Sheika Gramshammer almost dies thinking of marrying Pepi
At that time, Sheika was in love with another man whom she was to marry. However, when she got to know Pepi, she said, “He was like Rocky Mountain water – clear, honest, beautiful.”
She began to fall madly in love. When her boyfriend came back from Paris, he called her in Aspen wanting to know when she was coming home, and she replied that she was not. He came to Aspen to convince her that Pepi was nothing but a racer and that she was nothing but a “race chaser.” She called New York to ask if she could take a couple of months off of her work, and they told her that she had to be back in January for the summer collection. Werner Kuster gave her a job at the Red Onion. This all happened within 10 days, and the romance was on.
Pepi had told her that he was racing for Vail, but Sheika had never heard of Vail. He told her it was a new resort that was being built and asked her to come to the opening on Dec. 15. She said she would come on the 22nd, when there was a big party, but had to cancel because she couldn’t get out of Aspen. While lying in bed, she was thinking, “Why am I spending time with people I don’t care for?”
Sheika tells the story this way:
“I was still a little homesick for the European tradition. I called Pepi, and he said that Dick Hauserman had invited us for dinner at The Lodge. I told him I would come. I borrowed Werner’s Jeep, which by then I could drive. Pepi told me to be there for the 7 p.m. dinner. I left Aspen at 4 p.m. The Jeep was open, and it was pretty cold, but I could care less – I was in love. I had my skis in the back. I drove forever but then noticed I was low on gas. I stopped at a gas station at about 5:30 p.m. and asked how far it was to Vail. The gas-station attendant told me it was about 150 miles. I was in Grand Junction! I had taken the wrong turn. I did, however, arrive in Vail at 9:45 p.m. Of course, the dinner was over and I was frozen. Dick and Blanche Hauserman and Bob Parker had waited for me. I was too cold to talk when I got inside. Jim Slevin went into the kitchen and fixed me some soup.
“The next day, Pepi showed me Vail and I skied Ramshorn. It was so cold! Pepi asked me to marry him, but I told him I didn’t know. I told him I would think about it. When I drove back, I got to the entrance of Glenwood Canyon and started thinking about Pepi. It was icy and a bus to Salt Lake City was behind me. I was thinking about Pepi’s proposal, and someone was honking to pass me. I was daydreaming, but I woke up from the daydream when I heard the horn. I hit the brakes and the next thing I knew I was spinning. I stopped a foot from the Colorado River. I had completely totaled the Jeep. The passengers from the bus came down to help me, because I was trapped in the Jeep. Nothing was broken – I was just black and blue. It almost cost me my life – thinking about whether or not I wanted to marry him.
“I went to Vail all the time after that, staying mostly with Marge Burdick. Pepi and I were in love. He bought me a little ring, and everything worked out.”
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 92nd 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.