Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ski or die trying


With the first day of autumn just a week away, I thought I’d better share one more ski story before it’s too late in the season to tell…

My daddy almost died the day he learned to ski. He and his dad, my grandfather, Piggy, along with my grandmother, Dot or Mama Dot, and my Uncle Hugh had gone to McCleskey Creek at Lake Allatoona to spend the day. My daddy, 12 years old at the time, was ready to learn how to ski. But first he wanted a boat ride.

He was riding in the front with Piggy in the back. Piggy, characteristically, had the 50 Evinrude going wide open, when a boat pulled in front of them. Piggy turned sharply to avoid the boat, slinging himself and daddy out as he went.

Fortunately, Daddy was wearing a life jacket, probably because Mama Dot was on the bank watching. The boat was running in circles, and everywhere my daddy swam, it would follow him.

Mama Dot was screaming, and Piggy was yelling, “Swim for the bank!”

“No matter where I went, it would come right at me,” daddy recounted to me.

“Kick it, Ben!” Piggy shouted.

Daddy would rare back and kick the boat with all his might, pushing himself away, while Piggy tried unsuccessfully to get to him. This went on for what seem like an eternity to my dad, knowing the motor was just a hair away from cutting him to shreds.

Finally, George Louis, a family friend, who is now buried next to Mama Dot in Rome, Ga., had the presence of mind to toss a ski rope into the motor, stopping the engine. My daddy was shaking as he crawled out of the lake. When Mama Dot finally let go of him, Piggy said, “Come on, Ben, we are going to ski now.”

“I don’t believe I want to ski today,” said Daddy.

“Now, Ben, if you don’t ski today, you never will.”

Dad was up by the third try.

He later put on ski shows with his brother, doing stunts such as climbing on his shoulders. They tried at one point to pull Piggy up on skis, even tying together two boats to pull up his 250 plus pound frame. He was out of the water, cigar in mouth, laughing, when the rope broke.

Once my Uncle Hugh landed my dad and him a job teaching ski lessons in Carrollton. They were out on the small lake all day long, having success, until it came time for a very heavy set woman to learn. They tried and tried, but she just would not/could not come up on skis.

“How much are we getting paid for this?” Daddy finally asked Hugh.

When Hugh told him, Daddy said, “I don’t believe it’s worth it!”

Check back to find out how Piggy learned to fly.

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