Saturday, July 11, 2015

Historic Memories

Hello Everyone!

Today was a very exciting day. Two individuals from the Baldpate Inn's past visited us again. The first being Maryann Grometer who worked here as a salad girl in 1942. One of her fondest memories was how the girls would go up to Lily Lake to collect the blooming lilies that blanketed the lake for table centers in the dining room. Our second guest was Vance Brand who is the son of Rudy Brand who donated the large yoke key. Here to visit with his wife Bev and daughter Susan he fondly remembers his father Dr. Rudy Brand. A real pioneer Rudy was born in 1903 in Boulder, moving to Longmont to become a veterinarian after finishing school. Vance also remembers how his father’s sisters Helen and Grace Brand, who just out of high school, chose to work here in the early thirties. Its days like these that reinstate the historic value and love for the Baldpate Inn. If anyone has any fond memories, laugh out loud stories, or even spooky ones, feel free to let us know! Feel free to email us at or stop by to share your stories and/or photographs.

                                Left: wife Bev Brand, Center: Vance Brand, Right: daughter Susan Brand

Your Friendly Curator,

Isabella Vinsonhaler

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

In celebration of the holiday, we here at the Baldpate have donned our festive apparel and decorated the inn with the wonderful red, white, and blue. Tonight, our guests and those who join us for dinner will be joining us in watching the Estes Park fireworks from our cozy mountain inn.

In light of the holiday, I just wanted to give a brief highlight on some of our American history keys.

As soon as you walk in, you can see a picture of President George Bush. This photo comes with a letter. Originally, a letter had been sent to President Bush in an attempt to gain a key to the White House. The attempt, however, was unsuccessful. The President responded simply by saying, “It is the votes of the American people that open the doors to the White House.”

In case 7, we have the Francis Scott Key. The key is wooden and made from the hand hewn joists that were in the flag house in Baltimore. In this flag house, the American flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814 was made. This flag survived a twenty-four hour bombardment from the British ships. This very flag is what inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner.

Case 3 contains a key ring of 4 keys. These are keys to the Pentagon. They came into our collection through Pentagon Key smith: Snake. If you look closely at the keys, they say US Property. DO NOT REPLICATE.

Lastly, in the front of the Key Room in case 2, we have a key to the US Mint at Philadelphia. This is a rather peculiar key and definitely one of the more originally shaped ones. Beneath it, there is a key to the Fort Knox side door.

Next time you’re in our Key Room, make sure to see some of these interesting keys in American history. Have a safe holiday!

God Bless America,
Matthew Porter

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Day of Excitement

Happy soon to be Fourth of July!

     Come join us for our gathering on our porch to eat dinner and then watch the fireworks, stars, and enjoy each other’s company for the fourth! Today I’d like to talk about the photo collection we have in both the dining room and on the sun porch. The labeling for all the photographs has been completed as well as the photo albums found in the lobby that give more detailed information. Each photograph, like each key, has its very own story which both Matt and I are happy to share. 

      One of my favorite photos is the one of Chuck Malone, the Baldpate Inn wrangler. The photograph shows Malone sitting in front of the Baldpate Inn with a Cheshire grin, harp and turban.  A very eccentric man, he not only carved his name into the mantle of the Wrangler cabin’s fireplace, but was rumored to have ridden his horse into the dinning room. 

A living firecracker, Malone turned the Baldpate Inn into a wondrous place of adventure, and excitement, which we hope to reproduce for our Fourth of July celebration!

Your Friendly Curator,

Isabella Vinsonhaler

Thursday, July 2, 2015

George M. Cohan

One staple of the Baldpate history is the namesake book, 7 Keys to Baldpate by Earl Derr Biggers. Mr. Biggers published his book in 1913. With the book’s popularity at the time, the Mace family (currently building the inn) decided to name the inn The Baldpate Inn, after the book. The fictional inn and the actual inn had many striking similarities. For example, the inn was 7 miles out of town and was only open in the summer. 7 Keys to Baldpate was very popular at this time. In the same year as the publishing of the book, Broadway writer George M. Cohan wrote a play adaptation of the book, which has been performed routinely and has been adapted to film several times.

In 1913, when Cohan adapted 7 Keys to Baldpate, he already had a pretty impressive resume behind him. The premiere of 7 Keys brought about much confusion in the audience and critics. Regardless, it became a hit. The play ran for a year in New York, a year in Chicago, and several revivals would follow, including one starring Mr. Cohan himself. 7 Keys to Baldpate was success for it was a well written adaptation. Critic Eileen Warburton attributes its success for it “mixes all the formulaic melodrama of the era with a satirical [farcical] send-up of just those melodramatic stereotypes.”

With the Fourth of July upon us, I thought it would be a good time to talk about Mr. Cohan’s musical compositions. With his work on Broadway, he wrote many patriotic songs that we still sing and listen to today. His first Broadway hit, Little Johnny Jones, premiered in 1904. This musical featured the popular song “The Yankee Doodle Boy.” The musical was about a fictional, American jockey who rides a horse named Yankee Doodle in the English races. Other hits to come out of this musical include “Give my Regards to Broadway,” a very popular musical theatre piece.

After the success of Little Johnny Jones, Cohan became one of the more prominent Tin Pan Alley writers. This was a collective of writers and publishers that dominated Broadway and popular music during the early twentieth century. Such songs to come out of this era include “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “OverThere.” “Over There” was used during World War I to help improve moral and increase patriotism. It was the most popular song of the era.

George M. Cohan’s work is timeless. His music is still played today, especially around this time. His plays are still performed. 7 Keys to Baldpate specifically has been revived many times and has been adapted to film 7 times. The first one, a 1917 silent film by Paramount, starred Mr. Cohan in the lead. Along with this, it was adapted to television twice. There is also a radio play adaption starring Jack Benny and Mary Livingston, which you can hear in our Key Room every day. George M. Cohan’s work has been immortalized in our culture. Next time you’re in the Key Room, make sure to find Mr. Cohan’s key, which he donated to our vast collection.

Your dead square, honest Yankee*
Matthew Porter

*quote from Grand Old Flag verse 2

Friday, June 12, 2015

Reaching for the Stars

Hello Everyone!

As you may all know here at Baldpate Inn we have a very wide array of keys from several famous people. From the Hitler to Poe we have a great deal of historic figures. However, both Matt and I have noticed that there is a surprising lack of keys donated from present day stars. As a result of this we have decided to mail requests to the stars asking for donations. Both Matt and I believe that by reaching out to the modern world we will not only be collecting bits of history from our generation but also giving the Baldpate Inn the recognition it deserves. Who knows, maybe Woody Allen or Ellen DeGeneres will talk about us!

Your Friendly Curator,
Isabella Vinsonhaler

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
To Baldpate, run by the Maces
Then your gloom will fade as you
park in the shade
of this most famous of watering

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.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Key to a Hammond Organ

Hello Key Room Blog! My name is Matthew Porter, one of the two curator interns at the Baldpate this summer. I come to Estes Park from Ithaca, NY. I attend school at Ithaca College, where I study English. I hope to one day pursue a professorship in my field. I have just completed my freshman year and I look forward to the three ahead of me. I have been at the Baldpate for a little over two weeks now. I am completely fascinated by the different keys that I find on a daily basis. This is my first time off of the east coast. I have never seen beauty as pure as the mountains surrounding Estes. I am stricken with awe and inspiration every time I look out the window.

In the key room, located right next to the door, we have an exhibit of musical keys. Among the collection, there is a key from a Hammond Organ, signed by the inventor Laurens Hammond. The Hammond Organ is one of the first electric keyboards created. Its influence has reached many musicians of varying genres (specifically within Jazz and Rock). The white key taken from his organ holds massive significance in the progression of music. 

Laurens Hammond was born on January 11, 1895 in Evanston, IL. He attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY where he received a degree in mechanical engineering in 1916. While working for an automobile company, he would often tinker on his own. His first major invention came in 1920: The soundless clock. With his discovery, he went on to open his own clock company, appropriately named the Hammond Clock Company. 

His interest in music did not come until 1933. Hammond was not a musician by any means. He was just fascinated by the sounds that were produced by the phonograph that he had in his lab. Hammond and his engineers soon began to experiment with producing musical sound through electronic synthesis. With their experimentation, Hammond finally discovered the use of the tonewheel. The tonewheel is the most crucial part of the Hammond Organ, for it creates the sound when the instrument is played. 

The use of the organ took off soon after its creation. It was originally intended for smaller churches to get an organ sound without the space requirements of wind driven organs. Like most inventions, the original purpose was not quite what it became known for. The Hammond Organ is most well-known for its presence in early Jazz fusion, along with 60's rock. Notable artists that use the Hammond Organ include Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Doors, and The Grateful Dead. 

Laurens Hammond passed away on July 1, 1973. His instrument, however, will forever live in the classic sound of bands that we now look upon as timeless.

If you would like to hear a sample of a Hammond Organ, feel free to click the links below:   Compilation of Hammond Solos   Walk with me Lord- Terry Bradford   Boogie Woogie on the Hammond

Until next time!