Skiing down the mountain trails with my sister (our first time skiing together in probably 40 years) was a joy, and triggered many memories. Her graceful turns reminded me of the way Daddy had skied. I thought of our family's long history with skiing, and thought too about the changes in the shapes and lengths of skis over the years.
My very first skis were short, straight wooden "toy" skis with a high curl at the front, and a band of red paint on the wood. Simple straps tied the little skis to my rubber boots. I could toddle around on these skis on a relatively flat area. Later my baby sister used these skis and I played with her while our parents (the real skiers) skied down the real hill. Jean and I amused ourselves trying to "ski" down the short gentle slope of an embankment, but I think we mostly tumbled and fell, laughed and played in the snow.
Yesterday I found them in a forgotten corner of a storage closet, and pulled them out to measure just how long they were: 6'6" tip to tail. (She was only 5'4'' tall.)
Let's look closely at that old technology. I've taken some photos to show the details.
The wooden skis are much older than the binding. How do I know?
Years ago I had found some of my mother's letters home from college describing her ski adventures at Dartmouth. [I have given copies of those letters to the Dartmouth Outing Club and the originals to Vassar College Archives.] She apologized to her mother for some wear and tear on "your skis"! My grandmother's skis? I'd never heard about my grandmother skiing. I called my aunt and asked. Oh, yes, her mother had used long skis that were probably hand-carved by the Norwegian farm hands employed by John T. MacDonald at the family farm in Delhi, NY. My aunt recalled a photo of her mother, Amelia MacDonald, as a young woman skiing down the cow-pasture hill in Delhi, wearing a long wool skirt. Imagine that!
You can see in this side view that the old wooden skis have a slot for a previous style of binding. It was probable a simple strap to tie or buckle over a boot.
My childhood skis had a similar slot.
|Note handcarved look of tips.|
|Note thin design lines on the top surface|
|My mother's maiden name was J.N. Cutler (Janet Nesmith Cutler).|