For a high school with less than 300 students in the late 1950’s, Fruita High School had some unique personalities.
A year or two ahead of me was Jude Stoner (not his real name, but close ). He was one of those people with exactly the right name. He wasn’t tall, but was well built, dark, and exuded self confidence. He didn’t participate in school activities, but wasn’t what we would have called a hood. He also was not a stoner.
I don’t know how it happened, but Jude ended up as a hairdresser in Aspen. The Aspen ladies must have swooned over him, a rough-cut, good looking guy doing their hair. In those days there wasn’t much going on in Aspen in the summer, so Jude did other things.
At the time, the Ruedi Dam was being built 15 miles up the Frying Pan River from Basalt. That is not far at all in Isolated Aspen terms. Jude got a construction job on the dam. Good money, keep in shape, have a break from the hair salon. The ideal gig for Jude, as he was an experienced construction hand.
The two most beautiful mountain valleys. In my opinion, are the Frying Pan Valley from Basalt to Hagerman Pass over the Continental Divide. The other valley is the Crystal River Valley from Carbondale to Marble. Jude had a fine place to do a summer’s worth of construction.
Construction workers are a rough cut bunch, not known for tact or social niceties. Construction sites, especially in Western Colorado in the 1960’s, were strongholds of homophobia. Gay men anywhere in the rural West almost always migrated to the cities. Denver, for example, has had a significant gay community for a long time, drawing men from all the neighboring states.
Well, here was an Aspen hairdresser doing construction work. The word got out Jude was a hairdresser. Now Jude was kind of a formidable guy, so my guess there was a lot of talk about him behind his back. He had to have been aware of the talk.
One day it happened, one of the real men? on the crew called Jude a “Queer Hairdresser”.
Jude broke his jaw with one punch. No more talk.