Very first day on Vail Ski Patrol

By Bob Buckley

Editor’s Note: This nice vignette from Bob Buckley is another one that somehow got lost in the mail and didn’t make it into this edition of The Understories print version. We’ve posted it here for now, and are hoping to get around to another edition so we can get Bob’s stories into print!

On my very first day on the Vail Ski Patrol, I was assigned the job of working with Robby Robinson painting the LPR (lower patrol room). I had just met Robby and other than Joe Macy, the assistant patrol director who had hired me and a friend from our previous days as Loveland patrolmen, I didn’t know a single soul in Vail.  Robby thought it would be a great idea to attend a bachelor party that night for Jim Jacobsgaard , otherwise better known as Jake the Snake, and meet some of the patrol.  What a great idea!  Robby said he would pick me up at my newly rented apartment above Chuck White’s garage down in West Vail and take me home afterwards.

The party for Jake was being held at the “Slope” just across from the LPR. My first party on my first day in Vail was pretty boring as bachelor parties go, way less eventful than mine and Griffy’s  a few years later which featured CC and DD (no relation to DD Haskins). We all stood around drinking and later Buffalo, who was in charge of the projector, was playing a skin flick which the film kept breaking and nobody was watching anyway, I thought!

We all got pretty wasted and pretty much everyone left at once when Louie Pintowski, the manager, shut the place down. I’m thinking I will find Robby outside and file out with everyone else. But soon  I found myself alone and ended up staggering back down to West Vail in the dark and wondering what kind of  person would just blow you off  forcing you to walk home  on your first day in Vail! How could he have forgotten me?

Early next morning I drive in to the LPR to continue painting and a few minutes after arriving Robby shows up still dressed in his party clothes. It turns out Robby was in the front row behind the tall backrest watching the skin flick and passes out and nobody noticed him when the lights were turned off and the “ Slope” was closed and locked up for the night! You have to know Robby! He was mad that nobody thought to wake him up. Nobody saw him!

Robby and Jim Clarke ( JC ) were VA’s  surveyors and the rest of the summer I spent working with them on the survey crew.  JC and Robby were euphemistically known as “Sight and Sound.”  You can guess who the “Sound” was. Yes, Robby!  It had to be one of the best summers I have ever enjoyed hearing Robby and JC  discuss anything and everything which they had opinions on which was just about everything. I learned a lot about surveying and life in Vail and their good humor still makes me laugh today.  Both these patrolmen were great mentors. Except on my birthday.  Later on in September  they made it known to me that it was the ski patrol custom to toss a shot of Peppermint Schnapps down for every year of age at Donovan’s.  I made it to seven before I became crooked with my plumb bob!  The only thing I remember is waking up at Robby’s  having soiled the sheets and my clothes.  I don’t think Kathy thought I was very cool!

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