Nordling: 40 years ago a man moved to Breckenridge and had a time |

Nordling: 40 years ago a man moved to Breckenridge and had a time

Me and Jeffrey Bergeron moved to Breckenridge 40 years ago next week, and for this old barman, The Gold Pan circa 1974 still is the coolest bar ever. There were always a half dozen or so very big dogs hanging around at the front door and not a leash in sight. It had two swinging saloon doors that opened up on an old wood bar pocked with cigarette burns and a few tables with dirty glasses and half-full ashtrays no matter if someone was sitting at them or not. There were two pool tables in the back in use day or night by a jukebox playing country music. One bartender, no matter if there were 10 or 100 people, and if you wanted to get a drink ever you darn well waited quietly for Little John. No cocktail waitresses, just a long-gray-haired, gray-bearded Ron wandering around with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, like a ghost, picking up dirty glasses, if he felt like it. The patrons were a mismatched mélange of old locals, cowboys from Fairplay, guys with long scraggly beards who lived in real wood cabins and some wide-eyed young hippies like me and Berger — all of us there because it was the cheapest bar in town. Everyone got along pretty well, because no one cared what you were doing or how much of it you did, and there were just about no women to rile things up. Occasionally a couple of the guys or dogs would end up in a fight on Main Street, some of the other guys would wander outside to watch and the victor would be dragged off his opponent when the matter was settled before any serious damage was done.

It may be hard for anyone now to imagine that this bar at that time sounds like much fun: not many women, we had no cell phones to keep track of where or what anyone else was doing or what was going on in the world. There was one TV but not much on it, there was no customer service or much happening period when you got down to it. We all just hung around, had some drinks, played pool or not, and talked with each other. But, to paraphrase Mick said in a song that came out six years before we moved to Breck:

It was all right now; in fact it was a gas.

Keith Nordling

Cardiff, California

Breckenridge resident, 1974-1982

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