On December 3 I, 1958, thirty-eight skiers at Stowe, Vermont raised their glasses to welcome the New Year and toast the beginnings of the Cresthaven Ski Club. They had driven from New York with baggy ski pants, lace boots, wooden skis and five dollars a day for tow tickets to participate in the first trip of the newly organized ski club. In the years since then, metal, epoxy, and fiberglass have replaced wood in the skis, boots are buckled and form fitted, ski pants have become tighter (and baggy again) and the cost of lift tickets has increased twelve fold.
It all began on November 12, 1958 when a temporary committee (Syl Cleary. Ed Benzmiller, Bob Lang, Dick Aichele and Martha Van de Wetering) gathered a group of fifty to watch a ski movie and discuss plans for the organization of a ski club. It was a very successful meeting as there were 151 paid members that first year. The inaugural season included trips to Okemo, Bromley, Speculator, Killington and Oak Mountain. It is safe to say Cresthaven has been back to Killington at least 45 times! Bus trips replaced drive ups in the second season - with ten weekend trips. The first trip to Grey Rocks in Canada was in 1962, which was a popular destination for years. The season of 1965 saw the first of many weeklong trips out west - starting with Aspen, Colorado. We've now been to Colorado, California, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Canada and Europe on our adventures. The Club banner was first unfurled at the top of Tuckerman's Ravine in 1967. Although the banner doesn't travel much now, our skiers have hiked beyond the lifts at Breckenridge, Aspen Highlands and Jackson Hole. We've dropped into bowls in Vail, Telluride and Alta. We've ridden planes, trains, buses, funiculars and multiple chair lifts. We've seen the lifts change from tow ropes (not much lift there) to high speed "super eights".
Cresthaven Ski Club is not all about the destinations. We've been a competitive group from the very beginning. Cresthaven affiliated with USEASA in the 1960-6l season and entered the Long Island Ski Group races on March 18, 1961. The "Cresthaven Ski Club Alpine Team" was formed and promptly won the Sherburne Cup and the Long Island Ski Group Revolving Cup. We've been strong contenders in the Met Council and LIASC races to this day. And it's not all about speed either. Once Cresthaven joined the other Long Island Ski Clubs at the Annual Snow Ball, Cresthaven women were crowned Ski Queen five of the first six years!
Cresthaven Ski Club became official on April 15, 1960 when the Constitution was accepted by the membership. Although Constitution Committees throughout the years have written amendments, the Club still runs on the work done by the first Committee, headed by Hal Cullen. Starting January 1, 1961 the Club has recorded their happenings in a newsletter - originally the SkiTattle. In 2005 we introduced our website, www.skicresthaven.com.
Cresthaven is above all a social club, and we've shared plenty of non-skiing activities to prove it. Since 1959 a pre-season cocktail party has been the norm and the end of the season has been marked with the Ski Fantasy Dinner Dance. The first Annual Christmas Party and Cake Auction in 1962, which raised money for underprivileged children, set the tone for Cresthaven's charitable bent. Over the past fifty years, money has been raised for many charitable organizations. Over the years traditions have come and gone, and come back again! A football game at West Point was a popular activity in 1960 and 2005. Picnics, on our own or with LIASC, at various parks and beaches have been a popular summer activity, often including softball, or tug of war. Golf has become an integral part of our summer season, with our Summer Meisters planning trips to Atlantic City and Vermont. Since 1959, John Baxter encouraged the group to "stay in shape for skiing" with ice skating and cycling trips. We're still taking his advice, cycling and kayaking through the "off-season". We've been on cruises: Windjammer, NY Harbor and off the South Shore. Theatre, concerts, baseball games, tennis parties, fishing trips, dude ranch trips have kept us amused. Luaus, barbeques and wine tastings have kept us well fed and watered.
Over the past fifty years we've moved meeting locations - from Cresthaven Country Club to Bayside Yacht Club to the American Legion Hall to Patrick's Pub to B.K. Sweeny’s and now to Jack Duggan's Pub in Floral Park. We've changed Presidents 36 times. Over the years the membership has waned and strengthened. Some of the names on the membership lists have appeared for fifty years, some are new this year. There are many whose names will appear no more, though their memories live on. One thing that remains consistent is the camaraderie, spirit and friendship that make Cresthaven Ski Club the wonder that it is.
Contributing authors: Anne Keller, Rosemarie Jansky, Barbara O'Keefe, Jean Giorgio