The Mountain Times

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Once upon a time in history: Judy Storch, an original “ski bum”

Photo submitted
Judy Storch doing slush cup shoot for SKI

Judy Storch was one of the original "ski bums" who moved to Killington for the skiing and worked for the ski area before striking out on her own.

Born in Bronxville, NY, and raised in Mt. Vernon, she once organized a ski trip for her high school classmates but overslept and missed the trip.

After high school, she went to Europe on a 40-day bicycle tour and stayed for five months. It was the first of several lengthy trips, and her love of travel remains deeply embedded to this day.

Storch worked as a legal secretary in New York for three years, during which time she had finally learned to ski. "In those days if your family didn't ski, you had to find people or trips in order to ski," she explained, but she was determined to learn.

While skiing at Killington in February 1964, Storch learned about a job opening, applied, and reported to work a week later.

Starting as a secretary for $1.50 an hour, there was no guarantee how long her job would last. She ended up working six weeks and then staying to ski the rest of the season. "When the snow left, I went back to New York to work," she said.

That October Storch returned to Killington and, as General Manager Paul Bousquet's secretary, worked for a variety of departments, including public relations, personnel, ski patrol, and ski school. 

"I was the one who went through the pond eight times in 39-degree weather for photographer Hanson Carroll," she noted, adding, her ski "boots never recovered."

Storch recalled the fun of barrel staves and the time she was disqualified in the Barrel Stave World Championships. One of her staves came off (a strap broke) and hit a judge, but she argued against the DSQ because there "were no rules" to the competition.
While she didn't prevail that time, she did when handling complaints or requests for refunds. That was a tough job as there was a no-refund policy to follow at the time. Once, when told to handle a pile of hundred unanswered complaints, Storch wrote a letter noting the no-refund policy but then added, "Since it took us a long time to respond, we're giving you a complimentary ticket to thank you for your patience and hope you will come back."

The next day Comptroller Marty Wilson exclaimed, "You did what?!"

2--Judy -and -Panda --(19)

Photo submitted
Storch holding a baby panda at the Chengdu Tiger Preserve where a fee for the photo op went toward caring for the pandas. They had to be protected against any germs so therefore the protective gloves and garment on Judy.

"You told me to handle it," she replied.

"Another time a fellow came in saying he had torn the oil pan out of his car in the parking lot. 'You got it caught on a big rock?' I asked him and he said 'yes.'

"And I said, 'it was on the right side of the driveway going into the lot?'

"And he excitedly said, 'YES.'

"Then I said, 'You're lucky you only tore the oil pan out of your vehicle because the 4 foot by 8 foot sign next to it says no unauthorized vehicles.'

"When they were wrong, I was brutal," Storch added with a laugh.

But mostly she smiled and handled things as diplomatically as she could, often explaining that if you went to the islands and there happened to be no sun, one didn't ask for a refund for lack of a tan.

Storch also recalled the days before credit cards. "People paid cash for lift tickets, and there were some heavy duty receipts to take to Proctor where the bank was. I might do a run in the middle of the day with $40,000 or $50,000, but I refused to take a company car because no one would suspect me of having money in my own car," she said.

She also manned the two-way radios and if people were thought to be missing at the end of a day, she would call the Red Rob Inn to make sure the ski patrol didn't leave and added "don't drink because you might have to go out and rescue people."

Because she could speak German, Storch also handled visas for ski school instructors. Unbeknown to them, she could also understand their conversations!

When Killington began developing Killington East, her legal background was an asset, so she decided to take a course and became licensed as a broker in 1968.

She left ski area employment in 1970 and returned to "ski bumming" for two years, waitressing, bartending, and working for Jim Judge's property management company.

In 1972, she founded Killington Valley Real Estate with Pat Denis. Sally Bridges became her partner after Denis left. Now Storch is sole proprietor.

"People didn't think I'd last six months," she noted, but she's become "the longest continuing original founder of a real estate firm in Killington!" She has survived the ups and downs of the economy and real estate market.

Recalling the early days, Storch observed, "It was like the California Gold Rush, only you came for the Killington Ski Rush. There was a pioneering spirit and you came for the growth.

"We were at the right place at the right time, and with a strong work ethic you could succeed in building a business. Today it takes financial means to do what I did," she added of her shoestring start.

When not at the office, Storch now enjoys snowshoeing, golf, travel, sailing, and photography.

"I still love the outdoors and living in Killington," she said, noting that "a resort community is the only place I would want to live because there is always something happening and great people to meet. I'm single and love my social life here - and my freedom," she added.

"I have no plans to retire. I meet too may terrific people and besides my social security checks wouldn't cover my American Express bills," she quipped - a reference to her trips and cruises to interesting places.

2--Judy -&-Sophie -Tiger ---Costa -Maya -Feb -2012

Photo submitted
Judy feeds Sophie, a 3-month old tiger in Costa Maya, Mexico where they were raising funds for a tiger sanctuary.

With one of her passions being photography, her last two China trips were made with a group of amateur photographers. "I took hundreds of photos. It will take me years to edit them!"

On 2008 and 2011 trips, Storch visited the Chengdu Panda Preserve in China. On a visit to Costa Maya, Mexico, she held a three-month old tiger, a rare opportunity and way to raise money for a tiger sanctuary in Mexico City. She also swam with dolphins and sting rays.

"Killington is my comfort zone. That's why I stay. I travel for new adventures and to meet more people. I certainly meet plenty of new people right here in my own backyard," she added of a life that is replete with warm mountain memories and friendships.