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.
- Dennis Herman a.k.a “Maxwell Grumman WWI Ace” 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.
- Jerry Roberts
- 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 RobertsReply
- John Odlin
- Hi Max!
Hope you get this.
I’m in Colo., hiked C B last fall. Love to hear from you.
- Dennis Herman a.k.a “Maxwell Grumman WWI Ace
- 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
The first building at our location, constructed around 1880, was owned by Martin Mufich and Frank Shuty, and was later sold to Chris Vultich. It served the area as a tavern until prohibition, when it became the local pool hall. Pete Momich then acquired the building. dismantled it and, using many of the original materials, constructed the present building in 1929. He ultimately sold it to Bill “Sharky” Starika who named it Bill’s Tavern (it was commonly known as Sharky’s).
The bar and back bar of today originally traveled by train from Philadelphia to Leadville; and then, around 1895, were transported by horse-drawn wagon to Crested Butte. In 1918, then owner Mark Sodia sold the bars to frank Mufich, who in turn sold them to the Spritzer family. The Spritzers used them in their establishment The Spritzer Bar, from 1920 to 1930, then sold them to “Sharky” for $200.
Ownership of the building has changed hands many times over the years. Sharky sold to Tony Kapushion, and Tony’s Tavern was born. After 17 years, Tony sold to Don Bachman and Lyn French. In 1971, Don and Lyn sold to Ric Holderith who changed the name to the Wooden Nickel. Ric’s partners (1971 through 1979) included Dan McKinney, George Clous, and Jim Simmons. Ric and Dan are responsible for the fireplace (1973), with woodwork by Ron Makala. Our large elk head, in the front room, is Lyle McNeil’s trophy, which he shot in Brush Creek in 1939.