Roger Marolt: Learning we are a real town the hardware way

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

“Ray says the paint is ready.” It was a text message from my wife reminding me we live in a real town.

Snowmass Village does not look like a place people live for long periods of time. I don’t mean that we don’t have old-timers, although I suppose that depends on what you consider “old” to be. The older I get the younger my neighbors are. And, neither do I mean that the village is a dangerous or radioactive place where life expectancy is below average due to unchecked gang activity or clandestine dumping of waste that has poisoned the soil we tread upon; not withstanding Base Village which may have polluted our soul but we will physically survive it.

What I mean is that this town doesn’t appear to be a place where honest-to-goodness citizens live. It comes across like a clay soil garden where roots claw out near the surface providing enough nourishment to get folks sprouted. But after that they may fall over for lack of girth in their stalks, and the first strong wind might then carry them back to where their seeds fell from the family tree. At least that is the impression of a 28 year resident struggling to get his bearings.

I’m not wrong about this impression. The Town Center is on the western edge of the city limits. Town Park is between a ranch and rodeo grounds. We don’t have a downtown. There is no Main Street. We don’t have a school. Our only church is non-denominational. We don’t have a Little League team. And, our biggest event is popularly known as JAS Aspen and every artist who performs in it leaves us with, “We love you, Aspen!”

None of these things are bad, they just don’t promote conviction when you are out of town and it comes down to admitting to an inquiring stranger that you live in Snowmass Village or claiming Aspen as your hometown. I’m not complaining. I love living here. But you have to admit it can be difficult to identify with this awkward little town that is not comfortable with itself in even the most casual setting.

This started to change for me a few weeks ago when I went up to fill my tank at the Conoco before heading deep into the most rugged part of our mountains for a weekend in a remote cabin more isolated than a Raiders fan in the south stands at Mile High Stadium, or whatever non-fluent fans in Broncos country call it now.

While the tank was filling, I’ll be dad-gummed if I didn’t look down at my tire and see a nail bored into the tread.

It seemed like a dumb question to ask since we live in a time where a service station is one of the least likely places on the planet to find any of that, but I was in a jam and wasn’t thinking clearly so I asked about a tire repair. Imagine my surprise when the attendant said, “We can fix it while you wait.”

At that moment, it was like I found the last piece to the jigsaw puzzle under the sofa a year after we donated the rest of the worthless puzzle to the thrift shop because, after all of our hard work on it, we couldn’t bear to throw it out. I was at a full-service gas station with a garage! And, it’s been here the whole time! If that was not a sure sign that I was in a real town, the only other explanation for it would be that I was dead and on my way to Heaven or dreaming on my feet, feeling the after-effects of pain medication from life-saving emergency surgery.

Neither of those seemed plausible, so I had to be in a real town, after all!

Getting back to my wife’s text, Ray runs the hardware store on weekends, and I guess other times, too, but I only go there on Saturday mornings so I’m not sure what goes on at other times. Sometimes I only buy a handful of nails for an excuse to catch up on the town’s happenings. But, that is beside the point. Our guest room needed painting and my wife found a color she liked and, on a lark, she called Ray, not expecting them to even sell paint up there, and Ray had her all fixed up so fast that I was able to stop by after my oil change to pick it up. It’s just incredible! Now, if we only had a barbershop.

Roger Marolt thinks the hardware store and a barbershop might be just the community benefits to be housed in our Discovery Center. Email him at


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