THE FINAL FOUR YEARS OF TONY’S TAVERN Reflections on a town in transition by Don Bachman

Don Bachman behind his bar.

It probably was after dark, and surely under a cloak of secrecy that several men came into

Tony’s Tavern four decades ago, and began to laboriously slide the mahogany back bar out away

from the west wall. The serving glasses, beef jerky and other stuff that rested in front of the

large rectangular mirror flanked by two smaller arch-topped mirrors, were stripped out and the

towering bar moved a couple of feet into the service aisle behind 8 stool front bar with its

dishwashing sinks, and beer tap.

The beer joint hosted many an old timer who would stare into those mirrors and to talk

directly to the person left or right, without turning his head. At the street end of the aisle, was

the curved glass display counter filled candy bars, licorice sticks, gum and crackers. The

cigarettes, cigars and snoose for the addicted, were in a case next to the Hamilton Safe, firmly

rooted under the front window casing with wavy glass panes.

The space behind the back bar was a dusty long cavern with its floor covered in coins

now being scooped up and put into a cloth bag held by Tony Kapushion. The bag grew heavier

as the pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars and silver dollars from the previous 40 years

of customer gratuities winged against the west wall above the bar. The bar was then slid back in

place and after (I’m sure) a celebratory few glasses of 3.2% beer, the crew crept back along Elk

Avenue to their homes in this town of maybe 300 people a few miles down the road from a

fledgling ski area of the same name: Crested Butte.

A few days later in that summer of 1964 the back bar once again was moved out, this

time by several much younger men, none of which had been in town more than a year or so;

rounded up for the task by the new tenant of Tony’s Tavern. He had just signed a lease with

Kapushion and was seeking to find the initial secret reward behind the bar, and confirm the

rumor he’d heard. That long, dark space was empty and swept clean. The story doesn’t say if

there was a note on the floor.


6 thoughts on “THE FINAL FOUR YEARS OF TONY’S TAVERN Reflections on a town in transition by Don Bachman

  1. Jerry,
    I enjoyed the Don Bachman piece. I moved to Telluride in 1985, so I missed out on that transition time of dying mining town to first wave hippies in the new ski town. A lot of my friends here were part of that transition time and their stories have made me nostalgic for a time that never existed for me. Don’s piece was one of those.

  2. Born to be Wild and Those Were the Days on the juke box (1969). Pool table along the back wall. Used to show westerns at the Princess by starting the pot bellied stoves in the front at about 6:00 pm. Show the movies and then head over to Tony’s. Peter and Lynn and Wally and Forest Eckblad to mention a few. The songs were true and there was once upon a time a Tavern. My name was Max and Ieft a finger on the floor of the coal bun in the basement of the Company Store.

    1. Hi Dennis. I lived in the Stately Slate Estate Ranch (Lee Spann’s Slate Ri. Ranch) a few miles outside of CB in those days… remember all that you mentioned and Frank and Gals, The Forest Queen, all the hipsters mixing with the old miners in that period of transition. Used to sweep up the peanut shells at the Grub Stake then go skiing for the day… Gt. memories. Jerry Roberts

  3. Hello Jerry,

    Something about getting a bit older and mining the good times from time to time. Hoping to get back there at some point and see it again before too much longer. From current pictures and news articles from the Gunnison paper, it looks and sounds as if the style of life there is still just a hair of the beaten path. Well, going to resist the urge to turn this into a Facebook style narrative although I guess I was fishing for a bit of “auld lang sine” from those who remember being young and back there then. All the best! Dennis Herman

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