Auto accident tests Doll family
Next up for Frank was a job with Farm Bureau Insurance. He wasn’t sure why he took this job, only that his sense of curiosity took over and he knew he was good with numbers. These early days in the Eagle Valley not many people had health and accident insurance, yet many people needed it due to the athletic profile of people living here. To sell health insurance to people in Vail was like shooting fish in a rain barrel.
Long about this time, Imogene was in a severe automobile accident and was transferred from the Leadville hospital to Fitzsimmons Army Hospital. With Frank managing both his job and Patty, and now with Imogene in the hospital, he got another surprise with a phone call from the school in Canyon City where Kathy attended. It seems she broke one of the rules in the oh-so-strict Catholic school and had been politely asked to leave. Digging deep, Frank used all his managerial skills to blend his job, manage Patty, see to Imogene, collect Kathy, and still keep his sanity. His army skills proved useful, because Frank did it all, and when Imogene was well enough to come home, Frank had Kathy enrolled at the local high school, Patty under control, and he was back to work, and eventually became the leading health insurance salesman for Farm Bureau Insurance for two years.
In fact, he sold the first group policy to Sheika and Pepi Gramshamer in 1971. To sell this group policy, every employee of the Gramshammer’s had to sigh up for the policy. One of the bartenders at the restaurant thought poorly of this idea, but he agreed to go along if he was going to be the only hold out. As it happened, this young man was in a skiing accident shortly after signing up for the policy and broke his neck. Over the course of his recovery, he and Frank became close. When the young man was back to work at a bar in a popular lodge, he would call Frank many times late at night to come over and sign a new customer to a policy.
With Colorado growing, the insurance business took Frank in many different directions and required more and more driving. Finally, Frank decided he had had enough of the insurance business, especially as more competition came into town and the business became politically driven.
Next up for Frank was going to work for Vail Associates as the purchasing agent, and Frank really liked spending Vail Associates’ money. The first two years were spent at the equipment yard and then they were moved to the gondola building in Lionshead. Frank recalls his starting pay was $6.50 an hour. With this job, he managed to do a lot of skiing. About this time, Frank became good friends with Larry Allen who worked in Mountain Maintenance. Larry like to ski too. Many days about noon, Larry would show up and the two men would put on their jackets with the blue Vail Associates strip across the back, hop in Larry’s truck, park at the base of the Gondola, and cut the lift line and ski several hours, checking all the buildings on the mountain ” lift houses, out houses, restaurants, ski patrol headquarters ” to determine if repairs were needed. Frank and Larry always carried a tape measurer, just in case they were asked what in the heck they were doing. Naturally, to do this meant lots and lots and lots of ski days.
On this job, despite not asking for it, every six months just like clock work, Frank received a raise. He never asked why but was mighty happy about it. So the years rolled along, and as time passed, Frank worked for four different managers. Because Frank was at his job and with his can-do-guy attitude, he had a long list of suppliers for the goods the mountain needed. He was on first name basis with many of these distributors. One man, who was his paint guy, had a condo in Aspen and would drive through Vail each week on his way there from the Front Range. Frank would call him and tell him what the paint needs were for the week or month and this man would drop the paint off on this way to Aspen.
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