Jay Meehan: Tales from a misspent youth
“Granted I am a babbler, a harmless vexatious babbler… “
~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
We were stronger then, it seems, and we hunkered down in our mountain valley and drank and smoked and sang along. It was our “misspent youth” and not unlike today many of us had a President and Vice-President we wished to observe in our rear-view mirror.
In a rush for something new and cleansing, we had overflowed our vehicular pack-mules with bohemian rituals, museum-worthy ski-gear, dog-eared paperbacks, and scotch-soaked 8-track tapes. The lingering whiffs of tear gas, a reflection of our political diplomacy, also managed to stow away, at least at the molecular level.
We headed for the hills with the mark of Cain upon us. At first flaunting our differences where “quieter” visual and audio tones might have proved more compelling, we impeded our own inroads. You’ll have that. Over time, knuckles, laughter and adjacent barstools helped serve to form a community.
Through happenstance, some of us found ourselves in a “hood” that had sprouted outward from the base-area of Treasure Mountain Resort, the relatively new-kid-in-town that took root upon the old Nelson farmstead. And, in those days, being somewhat separated from Old Town proper, what an insular hood it proved to be.
The availability of $50/month ski-in ski-out, golf-in-golf-out digs with fireplace and a ski-storage foyer not much larger than the Salt Palace didn’t hurt. Also three watering holes (eventually, two of which also featured the syncopated disrobing of adult females to local Rock and Roll groups and stereo Hi-Fi’s looking for relevance.)
It wasn’t Old Town but the inherent vice and debauchery could have cared less. What truly added interest and diversity to those parts in those days was the Old Miner’s Hospital, especially once Doc Orris set up Dale Delamos as Majordomo of the then-burgeoning boarding house.
Some from that era have hung on and flourished as it were and, oh, the stories they could tell. And if that weren’t enough, Corky and Jan had a garage-full of Newfoundland puppies available for love and legal tender. How cool was that? And with night skiing via gondola a mischief-rich option, there wasn’t much not to love.
Blankets and tarps got dragged up to Keystone Meadow along with guitars, hard cider, wine, cheese, fruit, and other recreational substances. Nixon had yet to leave office so, at least culturally, it was still the ‘60s. Admittedly, some of these minutiae have appeared in this space previously. But, in the spirit of ol’ Fyodor, let us remember, I’m a babbler.
And so, as we would in some of the more famous haunts of greater Main Street, we would slip a bit of the old subversion onto the tables, blankets, and tarps and plot grandiose shifts to the ‘ol paradigm. As one can imagine, shepherding any of them toward fruition, however, oftentimes necessitated the addition of stunt doubles on Everclear.
As with “It’s all about the journey,” so it became with plotting. Results proved most often unquantifiable. The attempted radicalization of the local populace to ship off Nixon and Agnew while ending the Vietnam War never did gain enough traction hereabouts sufficient to affect history. Other than the bottom line of alcohol purveyors, that is.
Hard telling, not knowing, if this current crop of slope-side recreationists suffers from similar political and cultural angst. There’s been a lot of noise but whether that is enough to nudge the needle remains to be seen. Somehow I got the feeling their gear isn’t nearly scruffy enough to pull off meaningful change. Where’s the duct tape? Where’s the Gorp?
It’s a different town and a different world of course. Oligarchs and their puppets don’t need no stinkin’ culture. Changing the narrative trumps art, clumsy pun intended. Hiking the wilderness is for losers. Love is fake news.
Well, the onus was on us back then and we “existentialistas,” as they referred to us at the Mazatlan hoosegow spring of 1967, couldn’t get it done. (And just like Tom Thumb’s blues, it was Eastertime, too). Hope you kids got what it takes. Best of Luck. We babblers weren’t much help.
The truth is, most all the young folks of my acquaintance are hip enough to recognize where we’re at vis-à-vis our species’ evolutionary status. Darkness looms at the edge of town. Get out the vote.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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It wasn’t that a cloud of imminent danger hung over Heber Valley during my first trip to Park City but I must admit to a certain degree of wariness.