Being without wheels after the loss of the Ã¢â‚¬ËœMod-HealeyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ presented a problem for most of the fall, but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d changed jobs and had moved in with Jane in Thornhill. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d decided we were going to flee to Europe to ski for the winter. I took a bartenders course and got a certificate while Jane waited tables in the dining room at the Thornhill Golf and Country Club where I worked. The need for a car was not a factor as we figured weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be taking off for Europe in the early fall. But there suddenly was another thing we did not figure on…a little bundle that was going to make an appearance in the spring! So much for Europe! Our friend Woody helped solve the car problem. At the time he was working for a finance company and asked me if I wanted to come while he picked up a repo in Ottawa. I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t interested in going to pick up any car until he said he was going to make a side trip to Mount Tremblant which had just opened for the season. Now I was interested! I was even more interested when we got to Ottawa and walked up to the door of a townhouse and asked for the keys to a nice shiny white Mustang fastback! I have never been a Detroit man, but she looked so fine in the sunlight as we piled our skis in and took off to have a few days skiing. Neither of us had ever been to Tremblant and the road up from Ottawa was a series of exciting turns, both high and low speed. We often argued about who was going to drive. When finally got there and saw the ski hill we were both amazed at itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s size. It did not take us long to get on the chairlift to the top. At least we thought it was the top. The chairlift we rode was a single. Woody got to the top first. When I pulled in beside him after a good twenty minute ride up the mountain he was just standing there. I looked at what he was so interested in. We were only half way up the hill! Before us stretched a long double chairlift that seemed to go on forever. Craigleith were we normally skied was just under six hundred vertical feet. Tremblant was over two thousand! When we got to the top we found we could ski down both sides! This was skiing beyond both of our imaginations.
On the way home to Toronto Woody and I traded the driving chores. In the end I enjoyed the car and it did not take long to make a deal with the finance company to take it off their hands for what was owing. Jane and I decided since Europe was out weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d move to Collingwood where I was able to get a job with Goodyear to work in their hose plant. I was able to convince them to let me work the afternoon shift from Monday to Friday. I could ski all day at Blue Mountain saving all the Detroit tourists that holidayed in the big mountains of Ontario. They were a funny lot. They would start at the top of the Apple Bowl in a very effective snowplow and by a hundred yards the snowplow was gone and they were heading straight down the hill and often over the road at the bottom! The number of accidents kept me busy, but on the weekends I enjoyed the peace and good skiing of Craigleith. Jane skied right into the spring and was in wonderful shape. She looked a little odd until she decided to just forget downhill and just cross-country at the bottom.
That year we met many new friends, two of which would remain in my life for some time. One cold Saturday morning I was standing halfway down a trail that another patroller and I had just closed. The trail was a skating rink and dangerous as hell. As we stood on a ledge to the side of the trail we could hear the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœclack, clackÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ of skis on the icy surface. We turned to look up the hill to see two young kids careening down the icy pitch. They pulled to a stop in front of us and I coldly asked what they were doing on this trail. I said it was closed. All they said was if it was closed what the hell were we doing on it? We escorted Jan Bigelow, who later became one of my assistants, and Steve Podborski, who later became World Cup Downhill Champion off the hill.
During the weekend I also worked tending bar at a local restaurant in the evenings so being in shape and having some money was not a problem. When the season ended Jane and I needed to prepare for our impending arrival so getting back to city life and settled was a priority. The Mustang served us well over the winter. I had put studded snow tires all around and the damned thing would climb trees if I asked it to.
The winter also served up a great cast of characters from a financial analyst, a sergeant in the Toronto police force, several school teachers, numerous students and two great studies in humanity. One was a wonderfully whimsical guy who on the first day he reported for duty to our patrol, he turned up with two different skis that he had found in the lost and found! He had also ridden his Triumph Bonneville up from Toronto in a bloody snowstorm! Peter Quinn topped the year off with two stunts. He was a daredevil on skis and both kids and parents loved his spirit, that is until he decided to streak the racing hill on his weekend off! Fortunately the hill was almost empty…almost. As patrol leader I got lots of flack about the event. It was the end of the year and Peter ended up marrying a beautiful young woman who climbed on the back of his Bonnie and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to say rode off into the sunset, but it was actually a spring snowstorm. They made it to Florida quite happily. There was other young man who did not belong to our ski patrol, but hung around us like many of the kids. At sixteen Greg liked to come over and party with us on the weekend. He came up from the city with his Mother and she felt okay with him coming over to the patrol chalet my wife and I had rented for the season. One Saturday night Greg got into something and passed out on the living room floor. In the middle of the night he awoke to the vision of two young lovers in full bloom. Greg got quite upset and took off up the road for home some two miles away. Still a little loaded he apparently slipped and crawled the last bit and wore out the knees of his warm-up pants. Naturally his Mother had a lot to say to me the next morning. Greg went on to fame and fortune as a best selling author. He made friends with his subjects, Paddy Mitchell, leader of the famous Stopwatch Gang whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s scores were the 1974 heist of six gold bars worth $700,000 from the Ottawa airport, the biggest bank job in San Diego history ($283,000 US) and about 100 other bank jobs from Seattle to Miami to Montreal, scooping up some $15 million! Greg WestonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s other famous subject was Prime Minister John Turner. You just never know who is crawling on their knees up your street at night!
Our son JP was born on April 20th, HitlerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s birthday! During the second weekend of June he was sleeping soundly in a tent on the top of a hill outside Turn Two at Mosport. I never learned to let him change my way of life.
1968 was not a good year for Formula One racing which I was particularly drawn to. By this time I had enjoyed three GPs, but had only seen the nasty side in John FrankenheimerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wonderful production of Grand Prix. On April 7th Jim Clark died after leaving the track and hitting a tree in a Formula Two race at Hockenheim in Germany. One month to the day, May 7th, Mike Spence, who was driving at Indianapolis in preparation for the 500. He was at the wheel of the revolutionary Lotus 56 gas turbine car intended for Clark. Spence misjudged the entry into turn one and collided heavily with the concrete wall. The right-front wheel of the Lotus swung back into the cockpit and struck Spence on the helmet. Spence died in the hospital from massive head injuries a few hours after the accident. Two short months later Jo Schlesser, on July 7th, died in a fiery crash in Rouen les Essarts during the French Grand Prix. In the fall I enjoyed both the Canadian Grand Prix at Le Circuit Mount Tremblant in Quebec and the Grand Prix of the United States in Watkins Glen in mid-state New York. Denny Hulme won the Canadian race with TorontoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Bill Brack surviving only 18 laps before a half-shaft stamped Ã¢â‚¬ËœfinisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ to his efforts. The US Grand Prix was won by Jackie Stewart in a Matra ahead of Lotus leader Graham Hill. Mario Andretti had put the sister car to HillÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on the pole to the delight of the American crowd. I had begun to shoot my own pictures during the fall races. It was from behind the fence this time, but I enjoyed the results. It had been a difficult year for racing and it would continue for some time.
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