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Quarantine Stories: Recording History

Credit Aspen Historical Society

People from around the Roaring Fork Valley have all been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now many are sharing their experiences to collect and memorialize the valley’s COVID-19 pandemic history.


“Quarantine Stories: Recording History" is a community oral history project from Aspen Public Radio and Aspen Historical Society, featuring self-recorded interviews from individuals and families during these historic times.


You can participate by interviewing your family or telling us your story. What are you feeling and seeing? What motivates you? What scares you? What is the day like outside your window?


Record and send in an audio clip to be preserved in perpetuity in the Aspen Historical Society archive. The future may be uncertain, but together we can capture history happening in real time.


There are two easy ways to submit your recording:

1. Record it as voice memo on your smartphone and email it to

2. Call 970-812-3726 and leave your story as a voicemail 

*By submitting your story, you agree to it being aired on Aspen Public Radio and archived for future use by Aspen Historical Society for educational and archival purposes as set forth here.

Support for “Quarantine Stories: Recording History" comes from Aspen Center for Environmental Studies educating for environmental responsibility since 1968.


Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio




Aspen resident Joan Leavenworth said she knows the pandemic has been hard on everyone, but for her, it’s come at the end of a particularly difficult year. In November, she was diagnosed with Stage III cancer. She went to Shaw Cancer Center in Edwards Monday through Friday each week until February 1.

Then, on Valentine’s Day, her husband passed away. “Things were piling up,” Leavenworth said. “I tend to be upbeat and positive, but it was dark and snowy and I was alone in this house.”

In March, she fell ill with COVID-19. Her doctor recommended she stay home because she could use her husband’s respirator, which was still in the house. “I went through it with my deceased husband's oxygen equipment,” Leavenworth said.

Aspen Historical Society

Glenwood Springs resident Dean Moffitt said thinking about his father reminds him of another time that the world was affected by an epidemic. 


In 1916, Horace Dean Moffitt lied about his age, and joined the Navy to fight in World War I. He was sent to Germany. 


During that time, the flu epidemic of 1918 started to claim lives in America and abroad. At least 50 million people would die as a result.


“Germans and Allies were dying, not only from bullets, but from the flu in those muddy trenches,” Moffitt said. 

Aspen Historical Society

Mike Monroney said social distancing became a challenge. After spending so much time alone at home, he felt depression and loneliness setting in.

He did leave his house to walk his dog around the Aspen Airport Business Center, where he lives. Many of his neighbors would walk their dogs at the same time. A small community emerged, with dog owners talking with each other while maintaining social distancing. 

Monroney said this contact with his neighbors gave him something to look forward to every day. 

Aspen Historical Society

Glenwood Springs resident Dana Wood said that she's found a silver lining during the COVID-19 pandemic.


She started seeing someone right before the stay-at-home order was put into place. They took their relationship online, FaceTiming every day for about an hour. 


“I didn’t have a feeling of isolation,” Wood said. “It was the same feelings you would get if you were actually going on a date with someone. I got ready the same way — put on some makeup, nice clothes.” 

Olive And West Photography

In April, Skye Skinner took over as the Art Base's interim executive director. One of her first tasks was guiding the Basalt organization through their closure during the stay-at-home order.

Skinner worked to move art classes online, secure a payroll protection loan and provide over 600 art kits to local children. 

"I’m determined that the Art Base, which is small but mighty, will come through this crisis with strength and a view toward a bright future," she said. 

Aspen Historical Society

Lisa Hancock said having her two college-aged children at home during the pandemic has been "mostly wonderful."

Her son, a student at the University of New Hampshire, is finishing his senior year of college from their basement, something Hancock said saddened her.

"No graduation ceremonies for him, none of that excitement to be finishing up with his peers," she said. 

Hancock said she's grateful her family has stayed healthy, and she worries about the stress and desperation that others are feeling. 

"I just want to wish all of us the best as we wait this out and hope for a return to normal," she said. 

Kelly Murphy

Kelly Murphy and her fifth-grader Kian Sullivan have been negotiating virtual learning since the stay-at-home order shut down Colorado's schools on March 17. 

Murphy asked Sullivan how he liked online learning. "It's not that fun," Sullivan said. He said it was easier to learn at school and he misses seeing friends.

"Have you been able to see of them during this quarantine?" asked Murphy.

"Yeah, over Google Hangouts for school and stuff, but we don’t, like, talk there," he said. 


Tony Vagneur’s work as a rancher wasn’t affected by the stay-at-home order. Vagneur calls himself a “freelance rancher,” raising cattle in Castle Creek and horses in Emma and working the Diamond W ranch, headquartered in Woody Creek. 


Vagneur said he kept riding his horse, and working in his hayfields. 

What changed, however, was how he interacted with his loved ones. 

Katherine McMillan

Katherine McMillan said she's never experienced anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. She wrote the following poem “to get out some of the feelings that were turning around inside me.”



Wondering if the grocery store worker sneezing in aisle 3 was infected

Wondering why the kid stocking the shelves isn’t wearing a mask or gloves and keeps getting in my space

Wondering if I should eat breakfast as soon as I get home from senior early-bird shopping hour

Or wipe down all the groceries with disinfectant first

Wondering if washing the thin wool gloves I wore to the store and my face muff with other clothes

Will infect everything because it was only a cold wash

Courtesy Anna Scott

Last fall, Anna Scott’s 13-year-old daughter was so ill, she had to take a flight-for-life to Children’s Hospital in Denver. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Scott said her family was still learning how to manage the disease when the pandemic hit. 

Over the winter, her daughter only attended school two or three days a week, because of her health.

Scott said her daughter’s transition to virtual learning when schools closed in the spring was somewhat easier because of her experience doing so much work from home already. It helped that, during the stay-at-home order, other children were doing it too. 

Amanda Martinez

Carbondale Middle School teacher Amanda Martinez’s class of sixth-graders contributed letters about how COVID-19 changed their lives. “I am writing to you to help you understand what life is like now that we are all staying inside to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” each letter begins.

Martinez said the idea came when talking with all the sixth-grade teachers in Roaring Fork School District about how to use the pandemic as a teaching tool. She decided to teach about primary sources by having her students create a primary source about the pandemic. 


“We’re all primary sources now through a monumental time in history right now,” she said. 


Martinez said some of her students were nervous to share what was going on in their lives during the stay-at-home order. 


“It was a grueling process for some students but a therapeutic one,” she said.