When Howard H. (Bo) Callaway came crashing down from his post as President Ford's campaign manager 14 months ago, this tiny western Colorado ski resort and much of an election year public looked upon him with suspicion and resentment.
At the same time, Myles Arber, editor and publisher of the Crested Butte Chronicle and the man who set the wheels of Callaway's downfall in motion, was riding the crest of honors and accolades from his profession and earning the attention of no less a body than the U.S. Senate.
Today, former Army Secretary Callaway basks in the respect and admiration of this mountain community, and Arber faces more than $1 million in libel suits and is alone among the 1,000 people who live here.
"Since he has been here, Callaway has done more to bridge the communications gap between the town and the mountain [Mt. Crested Butte] than most," said Bob Starr, bartender at the landmark Grusteak Bar.
"I don't know if he is a silver-tongued devil or what, but he's saying the right things," Starr added.
By contrast Starr says of Arber, "The guy's trying to be Mark Twain and Bob Woodward at the same time." The combination of sardonic commentator and investigative reporter doesn't come off, according to Starr.
It was a 16-page memo prepared by Arber, Crested Butte Mayor Tom Glass and Gunnison County Judge John Levin that first suggested Callaway, principal stockholder in the Crested Butte Development Corp., may have used his Army Secretary's office to pressure the U.S. Forest Service to reverse a tentative negative ruling on a CBDC request to expand resort operations onto 2,000 acres of public land on nearby Snodgrass Mountain.
Senate subcommittee hearings called by Sen. Floyd Haskell (D-Colo.), who was given the memo, and JusticvDepartment inquires resulted in no criminal action against Callaway. The Justice Department dropped its inquiry nine days before President Ford, a long-time friend of Callaway, left office.
Gradually, Crested Butte returned to its pastoral self.
And, because the economic fortunes of Crested Butte hinge on the success of the even smaller town of Mt. Crested Butte three miles away, Callaway's one-suspect interests ahve become at one with those of the towns-people in the valley.
The 100-person town of Mt. Crested Butte, itself a subject of Arber's critical pen, essentially exists because of the ski resort mountain around it.
The town incorporated only recently - Arber has alleged it did so to make annexation of desirable resort land easier - and it now appears as a curious mix of Swiss chalets and bulky condominiums.
The symbiotic nature of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte stems from the fact that the smaller mountain town draws skiers' money during the day and the larger village in the vallage takes what visitors will spend on food, frink an dgifts when they aren't skiing.
Inasmuch as the closest town of any size to Crested Butte is Gunnison, 28 miles of winding road away, skiers who come here remain more or less captives of the two tiny towns.
After a nearly ruinous winter drought of snow, Crested Butte looks to CBDC and its boss for economic survival. And the former Georgia congressman knows it.
"Callaway has really done a great job of community relations," remarked Mayor Glass, a boyish looking ebullient 31-year-old from Connecticut.
Since his decision last November to manage the CBDC operations from Colorado rather than from corporate headquarters in Georgia, Callaway has scored a number of public relations gains.
He made a well-received appearance before a public meeting of the Crested Butte Resort Association and writes a weekly column about local affairs in the Crested Butte Pilot, competitor to Arber's Chronicle.
Pilot editor Suzanne Lambert said Callaway never has vented political wrath in the column and uses it primarily to promote the image of th eski resort.
Among the town's more unfluential residents it is only editor Arber who has continued to question the role of CBDC and Callaway in the ski resort expansion controversy.
Many feel - and felt a year ago - that Arber's brand of journalism was often an unfair exercise of name calling.
Others more distant have regarded Arber as a contemporary David fighting Goliath - Callaway, CBDC money and the influence of Callaway's government connections.
Southern Illinois University honored Arber last winter for his "courageous" efforts in exposing the Callaway case to national scrutiny.
Still others, such as Mayor Glass, take the diplomatic posture that both Arber and Callaway "very definitely are assets" to the community.
Arber is piqued by the public percekptions of him but steadfast in defending his actions.
"Why am I being out on the spot? I did a public service for this country," he said.
He said the primary intent of the memo he and his two colleagues gave Sen. Haskell was to "raise eyeborws" about possible improper influence by CBDC and inadequate checks on Forest Service operations that could allow the service to reverse earlier decisions.
"Callaway never was a terget of mine," Arber said. "I have nothing against him."
"I thought if President Ford had appointed somebody to his campaign organization who was corrupt or who used poor judgment, it should be a factor in the election," Arber