Rod Slifer remembers when … |

Rod Slifer remembers when …

Dick Hauserman
Daily file photoRod Slifer, who came to Vail as a ski instructor in 1962, is a major partner in the Vail Valley's largest real estate firm, Slifer, Smith and Frampton. A longtime member of the Vail Town Council, he has also served as mayor.

“In the summer of 1962, there was very little in Vail. Mail was delivered to Minturn and had to be picked up, along with any other provisions that might be needed. In fact, everything had to be obtained in Minturn. There was one grocery store – Clark’s Grocery.”Clark was a grand old man who ran a very nice, small store. His provisions however, did not suit the palates of most of the people involved in building Vail. Still, he was very cooperative and ordered the items they requested, such as good meat and fresh vegetables.”Not having many restaurants, dining out was crude. You would have to go to the We Ask You Inn Motel and Restaurant, located on U.S. Highway 6 in what is today Eagle-Vail, right about where I-70 crosses U.S. 6 today. The Williams’ Caf, the Saloon, and the Old Rail Car in Minturn were other options. The Diamond J near Eagle, which served giant T-bone steaks that extended over the edge of the plate, was always a favorite.”The one phone line in the valley was a six-party line. Four ranches were on this line. During the day you could hardly make a phone call. You would have to wait until after 9 p.m. when everybody went to bed. One time I had a call from Minturn. The railroad had set off a fire. It was September, and the mountains were very dry. The fire had started up the mountain. I had to call the volunteers but there were these ladies who wouldn’t get off the line. I finally pleaded, “For God’s sake, ladies, if you don’t want your homes to burn down, get off the line!'”Believe it or not, that happened on the same day that Walt Disney came to look at Vail. I had gone to Minturn to fight the fire at the time, and Pete and everyone else were wandering around Vail trying to impress Disney. Walt had left by the time I got back. So, I didn’t get to meet him. The fire was put out, but it almost went over the ridge. That would have been a disaster!”Rod Slifer’s real-estate career was beginning to roll, and he could have chosen a career with Vail Associates. He was developing strong goals and ambitions. He didn’t see himself fitting into the organization in a place that he would want to be, and he didn’t want to teach skiing all his life. Nor did he want to be in marketing or finance. He wanted to do something, and that desire turned him to other ventures.Under his leadership, Slifer & Co. grew rapidly. He also served the community. He was on the Town Council several years and was the town mayor for eight years. Today he is a major partner in the firm of Slifer, Smith, and Frampton.Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 89th installment, an excerpt from chapter 12, “The Ever-Increasing “New Locals.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.

Support Local Journalism