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The Madam and the Piano Player

A Mrs. Blank (not her real name) was the "madam " of a very popular establishment in Rico. This madam needed a piano player, a MUST for any high-class place of this type in those days. Learning of an applicant for the job, who was then working in Lake City, Colorado, she telegraphed a one-way ticket to Rico for him, plus an extra $5.00 (all the railroad would permit) for traveling funds. He accepted, and when he reached Ridgway en route to Rico, he decided to take a side trip for a day to Ouray. Unfortunately, he had misunderstood the ticket conditions regarding side trips. Two days later, when he tendered his Ridgway - Rico portion of the ticket to the train's conductor, he refused it, as it had expired. So the piano player had to pay his fare from Ridgway to Rico. Madam Blank filed a claim for a refund, tendering the ticket that had been refused. The Denver office, however, was in no hurry to do the right thing, but inquired from the agent about the woman's standing in Rico. That is, was she honest and not trying some form of ticket scalping, etc.? The agent wrote back, rather sharply that indeed Madam Blank was "…one of Rico's most respected business people.." and if she claimed the ticket circumstances were as she said, then her statements were correct. Needless to say Denver refunded!
Revelers at the Enterprise Bar in about 1885
©Engel Collection
This story is taken from Vol. 5 of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad book, which quotes from finds in old railroad papers. Thanks to Laura Towne of the Rico Historical Society for contributing it.