Well, the ski season is almost over, and by the time anyone reads this column, some members, myself and Pat included, will be looking for junk cars, rebel flags, and Wet Willie CDs in all the nooks and crannies that Norway, Sweden, and Denmark care to offer.
This has been a great season for the ski club so far, and I want to thank all the members for supporting the trips and making everything happen this past ski season.
ELECTIONS, ELECTIONS, ELECTIONS……….
At the next club meeting in April, we will be having club officer elections for the upcoming year. Please try and attend and cast a ballot for the new officers. We will have other members appointed to board positions that will set our policy for the upcoming year. Please let me know if you may be interested in serving on the ski club board. Other than Christmas, this is one meeting that you as a member should try to attend.
Remember, … “if you do not vote, you can still cuss like a sailor!”
TRIPS FOR NEXT YEAR
Please, look at the new web site and notice we have already begun booking the ski trips for next year. Things are changing with how we book trips, and we have to book sooner rather than later to insure we get the lowest air fare possible. The trips are as following:
- Steamboat Springs, Colo. December 2017 through Crescent Ski Club
- Snowmass Colo. January 2018 - Bob Trammel, TL
- Big Ski, Montana February 2018 - Roy Brunner, TL
- Japan March 2018 - Pat Ownby, TL
We should have all the details of the Japan trip at the next meeting which will be a new type of adventure for the club. Japanese mountains get a very large amount of snow yearly, and this is something we are very excited about.
“A MOMENT FROM A SKI CLUB PAST…..”
This will probably be a little boring, but I wanted to tell everyone about a personal experience that has been on my mind nonstop recently. When you use “I” and “me” throughout something, it gets a little flat and really no one wants to hear personal stuff. But, if you think this post is a real snorer, read last month’s President’s Column again, or imagine in an unreasonable way about how great next month’s President’s Column will hopefully will be.
Alright, here we go……
In 1997, Pat and I were looking for a new sensation. We had been skiing with friends, I blew my knee out, and we were wanting to get started back skiing, but doing it differently than when we started in the early 90’s. We definitely wanted to go someplace other than Winter Park, Colorado where we had been too many times. We were on the hunt for something new.
If my memory is correct, we attended an event at the Chattanooga Convention Center in October of that year which showcased winter events in the area with various retailers, hotels, and lodges having booths and giving out information. It was a Saturday, and Pat and I decided make an afternoon of it. To our surprise, a booth was set up for the Chattanooga Ski Club. We had no idea there was such a thing as a ski club in the city.
The person working the ski club booth was Dan Paul. He did not know it, and we did not know it, but meeting him that afternoon and, to a certain degree in many years to come, he changed both of our lives and opened up a path to gaining many new friends and having experiences from all over the world.
Now, getting back to Dan Paul, he introduced himself and I can safely say he had the most southern of southern accents I had ever heard. He looked to me to be a skier about as much as Donald Trump was a manager of a South Georgia trailer park. He did not have dashing looks or blond hair put back in a pony-tail that would remind you of a hard core snow skier. No, he was plain old Dan, kind of bald, and he did not appear to have any trouble being nice to us through all the stupid questions we asked him.
At that time, Dan was in his mid 60’s, retired from TVA as an engineer, unassuming, and he was very quick to start a conversation. He gave us information for a trip he was leading with the club to Sun Valley, Idaho early in the year. At that time, we were looking to go to Banff, and going somewhere else out west with the Atlanta Ski Club. We talked, got the info, and told Dan we would get in touch.
Funny thing happened. We did not get back in touch with Dan. He got in touch with us. The next week Dan started calling the house encouraging us once again to go on his trip.
Always so nice, and not pushy, he kept telling us he really, really wanted us to go skiing with the club. He then began sending us post cards telling us about the trip to Idaho with a kind note, still encouraging us, and hopeful we would go skiing with him and the club.
Later on, still about once a week, he would leave a message saying how we really needed to go on his trip and just go ahead and make the commitment now. He was not trolling us or harassing us in the least. One time, I remember feeling kind of sorry for him because I thought he kept contacting us because he was probably hurting to get people to go on his trip. People in Chattanooga do not ski!!!!!!!
Dan Paul was never married, had no children, and had been a member and leader with the ski club for years. He and Harry Brundage, another older member, would always room together, would take time on trips and teach newcomers with the club on the first day how to ski. He had limited family, and I understand he spent much of his time involved with ski club folk and ski club activities.
Well, the long and the short of the story was, we did go to Idaho with the club and had a ball. Dan had more than enough people going on the trip because it was full of Chattanooga Ski Club bums. John Rollins, Charlie Peak and Willis Jones were on the trip and we got to meet them and they are still friends with us today.
Now, as for me and Pat, the rest is history with the club.
With Dan, he only took maybe one other ski trip. I guess everyone in the club knew, except us, that he had dealt with severe heart disease for some time. In the early 2000’s, he had serious heart surgery that was somewhat successful, but unfortunately he passed away shortly afterwards from a stroke.
His brother came from New Jersey to care for him at the hospital prior to his death. While Dan’s brother went to the cafeteria to get a bite, he passed away quietly while members of the ski club were visiting him in his hospital room.
It was right and proper that ski club members were with him at his passing.
I have never understood why Dan continued to contact us time and time again to go on the Idaho trip. I am sure he did not know twenty years later it would be such a large part of our lives. I never had a long conversation with Dan, and only saw him two or three other times from a distance after the Sun Valley trip. I think about him almost every time I go on a ski club trip or I am at a ski club function. He did not have to go as far as he did getting Pat and me to join the club but he did.
Looking back, maybe Dan understood and knew years ago, the day-to-day grind of living can be relatively easy, but sometimes enjoying life and grabbing its pleasures can be so difficult or almost impossible to do at times.
Maybe Dan thought if he got just one new person to go on a trip with the club, they just might enjoy the ski club. And if they enjoyed the ski club, maybe they might even take a leadership position and write stupid babblings for everyone to read monthly. And, if that ever happened, then it just might be worth the telephone calls, post cards, hassles, and sitting at a lonely booth on a fall afternoon while living to a certain degree on borrowed time. “Yeah,” I bet he said, “get someone else to enjoy the club just as much as I do; that’s not too much of a stretch (you have got to be kidding me!!!!!).”
I would bet ten dollars, we were the only people Dan met that afternoon at the Convention Center who would later join the club, and definitely the only ones that went on his trip. Pat and I made a smart decision way back then, and we did not have the slightest idea what we were doing.
God bless you Dan Paul for giving me and Pat a great time in Idaho, and also letting both of us in on the special magic that goes on with the ski club and the friends we have enjoyed for almost twenty years. You can do good works and live a decent life, but to help people have a more complete, a more full, and a more fun existence requires a “Go Straight to Heaven” card for the high rent condo side of the pearly gates.
You are missed Dan Paul, and not forgotten.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” Shannon L. Alder
See you at the next meeting!