Obituary: Charles Daniel “Peabody” Brown
March 6, 2021
Charles Daniel “Peabody” Brown, an Aspen resident in the 1970s and 1980s, regarded as legendary by many, died of natural causes March 6 in San Diego.
He was 73 years old.
Charlie Brown (who only grudgingly acknowledged the cartoon character of the same name, insisting, “It was my name first”) came to Aspen in 1972 on board a hippie school bus. Both the bus and its passengers settled into town for the long term.
Physically small, with long flowing reddish blond hair and a mustache to match, Charlie Brown in the 1970s looked much like a miniature Buffalo Bill — although his small stature, then and always, was vastly exceeded by the size of his character, spirit, and creative genius.
Charlie’s longest Aspen gig was at the now-vanished Aspen Bookstore in the now-vanished Aspen Lumber building, across Mill Street from the now-vanished Sardy’s Hardware. Of them all — businesses, buildings, and Charlie Brown — Mill Street alone remains.
Charles Daniel Brown (he adopted “Peabody” as a middle name later in life) was born Nov 1, 1947, in Mahopac, NY. Three days later his family returned to Cuba where they had been living. In 1959, following the Cuban Revolution, the family moved to Mexico and then to Ecuador. After finishing his primary education in Ecuador, Charlie came back to the United States to attend prep school.
He then attended New York University, but left school when his sense of adventure and the lure of the burgeoning hippie culture of the late 1960s became too strong to resist. It was then that he joined up with the school-bus crew that eventually landed him in Aspen — but only after a multitude of cross-country adventures.
In 1986, Charlie left Aspen and moved to San Diego, where he took advantage of his absolute native fluency in both English and Spanish to start a career as a court interpreter.
He worked as an interpreter for the San Diego Municipal Court and the San Diego Superior Court for 23 years. After his official retirement, he did freelance work for the San Diego District Federal Court. The high respect with which he was regarded in his profession was reflected in his service for several terms on the board of the California Court Interpreter Association.
In California, as in Aspen, he was loved and admired for his intelligence, wit, and dedication.
It could be noted that his shift between these two very different parts of his life — from free-living legend in Aspen to dedicated professional in San Diego — reflected his varied life experiences: from pre-revolutionary Cuban life to Ecuadorian tranquility, to no-holds-barred hippie and, finally, respected professional. He seemed at ease in all worlds, with his wild sense of adventure and his brilliant bi-lingual intelligence adding a special touch of creative style and sophistication to all he touched.
Late one night more than 50 years ago, in an episode whose specific inspiration need not be detailed here (but which was undeniably connected to a Grateful Dead concert sponsored by the Hell’s Angels, an event at which Charlie’s participation — on stage, surrounded by Hell’s Angels, while the Dead played on — was itself somewhat legendary), Charlie Brown left his acid-tripping housemates to their own devices and made his way upstairs to his room.
“I lay down on my bed,” Charlie later recalled, “and the bed turned into a silver coffin and flew out the window and on into the cosmos.”
Now that vision has come to pass.
And in this small corner of the cosmos, he is deeply missed.
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