Memories Live On Even If The Area Closes.

Blandford has three chairlifts. When I learned to ski, it had seven rope tows but only one chairlift. Credit: Harriet Wallis

Nothing can replace this family-based ski area in southern Massachusetts. But Blandford is now on the brink of being closed or sold. It has offered what mega resorts cannot offer.

If kids got tired of skiing, they’d go off trail with their friends and build snow caves and ski jumps. When my son broke the tip off a ski, we knew exactly how it happened. When my daughter needed a break, she discovered she could mooch cookies from skiers in the lodge.

It was all part of the ski experience. Something that doesn’t happen at the big resorts.

Adults had their fun too. In spring, we’d take a picnic lunch and a bottle of wine to the picnic tables at the summit.

The ski school bell rang when it was time for lessons. Credit: Harriet Wallis.

If it rained we put on garbage bags and did “worm turns” rolling on the soggy snow. One rainy day when no one was riding the T-bar, a group of us slalomed the T-bar line. The Ts were moving targets coming up, and we skied around them going down. Naughty but fun.

Après ski was a food fest. Families brought crockpots and plugged them in on the deck letting dinner simmer while they skied. Oh the glorious smells! At the end of the day, everybody shared.

We skied there every Saturday and Sunday during the 1960s and early 70s when my kids were growing up.

There were family races—our first race experience with gates and awards. My daughter didn’t yet understand the race concept. She stopped to chat with each gate keeper.

The Blandford race team won many competitions even though they trained mostly on dry land because early season snow was too skimpy. The kids honed their muscles and reflexes by quick stepping through an array of tires and other dry land exercises.

The race coach also gave ski tuning demonstrations, a skill I continue to use today.

And he demonstrated ski binding release. He careened down the hill in Olympic form, carving hard lefts and hard rights. Then he would stop, lift each foot and shake his skis off! If you ski technically correct, your binding don’t have to be cranked down, he said.

The ski patrollers found ways to busy themselves as there were few accidents. One day, a patroller watched a youngster cut the chairlift line, slithering through the long line up to the very front. Just before the child got onto the chair, the watchful patroller sent him to the back of the line. The child never cut the line again.

One spring, the patrollers decided to tap the many maple trees and make syrup. Their first morning duty was to gather the makeshift syrup buckets — #10 size cans – and carry them to the patrol’s dispatch shack at the summit. There the dispatcher kept the golden liquid stirred on the pot belly stove. The patrol bottled the syrup and invited everyone for après ski “syrup on snow.”

Then there were parties. In summer, we enjoyed the camaraderie of work parties, pitching in to help with lodge and slope maintenance. That was always followed by a corn husking contest and a giant BBQ.

In winter, there were celebrations with a caldron of gluehwein simmering over a fire, torchlight parades with real torches, and then dinner and dancing. Kids danced. Adults danced. Everybody danced. Everybody danced with everybody.

Small ski areas are the heart and soul of skiing. It’s sad that this could be the end of iconic Blandford Ski Area that’s been in operation since 1936.

To read more from Harriet click here for her stories on SkiUtah.

 

2 Comments

  1. Don Burch says:

    Harriet-
    Thanks for sharing your memories of Blandford. I have fond memories of teaching my two children to ski there in the late 80s and early 90s.
    Don

  2. Tamsin Venn says:

    What a wonderful reminiscence, Harriet. Blandford RIP.

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