up in Aspen and so she is Aussie-American by birthright. She is also my granddaughter and the light of my life.Jasmin went to Washington, D.C., with Gramma (and Grandad too) when she was 4, so we could watch the Indians parade in the National Mall. It was her first trip away from mom and dad and she was very brave. One night, when it was very dark, she shook me and asked me to take her to the bathroom. I sleepily told her she was a big girl and could go by herself. She thought for a minute and then she said, “Bambi’s mother always goes out into the field first to make sure it is safe for Bambi.” Needless to say, I was up and out of bed in a heartbeat. Georgia Hanson

Natalie Gignoux(dates unknown)Natalie, a tall, powerful-looking woman, was the owner of the Little Percent Taxi Company back in the 1950s. She kept her hair cut short and always wore blue jeans, tennis shoes and a short-sleeved work shirt. We understood that being a woman and running a crew of male taxi drivers probably took a predictable “look,” a certain resilience of personality. One night during a school talent presentation in the old Red Brick School, Natalie impressed us with her strength as well. As she left the gym, she walked by the weight mat and casually, with one arm, bent down and picked up a barbell that weighed about 125 pounds. She lifted it about knee-high before gently setting it back down again. The three or four of us who witnessed this exercise have been impressed ever since. Tony Vagneur

Stefan Albouy1960-1994Stefan Albouy had a dream.

As a boy growing up in the East End of Aspen, at the foot of Smuggler Mountain, he played in the tunnels of the Smuggler Mine. He and his pals dug tunnels in their parents’ yards.His dream was to grow up and reopen the Smuggler Mine, the silver mine that produced the largest nugget ever mined, the mine that was one of the top 10 silver mines in the United States that produced high-grade ore.Stefan did that. For more than 10 years he held the lease on the Smuggler Mine. He not only reopened the mine, but he and his friends got it into good enough shape that they could give tours, which became a favorite pastime for people visiting Aspen. The group of young men, called the Aspen Mining Corporation, also reopened the Compromise Mine on Aspen Mountain and added that to their tours.

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Stefan committed suicide a few years ago, but the others keep tunneling, hoping that the bonanza is just around the corner. Mary Eshbaugh Hayes

Dr. Harold Whitcomb1926-presentHarold Whitcomb, M.D., known as “Dr. Whit,” is an Aspen original known for moth-eaten raccoon coats, gyroscopic dancing at the Onion and great compassion. In addition to being a brilliant internist (he is my brother), he’s always been ahead of his time. In Aspen’s pre-obstetrician days, he delivered babies and told startled fathers-to-be, “Of course you can assist in the delivery room” (very avant-garde in the early ’60s). The arrival of our own last child, Sarah, was akin to an Animal House party. It was ski season. Husband Ken was swamped with skiers at the Heatherbed, so guest Johnny Howell rushed me to the hospital. Virgil Gould, M.D., was in attendance, along with several friendly nurses and, of course, Whit.”Come on in,” he beckoned an ashen-faced Johnny. There was a lot of chatter. This was the height of the hippie era. Outside the door, a group of eight sat cross-legged on the floor, chanting mantras. I believe one played the sitar. As I was deep-breathing, my life in disarray, Whit leaned down and crowed, “Honey, you’ll never guess who’s here – Scotty Kimmick from Philadelphia!” There, in my face, was Scotty. And from the scales in the corner, adding to the cacophony, came the squalls of an 8-pound baby girl. Martie Sterling