By Beacon Staff

Last night I held the future in my arms when our two young friends Nic and Jenny stopped by with their new baby, who they have named Magnolia Leigh.

Magnolia was six days old and weighed six pounds. As I held her, she was so small that her fingers could not wrap themselves around my finger.

Holding her I thought about what lies ahead for her in her lifetime and how much the world will change during that time. I reflected on the changes I have witnessed in my lifetime and I thought of one of my earliest memories, a horse-drawn streetcar on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood in the late 1920s. I compared it to an email I received the other day of a 50-passenger bus that has been made for rapid transit in Dubai. It is electric and cruises at 150 MPH. At that speed I hope it never hits a camel.

I was 10 years old when someone invented the rope tow. Now look at what skiing offers today. No more hanging onto a wet and sloppy hemp rope. Today you can climb into a detachable quad chairlift and ride 3,000 vertical feet in a few minutes. Or you can ride a six-passenger chairlift at Boyne Mountain in Michigan.

I have witnessed the disappearance of the “learn to ski week.” There was a time you could buy a round trip train ride from Chicago to Sun Valley and return, get all of your meals, lift tickets and lessons for $17 less than an all-day lift ticket costs today.

That six-day-old little girl named Magnolia will see just as many inventions and revolutions in her lifetime as I have seen in mine. I watched Dave McCoy build Mammoth Mountain and stood by while Alex Cushing in 10 short years made Squaw Valley grow from a one-chairlift, two-rope-tow resort when I taught there in 1949/50, to become the host of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

I watched the days of untracked powder in the back bowls of Vail become tracked out within an hour of when the first skiers arrived at the top.

Magnolia will be able to learn to ski almost instantly because ski equipment has become so user friendly that 4-year-old kids are already running slalom gates and riding rails in a snowboard park.

I think someone should run a contest where people could write about the most far-fetched ideas of development that concern all of us, bury it in a time capsule under the front porch of their favorite ski resort and open it in 25 or 50 years and see how accurate their predictions are.

Magnolia has a wonderful opportunity to enjoy her freedom at an early age. Her father and mother both worked at Mount Baker when they met, and they got married at the end of our dock on a rainy summer afternoon. Maggie, as we are already calling her, will be raised on an almost deserted island that is slightly larger than Manhattan.

I have reached my age with the help of a lot of inventions we take for granted. Things such as snow tires, automatic transmissions, snowboards, warmer winter clothes and instant snow reports from anywhere in the world with only a couple of strokes on the computer.

I really envied Magnolia as I sat there with her in my arms. She was too small for both of my arms. I am on the far end of the good invention cycle of my lifetime, though there are still a lot of things yet to invent. What about a powder snow pill that you could throw out in front of you when you are skiing that would change the snow to untracked powder wherever you wanted to ski?

Years ago I filmed the Voorhees Power Ski. It worked so you could just stand on your skis and be hauled up any slope you wanted to ski down. They were a little heavy because they had a chain saw motor and an endless caterpillar belt in each ski. The inventor tried to sell it to the Army, but being so noisy, it was hard to sneak up on the enemy with a chainsaw motor under each ski boot.

I am sure that Magnolia, with Jenny and Nic’s guidance, will profit by the inventions in her lifetime, just as I have during mine.