Another Ski Story
As I was talking to my father the other day, and telling him about my most recent ski adventures with Thotman and some of my family, he told me his own ski story. After hearing him describe his skiing experiences, I now don’t wonder he didn’t take us all out skiing when we were young. His story goes like this.
Back in about 1948, my dad’s (Norman) recreational experience had to rotate around the family farm. My Grandpa, George, didn’t take much time out for such frivolousness. Almost any recreational temptation, which he would succumb to, had to with fishing in the summer time. In fact my favorite photo of Grandpa Haroldsen is of him sporting his catch along side the riverbank, while on a rare fishing trip to Island Park, Idaho.
My dad tells me that as for skiing, his experience amounted to standing in tow behind a car on the poorly plowed county roads around his home. So when his big chance to really go skiing came up. Norman got bold and asked for the unthinkable, a day off from work. That might not have been so unreasonable, but he had been away, going to college for the fall semester, and he would only be home for a few weeks for the Christmas break. His father, George, thought that his youngest son needed to pitch in and make up for lost time while he was home for the Holidays.
Norman’s buddies were headed to the ski slopes. A place one or two hours away (depending on the roads), called Pine Creek Basin, was the closest ski resort. As ski resorts go (by today’s standard), it wasn’t much to look at. They had a rope tow to pull the skier to the top of the slope. Like I said, the only thing nineteen-year-old Norman had ever done on skis before was to tow behind a car on the snow covered roads around his home. So when the rope tow had finally done its job and Norman was looking down the treeless opening of the mountainside, he didn’t have a clue what to do next.
Peer pressure is an amazing thing. It can cause an other wise normal healthy individual to risk life and limb. Norman had to keep up with his buddies, so when they pushed off at the top, so did he. Not only did he keep up to them, but he passed them the first time they turned to switchback across the slope. Norman didn’t have a clue how to turn on skis, nor did he realize that switching back and forth across the hill side was how to control his speed going down. So while his buddies were cutting diagonally across the top of the hill, Norman headed straight down the middle. Now the only thing slowing him was the wind drag as his speeding bullet body hit speeds of 10,000 miles per hour (as he describes it).
Now all that is bad enough, but Norman had one more disadvantage on this his début on the ski slopes. Ski equipment in those days was nothing to brag about anyway, but what little break away protection designed into the ski bindings were apparently broke. Normans fantastic high speed ski run down the mountain paled by the even more fantastic high speed crash at the bottom of the hill. Legs, arms, body, and skis flew everywhere, but when all came to a stop, those skis were still nailed to the feet of this now human pretzel. Ski patrol came to pick up the pieces with their toboggan. And Norman was just thankful to still be alive. Or was he? Now he’d have to face his dad while on crutches. There would be no extra projects that he could help with during this Christmas vacation. No help feeding the cattle or other winter chores. He couldn’t do anything but lie around the house and wait to go back to the winter/spring semester of college. And that would be on crutches of course.
Dad said, that was the last time he ever went skiing. I wonder why? A little thing like a brush with death and then months of pain and suffering while his legs healed… followed by years of ridicule from his dad as he mocked Norman’s original request.
“Just let me have this one day to go skiing and then I’ll help you everyday after that.”
It’s a small wonder I my dad didn’t take us skiing when I was growing up.