A History of the Lexington Ski Club
by Bruce Sebell
|Founding of the Club
The initial founding of the club was a bit less auspicious than the ultimate result. The idea of starting a ski club was initiated by two young single gentlemen living in Lexington, named John Adams and Paul Stella. They had the idea of forming a ski club for singles that would be a great vehicle to meet single girls who liked to ski. John was working at Lexington Lumber and posted a sign at work advertising an initial meeting to be held in Lexington for all interested parties. Word spread primarily among the customers of Lexington Lumber and the Lexington Ski and Sports Shop (formerly in Depot Square).
The main objective was to reduce the cost of skiing by using the combined buying power of the group to get discounts on skiing and lodging from establishments near ski areas. The thought was that we could rent an entire lodging facility and bargain for a reduced per person charge.
The first ëunofficialí meeting of the club was a cookout held at John Adams motherís house on Paul Revere road in Lexington. There was a good turnout that consisted of no single women and about a dozen married couples. John had never stipulated ësingles onlyí. It became clear early on that the ësinglesí club was not feasible and the only likelihood for success was as a ëFamilyí club.
It was decided to place an ad in the Lexington Minuteman newspaper to attract new and interested members. The first ëofficialí meeting of the club was held at the Lexington Belfry Club. In subsequent meetings the elders of the club (Dick Masters, Jim Myers, Norman Sebell, Dick Stone, Bill Hammer, Howard Kadash, Hugh Lyons and others) began to meet regularly to create a charter and iron out the Articles of Incorporation. The club was incorporated in May of 1964.
The lawyers in the club (Jim Myers, Mike Shaughnessey) decided that the meetings would be to run under Robertís Rules of Order in order to maintain order and decorum. That resulted in some interesting discussions about how issues were discussed and resolved. The first president of the club was Jim Myers.
It was decided that the first official ski weekend of the Lexington Ski Club would be unofficially called the "Letís see if we can live together" experiment. It was held at the Hoffman House in Jackson N.H. The group (nearing 100 including children) filled the lodge for the weekend and it was a great success. There was a lot of drinking and partying and it was clear that this was ënotí an early to bed, early to riseí crowd. The consensus however was that it was a good group of people with a common goal.
It was not long afterwards that it was agreed that the membership should
look for a more permanent residence for the club. The call went out to
everyone to keep an eye out for a large facility in NH and VT that could
be modified similar to what was done by the Penguin Ski Club in Glenn NH.
Finding a Permanent Home
By 1965, the town of Lincoln and North Woodstock was on the verge of total bankruptcy. The mill that had sustained the town for over 50 years had gone bankrupt multiple times in recent years. Loon Mountain did not yet exist. Interstate 93 ended in Plymouth. The business of skiing was not profitable and what prosperity there was in the White Mountains was nearly all in North Conway. People were abandoning properties in the LinWood valley just to get away from the mortgages.
That summer, while club members Dick and Rita Masters were on vacation in NH, they happened upon the Royal Motel in North Woodstock NH. As legend tells it, Dick saw that the establishment was in dire need of attention. He knocked on the door and asked to speak to the owner. He met a kindly older woman who owned the motel with her husband. [Itís believed that their name was Sterling]. He asked if by chance they had considered selling the motel. It is said that she grabbed a hold of Dick, pulled him in side and wouldnít let him out of her sight until Dick had a chance to talk to her husband. As fate would have it, the owners were seriously considering selling the property. The husband worked at the NH State Liquor store in town and was ready to retire, and he had just recently won the state lottery to the tune of $20,000 (back when that was considered a real sum of money). They were ready to blow out of town and head for Florida (without looking back).
Dick brought a proposal back to the membership and a deal was quickly completed. The first bond of $100 was issued across the membership to raise money for the down payment. Norman Sebell was instrumental in securing the first mortgage and insurance policy. The Royal Motel (soon to become the Lexington Ski Club) was purchased for $30,000, furnished. [I sometimes wonder if the Sterlingís chuckled as they left town knowing that they had unloaded their ëwhite elephantí on some poor suckersÖ].
Not a whole lot is known about the early usage of the facility before
we bought it. Some town locals have said that it was primarily built as
the service quarters for the former Alpine Hotel that existed behind the
club. Others have said that it used to handle the overflow from the larger
hotel. During recent excavations of the building it has been suggested
that the building originally was three homes that had been moved together
into its current configuration (a common occurrence is the early 1900ís).
In any case, during the first years of the club it became clear as to why
the motel had been in decline and it was clear that this place was not
originally designed for winter usage.
Getting things started
Virtually from day one, the club was a ëwhite elephantí. There was almost no insulation in the walls and nearly every bathroom leaked. The kitchen had minimal appliances. The bedding was in poor condition. But it was a start.
The boiler was an instant and constant source of aggravation and failed almost from day one. There were numerous times we woke in the morning to frozen pipes and no heat. There were numerous times that some of the ëfathersí of the club spent the better part of a weekend fixing the boiler than skiing. Thank goodness we had a great neighbor (Dave and Dottie Rogers) who became a local asset to the club.
It quickly became apparent that some cash was needed in order to help defray the costs of running the club so it was agreed to increase the membership. There were a number of friends brought in from Newton and other surrounding towns. It was the expansion of the membership to towns beyond Lexington that immediately concerned some of the members. The primary concern was that operating the club would require a large volunteer effort and if members were spread too far away, it would be hard to get their cooperation in the ongoing operation of the club. Thus came much debate and the eventual adoption of the ëcontiguous towní rule.
The configuration of the ëtypicalí American family was a bit different back in the 1960ís than it is today. Most of the families in the club back then had 3 to 5 kids. It quickly became apparent that more beds were needed. One of the first major projects was to construct bunk beds in many of the larger rooms. When we purchased the club the ëmotelí suites were originally configured as efficiencies with a small stove and refrigerator appliance to accommodate larger families. The appliance units quickly became inefficient and they were removed out of safety concerns. But the name has always remained to those units and they still are favored for use primarily by larger families.
When the club was purchased the old Alpine Hotel building still existed behind the club (but had long since ceased operations). The building was a grand hotel of the Mount Washington Hotel era. (In fact some of the early members of the club remember having stayed at the hotel in its more glorious days.) In any case, not too long after the club was purchased the Alpine hotel was slated for demolition. The town was concerned that being a huge old wooden structure sooner or later, someone would torch it, so they wanted to demolish it in a controlled manner. The building was ultimately demolished in a huge controlled burn that lasted for a couple of days. (The Alpine condos now occupy the former hotel site [thus their name]).
Everything in the Alpine building was up for auction. The stipulation was that everything needed to be removed from the building by a specific date (late August, I believe) or else it was to be demolished with the building. Some of the members went to the auction and bought most of the kitchen appliances. The word then went out for members to get up to NH to help move equipment. They purchased a stove, a dishwasher, the big toaster, meat slicer, mixer, chandeliers (still in use in the dining room), tables, the steam table and dishes and utensils. Nearly all of this equipment either is still in use or was just recently replaced.
The kitchen was originally along the north/east side wall (where the toaster and milk machines are today). There was a cold storage room in the back corner (where the stove sits today) that was a total waste of space. The water pipes continually froze and the heat was poor. The dinning room was an L shaped configuration that was not very convenient for larger group sittings. It was decided that the configuration of the kitchen/dinning area was totally inefficient for the clubís purposes and evoked much discussion as to how to change it.
Thus (as legend has it) after weeks of discussion and debate about how to solve the situation, one morning at breakfast Dick Stone decided to take matters into his own hands. Dick went down to the basement, returned with a large sledgehammer and proceeded to demolish the central wall separating the kitchen from the dinning area in about an hour. Decision made. Needless to say subsequent work weekends were spent moving the kitchen to the back wall and the dining room into its current configuration. (When Pete Tasker became president years later, Dick took him aside and told him that sometimes you just have to stop discussing and take action. He didnít tell Pete about his call to action with the kitchen, but it was part of the Lodge Committeeís oral tradition.)
It was also clear that the building was never built for extensive winter usage and during an era when heating oil prices were much cheaper. Complaints about freezing cold rooms (23/24, M4 & M5, 8 & 9, Girlsí dorm) and frozen pipes were constant. The building had never been properly insulated. The decision was made that ALL exterior walls needed to be insulated. Thus began a multi-year project to remove the interior wall of all of the outside walls and pack them with insulation. (Thus the reason for all of the paneled walls throughout the club.) There was also extensive insulation work done throughout the attic and basement. (Many of the teens back in the early days of the club were pressed into the nasty task of ëmole crewí duty.)
The plumbing and the electrical were always (and still are) a source of ongoing aggravation. Vaughan Bogosian was a professional electrician so his work weekend projects were always planned well in advance. There had always been a standing rule that if a professional plumber ever applied for membership they would automatically rise to the top of the waiting list. Needless to say whenever a professional plumber would come up to the club, they knew not to apply for membership. Plumbing has always been and will always be our number one maintenance headache.
Dave and Dottie Rogers were the first caretakers we hired for the club. Whenever there was a problem they immediately came to our assistance. There were many times that Dave would be over on a weekend to help fix the furnace or to lend a hand and advise. He was instrumental in putting us in contact with local resources when needed. Their two sons Dave, Jr. and Daryl were adopted as part of the ëyouth groupí within the club. Dave (Sr.) was our first caretaker until his unfortunate death in 1991.
When Dave died, we launched a search for a new, local caretaker. When we interviewed one potential local and took him through the club, his eyes popped out of his head when we showed him the bar with its liquor closet chock full of membersí bottles of hard liquor. At the end of the tour the candidate said that he didnít think he could handle to job with all of that liquor around. (We didnít ask.) We were able to hire a local custodian, but after three years we let him go and started another search. We discovered Dottieís son Daryl who owns The Breezes motel at the foot of Paradise Road. This has turned out to be another great relationship with the Rogers family.
Dottie Rogers has continued to do light cleaning of the club during the week and is remains an important watchdog across the street. We have been very lucky and very grateful for all of the times that Dottie has provided us with warnings about questionable activities in and around the club.
In December 1972 we had our first brush with a major disaster. Chan
Morrison arrived on a Friday night to discover that the heat had been out
for a long time. It turns out that someone had inadvertently turned off
the furnace and by about 10PM broken pipes started to defrost. Chan was
up until about 2:00 AM watching for more breaks and then turned off the
water. An emergency call went out the next morning and we proceeded to
have a special work weekend as volunteers kept arriving. After that, an
alarm was installed on the furnace to warn the caretaker that something
Growing up in the club
Growing up as a young person in the club was a great experience (at least for most of us). As was said before, nearly every family had between 3 to 5 children. Thus on any particular weekend there were perhaps 40 to 50 kids at the club. There were at least a half dozen kids in every age group. The club was not the place to be if you wanted a quiet evening by the fire to sip a hot toddy. It was organized bedlam. There were frequently two dinner settings (children under 18 ate at 5:30, Adults at 6:30). The only refuge from kids was the bar (thus the rule about not kids during cocktail hour).
There were so many kids between the ages of 13 to 18 that we needed to build the dorms to house them all. The dorms were great places to stay and if only the parents knew what went on sometimes (but we wonít go there). There were also many great friendships developed (and a few romances).
There were always groups to ski with. Most parents loved it because your kids were gone from 9am to 4 pm, but you always knew where they were. The Lexington Ski Club became well known throughout the valley. We terrorized Loon Mtn. a couple of times. (One unfortunate bathroom incident necessitated the banning of some individuals from Loon for a couple of years.) We used to have organized race weekends that were great fun.
The issue of ëthereís nothing for the young people to doí existed back then as much as it still does today. Early on the issue of ëkids musicí became an issue. We had no place to listen to ëourí music. We were told that if we wanted a record player, we needed to buy one. The young people organized (mostly lead by Debbie Bogosian) and we held a car wash/bake sale in Lexington. We raised over $200 and bought a stereo system and installed it in the dining room. Some of the parents were not pleased, but they had no choice. Rock and Roll had come to the club.
Vacation weeks, the club was always packed (thus the need to divide the weeks in half). Frequently parents would leave their kids up for the whole week (with sponsors) while the parents returned to work. Finding sponsors was always easy. People were great about sponsoring anyone elseís kids.
The club also acquired a reputation for having some lively parties. Ray and Claire Bosselli organized many of the more notorious annual New Years Eve parties. Some people were known to have dropped their conservative ways and these parties lived on in legend for many years. Not to mention any names specifically but there were stories about games involving silverware and string that became legendary. Dick Stone was well known for introducing the club membership to ëvino finoí.
Raising kids in the club was never easy but on the other hand it was
a fun and exciting environment to grow up in. The club had its share of
society problems. There were incidents with drugs and underage drinking.
There were even some incidents of hanky-panky going on with both senior
and junior members. But in all cases, the club was able to handle the issues
either individually or as a group. In most cases, it helped to strengthen
the bond that holds the club together.
The Kitchen crew
Besides the general lodge maintenance of the club, the organization and management of the kitchen has been the biggest operational function of the club. Mealtime is viewed as an essential ëfamilyí time for the club. Many wonderful relationships and conversations have developed during mealtimes at the club.
As was said before, in the 1960ís the choices of eating establishments in the Lincoln/North Woodstock valley were extremely limited. The availability of local grocery stores wasnít much better. Clearly the coordinating of food purchasing, preparation and cleanup was a major task that no one had signed on to handle single handedly.
There was a core group of women (Ruth Sebell, Margaret Bogosian, Betty Chase, Kay Tally and others) who managed the early kitchen committee. Most of the food supplies were bought at the IGA in Burlington, Mass. and driven to the club on any given weekend. (I personally remember on multiple occasions having to ride for hours from Lexington to North Woodstock sitting between a 20 pound roast beef and boxes of restaurant-quantity can goods piled around the seat.) Pretty much everything needed to be pre-planned because once you got up there; there was no place go purchase what you forgot. (At least not without a long drive to Plymouth or Littleton). I remember there were sometimes frequent calls to people in Lexington who were ëcoming up laterí that were asked to go pick up something that was forgotten.
It was quickly decided that there needed to be a professional cook to prepare the meals on a week-by-week basis. The first year we had a few interesting experiences with some personalities that didnít quite work out as hoped. One gentleman came and quit half way through his first meal. Another one came but refused to have anything to do with the clean up.
One of our first stable cooks was a kindly older woman named Mrs. Shepard. Mrs. Shepard lived locally and loved to cook for us as her ëfamilyí. The problem was that everyone often went in to assist Mrs. Shepard in the kitchen and would bring her a ëlittle nipí to help her through her tasks. Unfortunately sometimes dinner ended up burned because Mrs. Shepard got a bit inebriated by dinnertime. She was a very nice woman and remained with the club for two seasons.
Then we realized that a more permanent solution was needed. Someone advertised at the cooking school in Berlin NH. A young man named Mike Blake responded. Mike desperately needed a job and also wanted to learn to ski. Mike began cooking for the club in the winter and did bicycle repair during the summer. Mike cooked for the club for approximately 3 seasons. Mike eventually bought into a bicycle repair business in Brighton and moved to the Boston area.
The call once again went out for a cook and our prayers were answered. In the fall of 1970, a young man named Peter Govoni from the Berlin cooking school responded to a local ad. Peter lived in the area and was dating a local girl and wanted to stay locally. Well needless to say that friendship eventually led to marriage and Peter settled in the town and he became a permanent fixture of the Lexington Ski Club for the next 27+ years.
Peter was a great asset to the club. Not only did he cook and clean up, but he also coordinated all of the purchasing of food and supplies for the club. Peter became part of our family as much as we became a part of his. We watched his son (Clark, Jr.) and daughter (Katie) grow up in the club. It seemed that almost from the day they could walk they always helped Peter in the kitchen and they were adopted as members of the clubís family. Peter helped us untold times with maintenance tasks that went well beyond his official kitchen duties. When Katie began raising chickens we all brought her our empty egg cartons and bought her products. Clark had a business selling ice to the campgrounds that did so well that he eventually paid for his entire family to go to Disney World one year.
Peter is a very interesting individual outside of his duties at the club, for those who didnít have the opportunity to know him. He is the quintessential yankee entrepreneur. In addition to his tasks as cook for the ski club (in which cooking became quite secondary in his life) Peter became quite active in some of his father-in-lawís business ventures. Peterís in-laws own Clarks Trading Post, an ëinstitutioní in the valley. Itís a family business that provides a very comfortable living for most of the Clark family.
Peter on the other hand became more interested in hydroelectric dams back in the early 70ís (when energy prices shot up and alternatives were being encouraged). With his father-in-lawís support Peter began buying old hydro dam sites in NH. He then went and found old abandoned dams in other parts of the country, bought the equipment at the plants and heavy equipment in the local area. He went out to the dams, dug up the salvageable parts, loaded it onto truck, brought it back east, rebuilt the local dams and brought the systems online. He built White Mountain Hydro Electric Company from scratch and became its president
Peter also saw the condo boom under way in NH and realized that they needed extensive heavy construction equipment. Peter would go to heavy equipment auctions in Florida, buy used equipment, truck it all back to NH. Refurbish it and sell it to local developers for a hefty profit. When the condo boom went bust in the early ë90ís he bought back much of that same equipment for pennies on the dollar, refurbished it and trucked it back to Florida for sale at the same auctions. Peter still remains in town and now spends his time refurbishing and selling antique cars.
In some ways the club got very complacent under Peter and thus it was a bit of a shock when Peter announced his retirement. We had to reactivate the kitchen committee and re-assume tasks that Peter had always taken care of. The kitchen committee talked to a number of possible cooks in the area and even explored some from the Boston area. We talked to other ski clubs in the area to find out what they did for food preparation. We came to a real impasse: Bob Irish, our local food supplier was looking for work to supplement his income during his slow winter period, but he didnít want to work every weekend. Jim Fearnside recommended the summer cook from the Three Mile Island AMC camp, Andrea. She lived in Vermont and cooked at The Mountain School during the winter, but she saw cooking at the lodge as a way of helping get her two boys into skiing. It turned out that she and her husband were reluctant for her to drive all the way to the lodge and cook every weekend. So, a deal was struck that had Bob and Andrea share the cooking responsibilities, alternating weekends and coordinating their overall meal offerings. Andrea commutes to the club with her sons, and Bobís family visits regularly to help him cook. Bob continued as our food supplier which also helped with some of the "beyond cooking" parts of the job that Peter had been doing.
Charlie Levin has been instrumental in reforming and organizing the kitchen committee to assure continuity with this team approach. Although we all miss Peter, the membership has shown it ability to adapt to change and we have now embarked on a new set of relationships that (thus far) have proved to be very rewarding.
Charlie Levin has been instrumental in reforming and organizing the
kitchen committee. We have two new families who have become part of the
fabric of the club. Bob Irish who lives locally and is also the food supplier
for the club. His family visits regularly to help him cook. We also have
Andrea ?? and her boys Josh & ??. They commute ever other weekend from
Vermont to the club.
The Great Fire (and subsequent flood)
Not long after the club was purchased the insurance company insisted that we take fire protection seriously. In the insurance industry there is a saying about old wooden structures such as ours, "Itís not IF they will burn, but WHEN!" A cheery thought, but unfortunately true. They recommended that we install a dry sprinkler system. The purpose of the system was not as much to save the building in the event of a fire, but to save lives and give people adequate time to get out of the building. If a large fire got going, the building will undoubtedly go down, we just want to be sure that there is no loss of life.
Norm Sebell lay awake at night worrying about what could happen to the kids in the club if there were a fire. So around 1970 Norman Sebell and Ray Bosselli led a campaign to install a sprinkler system in the lodge. The consensus was by no means unanimous but a majority eventually passed it and an additional $100 assessment was made to all members (tThus one of the reasons for the $300 initiation fee charged to all new members). The system was professionally installed and other than a few minor accidents had never been severely tested, untilÖ
In July of 1987 Bruce & Jeanne Sebell (the then lodge committee chairmen) were celebrating their wedding anniversary at an inn in New London NH when a call came through from Chan Morrison. Who even knew where we were! The North Woodstock police had notified Chan that someone had attempted to burn down the lodge. We immediately drove to the club expecting the worst.
Fortunately when we arrived, the building was still standing. The fire department figured that someone had poured about 3 gallons of an accelerant (probably gasoline) along the back wall of motel 4 & 5. Fortunately this person did not look above him to see that there were sprinkler heads along the back of the building. As soon as the flames got high enough it melted a few of the heads, the sprinkler system worked like a charm and pretty much drowned the fire on the outside of the building.
Of more concern was that some flames had worked their way into the internal walls and had climbed into the ceiling and second floor walls. Fortunately the North Woodstock volunteer fire department arrived quickly on the scene and got things under control with minimal damage. Ultimately the final damage toll was mostly to the back walls of Motel 4 & 5, rooms 9 &10 and general smoke damage throughout to the entire west wing. There was very little structural damage and the worst damage was mostly cosmetic.
That fall all of the exterior walls of those rooms were removed. All evidence of burnt wood was removed and everything was re-insulated and re-paneled. All-and-all we felt pretty lucky to have gotten through it so easily and we were looking forward to a good ski season. The other major project that year was the installation of all of the new carpeting in the halls and common rooms.
Unfortunately as fate would have it, that was not the end of the incident. As it turned out the person that was hired by the insurance company to service the sprinkler system after the fire was supposed to come back for a follow up visit to bleed the system a second time after the fire. Or at least inform us that it was our responsibility to do so. (After the system is filled with water it is necessary to periodically drain the low points to drain off all residual condensation). In any case, we did not know this procedure needed to be done so when the club was hit with the first severe cold snap in early November, the water that had accumulated in the low points in the attic, froze, burst the pipes and sent a torrent of water throughout the second and first floor.
Once again we had to race up to the club expecting the worse. This time we were not so lucky. The system burst at the main junction feed just above the top of the stairs in the attic. When the fire department finally arrived later in the day there was a waterfall of water pouring down the main staircase (why it took so long for them to respond is still a mystery). Many of the room ceilings in most of the second floor bedrooms had become saturated with water and collapsed. Most of the suspended ceiling in the living room had collapsed and also a portion of the dining room. There was over a foot of water throughout most of the basement (fortunately the boiler stayed high and dry). Our initial fear was that the entire ski season would be lost. It looked like a total disaster.
Fortunately fate would once again smile upon us. The insurance company was quick to respond and immediately stepped in and had a cleanup crew in there within the week. They removed all of the damaged ceilings, bedding and anything else that was damaged. They set up huge fans throughout the first floor and dried out the building fairly quickly. They then brought in a construction crew to quickly replace all of the damaged ceilings on the second floor. Most of the structure of the hung ceilings on the first floor remained intact and we only needed to replace all of the tiles. Before we knew it, things werenít looking so bad after all.
We had just installed new wall-wall carpeting in the living room, bar, and TV room, and the water soaked it completely. But
Thanks to some Herculean efforts by most of the membership and most notably the lodge committee (Bill Hammer, Roy Lynn, Jim Fearnside, Hugh Lyons and others) were able to get the club back online and ready for the winter season. The crew was so good at wet vacuuming the carpets that they were salvaged. Everyone was required to put in a second late season work weekend that fall to get the club back in shape.
Thanks to a satisfactory insurance settlement that covered all of the
professional work and the replacement of many of the mattresses (that needed
replacing) and replacement of the new carpet (which we did not have to
replace),. W we were able to bank most of the remainder, which subsequently
paid for the new roof that was put on a few years later. So we have had
our share of fires, floods and more recently a plague of drought of snow,
so what else can go wrong? (Iím afraid to ask!)
The growth of the NH ski industry
(And the rebirth of the Linwood valley)
When the club was purchased back in 1965 the Lincoln/North Woodstock region was severely in need of some type of economic stimulus. The pulp mill was closing for its last time and unemployment in the area was high. The ski industry was beginning to show signs of growth but economic prosperity seemed to be going on everywhere but in Lincoln and North Woodstock.
Interstate 93 had yet to be built up through northern NH. It ended in Plymouth and you had to travel Rt. 3 (a winding two lane road) to get to North Woodstock. The mill in Lincoln was still in operation but times were very tough. You could buy nearly any piece of property in Lincoln for a song.
Cannon Mountain was the destination for the hearty diehards (Ski the Legend, was its slogan). Tenny in Plymouth and Mount Tecumseh (later renamed Waterville) were small time operations. The truly adventuresome traveled further north to Wildcat and Burke. Cranmore had the skimobile that was novel but extremely inefficient. An all day ticket at most areas was under $11 for an adult ($7 for a child) and if you had to wait in longer than a 5 minute lift line then it was a crowded day. There was no snow making so you got what Mother Nature delivered (thus the infamous New England conditions [better known as ice and rock]). There were great snow years like 1966 1968 and bad years like 1971 73.
Sometime in the fall of 1966, Dick Stone met an elderly gentleman in downtown Lincoln who was talking about building a new ski area in Lincoln. Dick invited him to the lodge for dinner one night. The gentleman turned out to be (former) Governor Sherman Adams. He came by to see us and discuss his vision for the future of the Linwood valley. He showed up with a bunch of plans and talked about building a new ski mountain on the edge of the national forest land on the other side of Lincoln. He talked about it being a multi-mountain project with hotels and restaurants and all kinds of new features. He also talked about building hundreds of condos throughout the valley. He offered everyone the opportunity to buy in for a $10,000/share (that was a real sum of money for most members back then). I donít believe that there were any takers (Oh if onlyÖ.).
When he left, most people were mildly amused by the visit and wished him well, with most probably thinking that they had just heard from one of lifeís great dreamers. Well it didnít take long for everyone to be proven wrong. Sherman Adams was also chief of staff for President Dwight Eisenhower during the late 1950ís, so he was very well connected in Washington. The US Congress quickly passed a bill giving him deed to all of the land that is now Loon Mountain. The environmental lobby was nothing that it is today and the prospect of jobs for the locals got the project underway very quickly.
Soon Loon Mountain was in operation with the gondola, three chair lifts, 9 trails and 1 base lodge. The mountain kept adding new trails and lifts each year and prices began to rise. Loon was one of the pioneers of snow making technology and they quickly took it to an art form. Generally the conditions at Loon exceeded every other mountain in New England. Those who were there during the early days at Loon remember when Sherman Adams himself would walk around handing out hot chocolate to everyone in line, delivering real service and asking for suggestions on how to improve things.
Loon was the first mountain in the area to offer the ability to pre-buy your tickets a day in advance and they quickly became the mountain of choice for most ski club members. The mountain was often sold out before 9am. For many the crowds grew unmanageable and the diehards eventually returned to Cannon.
Well Sherman was also right about the condo craze. Throughout the 1980ís and well into the 90ís the building of condos has exceeded beyond everyoneís expectations. The valley is now filled with businesses that few could have imagined 30 years ago. Fortunately for the club, most of the development has been far enough away and not had a direct impact on the club facility (although it is nice to finally have a somewhat better choice of local restaurants and supply stores).
In the meantime all of the other ski area in the region have also benefited
from the growth of skiing in NH. Cannon has always lagged behind but it
seems that the long awaited expansion with Mittersill will finally happen.
Waterville expanded to a new mountain and struggles to maintain its operation.
Breton Woods has grown enormously and seems to be quite successful. Sunday
River has seemingly grown out of nowhere to become one of the premier ski
destinations in the White Mountains. Tenny closed in 2000 and has yet to
reopen. Burke continues to be a popular destination for those seeking smaller
Although you could not refer to the Linwood valley today as a culinary paradise, itís far better than it was in 1965 and through out the 1970ís. Back then, there were almost no restaurants open in the winter (the Chalet, Ernieís Broasted Chicken and the Eaglecliff for pizza was about all). There were no fast food restaurants. The prime tourist season for the area was the summer and fall. Some of the hotels (like the Indian Head) served meals but the quality was less than wonderful.
In 1975 the Common Man opened in Ashland and that was about as close as wonderful as things got for a long while. The Beacon Motel (north of the club on Rt. 3) went through a huge growth phase in the 70ís and 80ís adding Dadís Disco lounge. That was the high point of entertainment in the valley (outside of the club) for many. Dexter Hyman and the Fosters used to love to go to Dadís to hear the guy who played dance tunes on the accordion.
For a number of years Loon Mountain had an establishment called The
Barn. It was an old barn that was converted into a night club for ëyoung
peopleí. They would have folk singers there and it was very 70ís. Then
came disco and it changed to accommodate the culture changes. There were
a number of incidents with illegal behavior (ëdrugsí) that eventually led
to the shutdown of the club in the early 90ís.
The Evolution of the Club Bedrooms
You have no doubt noticed that most of the rooms in the club have queen beds and many have bathrooms. The move to queen beds was spearheaded under Bruce Sebellís terms as lodge chair and president. Over the past ten years we have replaced most of the of the old singles and doubles, and upgraded the bunk bed mattresses. The bunk beds themselves were constructed by club members starting in the first years of ownership of the club to accommodate all of the families with kids.
Few of the rooms in the main lodge had their own bathrooms. About ten years ago Bill Hammer came up with the clever idea of converting closets into bathrooms. This was no small feat in some cases. Check out the particular ingenuity involved in the interlocking space involved with the bathrooms in rooms 4 & 5 and in rooms 20 & 21. In some cases this meant that some rooms ended up with clothes racks in the room rather than having a clothes closet. BUT, many more rooms now have bathrooms.
Why do the bathrooms in the club have light switches outside the bathroom??
If youíve imbibed too much beer and have to make a pit stop in the middle
of the night when the rest of your family is sleeping, you will be grateful
for the ensuite bathroom. But you will have trouble turning on the light
without waking the rest of your family because you canít go into the bathroom,
close the door, and then turn on the light. This is because the latest
rewiring of the club was done by a club member who was an electrician from
Massachusetts. Unlike New Hampshire, the Massachusetts electrical code
does not adopt the "Live Free or Die" motto. So their code requires that
light switches be outside the bathroom so you canít stand in the
shower and turn on the light. (What is Massachusetts's motto anyway??)
Not Growing up in the Club
Because the club membership was so closely knit and many had been in the club from the early days, a body of written by-laws and lodge rules had evolved. These are interesting reading because each one has a story behind it reflecting some incident that came up in the course of the clubís 30-year history. But there were also many unwritten rules that had developed. For the new family in the club, these unwritten rules were a minefield. How did I know that a particular room was some familyís special room? About 15 years ago, after a number of discussions among "those new folks," Bobby Perlmutter aided by Susan Foster and Pete Tasker, put together a compendium of "Helpful Hints & Other Miscellany." This is only eight pages long, but it may save you from some personal embarrassment. (You can find it near the end of your club membership packet. Incidentally, that club packet has been produced every year since 1965 by Chan Morrison, no small undertaking!)
There were many kitchen duties that Peter Govoni took care of, and over
the course of his being our cook, many members forgot how to make a club
kitchen and dining room function. With Peterís retirement there were processes
that needed to be committed to paper, and some new processes needed to
be established to handle the job sharing of the new cooks. So, at the end
of your packet you can find the "Kitchen Guidelines." Reading these will
help with the functioning of the club (and may also save you some personal
(Disclaimer: Some of the information contained within was accumulated
from past years of memories that may be influenced by parental perspective
and folklore. Where ever possible we have tried to adhere to the facts
as best as they can be recalled and to give proper credit where credit
is due. If there are any incorrect references to details or individuals
we apologize and please feel free correct the record. We hope that the
information herein is correct and fair to the truth.)