Part Four: Jan and Judy Find Lots Of Places To Ski.

We returned from Norway in 1957 and headed to Indiana University. We skied Caberfae near Cadillac, MI, a couple of times, but otherwise, our four years at IU were devoted to my studies and having Bloomington’s New Year’s Baby in January 1960. Where and when would we ever start little Erik on skis?

When I graduated in June 1961 we had a second child on the way, and I had a job offer from the University of Florida. Then came a call from Moscow, Idaho. The chair of the Humanities Department wanted to expand offerings in American Studies, and he had contacted the well-known IU program to see whether any newly-minted folklorist was interested.

This was the only job I ever took without a site visit and a personal interview. Everything was done by telephone and letters. The offer came as a telegram. It worked out perfectly: Moscow was a pleasant small town, the university was solid, my colleagues were smart and friendly, and—best of all—there was a nice little ski area just north of town.

The North-South Ski Bowl had a couple of rope tows and a log warming house. Here is a photo of Judy and me with toddler Erik ready to ski. His baby sister Amy, was with a sitter. Yes, I’m still wearing that old Norwegian sweater.

Jan, Judy, Erk, 1962.

Besides our local area, we visited other ski resorts in our region. We skied Mt. Spokane a couple of times, and returning from a meeting in Seattle I skied Snoqualmie Pass. When I gave a lecture for an extension course in Boise I brought my skis and had a day at Brundage Mountain near McCall, a place Judy and I also skied together. By then we had replaced the front clip on our Norwegian skis with first-generation “safety bindings.”

In early 1962 I was surprised by orders to join the US Army and fulfill my ROTC obligation. Even this led to some  skiing.

On my way to join my class at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, I visited my parents in Lansing. My dad suggested that we go skiing. But was there time to drive up north? Not a problem. A new little area called Mt. Brighton was on I-96 down towards Detroit. In my dad’s garage I found some gear that fit, and thus I had what turned out to be my last ski day in my home state. Hard to believe that little old Mt. Brighton is now part of the Vail empire.

I was assigned to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, for a year. Judy and the two kids joined me, and we found a local ski club that met in a neighborhood bar. Their meetings were the last time either of us were carded to buy drinks. We never took a ski trip with the club, but we did get to some eastern ski areas on our own.

Judy’s aunt lived in upstate New York, so we could leave the kids with her and go skiing. Here’s Judy in 1963 at the now-defunct Petersburg Pass. It’s not clear whether she was planning to ski an expert or a novice trail.

Judy checks trail map at Petersburg Pass, 1963

Back in Idaho a major new area opened in the mountains above Sandpoint: Schweitzer Basin, now Schweitzer Mountain. We skied it in January 1964 when Judy was pregnant with our second daughter, Dana, born in Moscow in June. The views from the mountain looking past the frosted trees to Lake Pend Oreille were stunning.

Lake Pend Oreille from Schweitzer.

In spring 1965 opportunity knocked in the form of an offer from the Edwardsville campus of  Southern Illinois University. I felt I should not pass up a chance for a promotion to Associate Professor and time off for folklore fieldwork. So back we went to the Midwest with our three little kids, hoping that eventually we would be able to teach them skiing.

To be continued . . .


  1. Cathy Meyer says:

    Too bad you left Bloomington before the local resorts opened about 1979. There were a couple just down the road in Brown County – Long Mountain and Nashville Alps (later Ski World) and Paoli Peaks and hour south. Paoli remains, as does Perfect North Slopes near Cincinnati, where I teach. It was much more convenient to drove 20 minutes to Ski World!

    • Jan Brunvand says:

      There was no hint of any local skiing in our day, though we did go over to Brown county for hikes and picnics. Nashville IN is a very atmospheric little town, but I guess I missed the “alps.” I heard about Paoli years later as a place that has late-night skiing popular with students. We surely would have tried these places if they had existed back in the day. Maybe it’s just as well there was no skiing, or I might have taken longer than four years to finish my degree and missed the bid to move to Idaho.

  2. Keith Egan says:

    Keep the stories coming.

  3. Sandy Spekman says:

    Thanks, Jan, for your skiing story. I live in Plymouth, Massachusetts but like you, am originally from Michigan. When I was in college at Eastern Michigan University, I was on the ski team and had a season pass at Mt. Brighton. I didn’t know it’s now a Vail resort.
    I left Michigan when I was 28, and moved to NYC, where I met my husband, Hyman.

    I’ve also lived in New Jersey, like you did, and skied there plus upstate New York and the Poconos.

    My son lives in Salt Lake City, so my husband and I ski there when we visit, which, of course, has the best skiing. My daughter lives in Boston, and skis in the northeast, like Hyman and myself do.

    Because of your story, I compared the mountain stats of ski areas in MA, NJ, and MI. I realized that Wachusett Mountain in MA, where we go for day trips, has the highest elevation summit of these three states. Thanks for arousing my curiosity!

  4. So Jan! Paul Bunyan…. folklore or fakelore? While skiing in Maine, did you ever stop by to see his giant statue in Bangor? (Surely you and Judy must have skied in Maine too!)

  5. Jan Brunvand says:

    Nope, never made it to Maine in the winter. Paul Bunyan is definitely
    fakelore, but as such belongs more to the Midwest than the Northeast.

  6. Skied several of those Washington state areas years ago,
    when my parents & grandparents lived in Yakima, Moscow, & Spokane. Sure enjoyed your memories from there.

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