St. Pat’s Dinner |

St. Pat’s Dinner

Mary Eshbaugh Hayes
Dishing up desserts are Connie Nostdahl, left, and Linda Keleher. (MEH)

One of the most endearing and enduring traditions in Aspen is the St. Patrick’s Day Dinner at St. Mary Catholic Church. Ever since the church held the first dinner in 1887, multitudes of Aspenites have turned out for the event. Many visiting families even plan their vacations around it. It’s a very friendly affair, with parishioners and friends cooking and serving the meal, and providing the homemade desserts. This year more than 700 dinners were served with the traditional Aspen silver miners’ fare of roast beef and pork, mashed potatoes, green beans, and coleslaw made from a secret church recipe. And, of course, those scrumptious desserts. The children love it, and all come wearing green and many with leprechaun antenna.

Aspen is well represented in the March 2006 issue of Skiing Heritage magazine, the official publication of the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame and Museum. Martie Sterling wrote an article about Aspen’s Highland-Bavarian Lodge, at the juncture of Castle and Conundrum creeks. The lodge was at the base of a ski area with runs down Mount Hayden and Little Annie Basin envisioned by financier Ted Ryan, Olympic bobsledder Billy Fiske and longtime former Aspen local T.J. Flynn. In the winter of 1936-37 they built the lodge and cut a few ski runs. They brought in Andre Roch from Switzerland and Gunther Lange from Italy to chart the surrounding mountains. Roch stayed a year and not only worked for Highland-Bavarian, but also started the first ski school for Aspenites, held ski races and laid out Aspen Mountain’s Roch Run.World War II foiled the plans for the resort, however. Fiske was the first American pilot to die while flying for the RAF in England; Ryan served with the Office of Strategic Services during the war and then went into business on the East Coast; and Flynn eventually wore down. After the war, the Aspen of today was created by members of the 10th Mountain Division, spearheaded by Friedl Pfeifer, ski racers Percy Rideout and Johnny Litchfield, and industrialist Walter Paepcke.

The magazine also includes an article about ski resort advertising and many early Aspen advertisements are featured. Then there is an article about Richard Allen and his Vintage Ski World shop on the Cooper Avenue mall in Aspen. He began collecting ski clothing, equipment and memorabilia before scoring a couple of major scoops. When a Portland store called Pacific Hardware and Sports went out of business, Allen found its cellar stuffed with brand-new merchandise dating back to 1940, most of it in unopened boxes. Then when Steve Knowlton’s collection from his Cafe Kandahar was to be auctioned off in the Denver area, Allen was able to buy the whole lot the day before the auction. He now displays and sells all these treasures in his Aspen shop, a place where tourists and locals enjoy browsing and remembering early skiing days.Received a letter from longtime former Aspenite Victoria Johnson, who has been battling cancer for more than seven years at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Victoria was selected to participate in a project called “Changing the Odds: Living with Advanced and Recurrent Breast Cancer,” which includes a booklet and a DVD. Six women are profiled, with their photograph and the story of their challenge. Victoria was 46 when she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. It was not considered curable but was treatable. As she underwent multiple courses of chemotherapy, the cancer moved to her lungs, then to several sites in her brain, and now has begun to grow again in her breast. After many surgeries and treatments, Victoria says her favorite saying is, “It’s time to use the good china.” Houston-based attorney Bruce Buckley is overseeing much of Victoria’s personal and business affairs during difficult treatments. Anyone wishing to help Victoria in her struggle can contribute to the Victoria Johnson Revocable Living Trust, Buckley, Mathews, White & Howell, LLP, 2401 Fountainview, Suite l000, Houston, TX 77057. Victoria is also making a “Life Book,” a history of her memories and special moments. Anyone wishing to share their photos and memories of special times with her can send them to her at 1933 Woodbury, Houston, TX 77030.Undercurrent … It’s almost time for Aspenites to take off for their vacations … usually to a beach!

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