Bob Kendall – one of the "reckless rabble’
His favorite place to hang out was, of course, Donovan’s Copper Bar. There, with his buddies, who Belle Forest refers to as the “reckless rabble” – Larry Benway, George “Chupa” Nelson, Chuck Malloy, Johnny Adams, George Rau, Paul Testwuide, and others – Kendall created enough excitement and ski lore to fill many books.
“There were about five or six in a group, all ski instructors, living in a two-bedroom apartment above the liquor store,” says Kendall. “They were Roy Parker, Ricky Andenmatten, Manfred Schoeber, Fred Butler, George Rau, and John Donovan. We would have breakfast in The Deli below. John had a gigantic St. Bernard named Bandit who would sit next to you while you were eating, slobbering all over the table. He was so big he was up to your shoulders looking into your plate. It was just awful.
“Roy, Ricky, and Manfred were pretty good with women. They were having the time of their lives. Fred Butler was just lifting weights. He could have cared less about women. It was at that time that Ricky met Margaret, whom he later married, and then he moved back to Zermatt.”
As a group, Bob Kendall and many of the “reckless rabble” gave private lessons to the elite from all over the world, who were falling in love with the new world-class ski area. When Kendall returned from 1965 through 1968, he recalled:
“Those were the glory years for me. I loved being here in Vail and skiing. It was a good group with whom I skied. It was super. After 1969 and in the early 1970s, a different class of people came. It was a much more money-oriented group.
“In 1966, around six in the morning, I was walking to The Deli with Bill Wilto, when lo and behold, a man – Paul Wegeman – came out of the Clock Tower Building dressed only in shorts followed by a red-headed John Russell with a raised ax in his hand. He had found the man in bed with his girlfriend. The man got away, but just barely!
“The Copper Bar was the premier watering hole for the “restless rabble.’ The patrol was on the top end of the bar and the instructors were at the other end. They all had bar tabs – some of them would run up $200 to $300 in just a few evenings. Always short of money, they would have to come in and work it off. When Dick Hauserman leased the space in the Plaza Building to Jim Slevin, who in turn leased it to Donovan, he put in a stipulation saying that the bar had to close at 10:00 p.m. so that the guests in the hotel could sleep! It was a good thing, too, because the “restless rabble’ were so polluted by then that they would have to go home or go on to the next place. John Donovan, of course, was known to imbibe with his friends, which caused some perilous trips home near the golf course on his bicycle.”
Bob and Fred Butler were considering buying the Gas House (long before Clay and Connie Irons). They were going to ask Donovan to come in as a partner and run it. When Donovan asked Diana, his wife, about it she looked at Bob and said, “That’s a 2 a.m. bar – John won’t last that long.”
The young single people must have had quite a time. Kendall’s two roommates were walking home to the Night Latch one evening after returning from a party. It was snowing quite hard. The two came upon a mound in the road that had a human shape. It was Joe Ward from Oregon, who had been hired to supervise the construction of the golf course. He had passed out from drinking at the New Gnu. He could have died. They took him home and thus saved his life. Ward was about 25 years old and was a hopeless alcoholic. He died from drinking about a year later.
Toby Reid Jr. and John Winger were good friends. One night at the Red Lion they were both after the same girl, Sally. They got into an argument over her and wound up outside on the front porch of the Red Lion.
As they were about to start swinging at each other, a voice from behind them said, “The first guy who throws a punch is through in Vail forever!” To their horror, they turned around and who was standing there but Pete Seibert. They then grasped each other around the shoulder and walked off as if they were still the best of friends.
“What did Vail do for you? How did it affect your life?” I asked Kendall.
“It gave me a living and a circle of friends – and business associates who have been close to this day, 30 years later,” he said. “I don’t regret a thing. I think we are lucky to live here. You get up in the morning and take in the beautiful scenery, go to work, and then go skiing. In the summertime you play tennis and golf and go fishing. It’s a magnificent place to live.”
Bob Kendall still lives in the area. He is part owner of a successful real-estate company. He and his wife, Gloria, married in 1970, have two sons, graduates of Hotchkiss Prep School in the East.
The Kendalls love living in Vail.
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 115th installment, an excerpt from chapter 12, “The Ever-Increasing “New Locals.” 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.