Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Once Lived "The Dream" In Aspen... Part Two

Obviously, TBR did not like Michael and preferred for me to marry someone with money. She always said it was just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it was a poor one. Whatever. Unlike her, I wasn't able to control my heart or emotions like that. I have always gone with my heart and my gut. I probably always will.

Michael was actually from a farming family in Levelland, Texas by whom he'd been adopted as a baby. He was never close to them because he knew they'd only adopted him because they needed a boy to help them farm their land. They had a daughter they treated like a princess and Michael got to do all the work. Several years after graduating from Texas Tech he discovered he liked skiing more than farming and headed to Aspen with a friend from college. Otherwise, we would have never met. Jim, his friend from college eventually moved back to Texas, but Michael was there to stay.
The Brown Recluse had bought me a new wardrobe to start college with, but when told I was dropping out of school and going back to Aspen, she took them all back and gave them to charity. That was nothing new. She had done that to me my entire life, every time she got mad at me. Whatever her latest gift to me was, it was yanked at a moment's notice, on the whims of her flaming temper. Of course, she kept Peggy Sue too, because she knew that would hurt me even more. It did hurt, but I wanted away from her so badly that I just didn't care. That was the last time I would ever again live under her roof. Thank God.



Michael knew what had happened since we talked every day. Once I returned to Aspen, I moved in with Michael, where we lived blissfully in sin for a couple of months. He proposed to me one day on the chair lift and of course, I bawled like a baby while trying to accept. Then, we were married on January 12th on top of Aspen (Ajax) Mountain, on skis, with 50 or so close friends in attendance. It was a perfectly gorgeous day so we all skied en masse for the rest of the day. It didn't matter to me where we skied because I loved all the runs. The Ridge of Bell, Ruthie's Run, Gentleman's Ridge. We hit them all that day. It was like an enormous party on skis. We had no real reception or honeymoon because everyone worked 6 days a week during the ski season back then. We worked 7 days a week during holidays and Spring Break. Besides, when you lived someplace like Aspen, what better place could you possibly go? We were already in paradise and couldn't afford to go anywhere anyway.

By that time I was working as a ski lift/ski school ticket seller in Snowmass Village at the top of Fanny Hill, which led up to Sam's Knob and Campground (which was the best skiing in Snowmass at the time). It really was a dream job because our schedules pretty much revolved around free ski time. Everyone got time to ski every day, in addition to getting a free season pass for skiing. Yes, we were all ski bums and proud of it. Life could not have been better unless we had won the lottery.

During this time we lived in an apartment complex in Aspen that was actually employee housing for the Aspen Ski Corp. It was called The Hillside Apartments, which is where The Ritz Carlton hotel stands today, at the base of Little Nell, AKA Aspen Mountain, AKA Ajax. I loved our cozy little apartment that was tucked away in a corner of the building, in spite of the fact our bedroom was only big enough for the bed. Yes, it was wall to wall bed. Our kitchen was so tiny that it was about the size of a small bathroom, which was a moot point, since I couldn't even boil water back then. We ate most of our meals on the mountain anyway, because of employee discounts. At night we were on our own and most often ate out with friends we worked & skied with. Everyone that worked for The Ski Corp. back then was a tight knit group, even between the three mountains. Ajax. Buttermilk/Tiehack, and Snowmass. Aspen Highlands was not yet a part of the Aspen Ski Corp., as it is today.

Our work days were long but the rewards and benefits were more than worth it. We lived in Ski Corp housing (which was eau de cheap), we received employee discounts at all mountain restaurants, discounts at most local ski equipment shops, as well as the free Season Ski Pass, which was worth its weight in gold. For someone my age, it truly was like living your dream.


Since we both worked in Snowmass, Michael and I were able to ski together during the day unless he was out on detail or rescue. I often went with him if we were skiing when he got a call on his radio, to take care of an injured skier or mark a patch of exposed rocks (sitzmarks), or whatever. Watching Michael take care of an injured and frightened skier was a thing of beauty. He was always so gentle and spoke kindly to the injured, as he went through the motions of his job. I also loved to watch him ski. He was a beautiful and talented skier and always looked so magnificent streamlining down the hill on his boards. He looked like something straight out of a Ski Magazine advertisement. Even when he had icescicles hanging off of his brows and mustache.
I got off work before Michael did, so I would usually take the last chair up the mountain to wherever he was assigned that day, and would join he and another patrolman for *clearing* at the end of the day. *Clearing* was when pairs of patrolmen would clear the mountain on each and every run after the chairlifts had closed down, making sure there were no stranded or hurt skiers. I always loved doing that. As we each skied down the mountain we would yell "CLEARING!" so that anyone stranded would hear us and be able to call for help. Other than that, it was almost a pristine quiet.

One Patrol friend of ours named Radar Lundh (who came from Taos, N.M.) was a yodeller. I adored doing clearing with him because he would yodel in between yelling "clearing". He also cracked me up because he skied with his skis really far apart which always made him take on a comical air about him. I'll tell you more about our dear friend Radar at a later point.

Our first Winter ski season together was sheer Heaven and life was good. As the ski season turned into Spring, the employee games and festivities began. Let's see. There was The Ski Jump into the pool at The Wildwood Inn which was located right on Fanny Hill. Then, there were the hilarious cafeteria tray races, the one-ski races and so on. It was a rights of passage time for all locals planning to stay until the next ski season began.

Once the ski areas closed for the off-season, everyone but the trust fund babies found other jobs to sustain them through the Summer and Fall months. Michael worked mornings as a surveyor and also helped with the installation of new lift towers, which was rough, dirty work. I took a job at Aspen Stereo which was owned by Tony Fairchild (heir to Fairchild Cameras from Newark, N.J.), where I spent countless hours alphabetizing record albums. Yes, this was long before CD's and about the time 8-track tape cartridges were going the way of the dinosaurs and cassettes were being slowly introduced, gaining steady popularity.

We spent the Spring and Summer backpacking and fishing in the high country whenever we had time off and did a lot of biking locally when we were working. It was a magic time in my life and I remember every moment of it as if it were just a year or so ago. It was 35 years ago.
To Be Continued...

13 comments:

Holy Crappers said...

Need more , need more. You should post a few times a day to keep me happy

#1

asthmagirl said...

Again, you tell a great story! I can't wait for the next chapter.

Tag!

P said...

Come on! Keep it coming! Don't just leave me hanging!

Treasia said...

Already for installment 3 here. What a life you have lead so far. I can't imagine living in ski country as I've never even been skiing.

Keeper Of All Things said...

I'm kinda sad knowing it all ended.....

Plooka said...

A sweet story about love on the mountains!

Pleasing Procrasinator said...

Dammit!!! Leaving me hanging again?..
You are one hot momma!!
So sad to hear about PS. How awful to purposely be hurt over and over by TBR.

Mamahut said...

I am playing catch up. I'm caught up now...could you please continue?
I love the way you can tell your tales Snooty.

Mental P Mama said...

I am so loving this story! Hurry with the next installment!

snooty daughter said...

Great picture!!!!

Snooty Primadona said...

Hey everybody! Mr. Snooty and I drove (I mean I drove... he slept) to Austin to see our son before he starts school at St. Edwards University next week. He's so excited and seems so focused. My heart is soaring as if it had real wings. Things have almost come full circle for him now and he has worked so hard to get here. What a triumph! So, we're here to take him out to eat a lot and take him to play golf, since he probably won't have time or money for such frivolities until the next time we come, lol. Tomorrow we're going with him to see the new Batman movie at the Austin Draft House, which will be so cool. OK, I Lied. I might go shopping and let them have some much needed father-son bonding time. I might try to go see "Mama Mia" by myself. SINCE MY DAUGHTER IS TOO FAR AWAY to go see it with me, lol. J/K honey, really. Love ya... Mean it.

However, tomorrow will bring a new chapter from the anals of my life. I can't believe that anyone thinks it's interesting, but I thank you all for allowing me to put all of this, at long last, into words.

Flea said...

You were so ADORABLE. :)

And YAY for spending time with your successful son! So glad his life is turned well.

Janie said...

Fun with the Snooty Son - yaaaah!

You write so well, Snooty, and your life is So Interesting!

I can't wait to get together with you again!

Lunch!!!

 

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