This was the question asked at a small informal gathering at the Emerson Inn, Intervale, one evening in December 1935. Those present included Chester Emerson, Dr. Harold Shedd, Bod Davis, James Carter, Richard and Christine Parke, Gladys Carter and Noel Wellman.
Interest in skiing was growing rapidly and everyone at this gathering agreed it was time to get on the bandwagon. Therefore, a general meeting was arranged for Dec. 13th at the home of Dr. Shedd. Those mentioned above were joined by Mrs. Shedd, George Russell, Phil Robertson, Ernest Foss, Arnold Berry, Carl Randall, Jr., Ken Kenison, Alice Eastman, and Edna Ricker. At this meeting it was unanimously voted to organize a ski club. Temporary officers were elected and a committee appointed to draw up by-laws. The next meeting of the ski club was held Dec. 17th at Kearsarge Hall with 26 present. At this time Chester Emerson was elected president, Dr. Shedd, vice-president and Noel Wellman, secretary-treasurer. The executive committee named included Bob Davis, Phil Robertson, James Carter and Carl Randall.
Although the Club was originally conceived as a “non-commercial” organization, it was quickly realized that it must take a lead in improving skiing facilities and promoting skiing in the Eastern Slope Region. Accordingly a Publicity Committee was appointed and the possibility of clearing Mrs. Tibbett’s land on Cranmore Mountain was discussed.
The next meeting of the Club was held Jan. 6th, 1936, and the name Eastern Slope Ski Club was formally adopted and it was voted to become affiliated with the United States Eastern Amateur Ski Association. At this meeting, Trails and Race Committees where appointed. Due to the expense involved it was deemed impractical to clear the Tibbett’s land, it was recommended to “brush out a trail”.
At this same meeting, the boys and girls of the region received their first attention when Chuck Emerson announced junior ski instruction was to be offered on Saturday afternoons. The Feb. 6, 1936 meeting constituted another important milestone in the rapid growth of Club activities. Chuck Emerson announced weekly slalom races for junior skiers on the Jones Place (now the Red Jacket property) during the month. Prizes of a pair of skis to the winners were donated by the North Conway Rotary Club and Emerson’s Alma Mater, Dartmouth College. At this same meeting the club emblem designed by Francis E. Getty was adopted.
One of the most important developments took place in 1936 when Carroll Reed started a ski school under the direction of Benno Rybizka, whom Reed had brought over from the famous Hannes Schneider Ski School at St. Anton, Austria. At the second annual meeting of the Club in April of 1937, the sum of $200 was donated to the ski school to assist in sending four instructors to St. Anton for training. Arthur Doucette, Arthur Callan, Francis Savard and Tyler Micholeau were the four young locals selected.
In March, 1937, Harvey D. Gibson advised the North Conway Chamber of Commerce that he had purchased the Cranmore Mountain property and would develop it as a ski area. ESSC was asked to appoint a committee to work with the Chamber of Commerce to make recommendations for the development.
About this time the Club came to the realization that while skiers were flocking to the region, they arrived to find the resident population was not ski minded and only a mere handful of boys and girls participated in the sport. Chuck Emerson concluded this was not a healthy condition and he was keenly interested in the kids. He originated the Junior Ski Award Plan in 1938 whereby certain worthy skiers were selected by an impartial citizens’ committee to receive equipment at the nominal cost of $2.00. This represents the formal creation of the Eastern Slope Ski Club’s Junior Ski Program. Over the next two years more than 250 boys and girls were awarded equipment. Chuck Emerson announced to the Club a plan to give youngsters free ski lessons once a week under the direction of Arthur Callan. The plan eventually developed into holding weekly junior ski classes in Conway, North Conway, Jackson and Bartlett.
In February, 1939, Hannes Schneider arrived in North Conway. He and his family were welcomed at the train station by local residents and passed through a double line of a large number of junior skiers holding ski poles aloft to form an arbor. Hannes Schneider had a keen interest in junior skiing, and junior instruction began under his guidance.
In July, 1939, the Eastern Slope Region Association was incorporated and in early 1940 the Eastern Slope Ski Club relinquished its area promotional activities to the new association.
In the early days of the programs the ESSC budget included income from town appropriations. As the Junior Program and Race Teams expanded the Club created fundraising events. The Snow Ball was a yearly social that continued for many years. Initially, the ESSC hosted different ski races to raise funds for the Club. In 1970 the first annual ESSC Ski Sale was instituted and netted $500 in income that year. The 2005 sale raised $14,000! Through continuing support of local ski shops and events such as the Red Parka Challenge Cup and Club Membership dues, the Junior Program can currently offer equipment to any child that wishes to ski.