This week in Aspen History: The bootleggers |

This week in Aspen History: The bootleggers

One 2.5" x 3.5" b/w photograph of two cowboys drinking from bottles, Wurtz Family Ranch, circa 1925.
Aspen Historical Society

“Judge Shaw hands bootleggers a nice, fat jolt!” proclaimed the Aspen Times on February 18, 1927.

“Oh, mamma, Tuesday was a hard day for the heretofore saucy and nervy bootlegging gentry. Last Friday night young Lawrence Gold, more familiarly known as ‘Cactus,’ acted as a whiskey messenger for a bunch of young hyenas who think it necessary to get drunk in order to skip the light fantastic toe in a proper manner. After being provided the necessary cash to purchase one pint of the hootch that kills, ‘Cactus’ started for his favorite bootlegger.

“But, how sad to relate, when the gent with the prickly name was returning to the dance hall Marshal Wagner picked him up and lugged him down to the county jail, hootch and all. After rusticating in jail from Friday night until Tuesday afternoon Cactus decided to tell where he purchased the bottle of hootch that the youthful imbibers had sent him for.

“Therefore and consequently the proprietor of the old Spanjol dump on Cooper avenue, a Mr. Tony Skufca, was arrested and brought into the county court Tuesday afternoon and arraigned on two charges. Towit: 1. Did have and keep in his possession certain intoxicating liquors. 2. Did have and keep for sale certain intoxicating liquors on or about February 11, 1927.

“Cactus was sworn and testified he had bought the pint bottle of whiskey as exhibited in court from Tony Skufca at his place of business on the night of Feb. 11th, the night of the dance; that the bottle was in his pocket when Marshal Wagner arrested him, etc., etc.

“Marshal Wagner also testified to the details of the arrest and identified the bottle of hootch as the same he had taken out of Cactus’s pocket.

“All through the taking of the evidence the defendant Tony Skufca seemed to be tickled pink and to take some of the pink out of his smile

“Judge Shaw quietly fined him $100 on the first count or three months in the county jail; and $200 or six months on the second count.

“After wiping off his supercilious smile Tony said he didn’t have any money and he was turned over to Sheriff Bruin who placed him behind steel bars.

“And now comes Cactus or Lawrence Gold- Owing to his telling where he had bought the bottle of hootch and, it being his first offense

“Judge Shaw fined the young man $300 and one year in jail, but suspended sentence during good behavior. However, should Cactus again act as a hootch messenger or become intoxicated or otherwise act in an unseemly manner, he will start serving his sentence without further trial. So, believe me, Cactus is going to be real good from this time on. He’d better be!”

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