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>From:         Denis Bogan <[log in to unmask]>
 Subject:      Re: Remembering skibumming was Re: Stowe lodging...help

 Wonderful stuff!  Keep it coming.<

I suppose I should do my part.

Skibumming was something I dreamed about but never did.  Beginning with
Sr. year of HS and continuing through college I had a group of half a
dozen ski buddies and we would pile into (usually Bill's) old wreck of a
Buick and drive to Jackson NH for a weekend of skiing.  There was a small
hole in the floorboard on the front passenger side and on a slushy day
spray would dampen whoever sat in that seat.  Once, when Bill hit one of
those NH "frostheaves" the radio dropped out onto the floor.  No ski racks
of course, so we carried the skis lengthwise inside with the tips sticking
out the windows.  Therefore you couldn't close the windows, no matter how
cold or how fast Bill drove.  Most of the time we got there and home
without car breakdowns.  After some searching around on several trips we
found "our" place to stay in Jackson, Streeter's Cabins, $0.50/night,
bring your own sleeping bag & firewood.  Cabins were a northern New
England institution which you can still see in a few places, like Twin
Mountain.  There was a toilet in each one which the owner drained and
turned off for the winter so the pipes wouldn't freeze.  Snow was normally
deep outside the door and where one relieved oneself was one's own
business.  I don't think they ever rented these places in the winter
except to us and the spring thaw would flush it.  We'd split expenses
equally and a weekend of skiing plus all expenses (lodging, food, lifts,
the works) would be less than $20.  (Just for reference, I graduated from
HS in '59).  The office sold firewood for $0.25 a bundle.  After a few
trips I thought, why do that, my Dad and I had cut up a wild cherry tree
that died in our back woods and there was lots of it nice & dry in our
cellar.  So on one trip we fired up the pot bellied stove in the cabin
with rock hard wild Cherry instead of the soft pine they sold.  Soon the
heat was unbearable and the walls of the stove turned bright orange red.
The stove was in the corner only 2 feet from the walls which soon began to
smoke.  Holy tihs!  With no running water anywhere nearby what could we
do?  Somebody said, "nice firewood, genius."  We ran outside and got
handfulls of snow and plastered them on the walls.  It took several hours
of this before the heat from 3 big logs died down enough for us to relax
and go to sleep.

Wildcat was our favorite place.  It's across the Notch from Mt. Washington
and they get a little wind.  We'd ride the old gondola cars to the top,
trying a kind of musical chairs game in line with the goal of sharing a
ride with a good looking girl.  It seldom worked.  A reputation for
sitting there silently staring during the 13 minute ride to the top gets
around pretty quickly.  At the top house, you exit on the leeward side.
Quite often stepping around the corner could get you blown into Maine if
you weren't braced for it.  On some days we had to get down on hands and
knees and crawl 50 ft. to the edge of the steepest slope, where we'd put
on skis.  This slope looked precipitous to us at the time.  None of us
ever logged 10 days in a season and only one guy, whose parents skied and
had money, ever took a lesson.  With our skill level we had no business
being there, but it wasn't a problem.  We'd wait for the wind to subside a
bit and start straight down.  This was before grooming and snowmaking and
it was always blue ice.  Progress would be slow and stately, like in waist
deep powder.  If the wind gusted up you could be suspended stationary for
15 seconds or more until the gust passed.  I wore chino pants with no long
underwear (saved the $ for lift tickets), 2 sweaters and a nylon shell and
a Navy watch cap.  I skied every run non stop and ate "lunch" on the lift,
2 snickers bars that I carried in my pockets.  On a 30 below day they
could be real jawbreakers.

I started this ski career on Sears "J. C. Higgins" skis.  They were 6 ft.
7 1/2 inches - none of that Euro-weenie metric stuff in those days.  I had
beartrap bindings and leather boots that looked a lot like the classic
Asolo Snowfield tele boot of today.  I had Northland envy big time.
Northlands had laminations and steel edges.  My skis had neither.  With no
edges you could go about as fast sideways as straight.  Any attempt at a
hard turn or hockey stop would result in an unintended 360 or more, a fall
and a long slide.  The trick was to look for where it didn't shine and try
to stay upright until you got there, then attempt to finesse one's way to
the next spot that didn't shine.  Finesse was actually not our strong
suit.  We were a menace to all, especially ourselves.  The Wildcat
regulars knew and respected this and kept their distance.  I suspect that
Stowe's notorious "Boston Bob" grew up in this way and simply never
changed.

I ran college track and was in great shape.  Normally I got to drive all
the way home because nobody else had the stamina to ski all day, drink for
a couple hours then drive 3-4 hrs. back to Boston with a car full of open
mouthed snoring buddies.  We had a great time.  There is nothing quite
like being young and crazy and lucky as hell, and having good friends who
are the same.

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