Dr. Robert Oden, 1922 – May 18, 2008

 

Bob Oden 1922May 18, 2008

Dr. Bob Oden (that is pronounced ODane for non-Scandinavians) is one of the kindest, most beloved physicians in Aspen a description he shares gladly with his close friend, Harold Whitcomb, aka Dr. Whit. The stories of his generosity and caring would fill many books as he has extended the principles of the Hippocratic oath to every facet of his life.

My husband tells me he “got to go to college” because of Dr. Bob. While Aspen stories abound about the good doctor, not many know this one. Bob was serving as chief flight surgeon in the Air Force during the Korean War. He was appalled to discover that his wounded colleagues were not getting proper care and seemed to have been forgotten. He lobbied acquaintance General Curtis LeMay (who was unaware of the veterans’ plight) to assure that proper benefits were allocated by the government. As a result, the G.I. Bill was successfully carried through the U.S. Congress, and many veterans were deservedly rewarded.

Dr. Bob served for many years as a U.S. Ski Team doctor and has been inducted into the national, Colorado, and Aspen ski halls of fame. He holds other honors too many to list. However, his personal sense of accomplishment comes not with recognition but with the pleasure of watching his handiwork give success to people’s lives.

Georgia Hanson

Bridger Gile 1999

 

Bridger Gile 1999present

Hi, my name is Bridger Gile. After being featured in two Warren Miller Films, winning a NASTAR national title and skiing 80 days a year, I am finally attending kindergarten. At first I was worried that school was going to squeeze my ski time, but like any true Aspen local, I think I’ve figured out a way to get in plenty of vertical half-time kindergarten and the new Deep Temerity lift at Highlands!

I can’t wait for winter, although summer hasn’t been so bad. I’ve been playing soccer, golf, competing on the swim team, riding my bike, and working on my cliff-hucking (jumping the punchbowl at the Grottos). I even got to go to France to see Lance Armstrong win the Tour. That was exciting!

Wax up those skis and I’ll see you on the hill soon.

(written by Bridger 2005 – with a little help!)

Amous Bourquin 1857 to 1943

 

Amous Bourquin 18571943

Letter from Aspen, Colo., April 17, 1881

Dear Jule:

I have been here a couple weeks so I will try to let you know what little I can of Aspen. I will begin at Denver. I left there in the morning about half sick. Reached Leadville 7:30 pm. I had intended to stop in Leadville one day to look around the City but a couple of hours the next morning satisfied me as it was a cloudy day and very muddy and cold. I then took the stage for Independence 35 miles but the snow got so soft before night that we had to stop at the foot of the range 10 miles from Independence. We started again at three o’clock in the morning in order to cross the range while the snow was frozen. We reached Independence for breakfast, and it was a hard old breakfast for a fellow that had a hard days walk to do here the less. I left my baggage for the jack train fitted on my gum boots and prepared for a snowey tussel for Aspen. Reached here about five o’clock and found the boys all well.

A. D. Bourquin

 

(letter is edited full letter on file at Aspen Historical Society.)

Bill Heron – 1897 to 1970’s

 

Bill Herron 1897circa 1970s

Bill Herron was an Aspen-born, lifelong silver miner who staunchly believed that the mining glory days in his beloved hometown would return.

As a newcomer in the early 1950s, I first saw Bill and a few old-timers clustered around the brass spittoon wisely provided by the postmaster, Alton Beck, in the post office (now Amen Wardy’s site). They were peering through the steamy window, watching skiers on Aspen Mountain. They used the P.O. as a warm place to meet and talk. “Look at them crazy snowsliders. You ask me, they got rocks in their heads, messing around like that!”

That was Bill Herron addressing his cronies. It was mystifying to them that these strangers were paying money to play in the snow, on the same steep mountainside that all the miners had to climb to get to work during the “good old days.”

I met Bill at his mother’s home on Main Street (now Herron Apartments). He lived with Cassie, his 85-year-old mother, but his real headquarters was the Red Onion. Since our family’s bed-and-breakfast inn was across the street, I’d visit with Cassie often and hear the latest gossip.

Bill and his pals took comfort in “Beer Gulch,” sharing pitchers and moodily recalling how things used to be before the music people and snowsliders discovered Aspen. Beer was the drink of choice, unless someone stood them to something a bit stronger. It was beer, and Bill’s fondness for it, that was undoubtedly the reason the town marshal took Bill’s driver’s license away: “For his own good and that of the rest of town too.”

His ancient Ford was retired among Cassie’s lilac bushes, between the rhubarb patch and the woodshed. “When are you going to get rid of that thing?” she’d ask. Bill would shrug, “Don’t know, maybe when I get my license back.”

Almost every night, Bill would carry a hot meal home to his mother. He’d get the cook to wrap up the Onion’s special, and he’d walk clear across town with it, through stormy weather, if need be. It would always be a surprise meal for Cassie, because she never knew when he’d arrive or what he’d bring.

His Irish charm and inborn gallantry was a delight. There was always a slight bow, a tip of his hat and a flattering word when we met. He complimented our children and our “lucky husbands.” He was a gentleman.

Bill moved to a boarding house in Glenwood Springs when Cassie died in 1962. We’d see him down at one of the riverside bars, where his portrait hung on the wall and he still held forth with a diminishing group of old-timers. He’d insist on buying us a beer, and we’d try to satisfy his curiosity about Aspen’s goings on.

When we asked about him a few months later, a grizzled old man mournfully shook his head.

“Old Bill has gone and died left us for good.”

Jony Larrowe

Al S. Lamb – 1855 to 1940

 

Al S. Lamb 18551940 by Buzz Cooper and Larry Fredrick

In late 1886 or early 1887, Al Lamb, a pharmacist, decided to cast his lot with the new silver boom at Aspen. The Lamb Drug Store became the center of community affairs, and Lamb himself became a powerful influence in local government.

He won high regard for his integrity, enterprise and good citizenship. A good businessman, Lamb became well-known all over the state and his store was a genuine landmark. Many remember his old-fashioned soda fountain. To this day, there are old-timers who would have no remedies other than old “Doc” Lamb’s prescriptions.

Lamb was an active and early member of the Benevolent Order of Elks and the Lions Club, and a member of the State Board of Pharmacy. His active public spirit served not only Aspen, but the county and the state.

He loved the mountains, fishing and hunting, and he loved horses and dogs. It is said that his favorite spaniel died within 15 minutes after his beloved master. Lamb was so fond of his champion hunting dog Max that when Max died, Lamb had him stuffed. His granddaughter Peggy (Rowland) recalls that when she visited her grandfather, her errand was to dust off Max.

Bil Dunaway – 1923

Bil Dunaway 1923

present

 

Bil Dunaway was a great newspaper publisher and has a huge heart, but what he was known best for around The Aspen Times was his fiscal conservatism. On any given day, he could be found up on the roof dabbing tar on a leak, shoveling the sidewalk, repairing a toilet with baling wire or whacking the furnace into compliance. Often when talking with me at my desk he would, unable to bear the waste, reach out and turn off my electric typewriter.

One morning, shortly after I had pointed out that his vinyl office chair was in tatters, we found what appeared to be a crop circle on the carpet of the ad office. Bil had cut out a circle of newsprint, laid it on the floor, placed his chair in the center and spray-painted it, leaving a ring of black sunburst.

God love him, he is the least pretentious person in Aspen.

Su Lum

 

Betty Jane Harbour – circa 1950 arrival

 

Betty Jane Harbour

From Port Arthur, Texas, Betty Jane Harbour came to Aspen around 1950 with her husband Jack. She built the houses that bracket the east end of Castle Creek bridge.

Betty had a smile that could melt boilerplate and a foghorn of a voice. In the ’60s, during a whiteout on Aspen Mountain, Betty left the Sundeck with her ski class of 14. By the time they reached Little Nell, there were 44 terrified skiers following the sound of her voice.

After Jack’s death, Betty traveled the world, hunting big game in Alaska and living in the Maharani palace in Katmandu. She trekked to Everest base camp three times after losing a kneecap when her Norwegian Dun slipped and fell on her. Though she’d never finished high school, she enrolled at CU in Astrogeophysics just as her daughter Cyndie was finishing her master’s.

Betty died while she was building her fifth house, in the mountains of northern New Mexico. She’d been living in the first and only completed part of the house and the most important to her the observatory tower.

Doug Franklin

Barry Smith

Barry Smith 1966

present

 

Full-time humorist and former audio-visual guy, Barry Smith has, in 15 years of living here, unassumingly become a modern-day embodiment of the “Aspen Idea.” Not content with writing an award-winning weekly column in The Aspen Times, writing and directing award-winning short films, writing and performing award-winning theater (his monologue “Jesus in Montana” won Outstanding Solo show at the 2005 Fringe Festival in New York City), Barry also writes poetry, entertains a vast number of friends with anecdotes and observations, convenes a weekly writers’ salon, and is planning to tour his stage show

among other creative projects.

 

If this makes Barry sound like an overachieving Renaissance man

wait, it gets worse. He can also be found playing blues guitar, snowboarding, hiking, biking and trying not to topple over while holding complex yoga poses.

 

 

 

 

Popular theory may hold that the Aspen Idea is as much a shadow of the past as smooth-running traffic on Main Street, but Barry is proof that the Idea still flows on.

 

Katherine Sand

 

Aspen State Teachers College

Dr. Slats Cabbage “The Dr. of Fluid Mechanics” (aka Marc Demmon) 1951present

Slats was the manager for the Aspen Mine Company and announced “this will be your headquarters for the new mall construction.” He told me about the Aspen State Teacher’s College and immediately dubbed me the Dean of Destruction. I think the “Cabbage Racing Team” was the spark that made the college a reality. Slats and I walked into City Market and he was carrying a 6-inch bolt in his hands. He walked up to the produce manager and said he wanted a big cabbage.

“How big?”

“One that will fit on this bolt!”

It became the hood ornament for the “Screamin’ Eagle” No. 137 race car.

ASTC was one of the cleverest ideas in America, and Slats and Al together were a formidable, hilarious team to watch. “Who the hell is Slats Cabbage?” Those who don’t know him have really missed something!

Big Jim Furniss, ASTC alumnus

Al Pendorf “Dean Fulton Bagley 1938present

What can I say? It was the ’70s. I moved into an apartment with Jack the Butcher and a third “mystery roommate.” I lived there for weeks before I ever met this other guy, but we left notes trying to figure each other out.

Finally, we bumped into each other in the hall and I met Al Pendorf, a man on the go (and it was not just work). As the offseason waned (there really was an offseason then), we looked at each other one fall evening and decided to go into town to check out the “freshman class” of new winter season arrivals. Ah, thought Al, we had a freshman class but no school.

That was the start of it all: Aspen State Teacher’s College, a spoof in which “the whole town is the college. Classes are taught everywhere.”

Al was in the printing business (not to mention a very strange puzzle contest “business”). It was a natural fit to produce a handbook and a school paper called “The Clean Sweep.” Al, known as Dean Fulton Begley, teamed up with Slats Cabbage and Aspen State Teachers College became very real (including T-shirts, a marching band, a football team that always won by default) to all of us “students of the ’70s.”Don’t miss the ASTC alumni reunion at the Elks on Oct. 8. We are still trying to find someone who actually graduated.

Maddy Lieb, Class of …

Crystal Palace Not Always So Palatial

Crystal Palace Not Always So Palatial

Yore Aspen


The Crystal Palace in 1962, with the Owl Cigars
advertisement on the side. Aspen Laundry was in the one-story white building to
the left. (Frank Willoughby/Willoughby collection)

Click to
Enlarge





Tim Willoughby
September 22,
2007




Imagine dump trucks inside the Crystal Palace, staying warm so they
could start on cold winter days to haul miners up the backside of Aspen
Mountain. Before Mead Metcalf started his dinner theater there, the Midnight
Mine had its headquarters in the building. It reeked of old timber molds,
carbide lantern fumes, rock dust and machine lubricants rather than today’s
captivating aromas of broiling prime rib and uncorked merlot.



Owned by the Midnight Mine, this
Coleman truck in 1927 used to park in the Crystal Palace. (Willoughby
collection)

Click to Enlarge


The pending change in ownership of
the Crystal Palace may alter more than names on the title, especially if Mead
Metcalf takes the stained glass and crystal chandeliers with him. His colorful
remodel in 1960 made the building more Victorian than it was in 1891 when it was
built. Victorian structures in Aspen, with the exception of St. Mary’s and the
Community Church, had simple windows of small squares of colored glass
surrounding plain glass rectangles. Most colorful and elaborate stained glass
was imported from New Orleans and Denver during the ’60s – the 1960s. The Palace
and other buildings were reinvented more than restored.

The Palace from
the mid-1930s to 1951 was the company office of the Midnight Mine, Aspen’s major
employer. It was the ideal building for three reasons. Like most commercial
buildings in the downtown core, it had a second-floor office area where the
company could accomplish its paperwork. It had a very large ground floor, big
enough to park and service its trucks and store equipment and materials.
Finally, it was just one block from general manager Fred D. Willoughby’s home.
He lived at the corner of Hyman Avenue and Aspen Street in the white house that
looks today like it looked back then.

In its
Victorian heyday the Crystal Palace was a commission house much like today’s
wholesale distribution warehouses. Goods traded hands on the ground floor where
ice cut from Hallam Lake cooled a walk-in meat storage box. E.M Cooper was the
proprietor in the early 1900s and in addition to White Owl cigars, as advertised
on the exterior wall, he sold produce grown in the agricultural boom areas of
Delta and Mesa counties.

The Midnight Mine acquired the building after
it had been abandoned for a number of years. The older roof was flat and in
desperate need of repair. The Midnight changed the pitch to shed snow, giving
the building the odd shape it has today.

The Midnight office accommodated
55 employees in the 1940s. Miners and mill operators worked both day and night
shifts, plus the building was the center of business activities and vehicle
repair. As Willoughby served as mayor of Aspen through many of those years, it
also doubled as an unofficial city hall office.

Aspen’s elevation is too
high for most fruit trees. Crabapples are one of the few species to prosper. The
Monarch side of the building provides great sun exposure with the brick wall
holding enough heat to incubate trees. Begun with an apparent toss of a plum
seed, a tree still grows there. The Midnight staff marveled at the seedling’s
survival and gauged the passing of years by the growth of the
tree.

Other than The Aspen Times and a few
lodges, it’s unusual for commercial buildings in Aspen to retain the same use
over the long term. Metcalf’s nearly half-century as the occupant of this
building has provided countless visitors with a unique Aspen experience. Old
buildings, especially the brick commercial-core buildings of Aspen, are hard to
maintain and to adapt to modern uses but their historical soul is a major
ingredient in the Aspen ambiance.

May the next occupant make the most of
the legacy.

Tim Willoughby’s family story parallels Aspen’s. He began
sharing folklore while a teacher for Aspen Country Day School and Colorado
Mountain College. Now a tourist in his native town, he views it with historical
perspective. He can be contacted at redmtn@schat.net.