Maine Memories

3ba337e7_vbattach3090 At the risk of being “risque” I am posting one of the most famous ski posters of all time. Gadda stay edgy or people won’t read your blog.:) This is the 1972 Lange ” Keep your tips up” poster. There have been many conversations about this poster over the years and one of the pervading questions is ” who was this girl in the poster?” She actually was from Stratton, Maine and I met her when I was working in Sugarloaf, Maine in 1977. As you would suspect, she had no truck with me or any of my granola crunching, woodchuck friends who worked at the ski area. We were way below her “pay grade.” She was a rock star in the Carrabassett Valley.
Her parents were a nice old couple who ran a motel accross the street from where I was staying in Stratton. Ralph and Margaret were an interesting couple. She was a pretty native american lady and Ralph was a crusty old Mainer who was as wise as he was tough as nails. We had many conversations on those cold, clear nights and some of his gems that he told me were,” Don’t ever trust a traffic light up here. Look both ways because the logging trucks can’t and won’t stop coming in from Canada.” Don’t ever go accross the border and go to a bar looking like a college kid. You will surely get your butt kicked.” ” If you see a bull moose, give it distance because they can charge you.” I found that out in a hurry one night when I came accross one right outside of the town of Kingfield. My VW was no match for him. I jammed it in reverse and laid tire for a couple of hundred yards.
It was cold that winter and waking to 40 below straight temperature was no picnic. But Sugarloaf is a wonderful ski area. I used to watch the Can-Am Downhill Ski Races there on the Narrow Gauge trail. I saw the Crazy Canucks as they were making their way to the International World Cup scene. Todd Brooker, Ken Reid, Steve Podborski all raced at Sugarloaf. The Narrow Gauge was an unforgiving rock hard track and one poor bugger lost one of his skis coming over the rise about halfway down and shouted,” MEDIC” as he rocketed into the woods. We thought that comment was funny until we saw the ski patrol fish him out of the woods and haul him to the hospital. I learned a lot about skiing that winter. I often think about those days and about Ralph and Margaret and whether their daughter ever made a killing from that poster. Ralph told me that he met his wife at a dance on the other side of the mountain. He had taken his dog sled to the dance and after he met Margaret, they were instantly attracted to each other and he strapped all her belongings on to the back of the sled and took her back over the mountain to Stratton where he married her and she helped him run the motel and raise a family. Maybe I should have taken a dog sled to Bellevue and taken my wife Janet back to Hampton Twp,Pa. It would have been a great story but tough sledding over Rt 19 and Rt 8.
I will always cherish those days and I tell young people all the time that after they graduate, if they feel like doing something fun and adventurous, do it. My good friend Art Bonavoglia is working in Vail as a ski instructor this year at 60 years old. He didn’t have the opportunity as a young guy but he is living the dream now thanks to the patience of his wife Sharon. They love him in Vail. Carpe Deium Art.

7 thoughts on “Maine Memories

  1. J.R. says:

    Great post Pat. I look forward to many more stories of your encounters with the famous. Clark gets credit for calling you the real Forrest Gump. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sharon Bonavoglia says:

    Art really misses me until the second turn of the day! I love the vision of him loving how he makes a living. I also have to say that I cannot see your lovely wife, Janet, in any sort of sled on rt 19…nor would I be caught dead in one either! You’re a great writer and always a joy to read.

  3. Cuz-I-L says:

    LOVE this story Patrick AND your advice to new grads! In my “youth” I adventured into the state of Maine teaching Silversmithery/Jewelry-Making in Poland Springs…yep, where they bottle the water. Vividly remember that on a clear night the stars looked so close I thought if I climbed up onto the cabin roof I could pluck one from the sky! Slainte, Cuz-I-L

  4. Janet says:

    No wonder you have So many fond memories of Maine, haha!!! This is really a good story and it made me laugh out loud!
    Thanks Dear 🙂
    XO

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