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!)

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 …

First Grade Fears in 1914

First Grade Fears in 1914

Yore Aspen


Washington School in Aspen’s West End. (Willoughby
collection)

Click to
Enlarge





Tim Willoughby
September 29,
2007




Starting school is a tough transition for children. The prevalence
of preschool has eased the transition between home and school, but the first few
weeks are still a challenge for 5- and 6-year-olds.

Kindergarten teachers tell hundreds of humorous stories about the
distorted perceptions and fearful experience of first-timers. The student who
asks, “Is it lunch yet?” a half-hour after the day starts. “Did I eat my lunch?”
asked a half-hour after the PB and J was consumed. Finding their lunch, knowing
what to do with an unpeeled orange, and the buckets of tears shed over the
slightest deviation from a home routine round out those long first days in
school.

When my mother started first grade in 1914 there were more
ominous challenges.

For one, it wasn’t until the 1970s that there was a
larger first-grade class. Aspen was a shrinking-but-still-large town in 1914.
The Panic of 1907 had cut the population of the county by 25 percent but in 1910
it was still 4,600, about half the size of Albuquerque at that time. The 1914
first grade was the last big class. In 1917-1918, Aspen’s largest mine, the
Smuggler, shut down over an electricity rate dispute and the influenza struck,
reducing Aspen’s population an additional 30 percent.

Like most cities
of the time, Aspen was proud of its schools. Aspen had three elementary schools:
Lincoln, Garfield and Washington. In the beginning they were multi-grade
schools, each located in a different section of town. When the Washington School
opened in the West End in 1890, they began separating students by grade rather
than by location. First through fourth grades were located at the Washington
School.

There was no kindergarten in Aspen’s
schools until 1955, so my mother entered school in first grade at the Washington
School. Most students in those days did not make it through high school, leaving
after eighth grade. The Washington School was a large, permanent brick structure
with big windows and Victorian flourishes, larger than the high school and still
a “modern” model, but it had one component that confounded my mother.

In
1914, indoor plumbing was rare. Children like my mother were used to using an
outhouse. Her term was “the chick sail,” a name popularized from a play about an
outhouse builder written by Chick Sale. Cold in the winter, smelly and always
too far from where ever you were, they still served their purpose. Spiders and
bees were a bother, and children always feared they might fall through the hole
into the gaping pit below.

The Washington School had a more modern
facility, an indoor one. It was located in the basement and had a whole line of
holes. What filled my mother with fear was that instead of the usual pit there
was a continuously running torrent of water running below the holes, a kind of
partially open sewer. Further complicating the situation, the holes were not
calibrated for first-graders; they were adult size. At least they seemed that
way to a first-grader.

“I was so afraid I would
fall through and be carried off to God knows where,” my mother told me.

She remembered little else from her first year of school. A 6-year old’s
nightmare aged into a senior’s amusing remembrance.

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.