Su Lum: Slumming |

Su Lum: Slumming

Everyone at The Aspen Times was shocked and saddened to hear that one of our own had been stricken. Chris Cassatt – photographer, editor, cartoonist – beat lymphoma nine years ago, but it suddenly came roaring back in late November, with malicious intent, and he is ailing.

Chris was a cute, skinny, 24-year-old blond kid when he came to work at the Times in 1970. He was at the very bottom of the pecking order, one of many who came and went and nobody paid much attention to, but Chris didn’t move on – he moved up.

He made himself useful in the darkroom and ended up being our main photographer, the only one who had an accurate photograph of Ted Bundy when he escaped from jail, going on to win many photojournalism awards.

He started his cartoon strips, dealing with local issues at first, then blossoming to the state level and editorial cartoons on national issues.

Chris invented his alter ego, Sal A. Mander, a newt (salamander) with an attitude who ran for public office – mayor, district attorney and governor of Colorado.

I still have a “Sal A. Mander for Governor (Newtist Party)” button on my refrigerator. I doubt very much that Chris himself would have been able to tolerate the hassle or the ennui of actually holding public office, but the scrappy Sal – the perennially doomed candidate – became one of the strongest political voices in the community.

Meanwhile, Chris extended his family membership on the Times staff by marrying Lauren MacDonald, our uber-efficient business manager. Into that union he brought his dogs, Barney and Tootie, and out of the marital union came their two adorable towheaded babies, Alex and Hayley, bringing a family majority to the paper exceeded only by Mary Eshbaugh Hayes, whose five children gave her a one-point advantage.

Chris became editor of The Aspen Flyer, initiating the annual, or semiannual, or whenever-he-felt-like-it yearbook editions, featuring photographs of the staff in various compromising positions, a favorite being a shot of Bil Dunaway reaching into a bag of peanuts to pay his employees.

His dream to become syndicated came true; you’ll find his name today on the nationally famous cartoon strip “Shoe,” our boy who grew up and made it big.

You can show your care and share your memories by emailing Chris at Lauren and the kids (not kids anymore) read all messages aloud to him, and there have already been a lot of them – more than Lauren could possibly reply to individually – but they mean a lot to the whole family.

Here’s a message from the Times to you, Chris. You done good. We’re proud of you. We love you.

Su Lum is a longtime local who wishes it weren’t. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User