It snowed at least an inch or more an hour while I was showing my ski movie and now the wind is blowing about 35 or 40 mph. The snow has stopped falling but the temperature still is. It’s 11 degrees below zero, according to the thermometer on the bank I just passed. As I try to see through my struggling, iced-over windshield wipers, I am trying to log another 100 miles before I have to stop for food at a truck stop. I need a cup of hot tea with a couple of spoons full of sugar and a big scoop of chocolate ice cream and another of vanilla to kick in my energy system so that the next 100 miles will be easier to drive. That way I will be at the ski resort I want to film tomorrow and will also be able to sleep for a few hours in my car in the parking lot before I start filming.
This late night drive to the next ski resort is something I have done time and time again for many years. Drifting across my mind is the thought that maybe the time has come to give in and hire a cameraman to take some of the load off of my traveling.
It is 1964 and my feature-length films have always been a one-man-band exercise. I had finished showing my ski film in Portland, Maine, three hours ago. It is now 1:30 a.m. and I am bone tired, when the blinking red lights in my rear view mirror snap me wide awake.
Oops! When the state trooper came to the window I handed him my driver’s license and the real trouble began. My California driver’s license had expired three months prior while I was in Salt Lake City showing a ski film while using a borrowed Ford Motor Company corporate station wagon. I was flunked twice in the driving test by the examiner who was a former FBI investigator who hated snow, winter, Salt Lake City and skiers in particular. I finally managed to get a Utah drivers license on my third try two days later from another examiner. To get it, I had to lie and say I was going to be living in Utah for three months while I was producing a movie. However, the Utah driver’s license had my Hermosa Beach, Calif., address on it. My contract with the Ford Motor Company allowed me to use one of their new station wagons in any city I was showing my new movie. So the car was registered to the Ford Motor Company in Delaware, but it had Massachusetts license plates on it.
I had a few more very real problems. The state trooper had clocked me in a small town going 61 mph in his very own speed trap, a 25 mph zone, which was only 400 yards long. It was also now 11-below zero. The state trooper took my Utah driver’s license, the Delaware registration, the Arizona insurance certificate and went back to his car to write up the ticket.
I rolled up the window and eased back in the seat with the car heater running at full blast. I don’t know how long I slept, but it was quite awhile and I knew I was in deep trouble when he knocked on the window, woke me up and motioned for me to roll it down.
He cited all of my violations: 61 mph in a 25 mph zone; Delaware registration papers for a car with Massachusetts license plates; a Utah driver’ license with a Hermosa Beach, Calif. address. It looked to me like he had me nailed for a fine of about three weeks wages when he said, “There is no way possible for me to get all of your violations on this one ticket. However, I saw your movie in Rutland, Vt., last year and I just want you to drive slower so you can keep on making those films for me. I can’t tell you how many skiers you have turned on to the sport, but I get to write tickets for a lot of them on Friday and Sunday night. Last year, I set a record for the most tickets on a Friday night that no other trooper has ever come close to. Try and keep it under the speed limit and take a couple of runs for me tomorrow.”