Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Baldpate and Prohibition?

As I was browsing through the Key Room today, I came across a rather different key. Hanging in section 5 was a corkscrew with a tiny glass bottle attached. Upon examining the tag, I discovered the items were donated by Mrs. R. C. Nisbet, Lillian Nisbet, and John L. Drummy (all from Denver, Colorado) on July 3, 1927, when they had stayed at the inn. The detail of the key that most drew my attention was the poem written on the back of the tag. Considering the age of the tag, most of the writing is smudged and hard to decipher. I did take the time today to interpret the writing to share with you all. The poem reads the following:

In the olden days, one of the ways
To be rid of sullen faces
Was to partake of the gin in the
bottle herein
And still retain your good graces
But now with a key you can gain
entry
To Baldpate, run by the Maces
Then your gloom will fade as you
park in the shade
of this most famous of watering
places.

With my background in poetry, I didn’t hesitate to jump into analysis of this poem. In my analysis, the poem insinuates that the bottle may have, at one point, contained a small amount of liquor. With this bottle being donated in 1927, at the height of prohibition in the United States, it’s easy to see that the guests did not care too much for the laws. In fact, they are blatantly against it.

The poem opens with the writer (not sure of which guest) being reflective of the past and how free the use of alcohol was. They push their anti-prohibition stance with the line, “And still retain your good graces.” Pre-dating the prohibition era, the temperance movement had set out on a war against alcohol, claiming that alcohol encouraged vices and profanity. The ideas of the temperance movement eventually helped spark prohibition and make it catch flame. The writer wants us to understand that drunkenness does not exactly mean belligerence. You can, in fact, keep your “good graces” under the influence, according to this poet.

The last couple lines of this poem stood out the most to me, personally. They refer to the Baldpate as the most famous “watering place.” Considering the context of the poem, it may imply that the Baldpate, at one point, may have served alcohol illegally. The chances are probable, as such places were rampant during prohibition, ultimately causing its downfall. This, however, is bold speculation and is reliant on my own interpretation of the poem.

There are also many different ways this could be interpreted. These guests may have come to the Baldpate and been relieved at the sight of served alcohol. On the other hand, the inn may have just been a respite for the guests. Being up in the mountains, miles from town, may have presented them the opportunity to drink their own alcohol without fear of being caught in a public place, like the town of Estes.

This poem goes to show that the Baldpate is rich with history. There is history in these walls that we may never even know about. The most we can do is speculate. Most of these stories don’t have a first person account that we can turn to. Though we may never truly know the history of the Baldpate, it surely won’t stop us from trying to find out as much as we can.

Remember to always stay on the search!
-Matthew Porter


The key, donated by the Nisbets and John C. Drummy of Denver, Co.