On April 30, 2015

Looking Back from New Jersey to Vermont

Are you thinking that the ski season is ending and you don’t want to leave Vermont? Then don’t, if there is a way around it!

For some people life in Vermont compared to a big city just can’t be overlooked.

Since my husband, Peter Shaw, was recently reflecting on the path his life took when he chose to move here in 1960, I decided that he and I would “look back” together in this column.

Peter is a perfect example of someone who came to Vermont to ski and decided to call it home. Back in the 60s he lived in Plainfield, N.J., and belonged to their ski club. The gang came to Vermont every weekend to ski at the various areas. Reservations were made for dorm type rooms, with the guys sleeping on cots in one large room and the ladies doing the same in another.

As Peter became acquainted with the various ski areas in Vermont, he thought one of the best jobs in the world would be to teach skiing. He gave the idea considerable thought during the summer months and approached Pico in the fall of 1960. Since it would be a few months until the snow came, he was offered a job painting lift towers. When winter came Peter took the required teaching tests and was ready to live his dream.

However, his first ski season at Pico was shortened when Mother Nature didn’t provide enough snow and an early closing happened in February. Killington still had enough snow to operate and he was fortunate enough to be hired by them. He was able to accomplish his goal…teaching all winter…even without snowmaking!

It was a great life for a single guy until the snow totally disappeared. Then he thought: “Now what?”

Fortunately, Red Glaze needed someone to help with renovations to the Red Rob Inn. Peter did some painting, light carpentry, bar tending and waited on tables. He found that if you were willing to work you could find a summer job on the mountain.

Peter remained at Killington in the winter of 1961-1962. One of the highlights of his winter was when Warren Miller came and filmed the Killington Ski School as well as the skiers on the mountain.

It was time to call Vermont “home” and find permanent employment. A job at Moore Business Forms allowed Peter to teach skiing on weekends and get a free season pass. Working the night shift meant he could ski every day if he so desired. Life here was looking pretty darn good!

I was introduced to Peter in 1974. If he hadn’t decided to “become a Vermonter,” our paths would never have crossed. Meeting him meant being introduced to the world of skiing. We soon found out that Peter could teach everyone to ski, but me! I couldn’t even get to the top gracefully. My exits from the chairlift were a disaster. I found the J-bar and T-bar were much more user-friendly when it came to getting off. Descending the trail didn’t go much better, though. In order to get down I had to ski across from one side of the trail to the other. It was not a pretty descent!

Fortunately, he saw more in me than my skiing ability and we were married in 1975. I was still looking for my niche in the ski world, since it was such a part of Peter’s life. The best match was helping out in the Junior program at Pico. While Peter taught skiing to teenagers, I headed to the “bunny slope” and walked the little kids to the restrooms so the instructor could keep teaching. Now I too had found a “ski job” I was qualified to do!

When aging knees called a halt to Peter’s downhill skiing days, he found that he enjoyed snowshoeing as much as I did. I am particularly fond of it, since I am not required to ride a lift or stay clear of people hollering “Left!” or “Right!” as they schuss by me.

With 40 years of marriage approaching this September, I guess opposites do attract. Thank goodness I don’t need to strap on my skis to celebrate!

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