This morning as I prepared the Fireside Chat that I’m giving at UMaine Farmington on Tuesday, I thought about the small town and its big role in Maine’s skiing history.
The Farmington Ski Club is one of Maine’s oldest, dating from 1939.
The twin anchors of the town’s claim to fame are the Titcomb Memorial Ski Slope, founded by the club shortly after World War II, and UMF itself, which fielded a topnotch ski team in the 1970s.
Below is a vintage pic of Titcomb ca. 1948. Its first lift was a rope tow that ran up the face of the slope. Note the lack of trees!
The second photo, below, depicts some people who have been intimately connected to Titcomb over the years.
Gwilym Roberts was a long-time professor at UMaine Farmington as well as a very active member of the ski club. He was the director of the children’s programs and then secretary of the FSC for more than 20 years.
I think he exemplifies the grassroots values that underpin our state’s skiing culture. Being deeply involved in a small-town ski club and running its hometown mountain can be a mighty big and mighty frustrating chore.
And there’s no pay and little glory. Why did he endure the hassle? I think that the answer is clear from the photo: Gwilym Roberts wanted to make a better world for his little girls. They are, from left to right: Beth, Janet and Megan.
Megan is pictured above on her first day on skis. Nowadays she’s Titcomb’s manager. She’s also a director of the Ski Museum of Maine and served as the consulting curator during a key period of its growth.
The grassroots theme is repeated in two articles from the Snow Trail (newsletter/journal of the Ski Museum of Maine) that can be read by clicking the links below.
Both articles were written by Leigh Breidenbach, a long-time professor at UMaine Farmington and director of its Ski Industries Program. She’s also a Ski Museum director.
BTW: I’m giving the Fireside Chat, which is free and open to the public, at 7 p.m. Nov. 18. The venue, one of the larger buildings on the campus, was named for Prof. Roberts: The Gwilym Roberts Learning Center, Room 023.
[Both photos are courtesy of Farmington Ski Club, obtained through Megan Roberts.]