"The Quonset Hut"

The year I met the Hals Und Beinbruk members they did not have a cabin for the winter like in previous years. They had arranged for one and then were out bidded by another Bay Area club. Also in other years there had been problems with frozen plumbing and difficult landlords. The following year they rented a cabin at Big Chiefs located on the Truckee River. It was anything but deluxe but was very close to Squaw Valley. However it was the winter of the big snows with Highway 40 closed for over a month and access to the mountain often impossible and with deep snows at the cabin.

So a new idea was conceived. The Water District in Truckee was selling cabin lots for $250. And the Navy had declared Livermore Naval Hospital surplus and was selling Quonset Huts on site for $250. It was decided ten of us club members would put up $100 a piece and place the purchased Quonset Hut on the Truckee lot. The ten members included four married couples, the rest of us still single. First task was to dissemble the Quonset Hut at Livermore. This several of us did over about three weekends. Once in pieces we stored it in one luckless members' garage--Tony Conish being the chosen one.

All of this took place in the early Fall of 1951 and there was no chance of getting the Quonset Hut up before winter. For one thing we had to get government plans for erecting Quonset Huts for heavy snow winter areas. The Santa Rosa Ski Club followed the same procedure as we but did not reinforce the Hut. The result was it was crushed in a heavy snow winter.

Getting our Hut built at Truckee became difficult because of the size of our club. We never had over 20 members and this included several wives. So the Hut languished in Tony's garage for two years. Marriages, babies, and company transfers were all taking a toll on our membership. At this point my friendship with Gordon Brown, Warren Mufich and other members of the Napa Ski Club produced a merger of sorts. In exchange for lifetime memberships and Hut privileges our ten sponsoring members would give title and ownership of the Truckee lot and Quonset Hut to the Napa Club. They in comparison to us had a fairly large membership and were at least an hour and a half closer to Truckee than we Bay Area residents.

And it all worked out very well. Some of our members, this writer included, worked on construction the following summer with Napa members and the Napa Club Truckee Lodge became a reality. And it still exists today. Some of the Hals Und Beinbruk members and their families used the Lodge for many years. Bill and Winnie Williams, Bob and Lore Edwards, Ken and Willie Duncan to mention a few. Personally I have only spent three nights at the Truckee Lodge in all these years. About the time it was completed I was transferred to Los Angeles. In later years on trips to the Donner Ski resorts it always seemed more convenient to stay in Reno. This has not kept me from skiing with some of the Napa crew from time to time including Warren Mufich and Corky Schrette and his son, Tom.

Only a few of us from the Hals Und Beinbruk are still skiing. Bob Edwards may still ski and Ken and Willie Duncan. The last time I saw Bob Spratling was an accidental meeting at Hilton's Hawaiian Village in Honolulu. I last saw Bob and Lori Edwards at Lincoln High School's 50th Class Reunion two years ago and we still exchange Christmas cards. Some members have passed on. Tony Conish is gone as in Bill Williams. Gone but certainly not forgotten.

The winter of 1951-52 was a record snowfall year in the Sierra Nevada. For a few of us diehards it started early in November. There was snow but the resorts were not yet operating. Even so Vern Dallman, another of the Hals Und Beinbruk crew, and I headed for the Sierra. On Saturday we went to Squaw Valley. They were not operating but the chair was running sporadically for maintenance. In those casual years the lift crew told us we could ride to the top one time but warned that some rain had made the snow ice hard. Undeterred we rode the lift and then, carrying our skis, hiked to the ridge that rims Siberia Bowl. The lift crew had not lied, the snow was icy hard, although there was good cover. The first 50 years off the ridge was a real heart stopper. Very steep and a glistening surface. Vern looked askance but I took that first steep pitch and stopped where the slope was more reasonable. And assured Vern that if he slipped I could stop him. A very questionable assurance at best. However Vern also made it without falling. After that first pitch it was a fine run although somewhat noisy as the skis slid over the icy surface.

Vern had an Uncle who ran a bookmaking establishment in Reno which was legal in that State. He suggested we go to Reno and see if the Uncle could put us up for the night. And indeed he did in the basement of the establishment. The next day we went up to Mount Rose which had some snow and langlaufed a bit before heading back to San Francisco. We agreed it was a fine opening for the season.

That Thanksgiving weekend Squaw Valley had a "Turkey Day" race which I entered. Winner in each class would win a turkey. It was a giant slalom and I don't remember where I finished. I do know I didn't win a turkey.

In January I took a week of my vacation and planned to ski Utah. Initially I was to ski one day with Hals Und Beinbruk members but a serious Sierra snowstorm developed so I continued directly to Utah. This time I was alone. The Wasatch Club members were at the lodge at Brighton and I joined them. In those years I always took two pair of skis with me, some old A & T's for powder and a pair of Northlands for pack. That Saturday I skied with Wasatch folk using the A & T's. Foolishly I left the Northlands on the car rack. In those years no racks were made with locks. Upon returning to my car the Northlands were gone. It was a wakeup call to a new era in skiing. Among the club members present that weekend was Mary Reynolds. During the week we dated and I left Utah a man in love.

Back in California in the Sierra it was a case of too much snow, too many storms. A Southern Pacific passenger train was trapped in snow during one storm and Highway 40 was closed as well. At Squaw Valley an avalanche took the life of an employe and a couple of lift towers as well. This put the Resort out of business for a month.

With no skiing I had plenty of time for letter writing to a girl in Utah, almost on a daily basis. I proposed, was accepted and we planned to meet in Reno to be married. Highway 40 was open that weekend but with about 100 miles of chain control. But the storms ceased temporarily and we were married in Virginia City on a sunny day. The following day was also bright and clear and we langlaufed above the Mount Rose T bar lift to the ridge that overlooks Lake Tahoe. It is all serviced with lifts today. That evening I had to put her back on a train to Salt Lake City. She had to resign from her position as a librarian and make arrangements for some family members. For me it was another 100 mile drive with tire chains before finding bare pavement at Applegate. It was two months before I got back to Utah to claim my new bride.

In the meantime I did do a few ski trips with club members. I recall going with Bill Williams to Dodge Ridge. There was a race that weekend that I entered and fell about the third gate. Bill was an excellent skier and had been with the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.

Gordon Brown and Warren Mufich found a week to go to Sun Valley. Plan was for me to drive Gordon's girl, Donna and Warren's wife, Esther up the mountain the following weekend to meet the returning Sun Valley pair. Accommodations were expensive around the resorts but we did locate the Cottage Hotel in Truckee. The rooms were plain and the plumbing down the hall, thank you. However it did become something of a favorite for both Napa and Hals Und Beinbruk members.

That weekend I gathered up the gals and we skied Squaw on Saturday and then checked into the Cottage Hotel as pre arranged. We had a room with two double beds, the two girls in one and me in the other. About 2 a.m. there was a knock on the door and Gordo and Warren came dragging in. Their biggest adventure came on the return from Sun Valley driving from Twin Falls to Wells, Nevada in a blizzard. There was a whiteout and Gordo drove his Oldsmobile, "The Ocolot" into a snowbank. And it took a tow truck to get them out. This explained their delayed arrival. Warren complained he was freezing to death and crawled into bed next to his wife., Gordo piled into my bed for a short night's sleep for one and all.

I replaced the stolen Northlands with a pair of Swedish skis, call Tobo's. These I found from a ski professional in San Francisco who had purchased many pair for resale. Gordon Brown also bought a pair. I think they cost us $28 a pair. They were excellent skis, of course still made of wood. I used mine for several seasons. As it turned out I had a lot of other things to spend money on in the next few years.

While waiting to get Mary in Utah I took a trip to Yosemite one weekend with the father and brother of one of my college roommates. Mike Haughton was a teen ager and interested in skiing. He talked his father into taking him to Yosemite for the weekend and I was invited along. It was the year of big snows and that weekend we were completely snowed in and never left the floor of the Valley. I spent the whole weekend writing letters to my new wife. The following season Mary and I took Mike along on a couple of ski trips which worked out much better.

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