Last week my wife and I were skiing the Quad on Mount Mansfield at what I’d term a moderate rate. That is, we were skiing at moderate speed and stopping briefly at the usual stopping spots. We were getting about four runs an hour. There were times back in the RetroSki days at Stowe when you only got 4 or 5 runs a day on Mansfield! It was a day like that back in 1969 that introduced me to the Mt. Mansfield Lift-Exchange Ticket Book!
The Mt. Mansfield Lift-Exchange Ticket Book contained 12 coupons, three pages of four coupons each. Different lifts required a different number of coupons to ride. As you came through the lift line you handed the book to the person in the booth and they would take out the requisite number of tickets. The Mansfield single and double chairs took 4 coupons as did the gondola, but how many did the Mansfield T-Bar require?
Norma Stancliffe was quick with the correct answer of two coupons for each ride. Norma’s experience with Mt. Mansfield lifts began in 1948 in her parents back pack! She was six months old at that time. Norma still has some of her old ticket books!
Roy Clark also had the correct answer. And Bob Burley shared the fact that state employees got a discount on the ticket books. Bob says that was due in part to Perry Merrill’s and Abner Coleman’s contributions in developing Mt. Mansfield skiing. Bob had the privilege of skiing with both of them and Perry Merrill gave Bob his first real job.
The ticket books were the same price as a day ticket so why would you buy the book of tickets? The ticket books didn’t expire at the end of the day! If you had coupons left, you could use them on another day. On those crowded days when you weren’t sure how many runs you’d be able to get on the single chair, you could buy a ticket book. My first experience with a ticket book was a New Year’s Day. My New Year’s Eve celebration meant I was a little late for first chair. It was probably closer to 11am when I arrived and the single/double lift line stretched outside the corral – 40 minutes at least, maybe an hour! I’d be lucky to get three runs, so ticket book it was.
What if you miscalculated and were running out of coupons before you were done skiing? You could buy another book or you could get creative. The Mansfield T-Bar and Little Spruce chair were only two coupons, so you could take two runs on those instead of one on the Mansfield single or double. And when my friends and I really got desperate, we’d fake our way onto the Big Spruce chair. Let’s just say the booth attendant at Big Spruce wasn’t as diligent in checking tickets. So with a little bravado, you didn’t use any coupons! (I hope I’m not belatedly getting someone in trouble!)
Not only did the ticket books carry over within a season, but they also carried over season to season. Part of getting ready for the ski season was going through all your parka pockets to see how many coupons you found! That was free skiing! My understanding is that Stowe honored old ticket books years after they stopped selling them.
Which brings me to the question that I’ve had difficulty answering: when did Stowe stop selling the ticket books? Brian Lindner believed it was in the early 1970s, Norma Stancliffe says hers were from 1979. So I welcome any input on this unofficial trivia question.