Lowell Thomas puts "Vail Rules’ in order
He skied almost to the very end. He was 89 when he passed away in 1981. But those of us who listened to him, read about him and loved him fail to realize that a new generation, usually those 40 years of age or younger, have rarely heard of him.
Thomas was best known as a “newscaster,” but to millions of Americans he was equally famous as a foreign correspondent, a lecturer, a biographer, an explorer and a business executive. He visited every remote corner of the world and, according to his autobiography, “Good Evening Everybody,” he logged more passenger miles than any man who ever lived.
Thomas was a frequent visitor to Vail. His first trip was on his birthday – April 6, in 1962. We took him to the top of the mountain in the Kristy Kat, had a picnic lunch, and did some skiing in the Back Bowls. He came back almost every year in a plane owned by Jack Simplot, the “Potato King” from Boise, Idaho, with Don and Gretchen Fraser – she was America’s first Olympic gold-medal winner in 1948.
There were always many parties and many stories. People were enthralled with such a famous celebrity. It has been said that Thomas, through his radio broadcasts in the 1930s and 1940s, did more for skiing in America than any other individual.
One time in the early 1960s, we were celebrating his birthday at a dinner with about 40 people. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to toast the distinguished guest. Finally, Lowell stood up, clinked on his glass and said he felt left out – everyone was drinking and he was not.
“I propose something new – “Vail Rules,’ which means the person being toasted can drink with the toasters,” he said.
From that point on, Vail Rules were in order.
Thomas’s radio broadcasts started in 1929 and were the longest daily live network program in radio history. He was the author of 57 books. It is no wonder his friends in Vail welcomed him with open arms. They all remember his contributions to skiing and the familiar voice, as each night on his radio show he would sign off with:
“So long, until tomorrow.”
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 125th installment, an excerpt from chapter 15, “The Rich and the Famous.” 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.