People of the Times
Jack dePagter was born and raised in Holland and he spent World War II with the French Underground. Coming to Aspen after the war, he bought a Victorian cottage right under Lift One and opened it as a hostel. A Dutch wooden shoe hung over the doorway, and he called the place Holland House.
Known as “The Grand Icicle,” Jack was one of the founders of Wintersköl in the bleak winter of 1951. Jack was the bartender at the Hotel Jerome and some Aspenites were grousing about the lack of tourists. They decided to create a winter festival to draw people to Aspen, and Wintersköl was born. Many of the events are still the same, including the Torchlight Parade, the Wintersköl Parade (the Holland House float was always one of the best) and the canine costume parade.Through the years Jack and his wife, Anneke, added to their house and then moved it to land by Castle Creek and built a larger lodge. Jack loves to hike and to paint. He also taught Sunday School for many years in the Aspen Community Church. He has written a book titled “Destination Aspen” in which he recounts the adventures of his life. Mary Eshbaugh Hayes
Bil Dunaway was a great newspaper publisher and has a huge heart, but what he was known best for around The Aspen Times was his fiscal conservatism. On any given day, he could be found up on the roof dabbing tar on a leak, shoveling the sidewalk, repairing a toilet with baling wire or whacking the furnace into compliance. Often when talking with me at my desk he would, unable to bear the waste, reach out and turn off my electric typewriter.One morning, shortly after I had pointed out that his vinyl office chair was in tatters, we found what appeared to be a crop circle on the carpet of the ad office. Bil had cut out a circle of newsprint, laid it on the floor, placed his chair in the center and spray-painted it, leaving a ring of black sunburst.God love him, he is the least pretentious person in Aspen. Su Lum
Letter from Aspen, Colo., April 17, 1881Dear Jule:I have been here a couple weeks so I will try to let you know what little I can of Aspen. I will begin at Denver. I left there in the morning about half sick. Reached Leadville 7:30 pm. I had intended to stop in Leadville one day to look around the City but a couple of hours the next morning satisfied me as it was a cloudy day and very muddy and cold. I then took the stage for Independence 35 miles but the snow got so soft before night that we had to stop at the foot of the range 10 miles from Independence. We started again at three o’clock in the morning in order to cross the range while the snow was frozen. We reached Independence for breakfast, and it was a hard old breakfast for a fellow that had a hard days walk to do here the less. I left my baggage for the jack train fitted on my gum boots and prepared for a snowey tussel for Aspen. Reached here about five o’clock and found the boys all well.A. D. Bourquin(letter is edited full letter on file at Aspen Historical Society.)
One late afternoon, my cousins, Wayne and Clyde Vagneur, and I were having a libation in Chisholm’s Saloon, in the basement under Banana Republic, with the inimitable John Wayne. Nick McGrath, a lawyer who had clerked for Thurgood Marshall and who, in those days, wore a quite obvious ponytail, sidled up to us and in a way reminiscent of the old West said something to the effect that, in case we hadn’t noticed, Aspen was changing and cowboys really didn’t figure in its future. He said it with a grin and mostly at us Vagneurs, but John Wayne, feeling less than hospitable, grabbed him by the collar and threatened to throw him up the stairs. Nick left quietly, but years later he chided me by saying, “You knew we would be friends one day and you should have stuck up for me that time.” Tony Vagneur
Harley was an Air Force brat often rumored to be heir to the Baldwin Piano fortune. Harley had a reputation, among those who didn’t know him very well, for being a tough business man and rather stingy with his time and his money. In truth he was a soft touch and his generosity was the stuff of stories that will live for many generations. He just had an infuriating tendency to name-drop that gave him an aura of snobbism. It did put me off on many occasions, and I would leave the room feeling “less than” for not knowing of what he spake AND not wanting to admit it to him. I always attributed this annoyance to his need for approval.At his core, Harley cared desperately about every living thing. I remember catching him with tears in his eyes, deep in a canyon on a camping trip to Lake Powell in 1970. There was a snowy egret perched high above us. It had reminded H.B. of the egret that had died when he and I both had jobs feeding the animals at the Syracuse Zoo during college. Georgia Herrick Hanson
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On March 16, Aspen Words presents “The Art of Food Writing,” an online panel discussion among luminary writers who make sense of the world through food.