Marolt: So, we’d rather be remembered as a pile of mammoth bones?
I like to read Tony Vagneur’s and Lo Semple’s columns about medium-old Aspen. Occasionally, I’ll have a quick glance at one of my own. The stories bring back lots of memories, real and imagined. It makes me wish that someone who grew up in Snowmass Village had a newspaper column to chronicle their adventures here. But, the population of potential longtime locals who wiled away the best years of their lives here is tiny and, apparently, none of them has the inclination to write about it, and that fairly explains why I, an Aspen boy, continues to act as their surrogate.
It’s a shame because we are discarding our history. If nobody knows about it, did it really happen? I know there are many stories that need to be told and need to be preserved. I’ve heard lots of them at cocktail parties and around local dinner tables, but those are not public venues, so few can hear them firsthand and nobody would believe them if I repeated them.
Why we never considered a Snowmass Historical Society to fill the space given to us, kicking and screaming, by the developers of Baseless Village and instead insisted on creating a museum for dinosaur-wanna-be bones is not so much a mystery as it is sort of a crime for which we get punished instead of the perpetrators. “Missed Opportunities” — It could be the first and probably the largest exhibit at our history museum.
I know our kids love living in the village but I think it’s hard for them to form an identity here. Ask them where they are from and I think most will say “Aspen.”
It’s not envy for the more famous neighboring town they don’t live in. It is because most of the important things that occur in their young lives take place in Aspen.
There’s not much that can cure that. Kids’ lives revolve around their schools. It doesn’t matter if it’s stuff that happens in class, on the ball fields and courts, the stage, dances or just hanging around the parking lot. These things are their lives. You can add hanging out on weekends and after school to the list, but this is also where our town falls short. Kids don’t hang out here because there’s nothing for them to do, or more correctly, there’s nobody for them to see here. Their peers hang in Aspen. That’s where they go to be in the know.
We have a great rec center, but what high school kid will find a thrill in that compared to sneaking into the St. Regis hot tub after a cheap, quick dinner at New York Pizza? We have bowling in Snowmass Village, which is great if you are earning a steady income, but it’s too expensive for kids to make a regular activity. We also have lots of great mountain biking, but I don’t know many kids who are into cardio workouts. Golf? Tennis, anyone? Sure, but the popular and populated programs are all in Aspen. I don’t think it’s hard to see why our kids are not going to document the village history unless we are interested in their sleeping, eating and homework habits.
This is not what the village is all about, though. Snowmass Village really got going in the ’70s and ’80s. There was a young and vibrant group of people who moved here in those years and many still live here. It is such a strong and tight-knit group, whether they realize it or not, that an outsider has a difficult time assimilating. I have called this berg home for nearly half my life and still feel like an outsider. It’s not that the true locals are unfriendly or uninviting. It is that people who have shared significant experiences form a bond that is impossible for someone who wasn’t there to connect with.
Here is where history, official or not, can be an invaluable tool to build community. Think of tribes in ancient history sitting around fires telling stories for their own benefit and that of their young members. More than entertainment, it was an initiation for those who weren’t there to have the experience first-hand. It brought people together and made them feel a part of something important. It speaks volumes that people who move to Aspen have the opportunity to learn more about Aspen history than I know.
Maybe the prosperity of Snowmass Village is more dependent on something besides big hotels and timeshares. Our soul is deeper than an underground parking structure full of cars.
Roger Marolt loves stories about old Snowmass Village. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.