A light shines on Aspen | AspenTimes.com

A light shines on Aspen

Tony Vagneur

Christmas Eve is but a few hours away and you’d think a grinch such as myself would be able to come up with something of good cheer. When I was a teenager, the Aspen cops would shine a searchlight on Shadow Mountain for a little while, in celebration of the holiday. The rest of the time (before Aspen could afford radios), the same spotlight shining on those jagged cliffs meant a serious breach of the peace somewhere in town and the cop on duty, should he eventually notice the light, was to go back to the office and find out what was going down. When the post office was in the Amen Wardy space on the ground floor of the Elks Building, creaky wooden floor and all, my grandmother and great-aunt would always make sure I said hello to the one and only police officer in town, John Loushin. He was a nice guy in a blue uniform, topped with the shiny-billed cap that is universally recognized as the stamp of a true “beat” officer. I wonder what his log book could have looked like: helped a couple of guys home after an early afternoon game of whist at Pope Rowland’s bar, across the street from city hall, or investigated a fender bender in the West End. If something needed fixing back then, the guys involved usually took care of it, leaving Officer Loushin free to concentrate on the other goings on around town. Nobody wanted to get him up late at night to referee some dumb-ass dispute that could be settled otherwise. He’d remember you for years, no matter the validity of your complaint. If you left Loushin (and the guys who followed him) out of the picture, Western justice prevailed, a concept that still seems to have a certain charm to it, just from the images it conjures up. Sipping beer a few years ago in the Red Onion, a friend of mine noticed his recently stolen skis locked in the rack of a nearby parked car. A little detective work turned up the car owner’s workplace and a polite request to move the heap brought him to the street. By the time it was over, the thief had apologized profusely, had sustained significant bruising to his body, and was asking to be mercifully delivered to the cops, or so the story goes. I’d bet he never stole another pair of skis.There has been some talk around town about a snowboarder/skier hit-and-run that took place on Aspen Mountain recently. That’s one of those dumb-ass things mentioned above that begs to be taken care of off the grid. It should be said that if the perpetrator is identified, he will be officially barred for life from all Aspen Skiing Company mountains, not to mention the legal ramifications he’ll face as a miscreant. Think that one over, smart-ass hit-and-run guy, and before you let go of the thinking, be advised that there is a rather vigilant group of die-hard skiers around here who could, more than likely, overhaul your legs in a way that would preclude any more snowboarding, anyway.It’s hard to detail exactly how we went from a one-cop town to a 50-cop drug bust in a short span of time, but surely we did, one foot after the other. If John Loushin, Marvin Hoagland, Chris Kralicek or any of those other boys from earlier ago had chased somebody down on Main Street with red lights and siren blaring, they’d have been vilified in the papers, just as harshly as Loren Ryerson has been, for enforcing laws that everybody thought applied to people in other towns, but not here.I guess the mistake was in not turning on the Shadow Mountain spotlight, Chief, just to let everyone know you’re diligently working at your job. Keep on shining, folks! Oh, yeah, Merry Christmas, too.Tony Vagneur wonders why we like to complicate things. Read him here on Saturdays and send mail to ajv@sopris.net

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