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Barnstorming pays off

Dick Hauserman
Special to the DailySpring skiing, top of China Bowl, 1963. What would become Blue Sky Basin is in the background.
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George Caulkins, Keith Brown, and Peter Seibert had barnstormed in Texas with not much luck. After striking out in Dallas and Tyler, they decided to offer a free-lot option with each sale. By phone they received the directors’ approval.

“People in Texas don’t understand a free lift ticket,” John Murchison said. “They like land! So, the lot option should work.”

At that point they had sold only about 20 units out of 100. It was also at that time when Davis Moore, the loan officer at First National Bank, called Caulkins and said, “George, you’re never going to make your deadline and we’re going to have to give back all this money that is in escrow.”



Caulkins said, “Listen, if we show that kind of weakness, the people who have already committed will get cold feet and back out. Don’t worry – we’re going to sweeten the pot.”

So, they included a free-lot option with each sale. In the sales pitch, they said if Vail never made it as a ski resort, you could still build a little cabin on your lot, and when the atomic bomb was dropped on Dallas, you’d have a place to go.



The lot option increased sales, but it appeared that on Dec. 15, they were still going to be short several units. Action was needed to meet the Dec. 31 deadline.

Caulkins came up with the idea that he would get a few people to buy up the remaining units and then sell them later after the closing date. He was able to convince Jack Tweedy’s father-in-law, C. T. Chenery, along with John Murchison, Moose Taylor and Fitzhugh Scott, to buy up the remaining units.

“If you guys will each firmly underwrite five units, I’ll underwrite the last 10 sold, and I’ll sell yours first before I sell my own,” Caulkins said. “And I don’t have $100,000 to pick up 10 units.”



That started the ball rolling again. When people heard that they would close on Dec. 31, the units became easier to sell.

Caulkins then went back to the group and said, “I’ve just sold one of your units.” He kept doing that until at one point Murchison said, “That’s all right – don’t bother selling anymore. I’ll keep them.”

C. T. Chenery, Taylor and Caulkins also decided to keep their units. By underwriting them, they were able to close the deal on Dec. 31. In March of the following year, all units had been sold.

The financing was completed and Vail was on its way, thanks to the generosity of a few partners and the fact that Davis Moore at the First National Bank stuck his neck out for us.

Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 37th installment, an excerpt from chapter 5, “Creating A Plan To Make It Work.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.


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