Vagneur: Lone Star class | AspenTimes.com

Vagneur: Lone Star class

Tony Vagneur
Saddle Sore

During Winterskol 2012, a couple from New York City rented out the entire Hotel Jerome, including its main floor bars, for their daughter’s bat mitzvah celebration. In addition, the father leased the Aspen Recreation Center (owned by the city) for one night so his daughter and her friends could cavort privately around the facility, apparently without having to rub elbows with us common folk.

For me, it’s hard to imagine that kind of elitism, but as attested to by the local papers, it does occur. Contrast that to the joy of a marriage that happened a couple of weeks ago; mind you, the wedding of two people, not just the celebration of one coming of age, and both families managed to pull it off without renting out the entire Jerome, the Aspen Recreation Center or making the local papers. It was done with class, that’s why.

That may not be completely accurate, however, as it’s entirely possible the entire Jerome was totally booked, not as a preconceived request or demand, but as an inevitable matter of course.

You know how those destination weddings go — people need to be put up and fed, especially when the event goes on for four days, or three nights to be more precise. Think about it — 350 guests would take up the entire Jerome and then some, but these folks from Texas managed to work it out on their own, thank you.

Fifteen bridesmaids require 15 groomsmen, just to get those bridesmaids down the aisle and to the wedding altar. And man, let me tell you, what a group of beautiful young women they were. The men were probably good looking, too, but that’s not in my wheelhouse. That’s 30 rooms, right there. Throw in a bunch more folks, like the bride and groom’s families, aunts, uncles, close friends, and before you know it, there’s a crowd.

There was a welcoming party Thursday night followed by a great cocktail reception Friday evening out on the Jerome patio, hosted by the bride’s family. Perhaps you noticed it on your way by — it was a group of people having fun, smiling, shaking hands and regrouping after their arrival from Houston and points beyond. My partner Margaret kept me close, introducing me to about 300 of the 350 guests, and I thought I was doing pretty good, keeping track of some of the names.

After that, there was a huge rehearsal dinner held inside the Jerome, hosted by the groom’s family. Those who hadn’t been at the rehearsal dinner were on their own, but by the time we left the Grand Ballroom after dinner, the others had filled up both watering holes, waiting for the rest of us to join them.

There were luncheons for ladies, breakfasts and lunches for young people, and it all culminated at the Roaring Fork Club with a blacktie wedding followed by a delightful reception. There was some mention made that the groom was an avid golfer.

Texas might have given Aspen a different flavor if Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke hadn’t gotten here first, but it was close. Paepcke knew that the Texans were hot on his heels, wanting to buy up Aspen property, and he admonished Judge William Shaw to hurry up with the Paepcke acquisitions.

During those 1940s years, a group of Texas fishermen were floating down the Roaring Fork, just past the bridge at the bottom of Smith Way and hit a real honey hole of trout, located below a wide bench high above the shoreline. They bought that property, built cool little summer cabins on it and named the place Little Texas. It’s still there. We knew it was summer when the shutters opened on the log cabin windows.

When I was in junior high, my friend Jimmy Gerbaz hooked me up with Texan Billy Hanks and his bevy of beautiful high school women who came to Aspen for the Christmas holidays. It’d be hard to say how many times I fell in love during those visits, but man, I thought life was pretty good.

My high school sweetheart was a girl from Corpus Christi who stole my heart and showed me a bit more of Texas than I had previously experienced. Come on, that means I used to visit her in Texas.

Margaret, my partner and best friend in life, is a Houstonian who spent her youthful summers in Woody Creek, with visits at cow camp, and it sparked the thought that maybe we should meet, although we never did until a few years ago.

I’m not a Texan, but I know a lot of Texans and I like ’em. If I keep my boots clean, maybe someday they’ll give me a probationary lone star to wear on my snap-button shirt or ski parka. Until then, I’m gonna keep on being a Colorado boy.

Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at ajv@sopris.net.


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