Then and now
July 9, 2012
I first visited Aspen in the summer of 1970. My friend Dave and I were on our way to Los Angeles, determined to leave Minneapolis and its brutal winters a distant memory. We fell in love with Aspen. But jobs were scarce, even then, so we continued on to L.A.
Soon employed in sunny California as a substitute teacher, come winter, a funny thing happened. I missed the seasons, the snow! Like a jilted lover, I longed for that quaint, little town in the mountains – Aspen.
I dreamed of schussing down its snowy hills, those same trails that we’d hiked in the summer. So I scrimped and saved and spent any money I earned on ski trips back whenever school let out for any breaks.
I loved the former mining town with its cheap breakfast joints, old-timer restaurants, movies at the opera house, bars, boys and miles and miles of snow-packed ski slopes.
I made friends with waiters, ski instructors, local business owners and other folks and fit right in. So, after getting tenure in L.A. City Schools in 1975, I took a leave, packed up my VW bug and drove off for a whole season of adventure. I found both work and free lodging at the Holiday House with help through the grapevine, joined up with lots of lost souls, ski bunnies and professional skiers, and lived out my dreams for six endless, happy months.
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A few years ago, I returned to Aspen. I barely recognized the town. Gone were the small cafes and unique eateries, replaced by upscale dining spots, jewelry and fur shops and other over-the-top, pricey places.
I couldn’t find the Holiday House and got lost among new condos dotting the landscape. Some things have remained the same: the Hotel Jerome, the popcorn vendor, The Little Nell and, of course, the mountains, those views and that snow, that perfect, pristine, powder snow.
The local folks are still pretty nice, too.
S. Dianne Moritz