Paul Testwuide – teller of tall Vail tales
“Don Almond should have been in the Secret Service or FBI. He had guns and was suspicious of everyone – a very meticulous type of leader. I remember sitting at his desk one time talking to him. The ticket office was in an octagonal building in the center of what is now Seibert Circle.
The alarm went off. Don went into his desk, came out with a revolver, and hit the deck in a flash. It turned out to be nothing. One of the workmen had gone inside to fix something. He was always ready for when the Hell’s Angels would take over Vail. The ski patrol was trained with batons and sticks to ward off the intruders – or at least the impending invasion. As competent as he was, he had some strange ideas!
“Bill Brown arrived in 1965. I worked with him immediately. He ran around in his army six-by-six with his cigar. He was a great advocate of “0-600′ (6 a.m.) meetings. I lived on the edge a lot then. We had escapades almost nightly. Once in awhile I would get in a little late or I would end up too far away from Vail to get back in time. I always found that if I met Bill before six in the morning and explained my case, everything would be all right. If you got Bill after noon, your case was lost.
“My relationship with Peter Seibert was pretty distant. He was out hustling, and I was out working in the trenches. He exuded the love of skiing. When you saw him on the mountain, you saw he was having fun. He loved what he was doing – he loved skiing. The image he set with the people that worked there in the early days in the company and in the town was that he was a visionary and loved what he was doing.
“I remember Morrie Shepard coming down the mountain, always in perfect form and always about four times faster than anybody else. Over every little bump he would soar like an eagle. He was the epitome of a ski-school director. When you looked at him, you always wondered if you could ever ski like him.
“We used to say that every night in Vail was like a Saturday night, and Saturday night was like New Year’s Eve.
“You had to think up things to do. It was a small town. If you didn’t think up a lot of creative shenanigans, you would get bored. I never got bored. Once you got into the mountains, there was a different expectation. You came here to be freer, more expressive, and to be yourself. I never dreamed I would be in Vail as long as I have been. There is something about the people in Vail – there was more to it than in many communities. I think that it’s because everybody had a vested interest to help each other. It was more than just a place that was growing.”
The Testwuide stories are legendary in that from a wild-and-woolly beginning, a strong, mature family man developed – one who earned his place among the leaders of the many insiders who made Vail.
“I started at the bottom of the ladder and ended one rung from the top,” He says.
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 ___ installment, an excerpt from chapter 11, “The Corporate Team.” 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.