Letter: Something about Mary

On Thursday, my dear pal Mary Hayes passed on. Mary was writing the society column for The Aspen Times the day I rolled into town and was still writing it the day I rolled out 40-something years later.

In the early years, there was no “society” in Aspen. The rich were there, and the famous were there, but it was Times editor and publisher Bil Dunaway’s policy to leave them alone and let them have their privacy. The entire community reflected that policy, and people didn’t make a fuss over them.

In return, they treated everyone as equals; waiters and lift loaders were treated with courtesy and respect and rubbed shoulders with the celebrities in the saloons and at private parties without giving it a second thought. This made for an odd “society” column — it was more of a parody of a society column.

Mary left the celebrities alone and took pictures of the regular folk. If you threw a few burgers on the grill for your friends and invited Mary, she had that week’s column. Of course, it couldn’t last, and Aspen society became stratified like the real world. Mary became what she beheld. She ended up going to the most exclusive highfalutin affairs and taking pictures of rich egos who craved the attention.

I asked her how she kept her food down at those things, and she told me, “I don’t eat much.” Once, while wheedling for a raise, an editor at the Times told me that I was already the second-highest-paid columnist at the paper behind Mary. I gave him a hard look and asked him what was up with that. He explained that advertisers actually wanted to be on the same page as Mary’s column.

Michael Cleverly