We recently received a letter from Michael Rosen, a long-time Colorado resident, who took issue with our spelling of Alfred Packer’s first name in a caption on page 87 of our October, 1976, issue. Packer, of course, was the man accused of having killed and eaten major portions of five companions while snow-trapped on a hunting expedition on the shores of Lake San Cristobal in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains during the winter of 1873-74. “Regarding your caption for Jackson’s Lake San Cristobal photo,” Mr. Rosen writes, “local folklore insists that Mr. Packer’s first name is too often mis-spelled, as it is in reality Alferd , not Alfred. I am a Boulder, Colorado, resident, and a University of Colorado graduate, and have eaten many a Packerburger in the Alferd A. Packer Memorial Grill,” Mr. Rosen concludes.
We called the State Historical Society of Colorado and were mortified to learn that local usage does indeed insist that Alferd is the correct spelling. “Packer,” the Society reports, “always wrote his name that way. He may have mis-spelled it himself, of course, but purists maintain that since he did spell it that way, so should everyone else.”
A further enlightening development: We had at first thought that Mr. Rosen’s reference to Packer-burgers and the Alferd A. Packer Memorial Grill was merely a witticism. Not so. As it turns out, there is in fact an Alferd A. Packer Memorial Grill and it does in fact serve something called a Packerburger. It is a snack shop on the campus of the University of Colorado. It was dedicated in 1968 with all appropriate ceremony and the accompanying strains of a jazz band. Who says the younger generation has no sense of history?