/ Stories / Theme / Sports / Skiing /
In 1970 I talked my mother into accompanying me to Denver, using her car, so I could attend an MLA convention: and also sample Rocky Mountain skiing! She would see the south on our way west, the Rockies once in their neighborhood, then some other, more northern, route back east. When I was a kid my mother got us as far north (of NYC / LI) as Montreal and as far south as Virginia, maybe a mile or two of mid-40s, WWII North Carolina … There are lots of stories I could tell of that (and other 1940s and 19950s ) trip(s) and side comments I could make about who I was in 1970, what I was doing then, what I was succeeding in doing, and failing in doing, but for the moment I open this file to tell one 1970 story:
Crossing Texas we decided to lunch in Dallas. We could easily have stopped at any of the road side restaurants, as we’d been doing all along, but Mom decided that she wanted downtown Dallas: even though we were going out of our way to get to an area where parking would be at a premium. But we saw a rib joint, with a parking emporium across the street. I like small cars, with tiny engines and front wheel drive, and rack and pinion steering, and at least 38 miles per gallon, but Mom drove a big damn Oldsmobile. I attached my ski rack to her Olds, clamped down my 207 cm K2s, and off we went.
As we crossed Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana and Texas, we didn’t see too many other cars loaded with skis. Shereveport, Dallas are not ordinary ski routes to Taos, Vail, or Jackson Hole . But there we were, ready for Texas ribs. The parking lot had valet parking: a dispatcher gave you a ticket as you vacated your car by a central booth. One of a number of valets, all black, all shuffling wino sterotypes, was assigned the task of getting your car out of the way. But the guy assigned the task of driving our Olds wouldn’t go near it. He rolled his eyes, a Hollywood black from the ’30s, trembled, and sidled two steps away from the car for any one toward it. Ah, I thought: he’s seen James Bond movies! He thinks that the ski rack is a rocket launch, the skis weapons, and that the whole thing will blow him to kingdom come as soon as he takes the wheel.
By this time other shufflers were also glancing sideways at my skis. Finally one stepped foward, and drove the car away. As we returned, after a disappointing lunch of very ordinary ribs, way over-sauced, the sauce very ordinary, the bevy of valets had made a kind of peace with the James Bond 007 car in their midst. The less timid shufflers were explaining the strange apparatus to our original coward. “They’re skis,” they explained to him. “Wazzat?” he wanted to know. They answered: “You strap them on your feet, and you go: real fast!”
The original bleary-eyed shuffler wheeled on me. “Oh, yeah?” he challenged: