Vagneur: A big day for Twirp |

Vagneur: A big day for Twirp

Tony Vagneur
Saddle Sore
Tony Vagneur

And the people came from all around — yes, they did. 

Encased in steel, glass, and plastic, cruise control keeping the surging beat of the roaring diesel engine, we passed small towns of western Colorado without stopping, without talking much, and with a common purpose in mind. 

Sitting in the passenger seat was Skip Bell, legendary valley bartender of such places as The Pub, the Red Onion, Galena Street East, founder and long-time owner of The Pour House. He told me things I didn’t know. I spent so much time in the Red Onion and Pour House bending his ear, he could likely and legitimately claim to never want to talk to me again.   

“What kind of crowd do you think this will be?” asks Skip. “Anybody’s guess — probably a mixed bag — Twirp had a lot of friends, did a lot of things.” That’s almost an understatement. Horseshoer, singer, and musician, ski patrolman, Coal Basin bus driver, drove the Pitkin Iron ore route for years, what else? We’re probably missing a few, for sure. You could call him Adrian, but the best that could get you would be a quizzical look of “Who the hell you talking about?”

Twirp Anderson, the man for whom we were all gathering, was above all, a great friend to so many.

Facing an end-of-life journey, he was there for his celebration, seated in the shade under a top-sided tent, graciously accepting condolences, reminisces, and blessings from tons of folks. The long line of people waiting to have a short visit with him never ceased. 

Western Colorado Botanical Gardens — what a great place for a get-together of this kind. Plenty of room on the freshly-green grass for chairs and standing around, a big stage up front for myriad musicians and storytellers. The full account never came my way, but clearly it took a lot of dedication, work, and volunteers to pull this all together.  

Twirp’s son Eric met everyone at the entrance with a strong handshake and a big smile, and there we were. I was a bit shy, wondering how the flow was going. Skip and I started working our way around the outside toward the huge food table, and then wham! It hit. 

People we’d known for decades were everywhere, coming up shaking hands, big hugs, huge smiles, and to be honest, the outpouring of friendship and caring shown for each other left no choice but to be totally engulfed in the moment. If you’ve ever wondered about going to the afterlife somewhere on the other side of the curtain, perhaps heaven or somewhere like it, and seeing all your friends, this is what it might be like. It was, no kidding, beyond description.

On the stage, a familiar voice was throwing out tidbits, educating the crowd on the food location, the beautiful weather, and the music soon to be forthcoming. Bo Hale, you know Bo, great musician and fast-talking emcee, kept order with his smooth announcements and interspersed songs. He’d invited me to bring my accordion along, but a sore shoulder spared the crowd.  

The stage was large, shaded by an appreciated roof, and was, for most of the afternoon, crowded with an A-list of valley musicians from today and going back to the days when live music could be found almost everywhere in town. Such a group showed the strong appreciation Twirp’s fellow musicians had for all the times they’d shared a stage together somewhere or had heard him perform. As Buck Deane would say, “These people didn’t show up because they needed the practice.” It would take a lot of ink and space just to mention the names and credentials of those appearing.

The always effervescent and sexy Jackie Parker was there, making the rounds with her camera, being what appeared to be the official photographer, but then again, Jackie always captures the mood of the crowd. She is a great ambassador for enthusiasm. She was followed closely behind by good-looking author and well-known horseman Susan McCoy.

Bon voyage, Twirp. There is no doubt your legacy will be forever embedded in the annals of western Colorado. Maybe you and Charlie, my bay Clydesdale, will have a chance to get together over days gone by. Love you, buddy!

Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at


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