She'll be skiing down the mountain when she skis,
She'll be skiing down the mountain when she skis,
She'll be skiing down the mountain,
spraying snow up like a fountain,
Makin' sitzmarks beyond countin,' when she skis.
Sung to the tune of Comin' Round the Mountain, that song was
popular in the days when activities after a day on the slopes
centered around socializing by a crackling fire.
Such songs, sung to familiar tunes that encouraged everyone to
sing along, were the "essence" of après-ski in the 1930s through
the 1960s. They could be delightfully cute, wildly funny, or
utterly ribald. Bring Back My Skier to Me was just one of the songs
that celebrated love and the mating game that après-ski
That's because the early years of ski trips were largely couple-
and singles-oriented affairs, with the snow trains (1930s)
popularizing the social connections and good times that became
associated with the sport. In fact, some people joined trips just
for the fun and/or opportunity to find their true love - mountain
exercise was optional!
Ski School (tune of School Days), The Drunken Skier (The Drunken
Sailor), Let Every Good Skier (Vive L'Amour), and The Man on the
Flying Skis were among the songs that celebrated every aspect of
skiing, from the bar maid and drinking revelry to the torn ski
pants and the ski bunny who marries the instructor.
In the 1940s, skiers participated in the Hokey-Pokey, then a new
"dance craze" that saw them get up and "shake it all about" - a
harbinger of gyrations to come!
A big part of après gatherings centered around Gluhwein, Glogg
and other "potions to melt the ice." Beverages like Sherry Schuss,
Skier's Tom and Jerry, Chalet Coffee, and Longthong were served
after skiing, with dinner, or after dinner.
Dining in or out at a local restaurant was another après
activity. The Après-Ski Book by Eileen Matthew (A.S. Barnes and
Co., 1970) featured a chapter called "The Way to a Skier's Heart."
In addition to the requisite fondue recipes, several suggestions
centered around meals that could be cooked in a fireplace in case
one's accommodations lacked cooking facilities. Schuss Kabob
recipes were found along with a tip to make sure one removed the
lid of a can to allow steam to escape so it didn't explode while
being heated by a fire!
Those were the days when "après" meant eat, drink, and be merry.
If you weren't staying at one of the very few and far-flung true
"winter resorts" where ice rinks, sled runs, ballrooms (for dancing
and entertainment), and/or outdoor pool (Sun Valley, Mount Snow)
were offered as activities and social diversions, après-ski was
synonymous with happy hour, dining with friends, and evening
Ludlow "Apres" Evolves
During the years when accommodations were provided by a local
lodge, inn, or B&B, the sing-along was an après-ski staple. In
many ski towns, post-skiing social hours were also hosted at
various inns. The den or game room (for charades, board games) and
the living room, where guests would gather for camaraderie or a
group-sing provided the most popular forms of entertainment and
"During the winter of 1964, I lived and worked at the
Tiger Inn at the base of the Mountain Road," recalled Betsy Child,
a 1960s Okemo instructor. "After helping prepare and serve dinner,
I played the guitar and guests and staff would gather by the
fireplace and sing. Some of the guests were our ski school students
who came for a week. We got to know each other very well, and some
became life-long friends."
Fritz Coonradt, who ran the early Okemo Ski Shop, noted,
"Entertainment was a little sparse in town, but I well remember the
Ludlow Follies (talent night at the Town Hall) and the Saturday
night dances at the Legion."
But things began to "heat up," when the Okemo Mountain Lodge, a
24-room on-mountain hotel with restaurant and lounge, was built
(1964). "They had Saturday night dancing, two bars... it was an
active place before it burned to the ground (1970)," Coonradt
Also in the 1960s, a barn (now The Loft) was moved to Okemo's
base area for a combination bar and ski shop. Okemo ski instructors
Ted Johnson, Vic Verdina, and Leroy Aldrich, Jr., and Coonradt
formed The Red Parka, Inc. and leased the barn in 1967. "We ran a
very successful and popular bar and restaurant," Coonradt recalled,
noting it later became the Blue Parka, Casablanca North, Dadd's,
and then The Loft. Its 3rd floor game room (pool table, pin ball,
etc.), food and libations still pack folks in from lift closing to
the wee hours.
The 1970s were years when Ludlow-vicinity inns would take turns
hosting an after-ski get together - hot wine with cheese and
crackers at Fox Run, another day at Echo Lake Inn, the Okemo Inn,
or the Winchester. The occasional social hours were "spread around
and provided a time for the mingling of ski instructors and
students," Sitting Bull Lounge Manager Rick Doyle recalled.
The Sitting Bull at Okemo once sported the proverbial round
fireplace, but it was removed to allow more skiers to crowd into
the popular lounge. Later in the 1980s, the adult-oriented lounge,
which has been expanded several times, changed to welcome families
as the area's new owners discovered they wanted to enjoy food and
après with their two children. Not only are all ages welcomed at
the Sitting Bull, which sports live music on weekends, but the
change was also indicative of the more encompassing all-age après
activities to come.
The debut of nightspots like the (former) Chopping Block (70s,
80s) provided live music that made "dancing the night away"
popular. Pam Cruickshank noted that the Davis Brothers Garage big
band made it "the place to go for steak dinners and music - it
rocked," she said.
As Okemo grew in 60s and 70s, more skiers came and the workforce
grew so staff frequented the growing number of restaurants that
offered 'happy hours' as well as the new nightspots. The Snow
Mansion debuted in the '70s (later Chuckles, Charaktors) and is now
Outback Pizza and Nightclub, where a game room was built for kids
so parents can enjoy dinner along with live music.
Today, there are many restaurants that offer occasional live
entertainment like the Killarney (site of former Tiger Inn) which
is a modern après hot spot with an Irish atmosphere, featuring
special event nights (trivia, open mic, etc.), and live
entertainment on weekends.
But while the après offerings of happy hour, dining, and
entertainment that provided a starting point for meeting members of
the opposite sex and socializing with friends continues, it has
also evolved to provide fun for all ages and many more
Swimming, snowshoeing, tubing, ice skating, yoga classes,
massages, sleigh and mountain coaster rides, ziplining, and
hot-tubbing are just a few of the fun activities for folks when the
boards come off today. Vive après-ski variety!