Letter: History fading away
Another piece of the Northshire's history went up in flames recently. Johnny Seesaw's was built in 1920 as a dance pavilion, and in 1938 it became the first ski lodge in the U.S. It also served as a meeting place for some young skiers to discuss how to get the U.S. Army to form a unit that could ski and fight in the mountains of Europe. The Germans, Russians, and others were already doing that.
On my first trip to the V.A. Hospital in White River as a volunteer driver, my passenger, Wendell "Wendy" Cram, told me he was one of the first 100 members of this new division that the Army created. For two years Wendy was a ski instructor for the 10th Mountain Division, which was sent to Europe late in the war. Wendy, however, wasn't sent because of a problem with his back.
Before the Army, Wendy had competed in downhill racing in the Northeast. At Suicide Six he skied non-stop over 100 pulls up a 375' rope tow and wore out four pairs of gloves in the process.
In February of 1940, at the age of 19, he finished second in the annual Mt. Greylock race in Adams, Mass. Within the Welcome Center in Adams, there is a room dedicated to the 10th Mountain Division containing skis, photos, and other items of the day. On one wall there is a photo of that 1940 ski race and Wendy is one of the three people in it.
In October 2016, eight months before his passing, Wendy and I visited Adams, where to our surprise we saw this photo. I took a photo of him in front of the picture - smiling broadly. Before returning home, we made another stop at the National Guard in Bennington. There we learned that since September 2016 the unit was fully integrated as part of the 10th Mountain Division based out of Fort Drum, NY.
After the commander and first Sergeant chatted with Wendy, I asked him a non-serious question; now that he came full circle with the 10th, would he like to rejoin? Firmly, but with his broadest grin, he answered, "No, I've already done that!"
So, in memory of Johnny's and Wendy, I close my reverie with the fact that in a few years there will be almost no more WW II vets. The post WW II era began with 16 million.
We share our memories to recall our love of that generation. Perhaps now, peace, love, and tranquility are theirs.
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