Taking Notes

By Beacon Staff

In my office, here in our home in Montana, I have two eight-foot tables with three-ring binders filled with my writings about my life as well as 17 years of weekly newspaper columns. Sometimes it is hard to concentrate on a single event that happened in my 73 years of skiing, interrupted only while I was filming/producing my annual ski film. In those binders are many stories I have long ago forgotten about. There were few times I climbed on an airplane without my 16mm, hand-wound, Bell and Howell camera.

I can open a three-ring binder and it is about living in Topanga Canyon, north of Santa Monica in 1930 and what I had a chance to learn in those days when my brain was almost empty. It seemed to soak up knowledge minute by minute for the rest of my life, it’s just recalling it that’s the problem.

There is another notebook about the construction on Orcas Island where we built one of the best skateboard parks in the world.

And there is another binder labeled “Vail” where my wife, Laurie, and I settled down for the first 12 years of our married life together. In early 1987, we had been riding on a fixed grip, double chairlift. We both had been recently divorced and before I knew it we had bought one of the few ski-in, ski-out, vacant lots left in Vail from our friends, the Byers. And about a year later, we were married in the living room of the home we built.

Another project in a binder is about a school we have in Big Sky. The other day I was talking with the TV class and suggested that the class produce a half-hour TV show about their school. I promised to get a production bid sheet from Hollywood, the teacher could then assign different jobs to the different kids in the class. When the film was finished, I suggested that they have one of the students, who was partly raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, translate it into Russian and narrate it. She could then take it back to St. Petersburg when she goes for a month this spring and show it to her classmates there.

I have notes to remind myself that in certain areas of certain states I should never travel more than two miles per hour over the speed limit. And another one about the result of letting my driver’s license expire while driving a rental car in Utah. I wound up with a Utah driver’s license with a Hermosa Beach, Calif., address. Late one below-zero night, I was stopped for speeding . The officer told me to check into the first Howard Johnson’s motel I came to and sleep it off. I don’t even drink!

I think that was one of the few days I ever bought a chairlift ticket. I was being shown a ski resort in Maine and after we walked the base facility with the manager, some local skiers and I walked over to the ski lift. I had my rucksack and tripod and after everyone got on the lift, it was my turn to ride. I was standing with the manager when the lift operator asked to see my lift ticket. I had to go back to the lodge and buy one while everyone waited to be filmed skiing on hard-packed, Maine snow.

There are more notes about new skis on the market: when Howard Head first showed up at Sun Valley with a dozen pair of his shiny new aluminum skis. Only a couple of the more than 20 Austrian ski instructors would try them. Their attitude was that if God had made aluminum trees, then it would be OK to ski on aluminum skis.

I have more than 80 years of this kind of stuff and the written records to prove it! Most of the stories are being put together as I write my autobiography. It’s such a huge job and my wife is right beside me, helping all the way. She has said, however, that I have to either die or cut off the story now at 88 years old. It’s too much work!

She’s like that.

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