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Storytelling with Ed Servick

by Katie Vaughan
| June 20, 2010 9:00 PM

Lying in a shoebox, Ed took his first breath on Earth.

On Oct. 14, 1929, inside the old Barclay Hospital on Garden Avenue in Coeur d'Alene, Dr. John T. Wood thought Ed died during birth. The 2-1/2 pound newborn was placed in a shoebox. But then, as his mother used to tell him, he started crying and all hell broke loose.

That thriving spirit permeated most of Ed's childhood. Despite Dr. Wood's grim prognoses, he survived whooping cough, pneumonia pleurisy and a severe leg burn which nearly resulted in a partial leg amputation.

Neither illness nor injury prevented Ed from living an adventurous and entertaining lifestyle. In the 1950s and '60s, he captained Potlatch's guest boat from the Jewett House. Ed performed in the water ski shows during Coeur d'Alene's Fourth of July festivities. As a teenager, he learned trick ice skating and was offered a tryout with the Ice Capades.

And he loved to snow ski. Ed fondly remembers being among the first downhill skiers in Coeur d'Alene, shared here in his own words.

"When I first started skiing (around age 13 or 14), I got to where I really liked it. I didn't drive yet, so I'd go down and bum a ride with neighbors that skied like the Redmonds. If they didn't have room for me, they'd at least take my skis. And I'd go hitchhike all the way to Lookout (Pass) and ski all day, then hitchhike home and do it again the next day. Once in awhile, (my parents), they'd give me a ride out to the edge of town so I could catch a ride from somebody from Spokane or somebody.

"Lookout was built in 1935 or '36. Just had a rope tow. But I loved to ski and when I got a car, why I always had to get at least three or four kids to go skiin' to pay a dollar to help pay for the gas. My dad had purchased a 1935 Graham and he let me buy it from him. And I fixed it up and drove it skiin'. Then later on I got a Nash. It would go skiin' too.

"In those days, you had to drive up over Yellowstone Trail and then back down to Blue Creek and then back up over and down to Wolf Lodge. It took two hours or better to get to Lookout. But did it every Saturday and Sunday for years during skiing season.

"I competed a lot. We would race at Mt. Spokane, Snoqualmie Pass and Stevens Pass, Missoula and Whitefish. We didn't have Schweitzer when I was a kid. A bunch of us would get together and drive over and race at one of the mountains for a weekend. We enjoyed that. We all belonged to the Idaho Ski Club at Lookout Pass.

"Signal Point (Ski Resort) - you go up by Blossom Mountain and B-29 Hill where the B-29 crashed about 1944 - was started by a bunch of people here in town in the late '40s and '50s. Mate Wilkens was one of the developers. And the Redmonds family, they were in on it. I don't know how many people helped finance it.

"It wasn't really good. It'd have good snow one year and next year, you wouldn't have hardly any. The biggest problem is that it's just not quite high enough to get good snow and skiing. You have to be up another 2,000 feet high.

And the road was bad.

"They had a road going up out of Post Falls to Blossom's place for the school bus. But from there on, we had to keep the road open ourselves. And so they made homemade snowplows. I helped clear brush up on the east side of Signal Point. I remember one of the roads, Mate and I were up there one summer tryin' to cut off this corner as you go along Blossom.

"We set up a little ski area up back of French Gulch. We set up a little rope tow there one time. Ski in the evenings and Saturdays and Sundays. It didn't last but a few weeks. But that was all

the Signal Point group. Mate worked on the tugboats for Lafferty so he could get rope from them, and go set up an old Ford engine and shoes and hold automobile rims and hang 'em up on the trees and run the rope over 'em. I'd help him build it. We'd get an old Ford V8 engine and transmission and we'd build a gear box and set up a couple of sheaves and some pulleys and get the thing to turn and shift her into gear, and once in awhile we'd get her into high gear and it'd go pretty fast.

"I wasn't the greatest skier in the world, but I had a ball skiin'. I went a long way, and then my kids went even further."

Katie Vaughan is a personal historian and owner of Sojourn Lifewriting in Post Falls. If you have a personal story to share which also illuminates our local history, please call (208) 660-8767.

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