Tony Conish was a food distributor in San Francisco and I think he was responsible for Club members becoming gourmets.. At any rate our ski lunches soon became long sessions with french bread, several varieties of cheeses and cold cuts and of course ample supplies of wine. We would ski all morning, generally at Squaw Valley, then adjourn to the patio for a two hour lunch. Then try to pull ourselves together to get back on the slopes till closing time. A long bracing ride on the chair lift was often necessary to offset the effects of the wine.
Tony Conish, a few others, and this writer also got into the bad habit of starting our apre ski as soon as we left the hill for the day. Tony was at heart a Bon Vivant and fun to be with. In those years Tony and I wore white caps when skiing and pictured ourselves as very European especially after several glasses of noon day wine. Tony Matt, a Austrian racer and later a professional at Sun Valley, always wore a white cap and while we didn't ski like he did, we sometimes imagined that we did.
Some of the Napa Clubbers also thought these gourmet lunches an excellent idea and would join us including Gordon and Donna Brown and Warren and Esther Mufich. Warren was a Napa resident and true to that Valley especially its famous wines. Decades later he became an amateur winemaker of some fame. One of my favorites as part of lunch was "Tiny Tots", those luscious Norwegian sardines packed in olive oil. Gordon and I both loved these tasties and ate them at every opportunity. Donna complained we always smelled of fish oil. And we probably did.
Except for Warren we were not very selective in our wines except that they had to be inexpensive. At that time some Chilean wines were being imported into San Francisco and I was buying them by the case. There was a red of indeterminable origin and a riesling. The wine came in wide shouldered squat bottles that were in demand by the womenfolk as candle holders. Dripping multi colored waxes over the exterior of the bottle created an interesting decorative piece. Or so we thought. There was a great demand for the empty bottles but we wine drinkers were up to the task ensuring a steady supply for the girls.
Our apre ski cocktails often included martinis. I would pre-mix a fifth or quart before leaving home. Left in the car they would be properly chilled and ready to enjoy as we got off the slopes. They were delicious but all too often curtailed any after dinner activities. Tony seemed particularly susceptible to these martinis and they caused him to miss dinner on more than one occasion. We would barely have our skis stowed before the cocktail hour began. This continued till dinner which was generally at an early evening hour. If it did drag out till later we often would be missing a few who had already reclined to their bed in a happy stupor. With samples that Tony received in his business and beverage gifts that I received as part of my job at Beverage Industry News we were generally well supplied with the ingredients necessary for a happy and successful ski trip.
I do not recall us ever keeping very late hours on these trips. We were all dedicated skiers and liked to be ready to ski when the lifts opened. Or at least most of the men did. Being one of the first on the lift has always been my thing--perhaps dating back to ski patrol days. It is a habit that persists to this writing. Again in those years I loved to wile away some time on top of the mountain on the last run of the day. Long shadows closing over the snow fields, the air already with a nighttime chill and the slopes suddenly quiet, lonely and open for that final run of a well spent day.
In the years while waiting for our Lodge to become a reality we generally stayed at the Cottage Hotel in Truckee. This quaint railroad town also had an Italian restaurant which featured family style dining. Bob Spratling, considered one our finest trenchermen, loved this place. After our "cocktail hour" these dinners were usually gala affairs.
I introduced my Mary to Club members at some Club get-togethers in San Francisco and she made her first ski trip with the group when we used the Memorial Day weekend for a trip to Squaw. With that record snow pack we were skiing right down to the Lodge that weekend. Later in June a ski race was planned at Sonora Pass since the snow pack was holding so well. Mary and I went for a weekend of camping and I did plan to enter the race. On race day I decided to cancel and use the day to hike with my new wife. Indeed my life-style and values were changing.
A new son limited our ski trips the next couple of years but by no means completely. Mary was back on skis the next winter. Being a true member of the Wasatch Club she loved ski touring or exploring untracked slopes. I recall once that season I took her and another club member over to the South Bowl of Squaw Peak. Yvonne LaVigne and Mary had about equal ability which meant quite a few kick turns but it was a memorable day. We also skied Dodge Ridge some that season. It was closer to San Francisco and it was possible to go there, ski and return the same night. A long day but possible.
One weekend that season was my last ever as a ski patrolman. We were at Donner Ski Ranch and a patrolman I knew from Utah asked if I would patrol that weekend since they were short a couple of men. I did so and after that let my Red Cross cards expire. My work in San Francisco and family made steady patrol work an impossibility.
That summer a marvelous thing happened to the Conish family. They got their garage back. One weekend a crew from the Napa Club loaded the Quonset onto a couple of trucks and hauled it to the lot at Truckee. And Mary and I went a couple of weekends that summer to help in construction. One weekend a cement contractor poured the foundation and then invited our work crew and wives to a venison BBQ. It was never all work and no play with our club.
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