Su Lum: Slumming
Since my retirement from my ad job, I’ve been bringing home recycle bags full of stuff from my desk drawers, what we used to call “the archives.” One item in the drawers was the first issue of the Aspen Times Daily.The Aspen Times, when it was a Thursday weekly paper, was bursting its seams, and we didn’t know what to do about it. Often the paper would consist of five or six sections, causing the newsboys’ knees to buckle and advertisers to complain that their ads got lost among all the others.Meanwhile, the scandalous mimeographed rag called the Aspen Daily News was turning into something dangerously close to a real newspaper, demonstrably gobbling up a chunk of our potential revenue.If we killed the weekly paper – our mothership, which had served the community for more than a century – and turned it into a daily, what would happen? What would we do with our many subscribers?Enter Dave Price, an uber-eager reporter whom we had stolen from the Daily News. When faced with the dilemma, Price, who later went on to start several successful dailies of his own, said that what we should do was put out a new daily paper in addition to the weekly.In addition to! We hadn’t even thought of that.The gears began grinding and on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 1988 the first issue of what was then called the Times Daily hit the streets. We had kept it a secret, proposing it to advertisers only the day before it came out. Of course, rumors had leaked, and for a couple of weeks our phones had been shrilling, but we could truthfully categorically deny that the weekly paper was “going daily.” The paper’s debut was scheduled to announce the winners of that Tuesday’s county commissioner election. Unfortunately Tuesday brought a major early snow with the result that neither of the daily papers got to the newspaper racks until late morning. The good news was that by then the whole town was searching for our new paper.On the front page, election winners Herschel Ross, Jim True and Wayne Ethridge, all looking very young, are smiling in the snowstorm. On page 2 we ran an extensive police blotter, on page 3 a story about Eve Homeyer being fired as director of the Aspen Medical Foundation.On page 7, the headline reads: “Dukakis bushwacked 54% to 46%,” proof of our priorities.The issue is 24 pages, not bad for a day of selling and, as always with old papers, the ads are the most fun to read.There’s a four-bedroom half duplex near the golf course, for sale for $350,000 by Coates Reid & Waldron; a three-bedroom home on two acres in Emma, $129,000 by Carol Ann Jacobson Realty. An all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch at the Jerome is $13 and the Bank of Aspen is advertising 7.65 percent interest on a 60-day investment of $10,000 or more. Five months later, I started writing this column.
Su Lum is a longtime local who wonders where those 23 years went. Her column still appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at email@example.com.