Tony Vagneur: Making another run to the Aspen dump … for history’s sake |

Tony Vagneur: Making another run to the Aspen dump … for history’s sake

Tony Vagneur
Saddle Sore

How many times have you heard it said, “He should write a book.” Or, “Why didn’t we get the stories when we had a chance?” Liz Stapleton has said to me, at least 50 times over the years, “We should write a book!” The last time was about 40 years ago.

Tragically, I never wrote down those stories that she and I were laughing over, and it’s almost impossible to re-create the ambiance that brought the anecdotes out in the first place. But Liz, I do remember one that involved a stuck truck and Herb Hatch, up on the Divide, just so you know I was listening.

A couple of weeks ago, Saddle Sore penned a column about the Pitkin County dump (solid waste center), and it was great to know that it recalled fond memories for many Aspen folks. One of those was Anthony Hume, a longtime friend and local (now an expatriate) who, growing up, spent summers at the family home on Lake Avenue.

Anthony has many interesting tales of “old” Aspen, and I have encouraged him many times to write his own book. Perhaps he is contemplating such a task. In the meantime, he sent me the following missive about the Aspen dump, which I think bears repeating, simply for the historical significance and entertainment value.

Before we begin, may I say that the football field mentioned in Anthony’s tribute, below, has moved down the hill a bit from Anthony’s memory, new turf and all, but Anthony hasn’t been out there in a few years. Trust me, for decades the football games were played on top of the old dump, about where the Aspen Recreation Center is now located.

“I have a lot of dump memories. My dump memories are of various places, but mostly from the dump which is now the football field on Maroon Creek for the Aspen High School. There was no municipal garbage service. At the time we thought the dump was way, way out of town, but it was an easy trip.

“We went once a week, loading the cans into back of the ’47 Jeep and usually managed a flat tire on each trip. My father’s solution was to buy an extra hub with a tire and an innertube. (I am adding “innertube” to the list of words that date me.) So, we had six tires, four on the car, one spare, and one at Kopp’s garage being patched.

“It was a curious place, a place my mother noted just second to the Post Office where you could meet everyone you knew.

“The dump was where people went, besides disposing of trash, to find things like parts to stoves and light fixtures. Sardy’s only carried styles of things for a year or so, so to find a hinge, say, to match the others on a door there was only the dump.

“Everybody foraged there. I found Elizabeth Paepcke there walking around the mounds with a stick to turn things over. She was looking for a particular part for a screen door (yet another term which dates me). I unloaded my car load and left, not staying long enough to find out whether she was successful.

“Fred Fisher was often there, looking for things he could recycle into something else. I believe his trip to the dump required putting on shoes, something I never saw on his feet in his shop.

“For a number of years, in the mid-50s, our neighbor living in the Marquand studio was Syzmon Goldberg, the great violinist and later conductor, and his wife. He played a Stradivarius and was a major contributor to the quality of music at the summer festival. They were captured and imprisoned by the Japanese for the duration of the World War II, sometimes separated, sometimes together. Mrs. Goldberg had to hide the valuable violin under her skirt to keep it from being confiscated. In captivity, in order to lift prisoners’ morale’s, he organized little orchestras, playing whatever they had or could make in little concerts.

“My mother said it would be unseemly for them to have to go to the dump and volunteered the Hume boys. So, once a week we stopped at the studio and took their trash with ours.

“At the end of one summer, the Goldbergs presented us with a record (vinyl) of violin sonatas played by Mr. Goldberg and inscribed ‘To Andrew, Anthony, and Alexander Hume, the best garbage collectors in Aspen.’ I still have that record. It is an unexpected recommendation, but I’ll take it!”

This puts a little perspective on “Glamour Gulch”! No garbage service before 1961. Hauling your own trash. Visiting at the dump with your friends and neighbors as the foul-smelling smoke tickled your nose. The dump burned, smoked and stunk 24/7.

Thank you, Anthony Hume!

Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at